Zoo. Alfriston, East Sussex BN 26 5QS. Just off the A27, about 7 miles from Eastbourne and 12 miles from Brighton. Tel: +44(0)13123 874100. Fax: +44(0)1323 874101
As a child we went to Drusillas zoo in every school holiday because I absolutely loved it! We'd always go with me (I was an only child back then), my Mum and my grandparents. It was my favourite activity ever. When my Mum asked me what I wanted to do for my birthday this year, I half-jokingly suggested Drusillas for old time's sake, but after thinking about it I decided I actually did want to go! I study a lot of ecology at University and am passionate about conservation so zoos are still a big interest of mine.
Sadly, my Grandma passed away a couple of weeks before we were meant to go which made me reconsider - I thought it would just be too painful with all the wonderful memories we had there. In the end we decided we would go because you can't sit around not doing anything - that's not what she would have wanted!
As a 22 year old with her Mother and Grandfather, we did seem quite out of place with all the toddlers and push-chairs and young mums - but who cares! We were there to enjoy it, even if we weren't really the target market! We realised that a lot had changed at the zoo since we had last come at least 15 years before - almost all for the better. I've broken the review into sections below.
=Getting there and Admission=
Drusillas is in East Sussex not too far from Eastbourne. It wasn't particularly well sign-posted, but we found it alright after a long time of not doing the journey. The zoo is just off the A27 - the post code is BN26 5QS for those of you with sat-navs.
Standard admission is £16.99 for an adult or children over 2 on a peak day - under 2s are free. There are discounts for families of 2 or more and larger groups. See the website for details about peak days (http://www.drusillas.co.uk/2013-times-and-prices). We bought our admission online and saved £7.50 for the 3 adults - well worth doing!
There is parking and while it's not limited, I'd probably expect a bit more for high season - we struggled to find a spot!
=Food and Drink=
Before we went I said to my Mum that I wasn't looking forward to the food - zoo food is always a bit rubbish with limited choice and ridiculously overpriced. I was therefore extremely surprised to find a lovely café almost as soon as you get in the door - it's called the Explorer café and it's very clever because it's got doors near the entrance and the exit so you can go whenever you're feeling hungry weather that's at the start of your day or at the end.
The Explorer café has a range of sandwiches, pasties, cakes and hot food including sausages, pizza and fish and chips. There was also a salad bar that you could help yourself to - a bit like the Harvester salad bar if you've ever been there. I had a pizza meal deal with 2 slices of pizza, a drink and salad bar for £5.99 - I think that's a bargain! They also served Starbucks coffee here which my Mum enjoyed.
The other cafes seemed to serve similar food - simple but fine. I'm a vegetarian and I managed fine, although the choices weren't endless.
There are plenty of toilets throughout the zoo - all very clean and up to scratch!
The gift shop is a bit small and rubbish, but I'm sure you can find a small souvenir to remember your day and it wasn't obscenely priced.
The animals are what I went for and I wasn't let down. There's nothing big like lions, tigers, giraffes that you'd find in the bigger animal parks, but there's still plenty of interesting wild animals.
I think the type of animal the zoo has most of is monkeys- there's loads of all different sizes and shapes from tiny little marmosets to quite large gibbons. They have wonderful enclosures and it's mesmerising watching them swing through the trees and climbing and generally frolicking! Their lightning speed does make it difficult to take pictures though!
Other than monkeys, there are capybaras, bats, sloths, racoons, lizards, tortoises, flamingos, otters, meerkats, penguins and so much more! All the exhibits make it easy to see the animals and there were only a couple of animals I couldn't really see. It took us about 2 hours to just walk round and see the animals, but I was reading all the signs and watching each animal for a while so it might take you less if you're not interested in some of them as much.
There's also a small farm area with cows, pigs, goats and donkeys - this is a nice little section for young children as I believe you can pet the animals here.
The 'Zoo Trail' makes it very easy to get around the zoo without missing anything or getting lost - it's just one long trail from start to end and so you see everything and it's really well sign-posted.
The park is really designed for kids and it has so much to offer. Apart from really kid-friendly animals that can usually always be seen and actually 'do' things like swinging in trees rather than just sitting, it has little kids activities dotted all around the park and a HUGE play-park at the end that could be a day out in itself.
The 'Go Wild' park at the end of the zoo trail has huge jungle gyms, boat swings and all sorts to keep your little ones running around and burning off their lunch! It's been a long time since I've played in that park, but I loved it back then and all the kids I saw playing on it the last time I went certainly looked like they were having a whale of a time!
There's also a new splash pool that wasn't there when I was a child so if you go in summer make sure to pack a swimming costume for your children - I went on a particularly sunny day and all the kids seemed to be really enjoying cooling off there - I'm sure some of the animals would have enjoyed it as well.
There is a discovery centre and a workshop where children can learn a bit more about the zoo and do some crafts, but these are only open in East Sussex School holidays and weekends. I have some very fond memories in these workshops so it's worth a look if you visit when they are open.
Overall I have to give it 5/5 - I absolutely loved it and if you have kids you'd be even more impressed with what it has to offer. Half the stuff was completely irrelevant to me, but it was still one of the best days out I've had in a long time. Definitely worth a trip with your wee ones (or not!).
My family and I enjoy days out with my daughter very much, the more engaging and educational the better as it helps us all get involved and makes the day more memorable and exciting. My daughter is on school summer holidays and each year I like to buy an annual pass for an attraction so we can have big days out which work out as good value for money over the twelve month period. Last summer (2012) I chose Drusillas Park in Alfriston, East Sussex which is a small zoo with a variety of activities which are varied and similar to some of the bigger theme parks, it was aimed perfectly towards my daughter's age group (three years old). Some of the other themed parks I had considered didn't have a lot of choice or variety for younger children which made Drusillas a tempting option. We purchased standard yearly passes, standard for the adults and a gold member annual pass for my daughter in 2012 and we have averaged a visit each month over the year so far and felt it has been fantastic value for what is included. Our most recent visit was on 20/07/2013 and as always, we were not disappointed with the experience.
====About Drusillas Park====
Drusillas Park was founded in 1922 originally as a family run tea room in Alfriston, East Sussex. The family decided to expand their business to include activities and attractions that would help boost business and attract customers, since then the park has grown with the family's investments and has recently won 'Visitor Attraction of the Year' in the Tourism South East Awards (2010).
10.00am - 6.00pm Summer Time (BST)
10.00am - 5.00pm Winter Time (GMT)
The park is closed Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day.
Ticket prices vary for standard day passes to the zoo, depending whether it is peak season or off peak, whether you book online in advance or buy at the gate, you can exchange Tesco Clubcard tokens for day passes, you can buy annual passes which can be standard or gold membership, the gold membership has extra activities included in the price and discounts for onsite use.
Booking online the prices for adults peak season a single adult or child above two years is £16.99 (VAT inclusive) under two years is free admission. Off peak, adult or child over two years is £15.99 (VAT inclusive) and free for children less than two years old. There are reduced prices for senior citizens and disabled visitors and their carers. Tickets may also be purchased as family tickets; a family of four peak season would cost £63.99 (VAT inclusive) and £50.99 (VAT inclusive) off peak.
As a family of three, one three year old and two adults our ticket price would be £47.99 for us all peak season and £44.99 off peak. I chose to buy the annual passes; two standard adult passes (£59.00) and one gold child pass (£74.00) which set me back £148.00. This meant we needed to visit the park four times or more to make savings on the online advanced booking prices. Having averaged twelve visits our average cost is approximately £12.33 per visit which is fantastic value considering how much there is to explore and see, but also the activities included with the children's gold pass it makes for a family friendly, cheap day out. I live around an hour drive away from the park but I would not hesitate going several times a month if I lived closer, there is so much to do that you could easily go often and find different activities to do and areas to explore each visit.
