Flamingo Land holds so many wonderful memories for me. I was 13 when I visited for the very first time, with the rest of my secondary school in tow. I braved my first proper roller coaster ride there, and spent the whole day eating candy floss whilst running around with my friends having a bloody good time.
It felt so strange to return with my own children, but I was so excited to show Oscar around because I knew he would love it there just as much as I did. I was also very interested to see if it would be worth the travel and money, especially with a newborn and toddler, and knowing we were very limited as to what we could really do.
We arranged to get there for opening at 10am so we had the full day to explore. I would highly recommend you do this if you plan on visiting, because there is so much to see it’s almost impossible to take everything in if you don’t have enough time. It was very easy to find our way in via the signposts, and we found a spot to park in almost immediately. The car park is huge so I can’t imagine you would ever have any trouble parking; although, we did go on a Wednesday during term time so it may not be the most accurate representation of a ‘normal day’ there.
We were greeted by a lovely member of staff in the customer information office, who handed us our tickets, a map and explained when the different shows were on throughout the day.
We knew that the majority of the day was going to be spent at the Zoo, as Oscar isn’t the biggest fan of rides. Thanks to the pram, me and Anthony didn’t really want to desert each other and go it alone either. As we were essentially there for Oscar’s sake, we decided we would head to the rides at the end if there was any time left.
The map we had been given was heavily relied upon at this point and I was so grateful that it was beautifully illustrated and extremely easy to follow. Flamingo Land is set across 375 acres of land, and you can definitely tell when you are wandering around. Without the map I think we would have gone round in circles for about an hour.
We headed towards the tigers initially, and started to make our way round from there.
There is a whole host of animals and creatures that you can see when you visit. From snakes, lizards and fish, all the way to penguins, baboons, giraffes and lions, Flamingo Land has it all. We were so happy that we managed to visit all of the animals throughout the day, especially as I said, there is just so much to see.
One thing I did note was that all of the enclosures were a great size, kept in fantastic condition and the animals seemed to be very well looked after. Having never seen them before, Oscar was obsessed with the tigers, especially when they came right up to the window. In fact, we had to drag him away with the promise of ice cream just to give ourselves more time to explore.
Sea Lion Show
During our visit, we managed to make it to the first Sea Lion show of the day. The lady keeper doing the talk was fantastic and brilliant at keeping the children engaged. It was also very educational and filled with Sea Lion facts, most of which I didn’t even know, so I actually got to learn something myself. We got to witness Merlin perform his tricks, including catching and balancing a basket ball on his nose, followed by Clive jumping out of the water to hit the ball at the end.
Things started to go a bit wrong at one point and Merlin was following the keeper around and trying to grab hold of her trouser leg. This definitely worried the lady who seemed a bit panicked by it all. Thankfully, she brought it back with confidence and explained that sea lions are wild animals and sometimes don’t always play ball, if you pardon the pun.
Other than that minor hiccup, everything else went according to plan and it was truly lovely experience.
Oscar was probably a bit too young to really know what was going on, but I would say it was more suited to children around 3+ who can sit still and take things in properly.
Food and Facilities
After the Sea Lion show, we used our trusty map to find somewhere we could eat. There was a lot of choice for restaurants, but in the end we opted for the burger bar in The Zanzibar Food Market because it served food we knew Oscar was more likely to eat. Anthony and I each got a cheese burger and chips, and we bought Oscar fish fingers and chips from the kids menu, as well as drinks for us all too. Overall it came to £17.95, which is probably on the pricier side for some. I was actually expecting it to be a lot more, so I was quite happy with that.
For a restaurant dedicated to burgers, we expected them to be amazing, but were sadly let down. There was nothing wrong with it, but it just tasted like a normal burger that you can make yourself at home. However, the chips were amazing and Oscar polished off his whole meal, which is very unusual for him, so he must have enjoyed it.
Thankfully, there were toilets and baby changing facilities dotted around the whole park which was very convenient, especially with a newborn. Of all we visited, they were kept to the highest standard and extremely clean, considering the amount of people who must have been using them. The cleanliness of the grounds, overall, was impeccable, and everywhere was so beautifully decorated and picturesque that it was actually difficult to put my camera down.
Another thing I really appreciated were the members of staff who filled up Georges bottles with boiling water when we needed it. We ran out of bottles pretty early on so I was rather worried they wouldn’t help, from a health and safety point of view. I was so thankful that they did, otherwise I don’t even know what we would have done.
Sadly, we missed the bird show whilst we were eating our dinner, but we did manage to catch the last five minutes of the Pirates of Zanzibar show. Again, I would definitely say they are more suited to older children who can take in what is going on and join in, but Oscar loved watching them dancing around regardless. The staff taking part were brilliant with the children and looked to be having a genuinely good time whilst performing.
After having a good walk around we decided to head for the Peter Rabbit play area so we could have a sit down and let Oscar have a run around. The play area, again, was extremely clean and tidy and very toddler friendly. There were even educational interactive stations that would ask things like “what instrument is playing?’ whilst playing sounds, and the children could lift up the flaps to find the correct answer. Oscar has never seen anything like this before so he was overjoyed to explore. Anthony too, apparently…
Oscar is there somewhere, I promise.
Finally, in the last hour, we decided to head for the rides. On our way round, we learned that Flamingo Land was entered into the record books in 2009 for the world’s steepest roller coaster, the Mumbo Jumbo, and it held that position for 2 years. We stood there for five minutes, watching and laughing at people screaming their heads off while they went down the steepest part, before I decided that I would definitely not be participating myself.
Instead, I queued up for one of their other roller coasters which is equally as terrifying – The Kumali.
After queuing and waiting for 10 minutes, we were told that we were unable to go on the ride due to the weather. It was quite disappointing but I think inside I was secretly pleased. I would have loved to go on it if I had been given the chance, though. In the end, I went on the Pterodactyl as it was the only ride open. It was rather mild compared to what I would usually queue for, but I really enjoyed it all the same.
Typically, even though we checked the forecast beforehand, we happened to go on a really miserable day so the rides not being open towards the end of the day really couldn’t have been helped.
Having already told all of my family and friends about what a fantastic day we had, it is safe to say that I would recommend a day out at Flamingo Land to everybody. It is appealing to all ages and jam packed with activities for the whole family. I would be extremely surprised if anybody has ever went and ran out of things to do.
Overall, despite the bleak weather, we had such an amazing day. Part of me wishes we had stayed over so we could have spent a few more days exploring and taking our time, but we are definitely thinking about returning in the summer time if we get the chance.
*We were lucky enough to be gifted our tickets for the purpose of this review, however all opinions are honest and my own.
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A few more pictures from our day out: