It’s fair to say we have done every Kent based zoo, wildlife park, farm to death over the last six years, so it’s always nice to broaden our zoo day horizons. We were contacted by Drusillas Park a few weeks back and invited to come to their press day to see what East Sussex’s Drusillas has to offer families looking for an adventure packed day out.
Despite being unable to make the press trip, Drusillas welcomed us over any time we could make it, so we decided to head for the hills just a few days after, escape the mad house for a couple of days during half term and head to East Sussex for a family mini break, birthday getaway…any excuse to head coastbound.
Drusillas Park is located between Eastbourne and Brighton on the East Sussex coast, at the foot of the south Downs. With a cheap hotel on the seafront booked, we did our best to travel light and just ‘jump in the car’ (never gonna happen) and despite a forecast of two days of continuous thunder and lightning, we donned waterproofs and wellies and made the two hour ish trip along a scenic route southbound.
As we arrived at Drusilla’s it seemed the weather forecast had scared off many of it’s visitors, as I’ve never seen a family attraction so empty during the school holidays. And, with every ride practically to ourselves we laughed all the way around the park as we had not a rain drop all day long. (Well, laughed aside cursing the wellies I’d worn).
Drusillas is more than just a zoo – as well as the walk around zoo route, there is Hello Kitty area, Edens Eye Maze, Go Safari rides, Amazon Adventure soft play, Go wild and Go Bananas play areas and some fabulous gardens and green spaces to explore.
The walk along zoo route at Drusillas is a brilliant way to make sure you don’t miss any of their incredible species. The footsteps and sign posts lead you through a winding trail by every single enclosure to visit each and every one of Drusillas over 100 species on display.
With some curious and fascinating little guys to say hi to, our girls were transfixed by their up close experiences with the animals and our solid top four went to the Flamingos, The Meercat tunnel, the Binturong and the flying fruit bats.
As well as the walk along route, Drusillas has some walk through enclosures too – Lemurland and Lory Landing which allow you to get up close and personal with some of the parks furry and feathered friends. There are also animal experiences available which offer a once in a lifetime face to face encounter with some magnificent creatures. Available with meerkats, penguins, lemurs, raccoons, pandas, coatis, snakes, tarantulas and new for 2018, two toed sloths (WANT!).
As someone passionate about conservation and wildlife, it was fantastic to see the animal enclosures so large and well maintained. The species had some gorgeous enclosures and plenty of space to hide away or come and say hello. Conservation is of key importance at Drusillas and they are involved in several in-situ conservation projects such as Drusillas in Africa which has raised over £65,000 towards research work and education programmes on endangered species.
As you walk through the zoo route, there is a series of fun and physical challenges which the whole family got involved in. With a record book to keep note of your results, you can find out if you weigh as much as a warthog, See as high as a giraffe, climb as high as a Lar gibbon, and stand on leg as long as a flamingo.
Getting interactive with the skills of the animal kingdom was a brilliant way to engage the girls in learning about each animal, without them even realising they were being educated. Plus a chance for Dad Muddling Through to show off his money skills…
Animal Spotter Book
As well as the Zoolymics, the whole family got involved in stamping their way around the zoo route using the spotter book and stamps. Another opportunity to encourage the children to try and look closely at the animals and read their names in their own book was a subtle but perfect way to slow them down running past the enclosures. What kid doesn’t love a stamp book? The books also contain animal facts and are a perfect memento of their day in the zoo to take home.
Taking a quick detour from the zoo route, the girls couldn’t wait to have a go on some rides, and as the queues were non existent during our visit, we had plenty of repeat go’s on the cheetah and hippo rides in the Go Safari ride area.
As thrill seeking as it gets for young kids, Tigs was in her element whilst the Mouse opted to sit and watch the hippo ride! New in 2017, this three ride area includes a safari train which we went on at the end of the day – and the entire family loved this aspect of the park which is included in your ticket price.
Hello Kitty Secret Garden
Our two little girls were over the moon to discover the Hello Kitty area – featuring a hopper ride, car ride and teacups ride, the girls had great fun having the area to ourselves and going on the child friendly rides.
Some rides have a 90cm height restriction which is worth knowing in advance, but there is no age limit so Dads can ride on Hello Kitty Hopper too, Dad Muddling Through was over the moon to discover. Scream if you want to go faster Daddy!
As we completed the zoo trail mid afternoon, we wandered upon the most epic play area I’ve seen in any zoo to date! The Drusillas park literally has every base covered…an adventure playground for older kids, a separate one for under six’s. A splash park (take swim gear!) and an indoor play. Whatever the weather you could literally spend all day playing on this section of the park.
The facilities were clean and well looked after and surrounded by well maintained gardens of ferns and Fatsias which subtly create a green and lush backdrop to the park. From the high areas you can see the downs in which the park is set and it is a truly beautiful location (not that the kids care as they go down the slide for the hundredth time). But these things don’t go unnoticed by some of us!
Eating at Drusillas
In light of my attempt to pack lightly for our trip, we had no picnic (although you could easily take one) so we tried out one of Drusillas many eating locations, the Explorers Cafe. (Also available Starbucks Coffee, Oasis Cafe fast food, Station Buffet, Amazon Adventure Cafe).
We were incredibly impressed by the food selection on offer – not really fancying anything too heavy I opted for a jacket potato and salad cart and it would have easily fed all of us! The kids loved the picnic boxes complete with animal masks and Dad made sure the hot food option was all good too. Despite going for a chips meal he opted for a small portion which is a good set up I haven’t seen before. All in all I wasn’t surprised to learn the Explorers Cafe was awarded A Wealden Gold award for healthy eating, as it definitely offered up a healthy option by far exceeding any other family attraction I’ve seen before.
And the rest…
There was more at Drusillas than even we got time to try out. However it’s safe to say we’ll be back again. Such a gorgeous place steeped in 90 years of history and many years crafting it to what it is today. We certainly valued having quality time as a family exploring somewhere new, and it was a day we will all remember for a long time to come.