Reviewed by Amy Dixon
I was given the opportunity of visiting and reviewing Marwell Zoo over the bank holiday weekend with my 3 younger children aged 13, 12 and 7 years old by WGTD. Marwell Zoo is a walking safari with over 140 acres of land to explore. They currently have a Brickosaurs Dinosaur exhibition running until 4th September.
We live a short 30 minute drive away from the Zoo, however had not visited since my youngest was a toddler, so were looking forward to seeing as many exotic animals as possible in our visit.
On arrival we were directed to a parking spot in the large free car park which was a short walk away from the entrance to the Zoo. The Zoo opened at 10am and we arrived around 10:15am. Even with a coach trip arriving just before us it was quite a quick entry into the Zoo, with plenty of staff chatting and directing public to the appropriate entrance queues. You need to prebook all tickets prior to arrival, which is quite easy to do via their website. We had downloaded the free App prior to arrival which gave you a live map (showing where you were), information on the animals, exhibits, facilities, food and drink outlets, playgrounds, grounds and first aid. This was easy to navigate, although there are large maps located around the park showing where you are for those that don’t want to download another app. We were also offered a map/guide to purchase at the ticket office. My 7 year got given a brickosaur map which she enjoyed ticking off the animals she saw as we walked around the park. She isn’t a big dinosaur fan so wasn’t particularly interested in the dinosaur exhibitions, however these appeared to be a big hit with many of the children throughout the park.
Marwell are offering a fantastic offer for visitors during the summer until August 31st, they are given re-admission with a valid ticket within 7 days. This is a great money saving offer for families especially when times are getting more financially difficult for most. They also have an annual membership offer which covers itself on only 3 visits, definitely worthwhile if you plan to visit a few times over the year.
There were plenty of facilities around the Zoo, they were clean and maintained with accessible toilets available. You have options of purchasing food and drink in the restaurant and café outlets along with ice cream vans. We had brought our own picnic with us and there was plenty of tables and chairs inside and outside to eat our food.
We definitely walked a lot, which I think shows how big the enclosures were for the animals, they had lots of room to move around and lots of natural foliage for them to hide out of the sun. This could be a bit frustrating for some as some animals were very elusive, but my children found it more exciting being able to find the animals in each enclosure. Particular favourites were seeing the Snow leopard, the bearded emporer tamarin and the Amur Tiger. We enjoyed walking through the aviaries and the tropical house, even managing to catch a glimpse of the Linnes two toed sloth amongst the butterflies and tropical birds.
My children also loved the different playgrounds dotted around the park, out of the 5 areas a hit were the wild explorers and the life among the trees playground. They have guidance on ages for each area and require adult supervision, but they give children an opportunity to blow off some of their energy and a chance for parents to have a sit down!
There was also a road train taking tours around the park which cost an additional fee per person, great for younger visitors that need a rest from walking.
Our only negative of the day was the large amount of wasps around the park which definitely stopped us getting an ice cream treat. It helped having the enclosed picnic areas so you could avoid the wasps joining you on your picnics and had welcome shade from the sun. This would also be a relief if the weather turned and you had a bit of rain.
There were a few pop up gift shops dotted around the park with soft toys, hats collectibles etc, however I managed to hold off the gifts until the large gift shop/café near the entrance/exit to the park. The larger gift shop had a wide range of options and my youngest spent her pocket money on a small soft toy snow leopard for £10.50.which I would say was a typical price for a venue gift shop.
Overall we had a lovely day out as a family with over 5hrs spent in the Zoo, making memories and learning lots of facts about different animals. We were totally won over with the bearded emporer tamarin and now have a range of pictures of this cute little animal on my phone!
Tickets cost from £25 for Adults, £21 for Children 3-16yrs, £22.50 for concessions – Day tickets.
Annual memberships cost – £66 for adults, £46 for children and £56 for concessions.
For more information or to book tickets visit https://www.marwell.org.uk/ Zoo or call 01962 777407.