So the annual gold pass costs £25.00 more than a standard pass and is only available for the children. So what does it include? Well, the most prominent benefits are the activities that your child can take part in for free. When you present your gold pass at the admissions booth your child receives a gold wristband that gives them access to the following activities which are available at weekends and school holidays.
Panning for Gold
Jungle Adventure Golf
Are the activities worth the extra money? Without a doubt. Each of these activities cost around £3.50 per child, per activity and they are located in the central picnic area, which you pass on the way to the toilets, pass the stage where the characters do meet and greats for the event days, in the same area as Thomas the Tank Engine ride and of course you have to pass through to reach the exit, it is (almost) unavoidable.
Other nice little extra's that are included for both standard annual memberships too include 10% off the Explorers café, a 20% renewal discount if you renew your membership within 30 days of your membership expiring and 20% off animal adoptions. You also receive membership emails including offers; recent offers have included free adult entry with each adult annual membership card holder days.
This is based in a large cave shaped, sand pit area in which children are armed with a bucket and spade are sent on a mission to find three fossils in the large sand pit. Once three dinosaur bone fossils have been found, children can exchange their precious finds for a small dinosaur figurine reward. Whilst the activity sounds simple and not very exciting, the children have great fun becoming explorers and digging away. My daughter does find it a bit tricky to locate the large pebble sized bones, it is a large pit and it is just as fun filling a bucket up with the spade and burying your legs in the sand, which is refreshingly cool on warm days and best of all there is no time limit to this activity. No child leaves without their reward too and I have on occasion jumped in to help dig those fossils up myself. I think it is a good activity but I am unsure if we hadn't had had the gold pass if it is something we would want to pay for each time we visit.
Panning For Gold
With a pan and a pot to hand to search for golden treasure nuggets, children have a choice of two large, deep, water troughs which have heavy sand in the bottom mixed with fool's gold. Children do get an apron but the younger children (and enthusiastic older children!) do have to lean in quite deep to get a good scoop and swishing the heavy tray about to reveal the gold is a messy affair, it is good fun and on a sunny day those wet clothes will dry in no time. Again with this activity there is no time limit, you can stay panning as long as you wish or until the gold runs dry then you can exchange your fool's gold for a medal. As my daughter declared 'I am a winner!'. I think it is lovely to have activities where every child is rewarded for their efforts, it also softens the cost to the wallet adding extra value and smiles all round.
This is one of those enormous inflatable slides that looms high above onloooking parents, quite colourful and possibly the most prominent and eye-catching activity due to the sheer size. The climb does look steep and I do feel my child is a little too young to take part in this activity, not from a safety perspective as there are lots of reassuring safety measures like padded mats around the plunge area, metal railings to keep the landing area clear and staff monitoring this at all times, on occasion rescuing the tot that wasn't quite as brave at the top as he was at the bottom, but more that the inflatable steps are quite vertical and imagine a toddler may not have the strength to hoist themselves up. Like a majority of the activities it costs approximately the same price as the other activities in this area and ideally suited to the older children if they are brave enough. Again, another activity that has no time limit, or limit on the amount of goes you can have.
Jungle Adventure Golf
Crazy golf is another activity for children to participate in, it's a nice calm activity which is located not far from the exit and makes an ideal winding down activity. The crazy golf has a simple layout which makes it easier for the younger children to enjoy too; it is bright and colourful with lots of interesting features to see along the way. This activity isn't generally very busy, as it is tucked away near the exit which allows players to take their time and relax whilst playing. It is one of the last activities we will do before leaving and has a calming effect on my daughter which makes the car journey home pleasant. This activity is due to close in July for renovation; this is either delayed or completed as it was open when we visited on 20th July 2013.
We haven't taken part in the vertical limit challenge as this is aimed at older children and teens. This is a rock climbing oblong with strategically placed footings to challenge kids, but not so much that it is a struggle to complete. Unfortunately I am unaware of the price of this particular activity but similar to the others I would think it would be around the £3.50 mark.
Thomas The Tank Engine Ride
Choo choo! Thomas the Tank engine is at Drusillas and wants to take you on a Thomas tour of the park. This train ride is a short ride that lasts around five minutes, it takes you around a track through the park, past the llamas and alpacas, the adventure playgrounds and lots of signs with questions and answers about Thomas and friends as you go along whilst playing the happy little theme tune. Coming back to the station you go through a dark tunnel and then past the fat controller's office (and his huge plate of biscuits!). The train goes every fifteen minutes and has plenty of carriages to ensure short queues on busy days. This is a free ride and is very popular, it also has a buggy parking bay so parents with young children do not need to try and fit buggies into the carriages which is a nice touch.
Every good park has somewhere children can let off some steam and burn off some energy; Drusillas is no exception and in fact can boast three large play areas. The three play areas are 'Go Bananas' which is for six years and under, 'Go Wild' for children over six years and 'Amazon Adventure' an indoor air conditioned/heated soft play centre. My daughter is in the Go Bananas! Age group and the facilities are quite good for her age. There is a large wooden adventure playground with slides, bridges, nets, and even a snake helter skelter slide for those who are brave enough to cross the rope bridge. There are two double sets of swings, aimed at different age groups, a trampoline built into the floor with cushioned edges, zebra rockers, a large lion rocker and lots of interactive displays and features. We haven't ventured into the older children's outside play area but it looks like a bigger version with more complex adventure playground and activities such as the zip wire.
Indoor Play Centre
I adore the indoor play centre as it can be very quiet, it is tucked away behind the outside play centres and at first glance looks like a small café until you enter and see the enormous soft play area. The soft play has two sections, one for toddlers and one for older children but they aren't closed off from each other so it is very easy to find your way into trickier territory. Due to this I went in with my daughter and it is huge once you get inside, there are areas I had to help my daughter climb up and through but it is tiring for an adult. My daughter enjoyed the soft ball guns and the hall of mirrors corridor which left me guessing where she had darted off too. The slide is fantastic, a very long, wavy slide that delivers you back to the café with some speed! The play area does require children to wear socks, this catches many parents out with children wearing sandals but the café do sell pairs of socks for 80p which I think is quite reasonable. The food and drinks menu is very limited to tea, coffee and hot chocolate, canned or bottled beverages and either animal bottled fruit juice or slushed ice drinks for the children. Large coffee and hot chocolate was £1.80 each and the crushed iced drink was £1.10. These are reasonable drinks prices for the size as I would expect to pay more from a coffee shop at home; the slushed ice drinks were extremely sweet and were not drunk by my little one. The café has an inside and outside seating area, the outside seating area out the front is a sheltered seating area with picnic tables and lockers to store your personal belongings, these take £1 coins and are refundable. There is an unsheltered outside seating area next to the llamas and alpacas with picnic benches too. The Amazon Adventure area has free Wi-Fi too.
The Explorers Lagoon is open during the summer months and does get quite busy as this is a free activity. This is a paddling pool and sun lounge area which is best suited to smaller children to paddle in during the warmer weather although every now and then it is commandeered buy the older children. The water is only a few feet deep but makes a welcome respite on hot summer days. There are water guns on the edge of the pool for children to playfully skirt other paddlers. The sun loungers fill up quickly when the lagoon opens so if this is an activity you wish to take part in, it may be best to go as soon as it opens to ensure some paddle time. There are benches dotted around the lagoon in shady areas. There isn't any changing rooms however the toilets are across from the lagoon with a large cubicle in the baby changing area which is acceptable, Make sure you bring a towel and a spare set of clothes just in case!
Dotted around the park are various character ride-ons such as Hello Kitty, and Thomas the Tank engine rides at 50p each, tin can alley style gun games and water squirting to hit target style games. Luckily there is so much to see and do that these don't stand out too much from the rest of the scenery but are unavoidable to pass whilst you venture through to different areas.
