Somerset Theme Parks / Zoos National
The Wildlife Park (Cricket St. Thomas, Somerset)
by Thom Gray
When Warner Holidays bought Cricket St Thomas they scrapped the bright and spongy Mr Blobby fixtures and opened a hotel. Last year they announced they were to scrap the much loved Wildlife Park after thirty years, turning the attraction into a 'Lakes & Gardens' destination with an 'Adults Only' hotel. I'm guessing the owners hate ... kids, as my visit earlier this month was as far away from Blobbyland as physically possible.
My 2009 visit was immensely fun. A friend and I saw all the animals and cooed over them like we were six, ate a picnic lunch and generally had a good time.
My 2010 visit was totally the opposite. OK, it was dreary weather and it rained a few times, but I'm not attributing my bad experience to that alone. I arrived to a near empty car park and followed a family in, who were asked by the shy staff at the entrance whether they knew 'we aren't a wildlife park anymore', despite the obvious road signs displaying the opposite. The family were surprised but still went in. I saw them later, the two children looking incredibly bored.
The attractions at Cricket are only really interesting on a National Trust/Kew Gardens level, ie, mainly for older visitors. Children can climb into the Holey Tree and ride the (now free) train, but with the empty, silent fields, there is little to look at. Even some of the enclosures and fences remain, like something after a nuclear holocaust. The only animals still there are lemurs and meerkats, the latter I had watched running around in '09, now shivering in the rain looking lonely. It was a sad and sorry sight.
The shops and food outlets at Cricket have been emthasized for its 'restoration' (of what, I can't make out) relaunch, but being so poncy expensive, it hardly seems an attractive place to visit.
The hotel guests were the only ones who seemed to be enjoying themselves, playing bowls on the lawn. Really I think the park should be an exclusive place for hotel visitors, as the public part feels like Warner Holidays feel obliged to run the park. Thinking of what a 'wild' place it had once been marketed as, my visit left me cold and nostalgic.
In conclusion, I can only tell you DO NOT take your kids to Cricket St Thomas. It is a dull place for children, expensive and far away from many other attractions, so you'll feel cheated out of a day out. I can only point you to Longleat, a similar yet warmer place where you can see lions and have far much more fun.
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Brean Leisure Park (Somerset)
Brean Leisure Park A/N: You can stay in accommodation here or visit as a day guest. We had accommodation near by so this review is written from that perspective. Thanks. As some of you may know if you read my review before this, our recent holiday - the first with our baby daughter - took us to Brean in ... Somerset where we stayed in Brean Sands Pontins Holiday Park, and right next door what did we find? Only a Leisure park. You may be asking yourself why the surprised tone? Well the answer to that is clear - Brean is a very small and quiet place and there is not much in this village size beach town except sandy beaches and the odd shop here and there, so to find a leisure park of decent size was not what I was expecting.
Due to holidaying with a 5 month old baby, we were limited to what we could do, yet we found that this leisure park was not like that of places like Alton towers or similar - this one you could actually enter without paying door prices and simply by your tickets when and if you fancy.
Let me start at the beginning for you;
***Brean Leisure Park***
Brean leisure park is the largest fun park in the South West of England, again something which surprises me as Brean certainly isn't the largest place in this area. There are approximately 40 rides within the park and honestly feels like the TARDIS from Dr Who as it is a lot bigger on the inside than seen from the road.
Brean Leisure park is aimed towards youngsters in the main, though there is still plenty of things for adults to do. Perfect for that of a family outing. They say that it is a great day out, though I don't think that anyone would spend the whole day here, though I guess it really depends on whether you are wanting to try everything and anything.
***Rides and Amusements***
As mentioned above, there are approximately 40 different rides and amusements at this park and so I don't want to bore you with an in-depth detailing of everything, though I will generalize the list for your information and comment on a couple I had experience on.
You have to also bare in mind that a lot of rides hold a height restriction policy that you must check before purchasing tickets so not to waste money. Average height restrictions seemed to be around 1.0m.
There are many rides for children, all depending on height. Most are 0.8m here. Included in this section are trampolines, cartoon trains, ghost train, bumpy slides, small water rides such as child size canoes, mini rollercoaster's, cups and saucers, pony style rides and much more.
The height restrictions are slightly higher on these rides, though smaller children can still go on quite a few with a responsible adult (counts my husband out!!)
Included are rides such as;
Dodgems, Rollercoaster's, Sizzler, Rides which throw you into the air like shot and drop (scary scary!!), Waltzer, Crazy golf, Go karts single and twin seats, Laser quest, Long flume, 130ft white knuckle ride and much much more.
As you can hopefully see - there are a huge range of different rides available for all ages, though the fun doesn't stop here!
