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



  1. Really enjoyed reading your comments about the park. I work at the park and it's great to hear what other people think and that you also had a great day out. If you do have time to- please forward some of your thoughts to the park, particularly with regard to the sealion show as these are valued opinions!

  2. We visited a couple of years ago during Easter Hols. It all started well but then my husband's car broke down in the zebra enclosure - had to be towed to a local garage who diagnosed something significant wrong with engine. So we took the train to Birmingham airport, then rented a car to get us home and he had to go back up the following weekend with a friend and a tow vehicle to get his car home! C was 5 at the time so thought it was a great adventure, especially as he bought a giraffe bigger than him at the gift shop - which we then had to grapple with in tow truck, train and airport lol. We really must go back to rid ourselves of the demons of that nightmare day! While T was sorting out the vehicle, C and I did enjoy some of the rides and it was a lot of fun - but with the shadow of how were we going to get home looming over us!


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