I unashamedly love zoos and to be totally honest, a kid has just been a great excuse to visit more. We’ve just taken Weasel for the 3rd time to London Zoo, which despite being mind-boggling expensive, is worth it. I just should have got some discount vouchers before my last visit….
If you haven’t been in a while it is definitely worth re-checking out. The penguins now winter there (major disappointment last winter when we found out they were all at their holiday home at Whipsnade) and have an awesome (and less smelly!) enclosure. Sadly little ones can’t do any of the feeding experiences (minimum age 3 and 3 feet tall), but we will be doing it as soon as she can.
-The food isn’t too bad- it’s one of those 5 items for £5.50 jobs that come with an animal themed box that further prevents them from wanting anything at all to do with their lunch because they’d much rather play with the box. But 3 adults and one kids meal coming to £35 seemed pricey even to me I must admit.
-Changing facilities are good. In addition to the disabled toilets, there are open (but not alarmingly so) changing areas in the normal ladies loos.
-There’s an amazing kiddie area, the Animal Adventure, where they can climb around and, when it’s warm, splash around a little too. This area can get a little busy on a hot, sunny Saturday, so beware.
-The monkey walk through is great, but could do without the keepers freaking out anytime anyone goes near a monkey (hello, open monkey cage, what did you expect would happen?!). They even nervously shoo away monkeys from the fences near the path. I’m thinking this feature might not last long, so get it while it lasts…
-The aquarium feels a little out-dated by big modern ones, but you have to bare in mind that this was the very first one in the world. They were the first to use the word aquarium, a shortening of aquatic vivarium. It does however have nice slopey sides you can lift kids on right up to the tanks, a roof for that lovely English weather and space for a toddler to run around in circles screaming ‘fish, fish, fish!’.
-Parking – Yes, I am that lazy. I could take a train to a tube, but dread the very thought with a pram. I do it occasionally but with the zoo’s great parking, I get to indulge myself and drive into London. £14 a day ain’t half bad either for parking, less if you only want to stay 4 hours out on the Outer Circle (weekdays) or totally free on Sunday (if you are blessed by the parking gods that day and find a space). You can even leave your car there and grab some nice dinner in Primrose Hill. (Do not go to Pesantissimo with your kid whatever you do. It looked great, had a highchair, had other toddlers and older kids at 6, but I’ve never received such a cold reception from waiting staff before. A total shame since the food was amazing, other diners were lovely and talking to Weasel, but we were made so unwelcome. They went as far as to tell us there was no kids menu (fair enough) but that they could halve a main meal, but they would still need to charge us for a whole portion. I’d rather have a kid scream all the way back to Guildford instead of eat there again.)
So go to the zoo, but get a discount voucher from somewhere online first so you don’t have to remortgage your house for tickets.