*Children's play area*
For the little ones there is a fantastic 'Pirates of The Carri-Brean' padded play area with balls you can balance on air which rushes out from a 'volcano', air propeller canons, rollers, balls, dice - all soft - designed for the younger ones (and even I wanted to play!!) You get given specific lengths of time depending upon how many people are there.
There is a lovely pool complex at the leisure park, and although we didn't go in as we had one at our site right next door, we did have a good look. It has both indoor and outdoor swimming areas so great for both kinds of weather with four water chutes and a lovely toddler/baby part of the pool so even the little ones are safe. Lifeguards could be seen around the pool area (outside was closed at the point of us being there as weather wasn't brilliant). After checking, it seems that except for the baby pool, all water is same depth of 4ft and is all heated.
If outside is open there is a sun terrace with plenty of space to sit and sunbathe and there are no worries about children running out as it is all enclosed. Outdoor pool I open from approximately end of May until beginning of September and pool works on a time limit scheme, so on busy periods, if you are staying somewhere with a pool it is possibly better to use that one.
There is a great arcade in the park with all the usual arcade machines seen in most seaside resorts and also some more exciting ones like a dance studio and rollercoaster simulator - though why you would want to go in the simulator when there is rollercoasters for real so close by is beyond me, though I guess if you are like my husband and scared of big rides, this may suit you!
The Tavern is an extremely popular place to go with live musical and comedy cabaret, live bands and good food served at the restaurant. Unfortunately when we were there it was closed.
***Food and Drink and Shops***
Moderately expensive gift and toy shop with a decent range of items from collectables to cuddly toys
*Pic 'n' Mix*
Averagely priced sweet and drink shop with small yet scrumptious range!
* Sunday Carvery*
From approximately £8 per head and only, as you can guess, on Sundays - therefore we did not get the chance to try this. Also does hot buffets from £4.
Obviously prices may vary though as of time writing this review prices are as follows;
Entry to park : Free (Works on a pay as you go scheme)
Pay as you ride tickets : 50p per token, average ride cost is 3 tokens.
Unlimited Ride Wristband : £18.99
Tiny Tots Wristband, £9.99
The wristband does exclude some rides such as Go-Karts, Laser Quest and Crazy Golf
Tickets valid until 5.00pm or evening sessions available when open 5pm until 10pm.
We didn't purchase the wristband as we wanted to look around and with our baby we knew we wouldn't be able to go on much, especially as my husband is a wimp and wouldn't go on things without me - impossible with a 5 month old, though I would suggest looking around the park first to see what you fancy before purchasing the wristbands as, whilst they are good value for money if used right, they would be a waste if you decided not to go on many rides or wasn't going too spend too long there.
Ride tickets alone are also an average price these days - extortion - but average!
Swimming is extra at a cost of £3 (in high season £4 for afternoon sessions.)
For disabled people, there really is not much help as staff will not/can not help so advice that there are people with you to help out. A lot of the rides work with step access and not ramps so it is very limited for wheelchair users. Service dogs such as blind or hearing dogs are not allowed. A lifting hoist is available in the pool though access to main pool is via steps. Restaurant and other venues are all ground floor with easy wheelchair access and disabled toilets are provided. Service dogs are welcome in the venues. Disabled parking spaces are also available.
Opening times are very vast throughout the year, so please take a look at the following link for the yearly timetable taken from the website
There is also a carpark on the park which costs £2 for the whole day which is a great price, especially as a beach car park just down the road costs £8!!
Brean Leisure Park
General enquiries: 01278 751595 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 01278 751595 end_of_the_skype_highlighting
Fax: 01278 752102
For a family who love this sort of thing and have plenty of money, this would be an amazing day out with so much to do for all the family. Prices are reasonable and rides and amusements are fantastic. I would certainly recommend this to those in the area of Somerset.
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The Wildlife Park (Cricket St. Thomas, Somerset)
We took advantage of the Tescos clubcard deals offer a few months ago and exchanged £5 worth of clubcard vouchers for £20 worth of vouchers to use at Cricket St Thomas wildlife park. We finally got round to using them yesterday, myself and my partner took my niece for the day. We arrived at about 11am, the park was fairly ... easy to find and although our sat nav told us we had reached our destination, it was obvious we hadn't however we just carried on through Cricket St Thomas for a couple of minutes and soon found the park which was very easy to see from the main road. When you get there you go down a private road through a vast amount of land until you reach the carpark. This is fairly large with room for a number of cars and you pick where you wish to park yourself, you have a choice of either parking on gravel or grass. The car park is right next to the park entrance itself and this is easy to locate.
You enter the park through one half of the gift shop. When we arrived there wasn't anybody else waiting and we were seen to very quickly. The woman took our deals tokens and deducted it from the total and then offered us to buy train tickets alongside our normal entry passes. My niece decided it would be a good idea to go on the train so we bought these too which were reasonably priced at £1 each. You are also given a map of the park which shows where everything is and also gives suggested routes and a printout of what is happening today eg. keeper talks.
