Wednesday, 9 August 2017

It's Time to Play! at Chester Zoo

Chester Zoo is well renowned for being one of the best conservation, animal and leisure attractions in the world. It's regular animal care programmes, vital conservation work and enhancements to the zoo have seen it's visitors grow to over 1.9 million guests a year which really is an incredible achievement. It is only a ten minute drive away from our family home and so we have seen the changes that have been made over the years and have watched the zoo grow with the addition of the Island's habitats that opened in 2015.

The zoo has now invested in a brand new Play! space as well as installing fun Play! challenges throughout the attraction which have all been designed to encourage families to have fun together. Families can be assured of enjoying a laughter filled day of exploring, that is packed full of fun and adventure. We were therefore very excited to be invited along to Chester Zoo last week to check out the new Play! Base Camp and try their fun Play! activities which include skipping, balancing, climbing and lots of laughing.

On arrival at the zoo we were provided with a play map which gave us an explorers guide to non-stop play. The activities we could enjoy were marked out on the map and the main Play! Base Camp was highlighted in the middle. We were also given one of the normal attraction maps, which my son Riley very quickly placed himself in charge of, as he began to march through the attraction towards his favourite animals. The first stop was the giraffes, which Riley couldn't wait to see up close.

Riley was amazed by how tall they were and he couldn't believe that even the baby giraffes were taller than him! Once we had walked through the giraffe enclosure and then through the tropical realm next door, we came to our first play activity which was the tortoise shells!

My children each took it in turns to be a tortoise and imagined what it must be like to carry a huge shell on your back every single day. The tortoise shells are a very simple idea but encourage imaginative play and they are large enough for adults to fit in and join in the fun too!

Next up was one of my favourite animals which is the Sloth. I absolutely love this picture that my husband took of one of the sloths travelling along the rope under the beautiful blue skies.

Mr F was on great form with the photographs and also managed to take this photo of one of the stunning jaguars in the Spirit of the Jaguar enclosure. The animals are just so beautiful and it was great to be able to see them in such close proximity.

As we continued to make our way around the zoo we came across two further activites which were "Follow the Line" and the "Flamingo Balance". Riley loved attempting the flamingo balance and although he didn't get it quite right, he was more than happy at just being able to stand on one leg. As you can see it isn't the perfect flamingo stance, but he had lots of fun trying all the same, which is what Play! is all about.

After attempting the flamingo balance, Riley took control of the Play! map once more and noticed that we weren't far away from the Play! Base Camp. We therefore made our way past the penguins and towards the lions, which the base camp is adjacent too. We could see the large slide housed in the 9m high Baobab tree in the distance. This really stood out and so the kids all excitedly made their way over to the play area ready to burn some energy, climb like a monkey and ultimately have some fun!

The play area was absolutely fantastic with so much to do for all ages. There was a large sand play area that provided a fun and safe environment to play in, as well as some more challenging play equipment for older children such as the spider web ropes and climbing nets. The whole area has been really well thought out and covers a large space. This means that despite it being really busy, it didn't feel too chaotic or dangerous in any part, as there was plenty of room for everyone.

In addition to the high energy play areas, there were also some quieter areas that offered you somewhere to go for a more chilled out play. There are also activities such as Tots Story Time and  Animal Game Shows that are held in these areas at certain times, as well as Play! dates events that are scheduled throughout the summer. You can find the most up to date information on these here: Play! Dates & Activities

There is a large cafe area opposite the Play! Base Camp and so this also gave us somewhere to enjoy a drink whilst watching our kids enjoy themselves. We stayed here for just over an hour, but I am sure my children would have happily played there much longer. After all that play, it was only fair that they had a little rest and enjoyed a delicious ice cream.

The Play! theme continued all around the zoo and we kept a look out for any challenges that we came across. Some of our favourites were the Monkeys Balance, Hot Lava Stepping Stones and the Skipping Lane. We also enjoyed making our way along this path by hopping like a frog. It was great to see so many parents & grandparents joining in with the fun too.

In addition to all the wonderful Play! that you can have at Chester Zoo, there are of course many other fun things to see and do. The Zoo is home to over 15,000 amazing animals as well as featuring some stunning gardens to enjoy. The Islands habitat which was introduced in 2015 is incredible and one of our favourite areas of the attraction. You could easily believe that you had been transported to South East Asia if it wasn't for the British climate reminding you of your real location.

The Islands also offer some great places to capture some memories with some lovely photo opportunities scattered throughout. I think that these are a great idea and provide you with the perfect background to remember your visit and look back on in the future.

As our visit came to an end, we made our way to one of the shops where Riley had earlier spotted an inflatable giraffe. These were only £5 and he thought it would be hilarious driving back home with a giant giraffe in the car window, so how could I refuse!

Overall, we had an absolutely fantastic day at Chester Zoo and I would like to thank them for inviting us along to Play! There is so much family fun to be had, with activities for guests of all ages. The animals are very well cared for and we were very lucky to see one of the new baby Rhino's that was recently welcomed to the zoo. The grounds are beautifully landscaped and well cared for, with the whole zoo appearing immaculate and tidy in appearance. We had a really enjoyable day and cannot wait to see Chester Zoo continue to achieve great things in the future.

Important Information

Address - Chester Zoo, Upton-by-Chester, Chester, CH2 1LH (Sat Nav CH2 1EU)

Opening Times - Opening times vary throughout the year and so I would always recommend visiting the Chester Zoo website for the most up to date information prior to visiting. Opening time information can be found here: Opening Times

Entry Price - Prices vary and the most up to date information can be found on the website here: Ticket Prices & Online Booking

Chester Zoo can also be followed on social media and there social media accounts are as follows:

Facebook - Chesterzoo1
Twitter - @ChesterZoo
Instagram - @ChesterZoo
YouTube - OfficialChesterZoo

Disclaimer: We were invited to Chester Zoo as guests to experience the new Play! at Chester Zoo, however we were not asked to write a review and have done this of our own accord due to having such a fantastic day. Opinions and photographs are my own unless stated otherwise. Thank you to Chester Zoo for inviting us.


  1. Great review. We're going for the first time next week. Looking forward to it. Fingers crossed we get good weather.

  2. Chester zoo, that brings back childhood memories.