====Zoo Trail and Farm====
Drusillas Park houses a small zoo which focuses on exploring and learning about the animals and their environments. This is a small zoo which does not house larger, dangerous and endangered animals such as gorillas, tigers or elephants but personally I feel this adds to the zoo's charm. There are other zoo's which do house larger animals but does not have a focus on learning, I feel that Drusillas balances these aspects well. The zoo does have many animals that children may not have seen before and have a wonderful zoo route to follow that allows you to explore the different types of animal with learning activities along the way. The zoo route takes you through the following areas.
The zoo homes over a hundred species of animals, some of our favourites include the Chilean flamingos who can stand on one leg much longer than my daughter can, stunning rainbow lorikeets, flappy Humboldt penguins, binturongs (which are very large!), stunning red pandas, the rather hairy kune kune pigs and Rodrigues fruit bats. There is such a wide array of animals that you are sure to find something for the whole family to enjoy. They have a lot of exotic animals which children will love to learn about. As you explore the zoo trail, there are signs to indicate each animal and some interesting facts about their habitats and diets. There are lots of learning activities along the way which including milking a cow (not a real one I may add), putting your hand in holes to try and guess which animal the fur/skin/spines belong to and weighing yourself to see which animal you weigh as much as, my daughter weighed as much as an otter!
The farmyard area has the kune kune pigs which are little smelly, donkeys, ponies, chickens and little chicks, cows and goats. You can also see a display which explains how a cow digests it's food, milk a free standing cow display, see which products we see in the shops that come from the farm, they have giant egg shells that children can pose in for photos as well which are brilliant. At the entrance of the farm attraction there is some mechanical chickens clucking and singing away to a slightly irritating tune but with so much to see and do you won't have to listen to it for long, it is right above the area for washing hands for when you have finished petting the animals which has hand sanitizer available.
There are walk through exhibits that are optional, these are Lemur Land where you can get up close and personal with the Lemurs, Lory Landing where you can hand feed the lorikeets and the Bat Cave which is home to the sleepy sloths, violaceous turacos and the Rodrigues fruit bats which often can be seen munching upside down on a banana! These are all open daily, however the Lory Landing and Lemurland which open at 11.00am and close at 3.30pm GMT and 4.00pm BST and are open daily from half term in February until the end of the half term in October, then just at the weekends outside of these times. It is lovely to get up close with the lemurs, they can be a bit daunting for younger guests as they can jump quite high and startle them but if you have adventurous toddlers they will be amazed by these fantastic little creatures. The Lory Landing is quite good, the lorikeets might just land on your shoulders, I think the only downside is they do try and upsell the food (nectar) which is £1 but makes for a wonderful encounter as they come darting over for a nibble.
For some of the animals, they have feeding times where you can watch the keepers feed the animals and if you pay the extra you can have a one on one animal encounter. Extra activities include being a keeper for the day, this does cost quite a bit extra but if you have a budding zoo keeper in the making this may be a priceless experience for them. If you find that you fall in love with the animals you could consider an animal adoption, the price varies depending which animal you wish to adopt but include guest passes to come back and visit them again another time, an adoption certificate, a plaque by the animal to say you have adopted it and a picture of the species you have adopted. Animal adoptions start from £40.00 and can be bought online or at the park. If you are an annual pass holder you get a 20% discount on adoptions.
When we plan a trip to Drusillas we tend to bring a picnic with us which can be eaten in the spacious and well seated picnic bench area. We like to keep costs down and making some sandwiches, a salad, some snacks, nibbles, drinks and treats can be much better value if you are trying to save money. The Drusillas kid's lunch boxes are approximately £5.00 and consists of your choice of filled finger roll (cheese/marmite/jam) etc., some crisps, a cake, a drink and an animal mask (If bought from the Explorers café). In my mind it isn't good value or particularly the most nutritious meal. I am disappointed that although the roll fillings are vegetarian friendly, there aren't any lunch box options for children with allergies such as gluten or wheat intolerance
The Explorers Café does offer a variety of food options including sandwiches, salads, jacket potatoes and hot food such as fish and chips as well as lunch boxes and a menu for younger children. We had fish and chips at the Explorers Café on our visit before last, and unfortunately despite the generous large portions which were freshly made in front of us, the fish had a lot of bones in it which did hinder the enjoyment of the meal somewhat, it also made it difficult for my daughter to enjoy as we had to break hers apart searching for bones leaving her with a flaky fish mess. The fish was slightly slimy and the chips were soggy. We haven't eaten there since as our meal cost close to £20.00 with drinks. Having said this, the Explorers Café has undergone a menu overhaul since we ate here, although the menu has generally the same meals as it had before they have improved the quality of the ingredients and variety. They now sell Starbucks coffee and Ben and Jerry's ice-cream. The Explorers Café does have a variety of options for vegetarians and gluten intolerant guests and offers a selection of baby food and warming facilities for babies.
We have also eaten at the Oasis Café; my daughter had a kid's packed lunch box which was mildly disappointing similarly to the boxes at The Explorers Café, except these ones had a small plastic toy animal gift instead of a mask. I would have preferred for the gift to be substituted for a piece of fruit or a more substantial filling in the finger rolls than marmite or cheese. We had burgers and chips and surprisingly these were quite delicious and filling, we had expected them to be sloppy and cheap tasting but we were not disappointed, the £4.50 each we paid was reasonable for the meal we had. The food served is generally fast food classics such as burgers, hot dogs, chicken nuggets, ice cream etc., they have vegetarian options such as veggie burgers, salads and jacket potatoes with a choice of fillings, and they also sell organic food which is a nice touch. I think the food is reasonably priced for the quality and portion size.
There is the Station Buffet which caters for the sweet tooth, serving up mouth-watering sweet treats such as doughnuts, waffles, cookies and ice cream. We haven't had any treats from here as it's situated right next to the Thomas train ride but the smell of waffles and doughnuts around lunchtime is almost hypnotising. Unfortunately I cannot comment on the prices but we will be trying some freshly made doughnuts on our next visit.
====Shops and Facilities====
There are several shops on site, there is three gift shops, Teddy's Jungle Safari which sells soft toys of the animals you will find at the park and a selection of animals not at the park too and is located at the end of the zoo trail, Mungo's Trading Post which sells more traditional souvenirs ranging from animal masks and snow globes to branded stationery and commercial toys that you would find in most high street toyshops such as Hello Kitty and Thomas the Tank Engine sets. There is a gift shop tucked away near the exit called The Really Useful gift Shop which sells branded character toys such as Peppa Pig which is nice for Event days when children can come and meet and greet their favourite characters amongst other things and refreshments, being located at the exit good for supplies for the car journey home. There is a shop that sells sweets called Candy Land, luckily this is hidden well between the various food outlets and as we tend to picnic we have not noticed it as yet. I am a bit disappointed that the gift shops stock a wide variety of gifts with no connection to the park such as alien eggs and Slinkys (the coils you push downstairs) although to be fair they are branded Slinkys with Drusillas printed on them. The prices are fairly reasonable; we picked up a penguin snow globe and a Slinky for £5.00.
There are toilets located on the zoo route just by the bat enclosure which is about half way through the zoo route; there are two toilet cubicles which are not very roomy, I would think this is for younger guests who might not make it the full way around without needing a toilet break. There is no baby changing facilities that I could see at this set of toilets. There is a much larger toilet area opposite the Explorer's Lagoon which has four cubicles, and sinks for both adults and smaller ones for children. There is a baby changing area with a changing table top and a cubicle unit with a soft bench for older children in nappies and changing out of wet swimsuits. I thought that the inclusion of a child toilet seats as well as adult sized toilet seats was brilliant for toilet training/trained toddlers and negated the need to bring a travel toilet seat. Top marks for Drusillas for thinking family friendly.
