Unusually, for me, I did very little research on Drusillas Park. It was a last minute decision to go based purely on Drusillas claim to be the ‘Best small zoo in the country’. I was feeling rather intrigued. I was also feeling a tad guilty that I hadn’t been able to take any time off work over half term, so I was determined to salvage this by having a fun-filled family day out.
Drusillas is situated near Brighton, about one and a half hours drive from London. In usual fashion, we aimed to leave at the crack of dawn but didn’t leave the house until 10.00am.
As we drew closer to our destination, my husband suddenly had a hankering for fish and chips so we went on a detour to Seaford, a sleepy little town on the coast. We arrived early to join the locals in the chippy and enjoyed some haddock and chips before heading to Drusillas.
Whilst in the chippy we got chatting to a couple who mentioned that Drusillas was expensive. Damn it. I stupidly hadn’t checked the prices. More worryingly, I had been getting the kids all excited about our trip to the zoo, so it would have been really difficult to suddenly backtrack!
Feeling a bit apprehensive about how much this was going to cost us, I was pleasantly surprised to find a fair pricing structure. The prices fluctuate depending on what day you are planning on going. Which makes it quite easy to pinpoint the cheapest time to go.
We went on a Saturday which is, typically, peak time to go. You also get 10% discount for booking online.
For example, had we gone off-peak (generally Mon to Fri non-school holidays) and booked online in advance it would have cost us £67.50 for a family of four.
As it happened, we rocked up on a peak day and paid at the gate so we ended up paying full whack which was £80. Was it worth £80? Read on . . .
The zoo is laid out really well. There is only one main path to follow so you don’t have to worry about missing anything or having to retrace your steps. It also makes it less likely to lose your children. The second we walked into the zoo we were totally immersed in it.
You are not going to find lions and tigers at Drusilla’s. Remember it’s a small zoo, but it’s certainly not ordinary. Instead, you will find a fascinating zoo, full of smaller animals (such as monkeys, penguins, snakes, owls, flamingos, etc.) plus some unusual creatures that my husband and I had never heard of.
The animal’s my two were most excited about were the anteaters. Both my girls are slightly obsessed with them. They squealed with delight as the anteaters stuck out their incredibly long tongues. There are lots of interactive displays throughout the zoo with lots of things to do and learn about along the way. They also have a Safari Express Train that takes you around the zoo.
If looking at animals is not enough to keep the kids occupied then Drusillas have this covered. They issue each child with an Animal Spotter Book where they collect stamps at certain points along the way. Whilst we were there was also the Zoolympics Challenge where you can test yourself against other animals. How loud can you roar, how much do you weigh, how much weight can you pull? All very cleverly done.
Our favourite was how loud can you roar where you go into a yellow telephone box and roar your loudest. It then measures your roar in decibels. We all had a go at that one!
Not just a zoo
We found the zoo part was just the right size for a five and three-year-old. Just as they were beginning to get bored we had reached the end of the zoo trail only to find ourselves in what can only be described as the BEST PLAYGROUND EVER.
A series of towering, brightly coloured, wooden structures that the kids spent hours in. Numerous slides, wooden bridges, webbing, fireman poles, zip slides along with some retro style equipment such as Helter Skelters and my personal favourites, Banana Boats.
There is literally something for everyone here including a wet play area (GET WET) which clearly was closed when we were there but it looked ace. They had split the playground into two age groups, GO WILD for the older kids and GO BANANAS for the little’uns. My two ended up playing in both.
As if that wasn’t enough, they also have a large, multi-level, indoor softplay centre called ‘Amazon Adventure’ complete with a fantastic anaconda slide.
Beyond the playground there is a wonderful mini theme park called GO SAFARI.
There were a couple of zoo themed rides and a maze which were fabulous but the thing we were most excited about was that they had a Hello Kitty Secret Garden. An area of the park dedicated to Hello Kitty themed fairground rides. We are big fans of this cute cat so, of course, we had to go on every ride. For some reason, I assumed that you would have to pay for each ride, but no, these are all included in your entrance fee.
I can’t really comment on the food as we were full from our fish and chips earlier in the day. But from what I saw there was a great selection of healthy food options and lots of snack options.
All in all a tremendous day out for adults and children. Was it worth £80? In my opinion, yes. We found it educational, fun, intriguing and we genuinely ALL had a good time. Plus the girls are already asking to go again. When we do go again, I will buy my tickets online (to save that 10%) and I will arrive earlier so that we could take it at a more leisurely pace.
At the request of my eldest, we are going back in summer for my daughters birthday to take part in an Anteater Animal Encounter. I will tell you all about it . . .