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Go wild at BeWILDerwood
Member Name: Fritzthecat
Advantages: Great fun, lovingly decorated theme park, very different
Disadvantages: Entrance price is too high, much there is not really suitable for smaller kids
Honestly, before we arrived at BeWILDerwood I had no idea what to expect. I had never heard of the place before and only went there because I had seen a small advert in a brochure that we had found in the cottage we had rented.
"A curious tree house adventure" it read and that sounded like a fun place for the girls to me. I envisioned the tree house I had made with my friends when I was small and thought it would be some kind of adventure playground.
BeWILDerwood is easy to find, off the A1062, in between Hoveton and Horning. The park is signed out and there is really ample parking. In fact, the parking lot is that big that we immediately had doubts whether this would be just a playground or not maybe something much bigger. As we went on a weekday in September, after the official school holidays, the parking lot was more or less empty and there were only 5 or six more cars.
As soon as we reached the entrance our suspicions were confirmed, as the slightly bored looking young man in the shack that serves as ticket booth asked £45 for a family ticket from us. At this point we almost changed our mind but the girls had spotted the first "tree house" at the entrance and were begging to go inside.
Those tree houses are hard to describe and surely don't compare to anything I've ever seen before: A number of small little wooden houses (similar to bird feeders), decorated in bright colours hung from a huge tree. They did look lovely and the kids obviously were very taken by them.
My husband finally gave in and paid, the offer to buy the book after which the park has been created was declined quickly though.
The first attraction that you reach once your inside the park is the gift shop - not so strategically great as we were still in shock over the admission fee. From here you can choose to either take a short walk through the marshland, the "Treacherous Trail", or queue up at the Boat Junction and take a trip in a small rowing boat along the "Dismal Dyke". We decided to go for the boat ride and had to wait for 2-3 minutes. The park was totally empty at this point and we were the only customers waiting but I can imagine, that it gets rather busy on a weekend or during the holidays and that queues can build up quickly.
The boat trip only lasts a few minutes but the scenery it takes you through is really remarkable. The surrounding marshland and the lush vegetation that comes with it really make it easy for the kids to believe that they are in some kind of fairy land. At the end of the small river you reach the "Scaaary Lake" and here you'll meet one of the characters from the book: Mildred the Crocklebog.
This funny creature seems to be a kind of crocodile and is waiting in the water, half hidden behind some bushes.
You disembark at the snack shack but as none of us was hungry yet and the place looked rather deserted we decided to continue with the adventure.
A few meters away we finally found out what makes this place so special and why it is so expensive. The "treehouses" turned out to be massive constructions that connect several trees with each other. You reach them over wooden climbing frames and they are connected with normal wooden bridges and jungle style bridges. They are quite high and you do need to accompany smaller children. Our older one, 6 1/2 at the time, loved it from the first second, but our younger daughter, who had just turned 5 a few weeks earlier, was a bit scared first and it took some convincing until she agreed to set food on the first bridge. At each end of the bridges is a kind of "station", or tree house, and those are not only huge but also lovingly decorated. One is made up like a witche's room with all sorts of "scary" pictures on the wall, like spiders, magic potions, etc. This was the one our girls liked most, screeching at every picture they found.
There are also monstrous slides and here we encountered a problem - our little one refused to go down and I had to return with her and go down the way we came, while Anna and my husband took the slide.
There are several of those tree house constructions, each a little bit different, and even we enjoyed the climbing. All of them end with one of those long slides and after a while my little one decided to finally try it, as her sister obviously had fun and came to no harm, and from that moment on we didn't have to return to the beginning any more and I had the pleasure to try some of the slides too. Whoaah ! I'm glad I you can't see the photos ...
There are also zip-wires and a maze and some normal playground items like swings. Several benches along the trail allow the grown ups to sit down and take a rest while the kids are busy climbing and exploring, but for us that was out of question. Our kids were simply too small to be left alone up there. Those frames are so high, I don't think that any child under the age of 7-8 should be allowed on them all alone. In between the attractions there are some more of those small tree houses, just for decoration and as part of the story the trail follows, and they are really cute and nice to look at.
Once you reach the end of the trail you will find the "Yummy Yurt", one of the snack bars of BeWILDerwood. We had worked up quite an appetite but, after having a look at the prices, decided to have just some sandwiches, crisps and drinks and to have dinner somewhere outside. There are plenty of wooden picnic tables around and after a short break we made our way back. By now it was around 4.30 pm and we were the only visitors left.
This time we didn't take the boat but tried our luck on the "Treacherous Trail", a very nice little walk through the marshland, mostly over wooden planks and bridges and with more tiny tree houses along the way. The gift shop was still open but we still weren't in the mood to spend more money here and so we left with two very happy and very exhausted little girls.
All in all we really enjoyed our time and we grown-ups had as much fun climbing the frames, walking over shaky jungle bridges or whooshing down slides and zip wires.
For the girls it was the highlight of our trips to Norfolk and this is now, after more than 6 months, the only place to which we took them they are still talking about. They definitely would love to go back.
If it wasn't that expensive I'd happily agree but £ 45 pound is really a bit steep. Especially if you consider that neither my husband nor me, or probably most other grown-ups, would ever visit this place without being accompanied by children. This place is made for kids and although we had a good time, I'd never go there just by myself (if you are interested: an adult ticket is £10).
If you have smaller children, think twice if this really is the right
place for them yet. As mentioned, our little one was first scared from the height and the bridges and wouldn't want to go on even one slide all by herself. Generally I'd say children in between 7 and 13 will enjoy this place most and can, depending on the abilities of your child, be left alone on the tree houses. Smaller kids really need to be accompanied at all times, so if you don't like climbing on tree houses or going down mega long slides you might just want to give this a miss.
So thumbs up for the park itself but thumbs down for the prices there. For us this will have to stay a special treat for rare occasions.
Please also note that, although this is an open air attraction, due to security reasons, smoking is not permitted anywhere throughout the park: everything here is made out of wood.
Summary: A great place for a special day out
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