There are designated smoking areas set away from but in view of children's areas and eating areas in little hut styled gazebos. Generally people do keep to these rules and there are a couple of these huts dotted around the park, but not in excess.
Parking is plentiful at the park; there is a large car park at the entrance, which leads on to an overspill car park for busier days. We have always been able to park in the main car park but have always arrived before midday. We usually leave around 3.00pm and have only once seen the coach park used as an overspill car park, this was on an event day where Captain Barnacles from the Octonauts children's programme was doing meet and greets. There is coach parking separate from the main car parks making this a great school trip site for children too.
The only thing that perhaps could be improved, but definitely not an essential would be a little shop that sold things that parents may have forgotten such as towels, swimwear, nappies and swim nappies, sun hats and sunglasses, sun cream, formula, clothing (in case of splashes or accidents), hand sanitizer etc. Whilst they do not sell these I would recommend making sure you have anything you may need kept in the car or backpack just in case they are needed.
====Staff and Atmosphere====
One of the parks most redeeming features are their staff. They are friendly, helpful and are always happy to help you out. The several times we have been there we have never seen a member of staff without a smile or being unhelpful, all of the staff are great with the children and parents and engaging them in the activities really well. I quite liked that when we last visited the park was quiet and the staff around the Zoo route would come up to us and point out things we may not have seen and new additions. We saw the red pandas who apparently were really shy and rarely seen together up close looking straight at us, sadly my camera had died at this point but got a lovely up close shot that we hadn't managed during previous visits, we also were shown the baby fennec fox who was adorable. The general atmosphere is friendly, calm yet exciting. I found myself regressing back to childhood wanting to get involved in the activities and explore. We all left with smiles and memories that we will treasure for a long time to come.
Overall I would say this is a great, fun filled day out for families with children of all ages. Whilst it is aimed mainly at families I think people without children would enjoy the zoo route and the refreshments too. The park is very good value for money as there is such a variety of activities and attractions that do not require extra costs, although I think children do get very good value with the gold annual passes which do include a selection of the most popular activities. Every time we have been we have not managed to do everything in one day as there is so much to see and do. I would fully recommend taking a picnic if the weather is nice to save money, it doesn't take away from the experience at all and the picnic area is lovely, there is a bubble machine which gently floats bubbles around the picnic area in the breeze, my daughter loves this, the picnic area also overlooks the stage for character meet and greets and makes an ideal area to relax whilst waiting. The route to the zoo is fairly simple, just off the A27 and clearly signposted. I would recommend arriving at opening time to be able to enjoy the zoo route when it's not busy, when we have arrived around 11.00am- 11.30am the zoo route is packed with visitors and it can be difficult to view the animals, if you do lunch around 11.30am, the adventure playgrounds get quieter around midday when everyone heads for food so this is a good way to be able to enjoy the equipment without it being too crowded. I love this park, the zoo is small enough for little ones to enjoy but not become bored, although my daughter has had days where he was not interested in the animals at all which is fine as there is plenty more to do. The café and restaurants aren't too overpriced like many similar parks and even if the weather gets wet and gloomy there is so much to do inside and undercover. It is easy to see why this small zoo has won many awards; it is a wonderful place to visit.
Please note I have also posted this review on Ciao under my username mandyplatinum - 24/01/2014
We visited Drusillas during the October Half Term. 2 adults, 2 teenagers and a toddler. Prices were expensive as it was a school holiday and so peak - Individuals (Aged 2 plus) £14.30, reductions for elderly, disabled or carers so check out their websit before you go. Also do cheaper family admissions but don't save a great deal. We always use our Tesco Clubcard deal vouchers - need to send off for them about 2-3 weeks in advance if you are a clubcard points collector. Get 4 times the value (soon to be reduced to 3 times the value), but still well worth it. We used £15 in clubcard points and all got in free. No hassle in using the vouchers and staff very helpful.
It was very busy but the children all enjoyed it, as did the adults! Try and get there early as the farm can get a bit clogged up. Stay later and the play area gets quieter from about 3pm so the adults can play too. The train is very busy midday so try and get there early or later to save queuing especially if you have younger children.
Take a picnic with you to save the cost and queues of the cafes. Also helpful for hungry toddlers/children to snack on as you go round. Please make sure they wash their hands after the farm though. Lots of picnic tables near the Thomas the train station. Or picnic in the playareas before the shop, as after the shop is he extra attractions - climbing wall, inflatable slide etc and you may not want childrening pestering whilst you eat.
Check out the website for their event days as we went during halloween and they had a spooky dig to win a small bag of sweets which just added a pleasant touch to the day.
This is not only an animal park but also has other entertainment for all the family. We have had several trips to Drusillas as it is only up the road from my mother-in-law so when my girls were younger often we would go there.
Drusillas is open everyday except over Christmas
The cost of tickets is
Off Peak Adults £11.30 Standard Adults £13.30 Peak Adults £14.30
Under 2 years of age free
Off Peak Senior Citizen £10.80 Standard Senior Citizen £12.80 Peak Senior Citizen £13.80
Off Peak Disabled £10.00 Standard Disabled £12.00 Peak Disabled £13.00
I f you are a carer it is the same price
There are deals if you are a family of 2 which range from £21-27.60
Family of 3 which range from £32.40-£41.40
Family of 4 which range rom £43.20 -£51.20
All the attractions are just one price of the entry ticket which I think is such good value
There are animals to see they are not the conventional animals which you see in a normal zoo but what you will see the children will thoroughly enjoy. Some of the animals that you will come across at Drusillas are Meerkats,Lar Gibbons,Servals,Squirrel Monkeys,Racoons, Blue and Gold Macaws are just a few as there are so many to see and enjoy.
The other things you will see during your trip to Drusillas is the train ride Thomas & Friends where the train will take you to the paddock where the llamas are also find where the Fat Controller is and lots more things you will see during your train ride.
Also there is an adventure play area with swings an eating areas.
The location of Drusillas is just off the A27 near Alfriston. Six miles away from Eastbourne if you are coming from Brighton it is twelve miles East Sussex
So if you are wanting a different place to visit this summer please give Drusillas ago
Hubbie, Little Man and I recently spent a few days in St Leonards on Sea on the South coast, and I picked up a leaflet for Drusilla's Park in Alfriston. Described as a small zoo, it is also home to an indoor and outdoor adventure playground, and (the main draw to us) a real Thomas the Tank Engine Train. It took us about half an hour to get there from the Combe Haven caravan park.
The park was really easy to find, and was signposted once you were within a couple of miles, with a huge sign outside so you can't miss the entrance (unless you are my idiot husband!!)just off the A27. There is a large car park with disabled parking spaces just outside the entrance. There is also toilets and baby change in the car park, which is great if you have just had a substantial car journey!!
There was very little queue when we went, although it wasn't school holidays but there was a fair few people visiting, and quite a few school groups. It cost us £25.60 for a family of two, as we did not have to pay for little man as he is under 2. There was no separate price for adults and children which I found quite odd. Inside the gates there is a large map showing the way around the park, and free stamp books which you can use to animal spot as you walk through the zoo (There are stamp points set up as you encounter each animal in the book) - now little man was far too young to understand animal spotting and stamping, but the novelty definitely wasn't lost on me!! I loved running round finding the stamp points, and I think my husband was ashamed to be seen with me !!
The Zoo is not a zoo in the traditional sense - there are no Lions and tigers, just small animals. There are loads of monkeys, Lemurs, Exotic birds and Meerkats. There is also a farm, where you can stroke the animals if they come close enough - we were in hysterics at a goat that decided to rip the 'Do Not Feed the Animals' sign on the gate and try to eat it!! There are lots of sinks and soap dotted about so that you can wash your hands after you stroke anything! There is also a pets corner which showed all kinds of domestic animals from hamsters to degu's, and stick insects to tarantula's. There was info about all the pets, including how much they cost to buy and care for, as well as what sort of maintenance they need. I found this very informative.