The first things we saw were the reindeers who had a nice large enclosure and looked very happy. Every child seemed to be amazed by these and quite a few, including my niece were questioning whether or not they belonged to Santa! Next to the reindeer enclosure there is a pathway leading up to the avaries and down the bottom there is a small childrens playpark and a cafe. In the cafe they had a deal where if you buy a meal you get a free Cricket St Thomas teddy which was a good offer or the chance to have your photo taken and enhanced in with a picture of an animal eg.have you sat next to a tiger! I think this was £10 per picture.
Next we saw the camels, although to begin with we could only see one, she was right up next to the glass and we had a really good look at her. However, after leaving the viewing point you could see a lot more in the field and there must have been around 5 or 6 in total. They were great to see and very entertaining. Their enclosure was of a very large size and they had plenty of room to roam. Next to the camels were the Emu's who provided great entertainment for some time. Because there were a number of viewing points it meant that aslong as you looked hard enough you could get a good view of them. Luckily, on our visit they were right next to the fence and my niece had a fantastic time watching them try to eat the fence!
We then cut across the grass because my niece wanted to go on a blow up activity centre. This cost £1 but they were given a good amount of time on it, around 10 minutes. We then saw the hawk show which was very interesting as the keeper gave a long talk about them and it allowed us to see one up close. This talk happens 2 or 3 times throughout the day so it is easy to see it.
We then progressed on with the pathway and saw the Hunting Dogs. These were asleep down the bottom of the enclosure but we still got a fairly good look at them. Next to these were the Meerkats which of course provided light hearted relief for everyone! I was suprised to see how big their enclosure was as it was around double the size of any I had seen before.
Next to this was a field which contained orstich, zebras and tapirs. We couldn't see the tapirs but got a good view of the ostrich and zebras. Opposite this there is a small house containing the marmosets. Although the marmosets are small you can get a good view of them due to a number of viewing windows.
Opposite this is a large enclosure which houses a cheetah, rhea and lechwe. We couldn't see the other animals but we could see the cheetah well which was good to see, we could also hear it calling which was a great experience. Later when we walked back past two people we actually feeding it through the fence which was good to see up close.
There is then a courtyard which contains a pub, gift shop and indoor play area. The indoor play area was quite small but my niece enjoyed it. There is also a small arcade area with a pool table and shooting games (obviously for the daddys whilst the kids are playing!). There is also an ice cream place which serves very nice ice cream! The courtyard also contains the parrots and mongooses.
Continuing on there is another play area and a monkey island. The monkeys although far away were easy to see. There is also a train station here (next to the flamingos) which can take you to the other side of the park. Please note the tickets are one way only. Next to the flamingos are the wallabies and more Rhea.
You then cross the lake and can walk through the goats which my niece enjoyed tremendously! On this side you can also see members of the deer family. You then come to my personal favourite part of the day which was the Amur Leopards. We first could just see the one which was led in prime position on the platform but then walking further down the enclosure we saw that one was led on a log right next to the fence. She was great to watch and my niece soon realised that whenever she said 'silly' the leopard would turn her head! The other train station is located near here.
You can then see the Coatis and swans. There is a coffee bar which overlooks the lake and you are then back near the reindeer at the beginning! The gift shop, although quite small contains a lot of things all at varying prices eg. a small teddy was around £4.99, a pencil 99p, a small notebook 99p and sand animals between £1.99 and £2.99.
Admission prices for 2009 vary due to whether or not you are visiting in peak times, you can find this information out on the website. Currently prices are:
Family (2 adults+3 children):£27.50
The park is currently open from 10am until 6pm.
We had a nice day out at Cricket St. Thomas, although it is quite small and there are not a lot of different species of animals here it is a good day out and well worth the money. The keeper talks are interesting so do look out for those and we found all staff to be polite, helpful and keen to answer any questions you may have. We spent around 4 hours at Cricket St. Thomas and did everything that was there so you can expect to spend half a day there unless you want to spend time having a picnic and having a second look around. We found the park didn't get particularly busy and we were never having to wait to have a look at things which probably cut the visiting time down dramatically. I was really impressed with all of the animals enclosure sizes and didn't feel that any may have been unhappy there. Overall, I believed it to be a very good day out with quite a bit to do, we will be going back next year!
For more information please visit http://www.wild.org.uk/
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Somerset Theme Park / Zoo National
Address: Coast Road / Theme Park / Zoo National / Town Centre / Burnham-On-Sea / England / TA8 2QY / Tel: 01278 752113
The Wildlife Park at Cricket St Thomas / Theme Park / Zoo National / Chard / Somerset / TA20 4DD / United Kingdom - Cricket St Thomas is the top Wildlife Park attraction to visit in the southwest of England. One of its aims is to create environments in which animals can behave as naturally as possible. New exhibits a...
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