The day before visiting The Ice Cream Farm, I spent some time on their website to do some research on the attraction and find out exactly what was available for children to enjoy. I found the site to be very well designed and user friendly, with easy navigation menus, clear pictures and ample information provided. We had visited briefly a year earlier for Mother's Day, but this had been a last minute decision with no pre-planning and we only had an hour available before my son was due at a birthday party later that afternoon, so we didn't get the chance to experience everything or take a good look around. I therefore wanted to make sure that I had all the facts this time including opening hours, activity costs and also a little bit of history about the attraction.
Whilst exploring the site, I came across the Book Your Play section, which is a really clever and simple idea. Basically this page allows you to pre-book a time slot for some of the most popular activities at the attraction, to ensure that your child can have a turn and avoid any disappointment. You still pay for the activity on the day, so there is no payment required upfront to pre-book your slot and it is as simple as selecting a time and entering a few details. You then receive email confirmation of your reservations shortly after. I booked times for Honeycomb Canyon, Gemstone Cove and Scoop. Despite the wet weather we have recently been experiencing, I realised that it was still very likely to be busy due to it being Easter weekend, so I thought that this convenience was an excellent idea. Bookings cannot be made more than 7 days in advance and can also not be booked on the same day, so would recommend visiting the website a couple of days before visiting.
The website also provides clear information on each of the activities available, with descriptions, age guidelines, prices and maps all available to view. This ensures that you can have a very good idea of what to expect prior to arriving and plan ahead for your fun day out.
The attraction was well signposted from the main road and small brown tourist signs continued along the country lanes leading to The Ice Cream Farm. It was really easy to find and took us approximately 25 minutes in total to get there. As we arrived the main car park looked full and the cars in front of us all made their way to the overflow car park situated just slightly further down the road. My husband decided to try his luck in the main car park though and sure enough he managed to find a space just opposite the entrance.
There were families everywhere and I was a bit worried that it was going to be far too busy inside, but we made our way in past the reception desk and into the outdoor play area. I had a brief interaction with the reception staff who both seemed very friendly and welcoming. My first impressions were that it was packed, however once we had passed through the main arrival area, it seemed much more calmer and quieter and I didn't feel it was too crowded at any other point during the day. I think that this is due to the fact that the attraction has a very spacious layout and with so many activities to choose from visitors ended up being well spread out throughout the site.
The Ice Cream Farm is a free to enter attraction and you then only pay for the activities that you participate in once inside. This means that if you simply want to pop in for an ice cream, then you can, without having to pay a hefty entrance fee. The activities are then all individual priced at an average cost of £3.75 each.
If you are planning on taking part in everything that is on offer, or intend to become a regular visitor then there are savings to be had by purchasing The Play Pass. These come in 4 different values which are The Blue Play Pass (£15), The Red Play Pass (£25), The Yellow Play Pass (£50) and the VIP Pass (£100). These work as follows:
- The Blue Pass offers 5 plays which therefore reduces the cost of an activity to £3 each.
- The Red Pass offers 10 plays which therefore reduces the cost of an activity to £2.50 each
- The Yellow Pass offer 25 plays which therefore reduces the cost of an activity to £2 each
- The VIP Pass offers an incredible 100 plays which therefore reduces the cost to only £1 each!
I think that these offer great value for money. We had a £50 play pass and even after my three children had tried out quite a few of the activities available, we still have 12 plays left on our pass for when we return another day.
Our first activity was Scoop, where you have the opportunity to steer and operate real JCB diggers. Riley absolutely loved picking up and collecting stones and then operating the lever to move and drop them in another location. This seemed a really popular activity and rightly so as it was lots of fun. There was a small queue when we first got to Scoop, but they have four diggers in total and each session is timed, so we didn't have too long to wait. I think my husband enjoyed this just as much as Riley!
Our next activity was Honeycomb Canyon which is a large indoor sand and water play area, which is also believed to be the largest of its kind in Europe. It is a huge area, full of sand pits, play areas, water and splash areas, which provides plenty of entertainment for children. One thing I was impressed with in Honeycomb Canyon was the safety aspect, as you need to sign your child both in and out of the play area before being able to leave. This is therefore very reassuring to know that they are playing in a safe environment that they couldn't walk out of unnoticed.
My son Ben enjoyed the wooden play area located at the far end of Honeycomb Canyon. The mini climbing wall and sliding rails provided him with plenty of entertainment in between playing in the sand and water zones. It was nice and warm inside, so it was good to have an indoor activity to enjoy away from the cold outside. With plenty of padded seats located around the site, it also provided a place for adults to have a sit down and both my husband and I enjoyed a cappuccino from the self service coffee machine, which was lovely.
Riley absolutely loved the water play areas where you could fill tanks, control water channels and also release water all over the floor. I was really impressed by how clean and well maintained the whole area was and again it was reassuring knowing that my children were playing in well looked after surroundings.
The water play areas featured many levers, wheels, taps and objects that you could twist and turn, whilst the sandpits offered building opportunities, spinning wheels and climbing areas.
After an hour of play in Honeycomb Canyon, we had all worked up an appetite and decided that it was time to sample some of the ice cream. We were shocked at just how many flavours there were to choose from and The Parlour was absolutely huge. The kids took a while to pick from the range on offer, but eventually managed to make their choice. There was a large queue when we arrived, but The Parlour was well staffed so we were served with a smile in less than 5 minutes.
Between us all we had Vanilla, Oreo, Mint Choc Chip & Creme Egg flavoured ice cream and all the children chose a chocolate tipped cone. I felt that the prices were very reasonable and I was also impressed by the amount of seating available for guests.
After we had finished our ice cream, my children enjoyed playing outside in Daisy's Garden which is a wonderful play area full of tunnels, playhouses, swings, slides, trampolines. It even features a magical Ice Cream Tree which delivers a surprise every half an hour in the form of an ice cream mist that floats up into the air and onto the waiting guests below. My youngest son Riley loved this and kept pretending that it was snowing!
It wasn't long before another activity caught our eye and the children requested to go on the quad bikes over at Silvercone. These are token operated and the tokens can be purchased from the kiosk opposite for £1. Adults are allowed to accompany smaller children, which means that younger children who may have difficultly steering, don't need to miss out on the fun.
After much debate over who was the quickest, my children managed to agree their positions and took their place on the podium. Riley was absolutely delighted to have come first!
Time had literally flown whilst at the Ice Cream Farm and before we knew it, we had already been there several hours. There was a break in the rain and so we decided to go and hunt for some gemstones, which was an activity all of my children really enjoyed. For a small charge you are provided with a pan and a small jewel bag, which you can fill with gemstones that you are allowed to keep at the end.
Riley soon got the hang of panning for gemstones and began to fill up his little jewel bag quite rapidly, much to his delight. Emma and Ben also had great success and they loved looking at all the different colours and matching them up to the Gemstones of the World poster on the wall to see what they were called.
Once we had finished panning for gems, we took a walk over to the farmyard area. The main walk around this area had been closed off which I assume was due to the heavy rain making the path muddy and unsafe. The yard was still open though and the children were able to see some donkeys, pigs & sheep, as well as some newly hatched chicks in their incubator.
Unfortunately we ran out of time to enjoy all of the activities, however the kids didn't mind as this means that we will have to return very soon in order to enjoy the rest. The crazy golf looked great fun, as did the Fun Factory which is an ice cream themed adventure play barn. Emma was also keen to try out the Jelly Drop which is a large 7 metre inflatable slide.
In addition to the Ice Cream Parlour, there are also several other dining options where you can purchase some hot or cold food and drinks. The first is The Pantry which offers a 180 seater food and drink area, with a very tasty looking menu. It features plenty of family favourites including Steak Pie & Chips, Sausage & Mash and a range of burgers, as well as some light bites, baked potatoes and a wide choice of sides. A childrens menu is also available, with meals starting from only £2.95.
During weekends and school holidays, The Pit Stop is also available which offers Pieminister Pies, Pizzas and Hot Dogs as well drinks and snacks.
My children always love to have a look around the shops at attractions and The Ice Cream Farm was no exception. I always set them a budget each, which seems to work well for us and prevents any arguments if they know exactly how much they have to spend before shopping. The Impulse Emporium has a wide range of products on sale ranging from the weird to the wonderful. There were items to suit all budgets and I was impressed by the amount of products available at what I consider to be 'pocket money priced' items. My children managed to find plenty for sale for under £3 and each of them managed to pick something that they liked with minimal fuss. The lady at the till was also very kind and polite and also went that extra mile by offering to take my children's rubbish as they opened the packaging for their toys no sooner had I paid, which I thought was very kind of her.
Overall we had a fun and entertaining day at The Ice Cream Farm and it is somewhere that we will definitely return to in the very near future. I love the fact that it is a free to enter attraction and that you only pay for the activities that you use. All the staff that we encountered were friendly and polite and despite the majority of staff being quite young, they all seemed well trained, knowledgeable and comfortable in their roles. The ice cream in The Parlour was absolutely fantastic and with so many flavours to choose from, there is definitely something to suit all tastes. I was very impressed with the cleanliness in all areas, which must be hard to keep on top of in such a busy attraction, yet this is something that The Ice Cream Farm seem to do extremely well. We are hoping to return in the next few days, so I will be sure to update this blog post with information on the other activities that we try.
Would we recommend The Ice Cream Farm to others?? Absolutely!!
Address: The Ice Cream Farm, Newton Lane, Tattenhall, Chester, Cheshire, CH3 9NE.
Telephone: 0800 133 7000
Facebook: The Ice Cream Farm
Opening Times: 09:30am to 5:30pm daily. Closed on Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Years Day.
*Disclaimer: We were provided with a Play Pass for the purpose of providing an honest opinion about our visit and experience. Thoughts, opinions & photographs are my own unless otherwise stated. Information provided is believed to be correct at time of writing, but would always recommend visiting the sites own attraction to obtain the most up to date information.