Thursday, 13 July 2017

Chester Zoo with our two monkeys

It would be very difficult to write a bad review about our day out to Chester Zoo. We honestly had the best day! We haven't been since Ollie was about 9 months (see the photo below) so it was a much needed trip as I love the place. Last year we had an annual pass for the Welsh Mountain Zoo in Colwyn Heights but it's honestly not that great up there. It was ok to fill an hour or two or just to use the play area but it definitely doesn't fill a day and its nowhere near the standards of Chester. So we booked tickets (it's cheaper to book online up until the night before in case you are planning to visit there soon too) and off we went last Monday. The weather was on our side too which always helps!

I can't believe the difference in these two photos below. A 9 month old chubby little Olliebobs compared to a pretty grown up 3.5 year old, complete with a 10 month old baby sister in tow! I bloody love the photo of all four of us, we were only going to have one of Aled with the kids to do a comparison but a lady passing us offered to take one of us all which was lovely of her. Have you even visited Chester Zoo if you haven't had a picture on the elephant?! 😂

So where do I start? We managed to cover most of the zoo on our day there. The main bits we missed were the rhinos, meerkats, bats and monkey house. The place is huge so you'd do amazingly well to see everything in one day. We started off with the elephants and then made our way round the zoo in a clockwise direction (if you're looking at the map). The part I was most excited to see was the Islands area as it's new since our last visit. Apart from that, my go-to animals to see are the orang-utans, I could watch them swinging around all day. Ollie's favourites were the snakes, elephants and giraffes. We got to see the giraffes pretty close up as they were inside eating and there's a little walkway inside, you just don't realise how big they are! So pretty. He also liked the aquarium and made us look in every tank to find Dory, bless him. Aled loves to see the bears and I don't think Elsie has a favourite... just yet!

We took our Bugaboo Buffalo with us as it's a bit higher up than the Bee3 for Elsie to see the animals and has plenty of storage underneath for the kids' packed lunches and everything else. That's one of the best things about Chester Zoo compared to our local zoo, there's plenty of room for the pram everywhere and no hills 🙌 I'll do a full review of our two Bugaboo's soon for anyone who's interested.

The Islands area is stunning. It's been designed so well, full of props and interesting additions to the area other than just the animals themselves. When we walked in, Oliver was given an Explorer pack from a member of zoo staff with tear-off binoculars to spot the animals, which he loved. We made our way around to the boat area which I honestly thought you'd have to pay for. To my surprise it was free and there was no queue either! The only downside is that Elsie wasn't allowed on as she can't walk unaided the requirement for going on the boat ride). So I went on with Ollie and then he went on again with Aled straight after. We didn't actually get to see many animals whilst on the boat but I don't mind, they can't be in the right place for you to spot them all day long. But it was just nice to sit down for 10 minutes and relax.

Apart from the Islands area, there's also a new food hall since we last visited with a huge new play area outside it. It's located at the back of the zoo by the penguins and lions. In the food hall there's a pizza counter, fish and chips, burgers, a deli and Cheshire Ice Cream Farm too. I opted for a pizza (so so so good!) and Aled had a chicken burger which was really tasty too. We took packed lunches for the kids (much easier, especially with fussy Ollie) and all sat together inside. We went back there later in the afternoon for an ice cream too. The play area outside is amazing, Oliver loved it. It's set out like a huge boat with walkways, rope ladders and slides to other sections. There's a smaller area for under 5's too but Ollie spent most of his time on the bigger one.

Ollie has never been a huge fan of animals really so we didn't have high expectations of him loving his day but he totally proved us wrong. He thoroughly enjoyed himself, had a keen interest in seeing all the animals (especially the snakes) and literally has not shut up about it all since! We had an email from Chester Zoo the day after our visit saying that our admission price could be deducted from an annual membership if we bought one within 30 days. So we're definitely going to do that after payday. I'm so proud of him for asking so many questions and not being shy. He walked so bloody far too, so t's not surprising that he fell asleep in the car before we'd even left the car park!

Aled was pretty nervous about how much our exit via the gift shop would cost but we were kind to him... this time. Ollie got a Chester Zoo jeep (£3.99), a toy elephant (£2) and Monkey Puzzle book (£6.99) which wasn't too badly priced at all. We picked up a flamingo (£12.99) and Buster's Zoo book (£5.99) for Elsie. I picked up one of the souvenir books and a bag for me too as I am a total sucker for their branding (the graphic designer in me). We also bought a souvenir cup when we got there for £7 too which could be filled up as many times as we like with Pepsi/Lemonade/Fanta all around the park which me and Aled shared.

I'd highly recommend a trip to Chester Zoo for all ages. It's huge, there's so many different animals to see, it's interesting, there's plenty of play areas and picnic areas, the staff are friendly and helpful and it's clean too (I know that's a bit of an odd one to list, but it's always nicer when somewhere just feels looked after, right?). If you're planning on going soon, have a great time!



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