WEST MIDLANDS SAFARI PARK: BRITAIN’S BEST DAY OUT?
When we were offered the chance to review an attraction for Britain’s Best Day Out with Money Supermarket, we were thrilled to be chosen for the West Midlands Safari Park!
This is a park I hadn’t visited since I was a child, and it gave us a chance to visit my parents on the way, too. Dadda ended up working and so we left him behind in Hampshire and headed up the motorway.
Our tickets were for the park’s “Winter Wonderland”. The weather was crisp, the sky was bright, and we were excited to get (back) into the car on Sunday morning, bundled up in our coats and scarves.
Upon arrival it was nearly empty with no queue and we were greeted by an attendant selling guides to the animals, then directed to the paying booth where we handed over our free tickets. We bought four packets of food at £3.00 each and drove on to the gates of the Safari. If you don’t want to do the safari first, there is an alternate route, but we were keen to see the animals!
No sooner were we on top of the first hill, did we have a visitor!
Granny quickly (and slightly warily) set about feeding him some of the zoo pellets.
We drove a little further on after the mad munching had subsided and saw this…
Soon we were back amongst the various deer, and feeding them again…
|Lads, lads, there’s food this way a-coming!|
No sooner had we handed a few pellets out…
Than the safari park version of Reservoir Dogs came wandering over…They seem to know to walk in the road so you can’t escape.
Someone was very impressed by this. Animals that don’t run away. In fact, they seemed to hunt you down, force you to open your window and hand over the dry goods. Just brilliant.
It was a perfect day for it, and driving at a top speed of less than 2mph (we took over two and a half hours to drive the safari), Momma had a co-driver.
Momma gave Granny a rest from feeding and had a go. We debated switching roles, but decided the issues we were facing (switching with a baby, toddler and the inability to get out of the car; Granny not being familiar with the car and therefore a potential risk to the animals with braking and clutch control) were a little too risky, and so Momma drove, fed animals and breastfed a dragon at various stages of the safari. Pretty clever, huh.
This is probably my favourite photo…
Jensen decided that sitting on Momma’s lap made him the perfect height for feeding these cute little deer.
When the last crumbs of the packet were distributed, Jensen took the time to explain the “all gone” sign to the deer, who remained unconvinced.
Also enthralled by the food packets was Lyoto. Shake, shake, shake…..
In some parts of the safari, the animals were caged. Noticeably those with large teeth, claws and a penchant for human flesh. Granny tested the car windows three times.
Brother seemed to know what he was heading into and gave his big bro’ a hug. Just in case.
|In case we don’t make it through, love you brother…|
|They’d eat him first, right Momma?|
Then we saw him. The most fierce, blood thirsty carnivore there ever was. Asleep. His soft pink paw pads were cute though. I’ve had a love of white tigers since my honeymoon when we visited Jungala in Busch Gardens. Begal tigers are magificent, but there’s a vulnerability about the white tiger that entrances me.
Clear of the ferocious tiger, we met the sweetest wild dogs (that I thought were hyena from a distance).They were wagging and wandering around the cars and I was terrified I was going to run one down. Nevertheless, their colouring is remarkable and I met an animal I’d never seen before.
Just around the bend we entered another traffic-light controlled, fenced in area ~ the home of the White Lion. By this time, Lyoto was having a meltdown and Jensen was more interested in sitting in the footwell in the car and so it was just me and Granny, trying to spot the lions.
As soon as we entered the area, Lyoto perked back up and was all smiles and hugs for Granny.
Next up were the zebra, who did not care about us at all as we weren’t allowed to feed them. No food, no friend, I guess.
Due to the boys being done at this point, we exited the safari swiftly and parked up. There were some beautiful animals but the screams from Lyoto were too much to bear and Granny and I gave in.
All parked up, we headed towards where the park apparently was (thankfully only about 40 yards from where the car was parked) but the entrance was being refurbished and so all we could see was a white, boxed in area. Luckily Granny knew it was the entrance.
Inside, the shopping area (which was all closed except for the gift shop) was beautifully themed in African decor, and reminded me of Walt Disney’s Animal Kingdom. We entered the park through the retail corridor into a small garden walkway, and everything opened before us. It bought a smile to my frozen face and the photos below fail miserably to do it justice.
The park was deserted practically and I felt happy letting the boys mill around. Lyoto was still snoozing in the Boba and so Jensen headed off to meet the pengy-guins, as we call them in our house.
