North East Family Fun

A family of 5 with a zest for life

How to Spend 5 Hours at West Midland Safari Park with Older Children

We recently visited West Midland Safari Park as part of a weekend away and really enjoyed what we saw of the park and would definitely return and recommend to others. Our tickets were booked as part of a National Holidays break (more to come on that soon) but I'd recommend booking an independent trip and buying tickets online if you can. The earlier you buy tickets in advance, the more savings you'll make.

Your day out is split into 2/3 parts - a drive-through safari, a walk-through park with activities, animals and information talks plus a theme park area. You can buy safari and park admission only (which is what we did) or safari, park and ride tickets which is what I'd recommend if you have the full day to spend at the park. If you can't decide whether you'd like to buy ride tickets or not, you can upgrade once in the park for £6-£14 (depending on height) and you can buy individual ride tickets too (although this doesn't work out the best value). I really like that there are quick and easy height checkers letting you know how many rides you're able to go on inside the park before you purchase a wristband.

We arrived at the safari park on our coach at around 10:30am and headed straight for the safari. This took around 1 hr 15 minutes. We enjoyed the safari by coach but I think it would be so much better in your own car as you can stop as and when you need to and even hand feed some of the animals from your car window (following safety advice). The safari was really well organised with gated entry systems controlling the flow of traffic and wardens in vehicles at every step of the way so you knew they were there if needed. Highlights for us included a pack of painted dogs, white lions, white tigers, cheetahs, baby elephants, giraffes, zebra and rhinos. They all got really close to our vehicle and although we've seen all of these animals before, they're still pretty spectacular up close.

Once the safari was over, we parked up the coach and were free to explore the rest of the park for the remaining 3 hours. If I'd have visited myself, I definitely would have stayed longer but I will say if you skip the rides, you can see most of the park in 3 hours if you plan well and skip most of the shows/information talks. West Midland Safari Park is around a 4.5 hour drive from Newcastle so if you get there for the park opening, you'd probably want to leave at 3-4pm ish to get home at a decent hour. If you need to do this, you'll still see quite a bit and it's still worth a trip.

Food Options at West Midland Safari Park

After an early breakfast, my three were starving! You park your car in a car park that is super close to the park entrance and you don't need a ticket to come and go as you've already sorted this out when you first entered the park with your car. I loved this option as it meant you could easily pop back to the car for changing bags or snacks as it was so close and hassle-free. Next to the car parking area there is a covered and uncovered picnic area as well as a couple of food vans. We weren't prepared and the kids wanted food asap so we just bought burger and chips here. Food was on the expensive side (£4.50 for a burger and £3 for chips) but it filled a hole and the kids didn't complain!

There are also plenty of options inside the park for dining and prices were en-par with other theme parks we've visited. There were some interesting options like a taco bar too. I wish we'd held off a little and eaten here! I took a quick pic of the Dino Diner menu to give you an idea of prices/ food options available. If I was visiting again I'd probably take a picnic to save cash.

Bats and Insects 

Once we'd filled our boots, our first port of call was the bat house. Steve didn't accompany us on this trip and I have to admit, it was a little scary being the only adult present in a bat cave with the kids. Especially when one flew right for us! We survived though and it was pretty fascinating to see the bats hanging from the ceiling.

There's a small aquarium and insect house to walk through too. They aren't anything spectacular but are still interesting.

Ice Age

The Ice Age is a new area of West Midland Safari Park near the entrance and it's a part of the park we thoroughly enjoyed. You get to walk through some pretty interesting animatronics from the ice age whilst learning all about them on the boards and plaques attached. There are loads of photo opportunities in this area and a selection of real fossils too.

Lorikeet Landing 

We've visited similar Lorikeet areas at numerous places but have to say, the Lorikeets at West Midland Safari Park were super inquisitive. You can buy nectar for £1.50 at the entrance desk (we declined as have experienced times in the past where the Lorikeets just aren't interested and it's a waste of money). I'd recommend walking through first, getting a feel for the birds/their mood and then deciding whether you'd like to purchase nectar and go around a second time. Despite not buying any, we all enjoyed this experience.

