|Longleat offers a wealth of entertainment for the whole family, including a maze, landscaped parkland and safari park
|Kat took her three-year-old to www.longleat.co.uk/ on 5 June 2010
"From Adventure Castle to the Lions of Longleat there is plenty to entertain your family on a day out. We set out for our day at the park on a sunny Half Term Saturday and although it was busy it was by no means unbearably crowded.
It has something for all ages from toddlers to grandparents, although the optimum age is probably 6 – 10 year olds.
We started our day by heading to the Safari Park. The first section is the East African Game Reserve where you are allowed to get out of your car. With giraffes, zebras, a tapir and camels to investigate as well as a wallaby walk and some hilarious pygmy goats we spent a good deal of time in this section and stopped at the Trading Post Picnic Area to have our lunch. This was possibly a mistake as with full tummies and a slow moving car our two young children had fallen asleep within ten minutes of setting off again! The safari park is not so big that the animals are difficult to spot and many of them were obligingly close to the road. Sadly Monkey Jungle is currently closed due to an infection and when it re-opens it will keep the monkeys and cars separate so never again can you watch as a gang of monkeys swarm over a car stripping it of its wipers. Deer Park gives you the opportunity to buy a pot of food and feed the deer from your car window. Like our babies, the Lions where taking a midday nap but we still had a marvellous view of them lolling in the shade.
Once back at the house we headed for the Big and Small Storytimes in the Longleat Marquee. Big and Small is the popular CBeebies programme featuring the voices of Lenny Henry and Imelda Staunton. The show was met with a buzz of excitement from the audience. The narrator burst onto the stage and whipped the kids into a frenzy of shouting to encourage Big and Small out of their hiding place. He told the story of how Big met Small with help from the life sized characters. He did a great job and kept his sense of humour when his mike failed and he was besieged by gleeful shouts of ‘We can’t hear you!’ as the sound cut in and out. The audience seemed to have a great time but I would have liked the show to include some of the Big and Small songs. The 20 minute show was the perfect length for young attention spans. We were really thrilled with the Big and Small flower seeds handed out to us and if the queue in the gift shop was anything to go by the house was packed with fans.
On the main site there are so many attractions you are spoiled for choice. As soon as my children spotted the train they were hopping up and down in anticipation of a ride. The train wends its way around the gardens, woods and down to the lake. Far from being merely a nice ride there are sculptures, a series of ancestral silhouettes, plant dragon and a good view of the hippos, gorillas and sea lions as you go past the lake.
Animal Adventure is new for 2010 and lets you get up close and personal with smaller animals. It features the parrots who put on daily shows, armadillos, butterflies, reptiles and rabbits to name a few. Brave Grandma even had a tarantula on her hand! My three year old was absolutely in heaven in this section and spent lots of time here chatting to the parrots.
The area around the main square is absolutely teaming with food stands and shops. There are several different types of ice cream so well worth taking a look around to see what’s on offer before making a decision. The facilities were plentiful, clean and we didn’t need to queue.
One of the real strengths of Longleat’s ticket system is that the passport gives you access to each paid attraction once but is valid for the whole of the season so if, like us, your children are wiped out before you have managed half of the attractions there is no sense of waste as you can return to enjoy yourselves another day. With lots more to see we are very much looking forward to a return visit when we will be heading for the Adventure Castle and Safari boats first.
• Arrive as early as possible.
• Plan your visit in advance taking into account when your children will be hungry or tired and deciding which attractions you most want to see."
Kat Molesworth http://housewifeconfidential.co.uk/