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Pettitts Animal Adventure Park (Norfolk)
Member Name: Mephit
Pettitts Animal Adventure Park (Norfolk)
Advantages: quite a lot to it, nice setting, good for younger children
Disadvantages: little tired & dated
We went on a boating holiday in the Norfolk Broads. For a trip ashore, we thought we would visit Pettits Animal Adventure Park near Reedham. It was me, my Mum and the children who decided to go, leaving the men behind doing boaty things (and then the pub).
The Park was about a mile away from where we moored in Reedham, a walk that took us along a pleasant country path and across a train-track. First to come into view was the flying elephant ride and the strains of fairground music.
At the entrance, we paid £9.95 per person (child or adult), with a couple of quid off for my Mum as a pensioner. It was cheaper to pay individually with my Mum getting the concession than to buy a family ticket. I wasn't sure about their pricing structure at all: it seemed a bit odd.
We went straight in and bought 4 soft drinks at the Palms cafe, for around £7. It was embarrassing as I had no cash left and the cafe didn't accept cards, so my Mum ended up paying. I went into the gift shop to use the cashpoint afterwards, which was one of those incredibly slow ones that charge you £1.75 for the pleasure of using them. The gift shop was what you'd expect, filled with the usual sort of souvenirs and toys. The cafe was quite nicely set out, with some tables outside as well, but we'd brought sandwiches so ate in the picnic area nearby.
This was right beside the adventure playground, which the children were dying to get to, so they stuffed down their sandwiches. There was a nice little fuzzy guinea pig in a hen-coop in the picnic area. I did wonder if he/she could actually get up to the shelter part as the ramp up was quite steep and thin, and guineas aren't the most gifted tight-rope walkers in my experience (not that I've tried mine, but they just don't seem built for it!) After briefly missing their own guinea pigs, the children raced off to the adventure playground. This had some excellent equipment, some of it fairly challenging, and the pair had great fun.
Once Mum and I had finished our food, we got them out of the play area, and set out around the rest of the park. First we walked around some of the animal enclosures: the Monkey House, which had Tamarins and Marmosets, and aviaries with parrots and storks. From there we came to various oddments, a speaking Humpty Dumpty, wishing well, Santa's Grotto and a miniature train-set (the train had just broken down).
We walked back down again, where we found a pay-to-play remote control car attraction, which took £1 coins. The children enjoyed this but it didn't seem a very long play for a pound. The cars just ran out of charge as the train-ride came into the nearby station, which was handy. The train driver was a bit grumpy-looking (face like a Lurgan spade, the Other Half would've said), but we went on a lengthy circuit of the park. The ride was fun, and especially over bridges made authentic clickety-clack train noises. The plank seats of the carriages could accommodate a single adult per seat.
The children were eager to try some more rides, so we headed there next. On the way, there was a wooden bridge and a wildlife area, where a sign asked you to stop in the middle and imagine you were in the marshlands and see what wildlife you could spot. The answer was none, as all the ducks and moorhens were busy elsewhere in the park - this was the least populated by wildlife area we found! We did see some beautiful moorhen chicks and their mothers later on and got followed for ages by a duckling.
The first ride we tried was the Rocky Roller Coaster. This was quite a bumpy, small roller-coaster and I was glad Mum had decided against joining us on it as her back was hurting - it would definitely have made it worse. It was great fun for the children, who had never really been on a roller-coaster before. The children also went on the Toad of Toad Hall, Alice in Wonderland and Pirate Ship rides. Staff numbers were limited, so it was one operator to two rides, which meant having to wait until they were free to come to the ride you wanted. As it was a quiet mid-week day during term-time, these waits were very short and most of the staff were very pleasant. Presumably during peak times they have more staff on, as I can see wait times becoming too long otherwise. All the rides at Pettits are fairly tame, suitable for younger, say, primary school aged children: older children and teenagers would be bored silly.
The adults wanted to do something else after a few rides, so we dragged the children to look at the lemurs and owls and the petting area, which had ponies, goats and the like. You can buy feed for 70p to give the animals, but we didn't on this occasion. When we passed the Snowy owls again later, they had just been fed: day-old chicks which were lying gorily across the bottom of the aviary, all a bit gross. The birds were in great condition, but none of the animal enclosures seemed all that large.
It was getting towards the time we had to leave, so we missed out on some of the attractions, such as crazy golf, clown show and reptile house. We did let the children have one last go on the slides and the £1 a go Karts in the Driving School as we left. We were disappointed to have to go before we'd got around everything properly: we didn't spend enough time in the petting area and there were other rides we would probably have tried had we the time. I think we spent nearly 3 hours there, and could have easily spent another hour.
The last thing we did was feed the Koi Carp in their pond, with food from the dispensing machine at 20p a pop. These fish were huge, easily the same size as the ducks which were competing with them for the fish-food. The water quality of the pond didn't look that great, having a sort of bubbly scum on the surface, but the fish looked very healthy.
Everything seemed wheelchair accessible with well laid out paths and fairly even surfaces. The toilet facilities were clean and easy to find. We managed to bypass the gift shop entirely, for once, which made me happy and saved money!
Over all we had a great time at Pettits. Some of it seems a bit dated and tired, but the children didn't notice. I'd say it was a nice day out for families with children under twelve, with more than enough to do for a full afternoon or even whole day out.
The Boy (6) says "It was really fun!"
The Girl (11) says "It had quite fun rides and the animals were really cute."
Summary: Nice day out