The Land of Living Dinosaurs

The Land of Living Dinosaurs is very similar to Ice Age and you'll have the chance to walk amongst these creatures. We were amazed at their size and the kids loved listening to the T-Rex roar as they shared dinosaur facts with the friendly guide who was giving a free tour.

Hippo Lake

Hippos aren't exactly an animal you get to see every day and I was personally keen to check them out. There's a fantastic viewing platform which gives you a perfect view of the lake and banks below.

African Village 

The African Village is at the very far end of the park but as everything is so compact, it was only a short walk. This area gives you the chance to walk with lemurs, meerkats and goats (although the Meerkats and Goats don't roam free like the Meerkats do). You can't take your pushchair in the lemur walkthrough but you can leave it at the dedicated area and there is a shortcut to take if you need to save little legs. Interacting with the Lemurs and Meerkats was so funny and not to be missed! I swear one almost jumped on Jack's shoulder! 

Of course we had to visit the gift shop. £36 and 3 soft toys later......

We ended our day with a 1:30pm Sealion show. This was mainly as we wanted a seat and a rest from walking around if I'm honest! This is probably the only part of our day we were disappointed with. Most animal shows these days at least try to be educational but I didn't get that at all with this one and it was a very tried and tested formula. The Sealions were cute. It just wasn't for us.

We ended our day with a trip to the sweet shop to stock up for the long journey home and a quick trip to the loo. It felt like we hardly spent any time here at all but we still managed to see loads.

If we'd had a little longer I would have also bought ride tickets, visited the adventure play area/park which looked fab (especially for little ones), watched another couple of shows (the reptile show looked good as we walked past) and joined in with the free Easter crafts.

We've visited both Longleat and West Midland Safari Park now and while I would say Longleat is a lot bigger with much more to see and do, it's also more expensive and a lot busier. We visited WMSP during the Easter Holidays and didn't have to queue once. I loved how small and compact everything was and how easy the park was to navigate - there's no having to walk for miles like Alton Towers! The staff we encountered were all really lovely and took the time to chat with us as we walked past and drummed up enthusiasm in the kids. The site was clean and all animals seemed to be well cared for and have plenty of space too. If your family are interested in visiting a UK Safari Park this year, I'd definitely recommend trying West Midland Safari Park (make sure you book online in advance for the best deal). You can also redeem your ticket to revisit once again later in the year completely free of charge (with the same vehicle). What a bargain! Find out more about the free return deal here. 

Disclosure : We paid for our own day out. 

How to Spend 5 Hours at West Midland Safari Park with Older Children


10 Unique Places to Stay with Kids in Northern England that Sleep 5 (or more)

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A few people have contacted me recently asking for recommendations for places to stay that will accommodate a family of 5 (or more). I must admit that this is one of the things I really struggle with - we often resort to booking two hotel rooms or even trying the tactic of sneaking an extra child in with us (don't tell anyone I said that). My kids will happily bed share and there's always enough room in family rooms for 5 of us so I'm not sure why most hotels have a really strict policy of allowing just 1/2 children to stay with their parents? Well I know the answer is money so we'll just leave that one there.

10 Unique Places to Stay with Kids in Northern England that Sleep 5

We tend to stay in cottages, lodges or apartments these days and I often find that family-run bed and breakfasts are a lot more flexible in providing an extra bed for us. If you are staying in a city centre, I'd recommend using to search for hotel rooms that sleep 5 and then try and find the best deal for that hotel (they often have special offers on their own website). There used to be a fab website that only featured accommodation that accommodated 5 people or more but the owners have stopped running it now. Let me know if you have any tips or any websites you use for larger families.

10 Unique Places to Stay with Kids in Northern England 

For today's post, I'm going to share some quirky places I've found that are all family-friendly and sleep at least 5. I've stuck with Northern England this time so they're all within a few hours drive of Newcastle. Let me know if you fancy trying any of these or have stayed somewhere quirky recently.

