So it’s week two of the school holidays, things haven’t been too bad considering the whole lack of routine and the fact I feel like I’ve been ran over by a stream roller… We’re hanging on in there.
The weather has thankfully been excellent, there has been garden picnics and days spent in the paddling pool. Money hasn’t been great but we did manage a visit to Drusillas Park on Saturday.
I won the tickets to Drusillas park back in July 2011 from a competition I entered in our local paper, with the tickets valid for only a year there were just three days before they ran out. With this we loaded the kids into the car and headed of to the park that boast a zoo and large adventure playground.
I did some research to find out how autism friendly the zoo was. Harley wanted to see and of course take a ride on Thomas the tank engine but the prospect of queuing was something I worried about, the last thing I needed was meltdowns from the little man. From what I could see there was no special wristband programme designed for those with disabilities. However, this didn’t prove to be a problem in the end as the park wasn’t at its busiest when we visited!
Arriving at the park we discovered that their was a ‘Sensory Trail’ around the Park which incorporates a number of multi-sensory exhibits. You could obtain a sensory booklet and map containing information on the trail when first entering the park. Disappointingly we asked at the entrance gate and was told that this was only for children with a disability! I quickly explained that one of the children had just that and it was Little man we required the book for. The young man looked shocked and said something along the lines of “Oh Really” while eyeing the little man up and down as to spot his disability. The guy was obviously looking for some physical sign and was baffled when he couldn’t find it! He gave us the booklet nonetheless.
I don’t think he was trying to be rude, his ignorance was just caused by the fact he was uneducated on those disabilities that don’t have obvious physical aspects!
On a brighter note the attraction itself was fabulous. The sensory trail was fantastic, and Little man enjoyed the tactile aspects of the trail.
Another great feature to the zoo is the education that surrounds it. Everywhere you go there is something interesting to learn. There are many interactive learning activities to be found which means your given the opportunity to learn about the animals your seeing which makes it all the more interesting.
Myself and the children loved exploring the zoo, there was lots to see including a farm yard where children can pet the animals and learn where milk comes from by milking a mechanical cow.
But it’s not just the zoo that makes Drusillas park great, as well as some great play areas, inflatable slides and a children’s outdoor pool, it’s also the place to find Thomas the tank engine. Harley was extremely excited when he discovered his favourite blue engine, and even more so when Thomas took us for a short ride around the park.
There are some great areas to explore at Drusillas Zoo and they are right in stating that this is no ordinary zoo.
Little man and sister Alice-Sara Couldn’t wait to slide down the giant inflatable penguin slide. This however did come at an extra price of £3 for 6 slides. Ok, for us this was fine, after all we had won our family pass which would normally cost £68.00 for a family of 4. However if I had paid for the tickets I may not have been a little unimpressed at having to pay extras especially when there is more than one child involved! This wasn’t the only payable extra, others included crazy golf and panning for gold. On the whole, the majority of activities were included in the price.
The park hosts some pretty awesome adventure playgrounds such as
Go Bananas! A jungle themed attraction designed for children aged 6 years and under. This is located directly opposite “Go Wild” an adventure playground for older children from 7-12 years. This is perfect as it meant I could easily keep the toddler entertained at “Go Bananas” while the older two ran wild in “Go wild” both were visually inviting and fully equipped with some pretty spectacular play equipment such as banana boat swings and funky slides and climbing frames. All three children loved the area and the fact none were overly busy meant little man was able to play with little anxiety.
There is also a pretty cool indoor soft play area called Amazon Adventure
It includes jumbo slides, a large aerial runway, the cannon canyon, netted walkways, spinning poles, the anaconda run and a variety of jumping, climbing and sliding fun.
As the sun was shining we also took a deep in the pool to Harley’s delight before grabbing some treats for the children from the gift shops. I loved how they catered for all budgets and had soft animal toys starting at just a pound.
All in all we had a great day! We went on a Saturday and didn’t arrive till after midnight. The park wasn’t all that busy which was perfect for little man. Had the zoo been busier I’m unsure how autism friendly this would have been, especially if long queues came into it!
The park is however truly fab for the toddler and throughout August there will be a number of Special appearances taking place. These include Peppa Pig, Fireman Sam and the fabulous Mike the Knight. Note… This does mean it’s bound to be busier so some may want to go visit the park on quieter months (Harley not included)!