*Disclosure: We were given free entry for himself and the two kids in exchange for writing this review. As always, all thoughts and opinions are our own.
Paradise Wildlife Park (ZSH) is a family-run zoo found in Broxbourne woods, Hertfordshire. It boasts a wide range of animals, experiences, things to do and a renowned animatronic dinosaur section. My kids and I hadn’t visited before, so when I was given an opportunity to check the park out for review, the three of us where very excited to do so. Especially my oldest, who is a massive fan of animals and dinosaurs alike.
Travel and Parking
Paradise Wildlife Park was easy to find; despite being unfamiliar with the area, I had no problem finding it. This is thanks to how well signposted it is. On arrival, we parked in one of the overflow car parks. (We didn’t arrive until lunchtime). Staff helpfully guided cars in and there were no issues.
It is difficult to get a gauge for the size of the park when entering. Even now, I’m not sure I know how big it is. (I do know it certainly is big enough with plenty to do though!) What I can say for sure is that it is very beautiful. Lots of brickwork, floral displays, signage and trees, but not cluttered or overwhelming. I would say visually stimulating but not overestimating as you enter. This is important for me.
Despite being midday on one of the last weeks of the summer holidays (and sunny to boot), the queue to speak to the lady at the admissions section moved quickly. She was promptly able to tell me prices for future reference, was courteous and answered what parts of the zoo might be difficult for more sensitive or younger children. I was very impressed with the knowledge, understanding and promptness of the exchange.
There is a 6% discount for tickets online (that have to be purchased 24 hours in advance). Under 2’s are free. PWP is open every day in the year (except Christmas Day). Prices vary seasonally.
This season, if I bought online (as I typically would) it would cost £55.93 for my 6-year-old, 2-year-old and I to enter Paradise Wildlife Park. £17.86 per child and £20.21 for me.
As with all things, this cost depends on how you value the facilities inside and the overall experience. What is certain though, is that there is a lot to be gained from the available annual passes.
World of Animals
This is the bulk of the zoo. The elder of the two methodically planned the route and how long we would stay at each enclosure. I got the impression the route was somewhat skewed in favour of seeing his favourite animals as soon as possible. Our priority became the tapirs and camels, whilst being told what seemed like a hundred times to ask why they don’t have okapis. I did not ask. Clearly, I was being unreasonable.
To begin with we visited the Pride Lands (lions of course), zebras, tapirs, the Outback Trail (armadillos, wallabies, emus, alpacas and camels among others with ambient digeridoo noises in the background), penguins and meerkats. This portion of the park didn’t lack on close encounters either!
6 especially loved the camels whereas 2 was infatuated by the emus and alpacas. She stood with her hands on her hips at one stage adoring the long-necked birds whilst defiantly challenging her brother’s pleas to move on.
Next up was the Big Cat Territory. Fun fact, PWP is unique in that it is home to more big cats than any other of the UK zoos. The majesty of these creatures has to be seen to be appreciated and the kids enjoyed looking on them from the viewing platform. We got to see white tigers and snow leopards up close; it was absolutely awesome to behold. We spent a long time watching them move, rest, eat and play.
The rest of our time in the World of Animals was spent viewing the remaining animals. The Lemurs, otters and red pandas were all great fun.
The very last area we visited was the farmyard area which had pigs, bunnies, sheep and guinea pigs to interact with. My youngest enjoyed this a great deal. Personally, my favourite part was the Makaton signs with various farm animals. My son and I had fun learning these and he was fascinated as to why we people do. If the goal was to raise awareness, good job Paradise Wildlife Park!
Birds at Paradise and Show Arena
This is a peaceful secluded little section in which bird displays are held in the centre and birds such as owls, parrots, hornbills and buzzards are housed around the outside. My eldest especially loved the Kookaburra. On our way out we also got a view of a tortoise; it would be nice to be that chilled!
Near Birds at Paradise is a charming little park featuring swings, a small slide, a fire engine, a gypsy playground and a playhouse. Much better suited for younger children; 2 loved it but 6 got bored fast and was keen to move on. There were also face painting and mini golf facilities that we didn’t visit this time.
In this section of Paradise Wildlife Park there is also Monkey Mayhem play area; complete with a food stand. The kids opted not to play on the (admittedly fun looking) giant rainbow slide and we got a small pizza for them to share before moving on.
The park is full of food options, including a diner. The food stand we selected was fast, and the prices what you expect for a zoo. The children enjoyed their choice. Packed lunches are also an option though of course; there are plenty of benches dotted around.
I am really happy to say that Paradise Wildlife Park is very serious about recycling with bins for various types of waste scattered sensibly about the place. Each bin with helpful visual guides of what can go in.
Near the entrance of the park there is an ATM too, should you need cash. This is perhaps more useful to know for attractions than food places though as they all seem to take cards.
Paradise Wildlife Park is split into two halves, separated by a gated crossing. The opposite side to World of Animals is where the World of Dinosaurs can be found, as well as more play areas and other attractions. We looked at the train but 2 decided she wanted to look and not go on. As I didn’t bring their waterproofs or a towel (which would have been needed for sensory reasons) we couldn’t go to Paradise Lagoon paddling pool (another time hopefully!)
This area is beautiful; it is a small section of woodland with bug facts, a few deer and some wolves. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to see much this time but we did get to see some wolves sleeping and a dear eating on the way back.
World of Dinosaurs
The World of Dinosaurs was newly opened last year and is one of the most popular attractions for many.
We proceeded through the bombastic, spectacular entrance onto the woodland trail but before heading to the 30 or so gigantic animatronic dinos, a quick detour to the Dino Daycare was required. Here we got to look at some eggs, play with some dinosaur poo (not real obviously) and talk with a knowledgeable daycare person sharing dino facts and engaging the children. It was a very educational and interactive experience.
6 soon became keen to get the show on the road; anticipation had built and he wanted to go see the BIG dinosaurs. I have to say that it really is an amazing attraction that PWP have put together. They roar, move and sometimes even drool. He loved it. My youngest felt much safer in my arms though; we cuddled most of the way around. The trail was great fun and took about thirty minutes to get around.
Paradise Wildlife Park is a fantastic place to visit. It has an incredible selection of animals, is accessible, has friendly knowledgeable staff and a vast array of ways to keep the children entertained. We spent four and a half hours there and could have stayed longer if the kids didn’t need to go home and rest.
To get the full experience, I would recommend getting there early, enjoying the shows, bringing cash for the extra attractions (most are £1-2 each) and remember swimwear if visiting during summer. This all enhances the experience though; not doing so does not diminish anything.
Regarding the dinosaur section; my advice is that, if the option exists, it might be beneficial to have a second adult present if with a younger child. The exhibit is spectacular but if need be, an extra pair of hands mean a more sensitive child could be taken out, rather than rush or disappoint any other children with you.
Paradise Wildlife Park was a fun day out with more to do than we could hope to manage in just one day, and both children enjoyed themselves. It is a very spacious, family friendly zoo and we would be delighted to go visit again sometime soon!
*Disclosure: The Busy Papa was given free entry for himself and the two kids in exchange for writing this review.