Newest Review: ... seemed pretty helpful in assisting. Just make sure that you follow the instructions around the self-drive as it tells you when to shut you... more
West Midland Safari and Leisure Park (Worcestershire)
Member Name: HelenW
West Midland Safari and Leisure Park (Worcestershire)
Advantages: Interesting, knowledgeable staff, lots to do, variety of animals
Disadvantages: Price, queues
A few weeks ago, a friend and I decided that we would have a day out on the weekend. My friend thought it was absolutely atrocious that I have never visited the Safari Park, when it is so close to where we live! Well, according to my mum I have, but I certainly don't remember ("of course you've been. You were in a pushchair! Although, now I think, it might have been your sister").
The West Midlands Safari Park is located in Bewdley in Worcestershire. The website contains a helpful list of directions depending on what direction you arrive from. However, once you get to Kidderminster, if there's a line of traffic standing still, you are probably in the right place! I recommend getting there early. We got there 5 minutes after the park opened and we still sat in traffic approaching the park and at the gates.
Upon arriving at the Safari Park, there is often a queue at the ticket booths, where people will be trying to sell you programmes and animal feed etc. We figured that there was not really any point buying a programme, as you get a map and a small leaflet with your ticket anyway. The entrance fee is quite steep, at £16.99 per adult (over 16's) and £12.99 for children (although under 3's are free). However, the Safari Park is running an offer at the moment where you get free entry on another occasion when you buy your ticket (although take the same car as they record your registration plate!).
After paying, you go through to the Safari Drive Through. Now, I had some idea of what to expect, but when you get there it really is amazing when there's a rhinoceros wondering past your window! The safari drive through has rhinos, elephants, zebras, giraffes, ankole cattle, dholes, african wild dogs, and the bit I was desperate to see, the white lions and that's just to name a few. It is really an incredible drive, seeing all these animals and it was most definitely my favourite bit of the entire day! There are safari trucks driving around, to make sure that the animals don't wander into the road, thereby holding up the traffic. The staff also make sure you're not lingering too long at any point so that the traffic keeps flowing! We went on a pretty hot day, where there were cars overheating and all sorts, but the staff seemed pretty helpful in assisting. Just make sure that you follow the instructions around the self-drive as it tells you when to shut your windows and lock your doors!
After the self drive, it leads to the car park for the rest of the site. Once you find a space, you're free to explore the rest of the park at your leisure. There are so many different attractions that it's easy to spend the rest of your day here!
Penguin Cove - this was my second favourite bit of the park. The park has a collection of Humboldt Penguins which are native to Peru and Northern Chile. The penguin enclosure is new to the park but consists of a large pool area for the penguins, a house and a mini beach. The sides of the enclosure are perspex so that you can see the penguins swimming around and being incredibly cute! We thought it was pretty good that there was also a member of the park staff giving a bit of a talk about the penguins. How about an interesting fact...? These penguins have spiky tongues so that once they've caught a fish, it can't escape again! One thing that really surprised me was that these penguins are actually listed as vulnerable as they are being gradually threatened in the wild, by hunters and human development, which is an incredibly saddening thought.
Sea Lion theatre - the park has a collection of Californian sea lions, which give shows about their skills. They seem to learn pretty fast and they have a whole variety of ball skills etc. The shows are pretty frequent, however you need to book so its worth planning ahead so that you don't miss out on a show.
Reptile House - I'll admit I spent most of this peeking out from between my fingers as I'm a teensy bit scared of snakes. But I was put slightly at ease by the helpful chap giving a talk outside of the reptile house on the reasons snakes bite etc as I thought that they pretty much attacked indiscriminately rather than only when threatened. But they still send shivers down my spine! There are a lot of other cool things to look at though, like lizards and other things. I was pleased that I actually went in although it involved some creeping along as far away as I could get from the snakes. Yes, I'm aware they are in tanks and behind thickened glass... they still creep me out though!
Bat House - I wasn't too sure what to expect with the bat house, but it's totally worth a visit. You enter through some thick hangings and it's quite dark (and smells horrible!), but your eyes adjust quickly to the light and it becomes much easier to see. There are bats flying around above your head which is really incredible. If you look carefully, you may see them hanging from the walls and flying past you at great speed. I was slightly apprehensive at first, but it was so worth the visit.
Meerkat enclosure - this was my all time favourite part of the park... (I'm easily pleased!). There is a pack of meerkats which I think are really interesting and incredibly cute. Also, when we were there, some babies had just been born! There is an information board alongside the enclosure, as meerkats work in a pack, it tells you the job roles and what they do! There was a meerkat sitting on high on the top of the middle bit of the enclosure. Originally, I thought, well he's clearly the dude of the pack, but no, he was the lookout which would protect the rest of the pack when building shelter in the wild. They were incredibly cool. Simples!
Lemur wood - there is a lemur wood, which is a short walk through the lemur enclosure. I had thought that they would be difficult to spot, but slightly closer to the end, they were all out of the grass enjoying the sun shine!
Goat trail - if you or your little 'uns fancy feeding some goats, I'd recommend heading for the goat trail, which is a short walk around the goat enclosure. You can buy goat feed and the goats eat out of your hands, which is pretty cool in my opinion!
Also, park staff and volunteers are wondering around all the time with some of the smaller animals and do mini talks about what the animal is, what they do etc. I discovered that millipedes are rather cool to hold! It's legs cling to the back of your hand and it feels surprisingly smooth!
From having known some people at university that were studying animal type courses, I know that the Safari Park does quite a lot of research with students, both undergraduates and post graduates which aims to further the welfare of the animals. As well as this, they have a conservation project to conserve biodiversity and to try and prevent animals from becoming endangered. It's a sad thought that some of these fascinating animals are closer and closer to becoming extinct. All around the park are information boards advising of the animals status, i.e. extinct in the wild, endangered, vulnerable etc. It shows that the captive animals from around the world would assist greatly with reintroduction into the wild, or growing the population etc. It's worth your while taking the time to read the information boards around the park, as they are full of fascinating information.
If you are taking children with you, there are rides and attractions at the park to keep them entertained. However, the rides are not part of your ticket and you pay separately for a ride wrist band. The wrist band price for an adult is £11.99 or £10.99 for a child; or 3 ride tickets for £6. Personally, we didn't think it was worth it as we thought it was quite pricey but I can see that it could be a useful additional extra if you have kids (or slightly bigger kids!) in tow.
If you're a bit peckish while you're there, there are a number of food outlets and a cafe in the park for you to sit down and have some lunch. The prices can be a bit steep so we didn't have lunch there, but I can recommend the benches around the park if you take your own lunch with you!
The useful thing is that all around the park are handwash stations and regular reminders to wash your hands. It's useful being able to wash your hands with hot water and soap after stroking the animals!
Overall, I can't believe I've not been to the Safari Park before, its a brilliant day out even if you don't have any children with you. There's so much to do and learn that you can easily use your return trip and not be bored. The staff are incredibly knowledgeable and have so many interesting facts for you to find out about. I would say that the biggest drawbacks are the price and also how busy it gets. If you have a free weekday, I'd recommend going then. We went on a bank holiday Monday and it was absolutely packed, even after getting there for very shortly after the opening time! With it being so close to where I live, I frequently see the queues at the weekend so I know that it gets really busy. My advice... arrive early!
The opening times for the park are daily from 10am - 9pm, even on the weekends, so you'll be able to fit in all the good stuff!
Summary: A good day out!
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