Little man loved the animals, although he miowed at them all! All the enclosures were a decent size for the animals they held, and all the animals looked happy and well cared for. The viewing windows were large and low enough for little ones in the buggy. I liked the fact there was only one way to walk around the zoo as it kept the crowd moving and it never felt too packed. Dotted around near some of the animals were little activities called Zoolympics Challenge, like hanging from monkey bars, Jumping as far as a Kangaroo or out running a crocodile, which were quite fun to try!!
After the Zoo walk there was a large Adventure play area. There was loads of climbing frames, swings and roundabouts. These were definitely more suited to over 5's but there were a few things that little man could go on. There was also an indoor soft play area, and there was a toddler area in there which little man loved. You have to wear socks to play in here, but the little coffee bar sold them if you didn't bring any (which seemed to be quite a money spinner!) There are also a few tables for parents to chill out while the kids play. There is also a paddling pool which looked lovely, but is only open on warm days and we were not blessed with sunshine when we visited. I got talking to a local lady while in the play area and she has a season pass and comes every week in the summer just to use the pool and the playground.
There were quite a few places to eat at Drusillas, but we only had an ice cream! There seemed to be a good variety though, including proper hot meals as well as the standard burger and chips and kids snack boxes. Prices seemed on par with similar places, and you could get a meal for well under a fiver a head.
In this area there is also Panning for Gold, Adventure Golf and a Climbing Wall. There was an extra charge for these and as little man is too young for them we did not try them.
After the play area there was the new interactive maze - I really wanted to try this but you couldn't take buggies through which I completely understand, but as we had both just spent ages chasing little man around soft play, as he was still in boots and bar and a spinal brace so weighed a ton neither of us could bear to carry him round in case we got lost!! Hubbie did offer to amuse little man while I went on my own but I am a bit of a coward!!
Finally you get to Thomas the Tank Engine - he was running every half hour with Annie and Clarabelle, and takes you for a ride around the perimeter of the park which took about 10 minutes, and was little man's favourite part as he is a Thomasaholic! I would recommend you get in the queue about 10 minutes before departure as it did get really busy. You get unlimited rides on Thomas included in your entry ticket. You cannot take buggies on Thomas but there is a large buggy park at the station.
Between Thomas and the exit there is a large Thomas shop. It was like paradise to little man and sold everything Thomas. We could have spent a fortune in there, but we came away with a tracksuit, a personalised door plate, and a flag for little man to keep him amused on the way home. The shop also sold postman pat, Dora and other children's favourites.
I was a little bit disappointed in the Thomas area as I felt there could have been more of a Thomas theme instead of just the train and shop, like statues of the other trains to sit on or something to make it more of a Thomas Land. It felt a bit like it had been tacked on the end of the park to draw in more guests without a lot of thought.
We spent about half a day at Drusillas - I think if little man had been that little bit older then we could have spent all day here and we definitely will return in a few years when we are in the area, especially if it is a sunny day when the paddling pool is open. We had a fabulous time, and felt that we had done everything we could do with little man. The park was spotless, and the staff we lovely, and we would definitely recommend it - it is probably best suited to families with primary age children, but we saw a few couples and elderly groups and everyone seemed to be having a good time.
The Park is open 362 days a year and prices vary dependant on season - it was a standard day when we went, but there are also Peak and Off-Peak days so it is worth checking on the website before you go. They also accept Tesco deal vouchers, but only off the individual entry tickets. If you go during the school holidays they have events and character appearances including Barney, Ben 10 and Dora. For more details about Drusilla's Park they have a very good website - www.drusillas.co.uk.
It's funny really to think of Drusilla's as a zoo as there's no big cats and such. Still maybe that adds to its' appeal to youngsters as there isn't anything too scary! It's not just about the animals, though, at Drusilla's; there's a lot else.
There's the Thomas train, which is really good as the level of detail and size is what children expect of the 'real' Thomas, you also get too see a lot of other characters such as Cranky on the way too. There's a big playground and crazy golf too.
Another thing about Drusilla's is that they have character days or special exhibitions almost every week throughout the year and as these are included in the price, it is worth checking if you will be going on any of these days.
One of our highlights was the penguins because you can see them swimming from underneath as well, and, of course, watch them getting fed which is quite funny. Another good area was the farm area, where you can scratch the pigs backs and see how a cow digests it's food. Being interactive makes a difference to how much the children take awy from their day.
The cafe can be quite expensive if there's a few of you, so best to bring your own food.
Yesterday my children and I had one of the best days of the summer holidays, we went to Drusillas park with my sister and her little boy and we all had a brilliant time -here is my review based on my visit yesterday (25/08/09).
What is Drusillas park? - It is a small Zoo, playground, soft play area, splash park, farm, train ride and fun fair all rolled into one. I will go into more detail of each area of the park further down the page.
It is suitable for children of all ages although I would say younger children aged 2-8 would enjoy most of the facilities to the full.
The Entrance - There is a large car park at the entrance of Drusillas, this is extended in the summer so I think you would always find a parking space. We arrived at 9:30 a.m and already the car park was starting to fill up. The park doesn't open until 10 a.m but by 9:45 the queue was getting quite long. Whilst you are queuing there are several activity boards to keep the children entertained, along with toilets and baby changing facilities.
Make sure you get in the right queue as there are two - Blue for day visits and Yellow for annual members only.
The park opened promptly at ten and the queue swiftly went down.
There are a variety of different entrance prices depending on what time of year and how many people there are. Adults and Children over two are the same price to get in, babies under two are free and there are reductions for disabled and senior citizens. During all school holidays it costs £13.80 however they do a 2, 3, 4 or 5 persons family ticket where you can save about 80p per ticket. For five of us it cost £66.50.
When you pay you are given a little map, keep this safe as it has all the feeding times, animal talk times and special event on it, it is also essential for finding your way around.
Here is a brief guide to the different sections of the park.
The Zoo - At the beginning of the park. be sure to pick up an 'animal spotters guide' as you walk through the zoo there are ink stampers at certain animals, when your child has seen them they can stamp their book.
Also pick up a zoo Olympics booklet, throughout the park there are different challenges such as how long can you swing on a bar for or how fast can you run? There is space in the Zoo Olympics book for your child to record their results - remember a pen.
The zoo itself is not very large, it is however spread over quite a large space and is full of hands on activities to make it seem bigger. You will see a variety of animals including Monkeys, penguins, lemurs, meerkats, bats and reptiles. There is a special bug house and bat enclosure so you do not have to see these animals if you don't want to.
There are several feeding times throughout the day, but get there early as they get very busy.
The farm and pet centre - The farm is a small enclosure with pigs, sheep, goats and hens. There is different activities going on such as 'milking a wooden cow' and 'egg hatching'.
The pet centre is lovely, it has a wide range of pets from giant cockroaches to goats, above each animal it has a little guide of how to look after them, how hard they are to keep and how expensive it is to care for them. There is no dogs or cats but they do get a mention on one of the boards. You can stroke some of the animals and there is a sink provided to wash your hands after.
The Splash park - This is a little lagoon style paddling pool, there are several benches all around the pool so you can relax while the kids have a splash, It is very shallow, the deepest part of it came up to my five year old sons knee. There is a shack style shop selling cold drinks, ice lollies, sweets and crisps. It also sells swimming costumes, sun cream and disposable cameras. I would really recommend you visit this area of the park first as it gets so busy by lunch time, we went here at ten and we were the only ones there until quarter to eleven when we were leaving. The children must have swimming costumes on or at least knickers, they are really hot on nude swimming or babies in just nappies.
