Drusillas Park

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Drusillas Park is a children’s zoo and play park. It offers a wide range of playgrounds, softplay and a Thomas Train.

MUMMY’S GIN FUND SAYS: 

An absolutely fantastic day out for all the family.  Mum, dad, granny and the kids will all have so much fun. I’m trying to be as unbiased as possible because to be honest I’ve spent more time there than the average. My grandma practically lives next door so we’ve been members all our lives and now my children are too. I’ve been every summer, half term and Christmas holiday for 28 years. Several times a year.

I love it now just as much as when I was six. My three year old son absolutely adores the place. It’s just a shame it’s so far away. To drive there takes an hour and a half and if wanting to avoid traffic you can only spend a few hours there really. You can’t possibly enjoy the whole place on three or four hours.

I recently took my London mum friends and all the kids there and rushed round in four hours. Instead I would recommend visiting as part of a weekend away down to the coast, stay in a B&B, go to the seaside, visit the gorgeous Alfriston village and make a little holiday of it. You wouldn’t regret it. It’s lovely.

The other thing is the entrance prices. Drusilla’s recently came under new management and they put the prices up quite a bit. If visiting out of season or using a discount, then I think it’s not too bad but if you rocked up one day spontaneously you’d have to pay £18 each! Although I think the prices not too bad if you’re spending the entire day there, if you’re only there a few hours, for example if you’re driving down from London, it would seem a rip off.

One more thing… All the staff are delightful! Really the most lovely people.. Maybe a bit nutty like my mum who volunteers there now she’s retired but they’re all more than happy to help and genuinely want all their guests to have the most wonderful day. Thank you for reading my review, I hope you love Drusillas as much as we do.

Address: Drusillas Park, Alfriston, East Sussex, BN26 5QS.

Website: www.drusillas.co.uk

Playground: 

Small playground in the car park, ideal if you’re waiting for friends to arrive.

Large ‘go wild’ playground suitable for age four to 12 with massive climbing frames, loads of different slides and other equipment including sandpit, sand diggers, spinny things, bouncy things, zip wire thingie, banana boat swings that have been there for many years and are still just as brilliant as when they were first put in.

Large ‘go bananas’ playground for the under sixes – climbing frames, slides, trampoline, etc.. brilliant fun.

Large ‘get wet’ water play area currently under construction, due to be ready spring 2016 suitable for all ages.

Smaller (calmer) enclosed paddling pool area for the under 10’s I’d say.

Amazon adventure soft play – relatively new large indoor soft play that is quite possibly the best we’ve ever been to. Areas for different ages. Enclosed, safe and immaculately clean. Air conditioning and heating. Cafe with plenty of chairs and tables inside for parents. Toilets, baby changing and parent/baby room. Not much space for pushchairs though. You’re encouraged but not forced to leave pushchairs in a safe designated area outside. We LOVE this soft play. Socks must be worn at all times but they sell socks for 80p if you forget to bring some.

Mystery maze- cute maze that’s quite small but very nice.

Hello Kitty secret garden- ‘hopper ride’ (we call this the upsie downsie ride, a much better name I think) suitable for adults that don’t have vertigo and children over 90cm. Car ride and teacups ride for all ages. This seems a very pink and girlie area but try telling the boys that, they love it too! A little plasticky in my opinion but the children don’t care.

Thomas train- IT’S A THOMAS TRAIN!! Everyone loves it. The queues are a little long in peak times but maximum waiting time is 15 mins I’d say. Train takes you for a little ride around the park and through a little tunnel.

Cafe: 

Small cafe in with the soft play, sandwiches, snacks, drinks, etc..

Fast food type restaraunt near the playgrounds and picnic area. Sells burgers, chips, etc..

Sweet shop near the playgrounds. Dangerous, for adults let alone the kids!

Hot doughnut shop near picnic area, never tried so can’t review.

Smoothie bar near picnic area, normal prices, decent, not mind blowing.

Lovely cafe restaraunt near the Hello Kitty rides including Starbucks coffee shop! Sells all sorts of food including sandwiches, jacket potatoes, salad, pasta, pizza, lasagne, etc.. (a fantastic selection) all very reasonably priced, e.g. £5.99 for a massive jacket potato with your choice of topping and help yourself salad. £3.99 for a slice or pizza and chips or salad. Help yourself ice cream with sauce and sprinkles for £1.99, other cakes and puddings available. All sorts or drinks. Childrens lunch Boxes for £4.50 including sandwich, crisps, chocolate biscuit of some sort, fruit, drink and fun foam animal mask. Thomas themed colouring sheets and crayons also available. In my opinion the food is rather good and I’m a bit of a food snob. Starbucks coffees, teas, hot chocolate, pastries, etc.., normal prices. This restaraunt is the perfect place for lunch. Disney movie music played quietly in the background, which you’ll either love or hate. Clean. Toilets and baby changing inside. If only all attractions had perfect lunch places like this.

