Whipsnade has elephants. Really, you don’t need any more reasons than that to pay a visit (and don’t forget to visit the penguins, the giraffes and Lara the sealion too).
So it was a bit of a bonus really that last week, the Zoo got a little bit spooky.
We started off the morning with a Pumpkin Party, which actually contained no pumpkins (unless you count the small child that was dressed as one) but DID contain a lot of partying. First off, the zombie limbo.
If you have never seen a horde of strangely dressed small children walking oddly with their arms outstretched, trying to slide under a skipping rope, then trust me – it is rather a sight to behold. They LOVED it, and as an adult it was pretty entertaining to watch too. Seb really got into it, I think he has an excellent career ahead of him as an extra in the Walking Dead.
Then came the Time Warp. Same thing, except funkier music and no skipping rope.
And then, musical monsters. You get the idea.
Anyway, Seb was kept amused for a good hour and would have kept going longer if he could. D and Little B gave up after about 45 minutes but that was mainly because they’d seen that the other half of the room contained the opportunity to make flappy bats on sticks and do a bit of colouring in. They’re pretty obsessed with colouring in. So that was a winner too.
Finally, we decided it was time to move on, and ended up in the pumpkin carving room. The selection of pumpkins were somewhat limited, and rather oddly shaped too. Some people weren’t too keen on not having uniform round ones, but I actually quite liked them and the kids were happy enough as well (although do be warned, trying to scoop the insides out of a really long, thin pumpkin is actually very tricky and involves getting a very gooey arm). They were priced at £3 each or 2 for £5, which I thought was quite reasonable given the size of them.
3 funny faced pumpkins later, we took a bit of a stroll past the farm area and went to get some lunch at Wild Bite. If you like cake, GO THERE. I honestly could have just laid next to the desserts bar and filled my face with the various cakes on offer all afternoon, they all looked deliciously appealing. Equally if you are a stew and dumplings fan, you are in luck. The portions were massive, and tasty, and there was a really good selection of tasty halloween themed food on offer generally – the kids actually ate pumpkin and pork sausages with no complaints at all.
After the food we needed a bit of a sit down – and we decided the best place to sit would be on the Jumbo Express Ghost Hunt – basically, the usual steam train but with some added ghost spotting included. The kids were each given a sheet with some coloured ghosts and differently carved pumpkins, and they had to draw a line to match them up after spotting the ghosts as we went around. It wasn’t just ghosts that we saw of course, there were lots of animals to see too; and Little B was in her element pointing out all the animals from her current favourite book, ‘Dear Zoo’.
It was a lovely way to see a lot of wildlife without having to do a lot of walking and we all enjoyed seeing what we could spot. The kids were very happy when they got to exchange their completed ghost hunt forms for a treat at the end of the ride, too!
I was feeling a bit tired, but the kids still had loads of energy (and sugar from their ‘treat’ to burn off, so we spent some time in the adventure playground before settling in for an hour of play in Hullabazoo, the soft play centre. It’s the first time that Little B has really been big enough to explore the larger play area, and she was ridiculously excited to be able to line up with her big brother and sister and race down the multislide with them (I ended up joining in as well and it is actually quite fun). It was so lovely seeing them all playing happily together, I think we could have stayed a lot longer.
After an hour it was time to leave though, so we went for a walk through the underwater world of the sealions, before peeking in at them jumping and diving up on the surface as well. By this point it was getting on for 4pm, and so it seemed like a good time to start a slow stroll past the red pandas, the otters and the lemurs and back to our car.
Little B was so worn out that she finally fell asleep (having refused to nap all day) just before we got back to the car park – Dear Zoo keeping her company whilst she snored.
Despite his protests that ‘he didn’t want to see animals’, Seb (and the rest of us) actually managed to see a surprisingly large number – the Boo at the Zoo activities gave that extra twist that complemented what Whipsnade already offers and turned it into a whole new exciting experience. And to top it off, there was a big puddle outside the entrance to jump around in too.
Can’t ask for better than that!