It’s half term and I was determined to enjoy the week off with little man. We found a ‘free child’s entry’ voucher for Banham Zoo so headed down for a visit (saving £10.85 per child). The only downside to the voucher is that you can’t book online with it.
I had a read on social media about the long queues because of this so we decided to go a little later on the day in the hopes the queue wouldn’t be too long…but when we got there it was 20-30 minute queue! The zoo did everything they could. All the ticket booths were open, and staff came up and down the line to keep us informed. It’s just one of those things that you have to expect when there’s an offer. We used snacks and bribery, as well as looking at the posters. It did mean that J was incredibly hyped up before we even got in the zoo as the social and sensory pressure pushed him more into being overly sensitive.
Once in we decided to have our picnic straight away. This gave J chance to chill out and recharge so he could look around and enjoy Zoo. I could also run through our visuals again just as a reminder. I always pack a bag with his symbol cards, sensory toys, sensory aids and snacks. It’s like a survival kit but it does help when things get overwhelming for him.
The zoo itself is not overly big. You can do it all in a few hours, but it’s nice as that means children play at the park, see shows, revisit animals without feeling you’ve missed bits. There’s definitely plenty to do. J’s favourite part was finding all the maps and signs and being told what they say. One of the keepers was showing his beautiful parrot but J was more interested in the signpost behind us. But it’s educational and he does listen to the facts I tell him on each sign. Although he did get upset about the tigers becoming extinct. He took it very personally and is still going on about it.
The enclosures are lovely. They are spacious and look suited to the animals. They are easy to view so you don’t have to be crowded. There are ‘walk throughs’ too so you get up close to the animals. This really made J laugh.
There’s also different levels. At the giraffe enclosure you can go up the ramp/stairs/lift and get close up to them. They are beautiful animals. Even if J did say they smelt, haha.
There are toilet facilities around but not all are the same standard (warning for sensory sensitive: they have hand dryers). The ones near the bird show are a bit like ‘campsite toilets’ but it does the job. The disabled toilets are a bit more ‘spread’ so you may need to plan toilet breaks if you need to use those facilities (note: there are no Changing Places facilities at the zoo).
There’s other facilities too such a buggy, wheelchair and mobility scooter hire. These can be handy if you can’t fit them in the car to take with you. In terms of accessibility the park is generally easy to get around. It’s flat and gates are wide enough to get through. Some of the enclosures may be challenging if the glass panel stations are crowded, but otherwise it’s mostly ground level viewing.
There is an on-site cafe and coffee shop. They do get quite busy and aren’t the cheapest option but if you don’t fancy carrying a packed lunch around then it’s available (with indoor and outdoor seating). We didn’t use it this time but have on previous visits. It’s ‘standard’ zoo food really so does the job of feeding you ready for more adventures.
(WildHeart hoodie from RJ Apparel*)
At the end you exit through the gift shop. I had promised J he could choose something (I had saved his birthday money for days out like this). He choose a set of ‘bugs’ to go with his small world animals. He loves to arrange them in lines or different positions so it kept him amused on journey home.
We were lucky to have amazing weather so it was lovely to just wander around with friends. J is in love with the meerkats and now wants one as a pet, haha. Personally I wanted to take home a giraffe and snow leopard. Wonder if they would have noticed if I smuggled them out on our next visit…
*I am a brand rep for RJ Apparel. In return for taking photos and sharing the love for her clothes I get a small discount off my purchases. I do not receive any money…I joined the crew as been a fan for years. Opinions are honest and my own. Discount code: Mummyest2014 if you fancy 10% off x