The enclosure for the little Humboldts is the cleanest (and least smelly) that I have ever seen; and I’ve seen quite a few by now. The water was clear and blue and I could stand near without wanting to throw up.
Our Little Adventurer got beyond excited when he saw this (below) but like the theme park park of the park, and everything else aside from the gift shop and one restaurant (coming up), it was closed. No Dino Dig for us 🙁
The reptile house was next on the trail. I like to try and name all of the reptiles and I can usually get about half of them right. I call that success; no one else does, but I do. So here we go…
|I said Monitor Lizard, but I know I was wrong. Jensen said Skink.|
|Anaconda! I said Black Mamba.|
|Gator! That one was easy.|
|Cuban Croc. I got this one too (because we met one in Gatorland, Florida)!|
Out of the reptile area, we headed to see if we could find some lunch. Luckily one place was open and we stopped for a photo 🙂
In the Summer months, it would be amazing to sit outside at the cafe. It was beautifully themed and the outside coves with tables made it so inviting, I was even tempted to eat out there in minus temperatures.
Inside, it was quite empty and we bought our food within the space of a few minutes; Jensen from the hot area whilst Granny and I got a sandwich. Sadly though every one of the available tables was littered with plates and food remains. There is nothing that puts me off eating in a cafe as much as dirty tables. Leftover plates are bad enough, but food and liquid on the table surface is just horrid. Granny unpacked the wipes swiftly and set about cleaning the area. I ate gingerly and covered the area where Lyoto was going to be eating with napkins.
Naturally the price of the food is astronomical. See those chips in that bowl? £3. I spent £17 on two sandwiches, a bowl of chips, two hot drinks and a bottle of water. My sandwich was so cold that they bread was hard, but the chips were good, according to Granny and Jensen, who were busy larking about.
Jensen adores his Granny, in case you can’t tell.
Baby Dragon was highly amused by the naughtiness.
The park has an adopt a buddy programme which was advertised subtly throughout the park, and is one of the most attractive and detailed adoption programmes I’ve seen ~ if we lived closer, I would have adopted two animals for my boys to visit. I love that it’s advertised on the cups. It pulls everything together, and instead of just being a sideline, it gives an even greater conservational feeling to the whole park instead of being in-your-face advertising, desperately trying to part you from your hard earned money.
Full of food, we headed back out…
It was so bitterly cold by this point that we headed to the lemurs (so that Jensen could sing, “I like to move it” like King Julian) but there was only one to be seen and so we hastened our way to the exit…
…or so we thought. Ambling along and trying to run down slopes (giving Momma palpitations), Baby Dragon saw the penguins he had missed on the way in.
He was transfixed.
He even used his best pointing and shouty noises.
Luckily the pengy-guins loved him right back.
I think “penguin” is on Lyoto’s birthday wish list.
After ten minutes of twitching at the penguins, it was too cold and nearing rush hour. We bid them adieu and hit the gift shop where our Little Adventurer bought a rubber bat for himself and a plastic gorilla keychain for Grandad Frank, and Baby Dragon decided that a wooden frog and ladybird bracelet was the trinket of his sweet dreams.
We’ve been asked to review this day out as part of a campaign by Moneysupermarket and we received free tickets to do so.
In my opinion after visiting the park is that we would love to return in Summer when the attraction is fully open. We could sense the potential for an amazing day out with our family.
We loved the park but felt disappointed at the lack of open facilities and sadly misled by the tickets stating that the “Winter Wonderland” was taking place in the park until February 3rd. We saw workmen removing Christmas lights and we found a sprinkling of snow (below) but other than this, there was no sign of any Wonderland or Wintery spectacle. It was just a semi-opened park.
The only fault we could find with the elements of the park that we saw was the cleanliness and cost of the restaurant. We loved our visit and left with a huge (frozen) smile on our faces and a big tiger-striped bucket full of memories.
As for the safari, we’d return for this experience alone. It was unique and promises (so the building work in the lions enclosure would lead us to believe) to be even more spectacular) during this coming year. The animal pellets could be cheaper, but then I imagine of course that the cheaper it is, the more would be bought by each person and then fewer people would get to experience feeding the animals.
Our rating? A genuinely fun family experience. We’re so glad we went….and we’ll be back this Summer, penguins!
Looks like a fantastic day out, have added it to our list! Love the idea of feeding the deer from the car.
It was so much fun ~ it's Jensen's idea (and mine) of paradise, all those animals up close! I can't wait to see what they do in the lions enclosure!