Toilets: Plenty of toilets, all with baby changing and special seats for little bottoms. There’s also a changing area for larger children/ disabled children. There’s also a few parent baby rooms with comfy chairs for feeding and changing tables. Always clean.

Pram / wheelchair / mobility friendly: The whole park is pushchair and wheelchair friendly, the paths are wide and smooth. There’s only one ramp you have to go over on the zoo route and that’s fine. If totally necessary you can avoid this though. There are various buggy parks around the zoo and play areas to make some of the enclosures easier to walk through, etc..

From the website: ‘Drusillas is completely wheelchair accessible with flat surfaces and ramps. The zoo route is approximately one mile in length and there are ample resting places along the way. Wheelchairs are available to hire on request, subject to availability and a £20 refundable deposit. Please call 01323 874100 in advance to make a reservation’.

Parking: Yes- Large free car park

Nearest Station: Drusillas is only accessible via car. The nearest train station (Berwick) is only 15 mins walk away but it’s a country road with no path so not safe to walk on with children. The free car park has plenty of spaces and on busy days there are attendants to help show you to the next free space.

Phone: 01323 874100.

Email: [email protected]

ABOUT:

Drusillas park is a children’s zoo and play park. They have a good selection of animals but no ‘big’ zoo animals. There are reptiles, farm animals, monkeys, meerkats, birds, fish, pets, owls, flamingos, red pandas, camels and many more. There are also several enclosures that you can enter and get up close and personal with the animals if you so dare! These are bats, sloths, some monkeys, lemurs and rainbow lorikeets. For an extra £1 you can buy some nectar in a little pot to feed the lorikeets. This looks like great fun until you’re covered in bird wee, so perhaps something you suggest to a friend or family member rather than doing yourself!

There are also many fun activities to take part in round the zoo: Can you run faster than a lizard? Can you stand on one leg like a flamingo? Can you climb a pole like a monkey? etc..

Theres a very clearly marked zoo route to follow so you can’t get lost or miss anything. There’s also a couple of points in which you can come off the route in order to have a picnic or whatever and then re-join.

Opening times 10-6 in the summer, 10-5 in the winter.

Prices vary so widely from day to day that I can’t list them all but the prices range from £8.90 each as part of a group ticket to £18 peak time on the door price. Under twos are free. Buying the tickets online are cheaper. On average for a family of four you’re looking at paying £40-£50. They also offer discount throughout the year, e.g. bring grandma for free, dad gets in free on Father’s Day or 30% off all tickets in half term week.

Annual membership is very good value at £62 each. If you’re a member you also get 10% off on food/ drink and other experiences.

Other experiences include ‘keeper for the day’, which varies in price from £120-£190, and ‘animal encounters’ at £65-£75. Animal encounters are for only one animal, usually penguins or meerkats, and last approximately 40 minutes. These are for six years+ and include going into the enclosures and feeding the animals yourself. A great idea for a birthday gift for a child who has everything and loves animals.

Drusillas is aimed at children aged three to 12 and is very educational. They have lots of school visits.

A little history on the place… Drusillas started out as a little tea rooms in 1922 then put on dances in a barn. They started putting a few animals on display for the children and the rest they say… is history! They’ve been through ups and downs and even a massive fire! But they’ve grown and grown and they’re loved so much by the locals.

The best times to visit are either summer or for an event like Halloween or Christmas when they really out do themselves. They put on a fantastic show at both times. For example, Halloween 2015, they’ll have a haunted house, Halloween crafts, scooby doo and a mummy walking round the zoo! At Christmas you get a chance to ‘hug a huskey’, meet Santa’s reindeer and even meet the man himself! They make a beautiful grotto and for a small cost (usually £15ish) Santa can give your child a present. Last year the gifts were some lovely soft toys. Throughout the year there are also days you can meet various characters such as the fat controller, Ben and Holly, Peppa pig, etc.., for no extra cost.

There’s also a few gift shops where you can buy lovely soft toy animals and there’s a Thomas shop for those kids as mad about Thomas as my son.

Review by Catherine Page

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Founder of MGF, Helen is a mum of four who spends way too much time on the interweb and not enough time in bed. She loves wearing her dressing gown, car boot sales and watching TV programmes featuring food. Her specialist subjects include 'how to overfill your car boot' and 'how to avoid dusting'. Follow her at Twitter: @Ginfund, Facebook: @MGFund, Instagram: @mummysginfund and online: www.mummysginfund.co.uk.

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