Yellow Submarine Houseboat (sleeps 8)

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How cool is this Yellow Submarine Houseboat? You'll find this boat on the Liverpool canals and the interior gives a nod to the Beatles with Gold discs and paraphernalia. There's a modern kitchen, bar and tv and there are three bedrooms which sleep up to 8 so perfect for larger families. Find out more and book here.

Chillingham Castle (sleeps 5+)

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Chillingham Castle is a 13th Century Grade I listed building in Northumberland. Famous for being Britains' most haunted castle, you can stay in one of the castle's unique apartments or rooms with original features. The Lookout sleeps 5, Landseer apartment sleeps 6, Dairy sleeps 6 and The Coaching Rooms sleeps 7. During your stay you'll have free access to the castle and beautiful grounds. Look out for those ghosts! Find out more and book here. 

The Wensleydale Experience (sleeps 5)

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The Wensleydale Experience is a group of Mongolian Yurts with hot tubs set on a working farm in the Yorkshire Dales. Each yurt sleeps 5 and is located in a private setting. The yurts are well equipped with their own kitchenette, shower, toilet room, wood burner, beds and futons. Find out more and book here. 

Lendal Tower, York (sleeps 6)

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How cool would staying in a 14th century tower in the heart of York be? Lendal Tower has been awarded the Visit England 5 Star Gold award and is absolutely stunning inside and out. As well as a stunning roof terrace with gorgeous views across the city, there's a freestanding copper bath, wood panelled bedrooms, a modern kitchen, spiral staircase and more. Stayin here would definitely be lots of fun! Find out more and book here. 

The Old Chapel (sleeps 8)

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How about staying in a converted chapel? The Old Chapel in The Lake District is a beautiful detached property in an elevated position with picturesque countryside views. Accommodation is split across four bedrooms and the property has been furnished to a very high standard. It's dog-friendly too! Find out more and book here. 

Church Conversion near Kielder (sleeps 7)

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Birdhopecraig Church is a stunning Grade II listed building on the borders of Kielder Forest in Northumberland. Packed with original features, the open plan accommodation is spacious and will provide a setting for a holiday to remember. Find out more and book here.

A Hobbit House (sleeps 6)

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Fancy staying in your very own Hobbit house? North Shire is a magical family farm in the North Yorkshire Moors offering a range of unique and quirky accommodation. Shire House (pictured) sleeps up to 6 and has it's own kitchen, luxury bathroom with roll top bath and dining area - the only thing you need to bring is your food and towels. Find out more and book online here. 

Converted Railway Carriage near Whitby (sleeps 5)

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I've always wanted to stay in a converted carriage and this one near Whitby looks pretty cool. I love how they've kept the original seats! The carriage features 3 bedrooms and offers glorious views of the surrounding countryside. It's the perfect base for walks or exploring North Yorkshire. Find out more and book here. 

Llamas Pyjamas Cottage (sleeps 6)

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I just love the sound of this bed and breakfast in Cumbria where Llamas will feature at the heart of your stay. The on-site cottage sleeps up to 6 and rooms are styled with a South American theme. The accommodation has its own group of Llamas and for small additional charge, guests can take the llamas trekking or take part in animal handling sessions. There's a Llama Karma cafe too. Find out more and book online here.

The Old Lifeboat House (sleeps 6)

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You can stay in a converted old Lifeboat House in Hornsea, North Yorkshire. The house sleeps up to 6 and is just a couple of minutes walk from the beach. The accommodation is upside down with 3 tasteful bedrooms on the ground floor and open plan living accommodation upstairs. Pets are welcome and it's just a 5 minute walk to the nearest pub. Find out more and book online here. 

Have you stayed anywhere unique recently or do you fancy any of the places I've mentioned? 

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10 Unique Places to Stay with Kids in Northern England that Sleep 5

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