The playground - This is huge, it is split into to main sections with loads of mini sections too. In the older kids section It has a great big adventure playground with ropes, cargo nets, slides and poles. This is more suitable for bigger children my nine year old was in her element yet my five year old found some of it tricky. There are big tyre swings, bannana boats, rope ladders, zip wires and round abouts all dotted around.
The younger section is great for under six's, it has a huge covered trampoline, swings, round about, mini zip wire and wooden adventure centre like the bigger one but smaller and more manageable.
There is also a big sandpit, but it is quite hidden behind a great big slide so it was virtually empty.
The soft play - This is a medium sized soft play area, your children must, must, must have socks or they will not be allowed on the equipment, socks are for sale at 70p a pair. There is several tables and chairs inside and more of a picnic area in the enclosed garden. There is a cafe where you can buy hot and cold drinks, sandwiches, sweets and biscuits. You cannot eat your own food in there. The actual equipment is pretty standard, a couple of slides, ball pond and one huge big drop blue slide. There is a smaller enclosed area for under fives.
There is no time limit although as there is so much to see and do twenty minutes or so is more than ample.
Train and fun fair - The train is one of Drusillas main crowd pulling factors, as it is a full size Thomas the Tank engine. You can ride on Thomas as many times as you like for no extra charge, the queue can get long but it does move very quickly.
Thomas takes you on a ride around the whole park to the theme tune of Thomas the Tank, you will see the animals, park and other Thomas characters along the way such as Cranky, James, Bulgy and The Fat controller. At the end of the ride everyone is given a sticker saying 'I rode Thomas The Tank' There is a space at the back of the Animal spotters guide to put the sticker at the end of the day.
The area where Thomas starts is set out like a fun fair, there is several attractions that cost extra, dino dig - which is basically a sand pit where the children dig for treasure - £2.00, Bouncy castle side £2.00 for five slides, Climbing wall - £2.50 (children must be five or over, they are provided with all the equipment) and panning for gold - £2.50, this is where your child digs for buried golden nuggets, at the end they receive a medal. There are other ride on's and pay per go activities like mask painting, tattoos and face painting. These vary in price from £2-£4.
This is where the main picnic area is, there are loads of picnic tables and a large grass area.
If you are going on a character day, this is where they will be.
Shopping and Eating, There are two main cafes in the park, the Explorers cafe situated behind the lagoon and the Oasis cafe situated in the playground. We bought a picnic so I can't comment on food but I saw a menu and the prices seemed reasonable such as Jacket potato with cheese and beans £4.50 or Lasagne and chips £6.50.
There are other food outlets around the park selling snacks, drinks and icecream. Prices are what you would expect for this kind of place i.e bottle of coke £1.50, ice cream £1.50, hot chocolate £1.45.
There are three shops in drusillas, the big main shop is situated in the funfair area, it sells all sorts of merchandise such as cups, rulers, plastic animals, notebooks etc. Prices were a little expensive but again the norm for this type of venue. Another shop is by the playground this sells sweets and icecream, all those high E number, tacky tooty sweets like toxic gum and spray candy, childs heaven, parents hell.
The last shop is on the way out, it sells everything you could ever want to do with Thomas the Tank, trains, hats, bubbles, pencils, lunch boxes, soap. You name it they have it.
Where is it, I want to go!
It is situated just off the A27 near Alfriston. They are approximately 6 miles from Eastbourne. The post code for sat navers is BN26 5QS.
I think it is quite a trek by public transport, there is a bus stop outside but I am not sure where it goes. Drusillas suggest looking at www.travelline.org for transport information.
Additional extras and must not forgets -
Drusillas is very accessible and has wide paths, ramps and plenty of disabled toilets. There are toilets and baby changing rooms in most of the areas.
Top five things to bring
1) socks - for play area
2) Swimming things - for lagoon
3) picnic - enjoy the outdoors and save some pennies
4) a pen - for the activity booklets
5) a camera - to catch so many magical moments.
We were one of the first through the doors and one of the last out at closing time (6 P.M during summer), all three children had a brilliant day, it was manageable, varied and so much fun.
Drusillas Park is a small zoo in East Sussex. It is situated just off the A27 near Alfriston, and is about seven miles from Eastbourne and twelve miles from Brighton. It is easy to get to by car, but not so easy by public transport.
The Zoo has over 130 animal species in naturalistic environments, including meerkats, lemurs, owls, parrots, penguins, monkeys, gibbons, bats, reptiles and creepy crawlies. The animals are all small to medium sized, so you will not see lions, giraffes or elephants here.
I have been to Drusillas twice, both in the Summer and Autumn, and with toddlers and a nine year old. The Zoo is very child friendly and safe, and is suitable for buggies and prams to get around. In warm weather it is good to take a picnic with you, to keep costs down. There are also a number of restaurants and cafes. Last time I went, we ate in the Explorers restaurant, which serves hot meals, and was very good, but a little expensive.
There is also a Thomas the Tank Engine Train, which runs around the park, and is free to ride on as many times as the children want. This was especially popular with my toddler daughter and her friend. We also went in the shop selling merchandise for Thomas and Friends along with other characters, which you could spend a lot of money in. The children played in the indoor soft play area - this was safe and clean. In better weather, there is an outdoor play area, with a climbing frame for older children. I believe that more has been added to the Park since my last visit. Throughout the year, there are various days with different characters, such as the Fat Controller and Peppa Pig.
Drusillas is open every day, from 10-5 in the Summer and 10-4 in the Winter. The admission prices vary according to the season (see drusillas.co.uk for more details) as there are off peak, peak and standard days, ranging in price from £10.80-£13.80 for adults and older children. Under twos get in free. There are also concessions for some people and vouchers to get in free or at a reduced price. I had a voucher from the Sealife Centre in Brighton for one child to get in free, which helped to keep costs down. Tesco's Deals vouchers can also be used at Drusillas.
Overall, I have found Drusillas to be an excellent place to take children of all ages to. It is safe and clean, and there is so much to see and do. The staff and zoo keepers are friendly and helpful. It can be a little expensive as a day out, but costs can be kept to a minimum by taking a picnic and using vouchers.
Well I cannot praise this little zoo enough. It is a wonderful day out for adults and kids alike. We have taken several children to this zoo, at all different ages and it is very interesting to see them go back each year, and find something different that they are interested in. It is a 'learning' zoo I would say, and the keepers (who are always around) are a font of knowledge. It is perfectly designed and everything is at a level the kids can reach. There are lots of encouraging things for the kids to do as they go around (a zoo olympics, and stamping a free book for certain animals you see). When you have finished visiting the wonderful zoo part, which is fun enough, there is a FANTASTIC play area in the middle. The kids eyes light up every time. You could easily do 2 or 3 hours in this part alone. In the summer there is a little pool area, so take a towel and swimwear, which is great for the kids to cool off in. Without fail every child, that comes back to visit us, time after time asks to go back. I cannot recommend this place enough for a fantastic day out. Oh and if you collect Tesco clubcard points, you can use them for here -what a bonus!
Toby has just celebrated his 2nd Birthday, and as a treat, my husband and I took him to Drusillas Park.
Drusillas is based in Alfriston, East Sussex. It is located just off the A27, so you can't miss it. Once you have parked up and head to the entrance, you need to queue up in the correct line; one is for members, the other day visitors. A word of warning though: the prices do seem very steep, depending what day you go will depend on which rate you pay.
You can check the website before going to see how much it will cost you, as prices do vary, depending on whether it is an off peak day, standard day or peak day.
Under 2s are free.
Child 2 - 12 either £10.20, off peak
child 13+ /adult £11.20, off peak
Senior citizen - same as child rate
Long term disabled/ £9.50, off peak
carers for disabled £11.00, standard
Depending on what group you are, you can get some discount; these can be checked out on the website, including details on memberships too!
