Staying in Cheltenham on our 2 night family break away, we were only an hour’s drive away from West Midland Safari Park. I have been actively avoiding zoos for a few years now because every time I go I just feel sad for the animals. Heroic, I know. However, we decided to give it try. My little boy is currently crazy about lions and we had a nice day when we took our eldest a few years ago.
It’s well worth planning ahead and booking your tickets online. This way, you can save as much as 35% off the full price tickets. West Midland Safari Park is well sign posted so it’s easy to find from the motorway and there’s loads of parking when you get there.
We had our A-game on and we got there at (read not long after) park opening. There were no queues so we were able to drive straight up to a window and show our pre-printed tickets. We were advised that we would need to pick up our pre-booked fair ride tickets inside the park.
The parking attendants directed us to a parking space which was right by the toilets which was great. There is a huge and very visible modern toilet block in the car park. So you don’t have to queue to get in while desperate for the loo. Good news for parents of young children who have just driven a long time to get there. Or just me, because I’m always the one that needs to pee. The toilets in this block are modern and clean and there’s loads of them too. When we went in, it was very busy but we didn’t have to queue for a cubicle.
We went straight to the safari tour. The first animals are the rhino which are Rich’s favourite. We were lucky that when we visited the group had babies with them and they were really cute. I was able to placate my nagging inner voice by focusing on the fact that white rhino are endangered and under major threat of poaching.
Going on we met an Eland. I’ve never seen one of these animals before, a sort of cross between a deer and a cow. They are large animals with horns and they seemed very curious, but placid. I liked them.
We had bought a West Midland Safari Park guide book at the entrance (£5) which I would recommend because it has the names of all the animals in and little tid bit facts about them. Also the kids loved reading it to see what which animal was coming up next. We hadn’t been offered to buy animal food and we could see lots of people in cars ahead feeding the animals. We bought a box of animal feed when we went into the park for £3.50 and we went round the safari again to feed the animals at the end of our day.
The last admittance to the safari was at 6pm. We visited at the end of August in the summer holidays.
The safari goes on through to see the lions and all the other dangerous animals but you can choose to bypass this part of the safari if you want to and it is clearly signposted. Some other animals we saw were cheetahs, African wild dogs (a very social animal apparently), and white lions.
There was a very long queue leading up to the lion enclosure. The guide book came in handy while we were waiting here. I read it and shouted out random animal facts which I pretended my family were interested in hearing. You could do the theme park first and maybe avoid these queues by doing the safari later in the day.
We saw a soft top convertible car being turned around as they weren’t allowed to go through to the lions part. The lions are freely running around the cars and it feels like the staff take security and safety very seriously. The lionesses were prowling the fence perimeter as they could see some cows on the other side. The staff were in their jeeps trying to move the cows along and block the lionesses view.
My favourite part of the safari was feeding the giraffes. I had no idea we would be able to do that. As you drive around a bend into the giraffe enclosure they are just suddenly there and they are huge!
There was one -I reckon it was an elderly one- who had parked itself in a spot right by the exit so it could get food from every car that went out. It snotted on me! See the clip of it snotting on me on my facebook page here. My daughter who is 8 was most excited about feeding the deer and one of them stuck it’s head right inside the car on the baby’s side (he didn’t even have any food bless him) but he was brave and just looked at it.
The Park Part
After the safari we made our way into the park and caught the sea lion show which was brilliant. Every seat in the auditorium has a good view, so don’t be put off if it looks busy. The keeper explained a bit about how they train the sea lions while showing us some of their skills.
After the sea lion show we walked around a little bit but we didn’t do most of the things there are to see. My daughter asked to have her face painted (it was £4 for a face painting and £7.50 with a pair of furry ears). When my 2yr/o saw his sister’s face paint he was that impressed he wanted his done too and he loved it! I asked the artist to just do a very quick version of the tiger for him and he went round roaring all day.
We walked through the night enclosure where there are free flying bats. So don’t go in that part if they freak you out because they do fly right by you. The lizard section was a bit disappointing. I’m not sure if I didn’t take enough time in there but I only saw some fruit beetles and ants.
Theme Park Rides for Kids
My daughter was so excited about going on the rides so we actually bypassed a lot to go straight to the little theme park they have there. You have to queue again at the ticket booths to get your wristbands for the rides and the staff ask you to show them the kids height on the measure pole they have by the tills and the staff have to put the wrist band on the kids too.
West Midland safari park has quite a few medium type rides so it was ideal for my 8yr/o because she got to try out a few rides that were bigger than the usual ones she gets to go on but they weren’t massive. We went on a log flume, a circle boat water ride thing, flying hippos, and the haunted house. There were even a few rides my little 2 yr/o could go on too which was great. We didn’t get too wet on the rides but I did see a few soaked people walking round. There is one of those big air dryers for £2 but it was out of service.
Some of the things I missed were:
- Ice age – a walk-through around moving models of animals from the ice age.
- Dinosaur land – same as above but with dinosaur models
- Boj giggly park – toddler play park
- African village – see the goats, meer cats and hippos
- Lorikeet Landing – walk among flocks of lorikeets
You can also book vip experiences like being a keeper for the day. I’d recommend booking the safari bus guided tour (£6 pp) because the animals recognised the mini buses and went straight up to them for food. They seemed like they would have a good view point too and were able to drive over the grass, bypassing some of the queues.
By the time we’d finished going on rides Rich was warning me that his day-out-o-meter was almost at max and we were all getting a bit weary too. We stopped to grab some food before leaving. The pizza and chips in the fried chicken place is nice (pretty sure it was chicago town pizza) and we spent about £18 for us all to have food and drinks there. We went round the safari once more bypassing the lions and just going around the animals we could feed. I fed a camel and there are no signs but the safari staff announced on their loud hailer for people not to feed the camels so I stopped. I googled it when I got in and there are multiple stories of camels literally biting people’s heads clean off. So don’t feed the camels.
We got free entry on a return visit with our tickets until November and I’d love to go back. They also have special events on like Halloween nights and stuff that might be worth checking out. Our tickets for a family of four to West Midland Safari Park (2 adults, 1 child aged 8 and 1 child aged 2) came to £128.50. Under 3’s are free into the safari & park. That price included our wrist bands for the rides although I couldn’t book a wrist band for the rides online for our 2yr/old but still had to pay for him at the booth (£8 I think). I assume that this is so the staff could check his height. Guidebooks and animal feed are available to book ahead of your visit online too.
Woo hoo I hope you have a great family day out! It is a jam packed day so the West Midland Safari Park website is a must before you go. Pack sun cream and rain macs and prepare for a full on day.
This is not a sponsored review. I did not receive any goods or compensation from West Midland Safari Park to write it. I just wanted to record some of my memories of a great family day out and hopefully help anyone else thinking about going because it can work out expensive, but worth it I thought. Just feeding the giraffes was worth it. Let me know what you loved about West Midland Safari Park in the comments section below. Oh and if you want to see part one of our family break in Cheltenham you can watch the vid here. It’s not quite Paris, but it is very lovely. The video of our day at West Midland Safari Park is coming soon! 🙂
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