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Drusillas Park (East Sussex)
Member Name: rackerss
Drusillas Park (East Sussex)
Advantages: great animals, great for kids, great day out
Disadvantages: gift shop not great
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!).
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