Prices include entry to the zoo, playland, amazon adventure and unlimited rides on Thomas (train)
After paying for entry and a further £1.90 for a guide book, we were given a map and park guide for free, we started on our adventure. Just past the entrance we picked up a few other leaflets:
Animal spotter book -
- Contains pictures of 13 different animals you will find during your visit, when you have found one you have to locate the stamping station nearby and stamp a picture onto the relevant page in your book.
On each page, there is a picture of the animal, its name, a space for the stamp, and a brief description about where each animal lives. For example - "Did you know that Meerkats come from the desert and grassland areas of Southern Africa"
Zoolympics challenge record book -
- Each time you find a zoolympics challenge board you need to follow the instructions, carry out the activity and then record you result in your book. Tasks include 'how long can you hang on?' (i.e. as a monkey on a bar) 'How fast can you run? (like a cheetah)
This is a good way for the children to understand how heavy/fast/loud animals are compared to themselves. At the end of the book you can transfer all your results and include your details, then hand this into the park or post it afterwards to receive a certificate.
As Toby is only 2 he couldn't really try these out, but they are great fun for older children and of course adults!!
You follow a marked out route, which ensures you get to see all the animals, if you do miss anything, you can easily go back a little, but as everyone is moving in the same direction this can sometimes be a little difficult.
Most of the animals you will see are small unusual ones, like monkeys, lemurs, meerkats, penguins and beavers. (There are no lions, elephants or tigers.) One small section is for a few farm animals including cows, goats, sheep and pigs. In here you can find out how to milk a cow, not a real one, but a plastic full size one with rubber/plastic udder.
As well as these animals there are also a small area focusing on pets, including rabbits, mice, snakes, guinea pigs etc, where you can find out how to look after them, what they need and how much they would cost you to have one at home.
The park map gives information as to when some of these animals are fed, you can plan your day to watch these, talk to the keepers and learn more about their habitats etc.
After we saw the animals we went for a train ride, Thomas the Tank engine was waiting at the station with 4 carriages, including Annie and Clarabel, we hopped on board, was given a sticker and was ready for a ride. On the journey we saw 'James the red engine' in the engine sheds, waved to 'Cranky the crane,' waved to 'The fat Controller' waiting by the tracks and even saw 'Diesel' too. During this 5 minute journey they play the 'Thomas theme tune over the tannoy, which can become a little annoying. Well for the adults anyway!!
After this we tried out somewhere to eat. There are several places around the park to try, each one does different things. We went to the Explorers café and restaurant, and bought 3 hot meals, 2 drinks for approx £20. The portions were large, and we all left a bit on the plates. My husband had ½ roast chicken, I had lasagne and Toby chicken nuggets, we all had chips and veg. you can also get salads, ice creams, cakes and other snacks in here.
If you wish to try one of the other places then 'Oasis café' serves up fast food including burgers, jacket potatoes, hot dogs, ice creams and children's lunch boxes.
'The station Buffet' offers hot doughnuts, hot waffles, sandwiches, ice creams, fudge and cookies. 'Amazon Adventure' serves hot & cold drinks and small snacks like biscuits, crisps and chocolate bars.
As we were allowed unlimited rides on Thomas we went on the train ride again, to allow for our food to go down a little before heading off to play.
There are numerous play areas, including:
- Toddler room, - contains 3 small life like buildings, made like houses, which contain areas to climb, play etc. One had a slide which went through the window out into a blue and white coloured ball pool (made to look like a swimming pool) there was a garden area with large dog kennel to play in, a stable with two rocking horses in, a pretend bus to ride in, several little tikes cars to play in and a pretend petrol station for filling up. Good to know that the prices weren't too expensive either!!! Lol.
- 'Go bananas' an outside area for children under 6yrs with climbing frames, swings, slides, a covered low level trampoline, and a mini roundabout.
- 'Playland' main area for under 12's containing larger equipment like large vertical spiders web, full size fire engine with slide, Monkey kingdom area for climbing and sliding, and a sand pit with diggers.
- 'Amazon Adventure' an indoor soft play area with large wavy slide.
- 'Explorers Lagoon' small water play area with paddling pool.
As some of these are located indoors they are ideal for the hot or wet days.
There are several other things that you and your children can do here including, panning for gold, mini golf, wacky workshop to name a few. Many of these things are only open during weekends and in school holidays and may cost an additional fee.
If you want to you could celebrate your child's birthday at Drusillas, which would include all day pass, a choice of hot & cold food, unlimited ice cream and an opportunity to feed the penguins.
Children aged 6-9yrs can also be a junior keeper for the day, helping the staff to clean and feed the animals and learn more about the animals close up.
Anyone can adopt one or more of the animals, by paying a fee you can choose an animal, receive a certificate, have your name on a plaque near the animals' enclosure as well as receive 3 complimentary tickets to keep a check on your chosen animal. Your fee will go towards ongoing animal care and conservation. These are ideal gifts too for anyone who loves animals.
If you didn't think this was enough for a fun packed day out. Drusillas also have special days throughout the year when special guests visit and say hello to the children. Some of the special guests lined up for this year include: Bob the builder, Tweenies, spiderman, Dora the explorer, Fifi, Scooby Doo, and many, many more.
There is so much more I could say about a day at Drusillas, but why don't you go and have a look for yourselves. It can be an expensive day out, but taking your own packed lunch would keep the costs down. Next time we go we will take our converted Tesco clubcard vouchers as this will reduce the cost of entry. Tesco vouchers are multiplied by 4 to pay for deals to many attractions and Drusillas is one of them.
We had a great day out, the sun was shining, we were all exhausted by the time we got home. Since being back we have seen various animals in books or on the television and we are able to talk about them, and look back at the photos we took, which is a good way for Toby to remember what fun we had. He loves to walk around the living room like a penguin, flapping his arms by his side, and thinks it's really fun pretending to be a monkey!
The park itself it well maintained, clean and tidy, and although it is expensive, you get your moneys worth. There are plenty of facilities for toileting, disabled, nappy changing etc. and of course there are many places to go and spend your money on toys/souvenirs/gifts which including a huge selection of soft animals and plenty of Thomas stuff!
I liked the way the park was laid out, encouraging you to see all the animals first, before the children even see Thomas and the play areas. If you wish to see the animals again later you can follow the paths back to see animals which were either sleeping earlier of those which are being fed. There is plenty to keep children of all ages entertained, and the tasks throughout the park, help everyone to learn more about the animals, rather than just look and walk past.
On our return home I looked at the guide, and found it full of useful information, which you can use to remind your children of what they saw, it includes jokes and games too. If you go as a visit with your club or school, this guide can be used to enhance your learning if you are doing a topic on animals.
Open 362 days a year, with over 1000 animals, you can always guarantee a great day out at Drusillas - no ordinary zoo!
Well I can't beleive it was a year ago we were celebrating Toby's 2nd birthday, and I was writing this review. Toby has just turned 3 and we decided to go back to Drusillas for the day, as Toby enjoyed it so much.
This year he is bigger, more confident and happy to run off, climb, go down slides and play.
We started looking round at the animals, this time we picked up the spotters book, and Toby loved looking at his book, finding the right animal and stamping it with a red tick at the relevant areas. He also tried some of the challenges this year, including 'How fast can you run?' 'How loud can you be?'
The play area had changed somewhat since our last visit, they ahd removed a few items, including the large climb on Fire Engine, and replaced it with this fantastic climbing adventure structure, that contained many slides, tunnels, rope ladders, and walkways. It takes up almost half of the play area, and many children can play on it at the same time without affecting each others games.
Some of the areas needed some adult intervention as Toby's legs weren't quite long enough, but adults can easily climb on too, and have fun.
