Reviewed by Amanda Hayes
We visited The Hop Farm on Sunday with our six-year-old. The farm is well signposted and there is a large car park just outside the entrance with plenty of free parking spaces.
We arrived at around 11.30pm and it took no time at all to get our tickets, and our hands stamped for re-entry from the friendly lady at the reception desk. The entry fee is just £3 and that gets you use of the outdoor adventure playground, indoor soft play, sand pit, crazy golf, hop museum and children’s farm. Everything else is pay as you go by a token system with each token costing £1 or you can bulk buy 22 tokens for £20. It was quite quiet when we entered so we went straight to the 9-hole crazy golf tucked behind the playground. There were plenty of clubs and balls and we had an enjoyable game, some holes where a little broken but it didn’t hinder our enjoyment. We then headed off to the little family farm and saw the donkeys, rabbits, horses and several animals. The pens aren’t large but the animals looked happy and healthy and I believe that they spend their time out in the farms fields when the farm is closed to the public. Whilst walking around we heard them announcing that the puppet show was about to start, our son loves a puppet show and at 3 tokens for children and free for adults we thought we would give it a go. We were very glad we did, it was hilarious, with many jokes included for mums and dads. At the end each child got to have their photo taken with Pokemon character Pikachu and got a model balloon bracelet, we thought it was really good value for money. There was also several other shows throughout the day including a magic show that sounded really good. As it only started about 15 minutes after the puppet show ended and the weather was sunny and warm we decided to play outside instead. With a similar target audience to the puppet show it would have been useful to have at least an hour’s gap to do some outdoor activities. You were allowed to take food, including your own picnics, into the show though so if the weather is bad it would be a good respite.
We then decided it was lunch time so we headed to the Hoppers Café which was really realistically priced at £1.50 for hot drinks or muffins, £2.00 for cheesy chips, and £4.80 for children’s lunch boxes including hot food such as sausage and chips and a drink option. There are plenty of places to sit, in the café itself, outside in the picnic area, or outside the children’s playground, there are also plenty of picnic tables laid out, should you wish to bring one. We ate ours overlooking the playground so that our son could play while he waited for the food to be cooked, this worked really well. There was also a really nice looking ice cream and milkshake parlour on site which was very busy, especially with people queuing for the shows right next door.
The magic castle was another hit at 1 token, it included various tricks and illusions and our son really enjoyed it, our exit through the mirror maze went down a storm. It’s fair to say that a lot of the activities are aimed at younger children so the free soft play, teacups, driving school and fairy garden at 2 tokens each, didn’t really appeal to our six year old, the bouncing pillows did though, another 2 token activity and he spent ages on these playing with a group of other children. There were plenty of benches around so we got chance just to sit, watch and relax while he had fun and expelled some energy. The children using the driving school looked like they were really enjoying themselves driving their battery powered cars round the track, there were benches here too so you could get nice and close to make the most of those photo opportunities.
We then ran out of things we were willing to pay for as the prices soon racked up, 3 tokens for the bumper cars for instance and 5 tokens for the water zorbs and bungee meant you could soon rack up a big spend. Our son was happy enough just playing on the adventure playground so we finished our visit there and headed out via the small but well stocked shop.
There are plenty of positives to The Hop Farm, the shows are good fun and the adventure playground is suitable for all ages, the toilets apart from the ones in the softplay were large and clean and the food well priced. Unfortunately though some things are looking a bit tired and run down, with weeds growing through the tarmac, and dusty museum exhibits. I believe it has a lot of potential as the setting is lovely within the Weald of Kent Oast houses it just needs some tlc. With a low priced £3 entrance fee, it is good for younger children just to come and play in a safe environment but if you envisage doing a lot of activities, or have a large family, it could turn out to be a rather expensive day out.
Entry fee is only £3 per person (under 1’s go free) and includes ALL DAY entry to:
- Hopper’s Animal Farm and activity timetable
- Indoor Soft Play Centre
- Outdoor Adventure Play Park
- The Hop Farm Museum
- Crazy Golf
- Free parking
Other rides and attractions operate on a pay/play basis and cost from between £1 and £5.
For more information visit thehopfarm.co.uk.
The Hop Farm, Maidstone Road, Paddock Wood, Kent, TN12 6PY | 01622 872068