You could easily lose your child though, so a close watchful eye on them is needed, especially the younger children. There is still an area for those under 6, which is fenced in and safe, an inside area specifically for the toddlers, and an inside soft play area.
The Thomas train had to be ridden on again this time and Toby thoroughly enjoyed waving to the other characters he saw, including James, Diesel, Cranky, The Fat Controller, and the newly added Bulgy.
We took our own food this time, rather than buy from the site, but we did buy ice creams, and a couple of toys from the gift shop.
Toby really enjoyed his time here, more so this year because he could be more involved in finding the animals, and doing all the climbing etc. Who knows what he could do next year.
Seeing as this is my "local" zoo, I felt it only right to talk about it.
Drusillas isn't the world's biggest zoo, so please don't go there expecting to see lions and tigers, because you won't see any. This is a compact zoo, really aimed at children. It's won several awards, so just because it's small, doesn't mean it's no good. In fact, I went there last year with my other half, and we're in our twenties with no children!
These are mainly small creatures such as meerkats, penguins and bugs! Numerous small monkeys are kept in the park, and you get up close and personal with them.
The meerkats area is really designed for kids to get close to them. A tunnel takes them - or mums and dads too! - under the enclosure, to a pod, where you pop you head up in right in the middle of the meerkats! Its little touches like this that makes the zoo so appealing to children.
The special dedicated areas are also big thumbs up as far as the kids go.
Theres the fruit bat enclosure, which is like a cave where you walk through where the bats are. You can see them hanging from trees and flying around. One to avoid if you don't like bad smells or bats obviously!
The farm yard is one of my personal favourites in the park. Here are various cows and pigs, as well as some interactive stations. You can see what it's like to milk a cow with a special machine, and see how strong you are by testing how much wait you can lift. This ranges from rabbit to Shire horse.
There's also a bug area - yuck! As well as a beaver and otter sanctuary. I'll tell you a true story about to of the otters. Four years ago, Rosie was very lonely, so they introduced her to Ben. The pair were so happy, they married them, and they're still living happily today. Strange but true! You may not see the beavers, and likewise when you come to the porcupine enclosure as they're nocturnal.
I use this word for want of a better one.
Kids can get a booklet to take with them around the park. As they come across certain animals, they stamp it with the stamp provided. This gives them a better attention span.
Also, there are lots of flaps, buttons and things to touch along the way, to stop them from getting bored. Plus they're learning without realising it!
The animal olympics thing they have going on is great fun. You do a sprint to see if you're as fast as a cheetah, a long jump weight test. I enjoyed this let alone the kids!
You can also weigh yourself to so which animal you are as heavy as. When I did this at the age of 11, I was a beaver - I dread to think what I am now ten years later!
There are also climbing frames and slides in unexpected places to keep children amused
For the dads, the crazy golf will probably appeal. This is a fairly new attraction, as is the panning for gold area.
I used to love this when I was little and would still play in it now if I was allowed! There's loads here, from a fire engine to a zip wire. Littlies can play on the diggers in the sand pit, whilst the older ones can try out the assault course.
There's also an indoor play area, where there are swings, an underground tunnel system and slides.
Why not take the train ride round the edge of the park and look at the animals, whilst getting a well deserved sit down!
If you're taking grandparents or someone who finds it difficult to walk for long periods of time, you'll be pleased to hear there are benches dotted all around the place.
There's a mother and baby unit, lost children depot, an audio facility for the hard of hearing along with picnic areas, gift shops, face painting and places to eat. A first aid centre is also on hand to help and guide dogs are permitted too.
Disabled access is good around the zoo.
Special displays and feeding times are ones to look out for. But if you're taking a school, they usually organise something special for them to do.
The park also offers a birthday party facility.
====Keeper For A Day====
I did this through a job swap with my work. You really do get hands on. I had to cut the legs off chicks to feed to meerkats, so it is quite graphic, which may well be worth taking into account before applying for young children.
On completion you do get a goodie bag. I only got a badge, but then again I was 17 at the time!
I'm not sure of a price for this so check with the park.
====Adopt an Animal====
Obviously this is an extra on going expense. But there is the option if you should so wish to support an animal.
These vary depending if it's an on or off peak day. The most expensive price I can find is £53.75 and that's for a family of five on a peak day. Which I don't think is too bad considering everything in the park.
Discounts are given for groups and under 2's get in free.
They also have a club option, where you pay a flat rate and get special access to certain features of the park. There are two levels of club membership.
Alfriston is easily accessible from the A27, and is only 7 miles from Eastbourne. A car is probably the best way of finding it as there's no train station or bus near by. It's well sign posted and for the mums and dads, the English Wine Centre is next door!
I think this is a great day out. I think younger children would enjoy it more than older ones, as there's a lot to play with and a great play area. Plus teens have to be cool don't they! I also think this is a nice relaxing day out for adults, if they chose an off peak day when not many kids will be there, as it's very quiet. I would highly recommend this place to anyone visiting the area, or to anyone who lives here and hasn't been before. They always seem to be adding new things, I know more stuff has been added since I last went.
Thanks for reading
Drusillas Park is a small zoo that is situated just outside Eastbourne. This park was designed with children in mind and is very popular with local schools. The park itself it set in a circular walk so you wont miss anything on the way around and you wont find yourself pushing against a tide of people coming in the opposite direction. The first thing you encounter after passing through the ticket office is a small exibition called "How Life Began". There are models of animals such as snakes and crocodiles. What makes this fun for children is that there are buttons to press to make something move or to hear a noise. Jessica loved running through and pushing the buttons to see what would happen next so that was a great start to our day out. Next you encounter the Monkey Walk. Here you will see all different types of small monkies and Lemurs. There are benches all around so you can sit and watch the monkies play. Walk around the corner and you will be "Down on the Farm". This was Jessicas favourite part of the whole park. Here children get to see pigs, chickens and ducks. There are plently of things in this part of the park to get childrens imaginations going. There is a "cow" to milk and there is even something to test your strength compared with various animals. After the fun on the farm you will see the Meerkats. The park have constructed a tunnel that if you follow you will end up in a dome in the middle of their compound so you get to see these magical creatures even closer. There are also tunnels and slides for children to climb in and on so they can pretend to be like the Meerkats. The next animals you will see are lovebirds, more Lemurs, servals, squirrel monkies, mongooses, porcupines. There is a Llama paddock, rabbit village, a penguin bay and a room of fruit bats that you can walk through. There are rats, flamingos, maras beavers and otters. Further around there is a Japanes
e garden and an area laid out for birds such as parrots, cockatoos and peacocks. There is an Australian outback area for wallabies and emus and when you reach here, it means that you have come to the end of your wildlife walk. Now you are faced with the playbarn and toddlers play village. All I can say is this part is great. It really gives a chance for kids to burn of some more energy before you return home. There are various things for children to lay and for various ages. They can play on a bouncy castle, and old fire engine or even pan for gold! The area is quite large and very safe. There are picnic areas and various eating places all around but these can be quite expensive. At peak times they have a BBQ as well. As a final treat for the children, you get to have a ride on a train that runs along the inside of the park and get another glimpse at some very special animals. All in all this park has very very well thought out. There are no steps anywhere so its very accessable for wheelchairs and there are various baby changing and feeding facilities. Although this park is massive, its just about right to keep small minds from getting bored and small legs from getting tired. Drusillas is open every days apart from Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day. Summer opening times are 10-5 and winter times are 10-4. The price for an adult ticket is £7.99, a child £6.99 and under 3's are free. Drusillas is at Alfriston which is about 7 miles from Eastbourne. It is very easy to find as it is just of the A27. If you are anyway near the area I would recommened giving this place a visit because there is alot of fun to be had here!! Check at their website at www.drusillas.co.uk or ring them on 01323 874100.