I must have been to Paradise Park in Hayle about a zillion times since having kids. It is a great place to take young children, especially during the day and NOT in school holidays! We only live a few miles away so it is really convenient for us to visit.
We are split in our house as to what we like best about Paradise Park. My 3 year old and I love all the animals and outdoorsy things to see and do. At the moment he positively HATES the soft play, especially the ball pool. He views it as a small torture chamber and can be heard screaming about it all over Hayle! My 7 year old is becoming too cool for animals and says she simply loves the Jungle Barn (the soft play bit). However, when she gets dragged across to the animals I can see in her eyes that she loves them too, honest she does!
My husband will not say whether or not he likes Paradise Park. He harrumphs a bit about it but is very good at taking little Ben there. I suspect he does this to chalk up some Brownie points so that he doesn’t get lumbered with taking Nat to the next soft play party. Think screaming kids on cake and pop all running around in the soft play Jungle Barn. He is a wise man!
We usually go to Paradise Park for a morning or an afternoon. I find that 3 hours is plenty long enough to see the animals, have a play in the park outside and then have a big play in the Jungle Barn soft play. If you are going for a one off visit, I can see how you can easily stay longer. There are lots of feeding times, a nice cafe, a jungle express train and plenty for the kids to stay occupied for a good day out. But because my kids know Paradise Park very well they would not want to stay for a full day.
We don’t usually eat lunch at Paradise Park, unless we go in the Summer time and sit out on the grass with a picnic. The food in the cafe is fine – it looks quite nice. It is just that my kids and husband are particularly picky and they don’t serve their sort of picky food!
The gift shop may cause meltdowns. And you have to walk through it to get to the main park. I do understand this is good marketing for a business but starting off a visit by dragging your kids past all the brightly coloured stuffed animals is not the best!
When Nat was under 3 we both used to have a yearly season ticket. We took her once a week, if not more. I used to meet up with friends for play dates and coffee and Dave used to take her to look at the animals quite regularly.
Season tickets these days are £47.50 per person (including children over the age of 3) which is too steep for the 3 of us!
***Paradise Park if you do read this please take note, we would come more and spend lots on coffee and snacks if your season tickets were cheaper! I’m sure you would make more money this way – I’m not the only local Mum who thinks this!! ***
It is cheaper if you are over 60 at £37.50 so my Mum (who lives in Hayle) has a season ticket and takes Ben (under 3) once a week.
Now when we visit we go as a one off and get a return ticket for £3.50 each time. For the amount of times we visit this works out best for us.
During the Winter season you can just pay for the soft play Jungle Barn. This costs £3.99 per adult and £4.99 per child and you can just use the soft play between 3-6pm. You can then get a return ticket for £3.50 which is valid until 25th March 2018.
Unless it is a particularly cold and miserable day, we always head to the animals first. The flamingos and penguins (feeding times at 11am and 3pm) are the two biggies for our kids. Followed by the red pandas (not as popular as I think they should be with my kids) and the amazing owls.
The otters are also fed at 11:15am and 3:15pm.
The red panda enclosure is one of my favourites. Red pandas, as my daughter always say, don’t really look like pandas, more like fluffy foxes. However, they are super cute and very eye catching.
During the Summer months there are more attractions such as the bird display on the main lawn, eagles and other birds of prey down by the farm, flight of the rainbows where you can feed the lorikeets (very noisy and they land on your head!) and feeding the farm animals.
The tropical birds and the tropical gardens are wonderful to walk around and quite noisy.
Owl alley, as my children call it is really fascinating. There is a big range of owls, some of them not looking quite real!
We always look out for the lovely Cornish Choughs who are so incredibly friendly!
We usually make our way down to the farm area. Inside the shed by the entrance are usually some very cute rabbits, guinea pigs and other little fluffy creatures. Rather sinisterly, in the next room is a massive snake which I’m sure would eat all the little cute fluffies up!
The farm can be a bit chilly if the wind is blowing in from the estuary. However, on a lovely sunny day it is fab. During the Spring and Summer months there are piglets, lambs, pigmy goats and a few other small animals. They like being fed grass and seeds (which you can buy at the entrance).
There is a nice little play bit here with a tractor and a slide.
However, there is an even better park up near the main lawn with lots of climbing equipment, balancing things and slides. We always make sure we have enough time for a big outdoor play here.
Okay I will admit it, my idea of hell is soft play. I’m an outdoors kind of a gal and can’t stand the artificial lights and primary colours of a soft play room. Plus other people’s kids charging about screaming is at best headache inducing.
However, I have to admit my 7 year old (who is not the most sporty of kids) loves the Jungle Barn. She charges around with the best of them burning off energy and testing her mettle. She hasn’t made it down the vertical slides yet, but will happily swoosh down the rainbow slide which to me is pretty hair-raising!
3 year old Ben really doesn’t like soft play at the moment. He won’t go into the under 5’s as the ball pool terrifies him He does try to follow his sister round the older children’s bit. This means that I have to go with him as he is so small. On the upside, this is probably the best bit of exercise I get these days, I’m pretty nifty going over all the obstacles!
(no image has been allowed to be taken of me huffing my way around the soft play!)
Parties at Paradise Park involve lots of kids who know each other very well at school getting all shy and not talking to each other for the first 30 minutes. The Mums end up taking their old-enough-to-do-it-themselves offspring around the soft play until they build up a head of steam and charge off with their mates. They are then all stopped in their tracks and dragged upstairs to a themed party room. Laid out are tables with party food and balloons. They eat chicken nuggets and chips, have jelly and ice cream and sing Happy Birthday. If we are really lucky we get to go around the main park to see the animals. If not, it is back to the soft play for another screaming session. Someone ends up crying, Mums end up having half conversations with snippets of gossip and then we all go home.
Actually Paradise Park do children’s parties quite nicely. It costs £10.50 per child and £2.50 per adult. Minimum of 10 kids per party. We have always had Nat’s birthday parties at home and I’m sure we end up spending more than that. And we have to clear up the mess at the end of the party! Hmm I wonder for her next birthday…
We have not done this (you have to be between 10 and 15 years old) but you can pay to spend 30 mins in the Red Panda enclosure. You get to feed them, stroke them and they might even sit on your lap! It costs a whopping £150 but you get lots of things included.
There is a lovely little train that does a loop around the park and big house. We love going on it - it is very cheap (I think £1 from memory) and you get to go round the loop and see things like the dinosaur statues close up.
Parking at Paradise Park has never been a problem. There is a big car park with reasonable size spaces that even I can get a car into! It is free to park there too.
The sat nav post code to use is TR27 4HY.
There are buses to Foundry Square or St Michael’s Hospital in Hayle. Paradise Park is a short walk from the bus stops.
There is often a special offer voucher available in the Paradise Park leaflets found everywhere (for example Tescos in St Ives) and on their website. It is always worth checking before you go to see if you can get a little bit of money off.
Paradise Park put on lots of themed attractions. They have had a dinosaur one, Halloween and they always have a Santa’s Grotto. Last year they also had an Easter Egg hunt which was lots of fun!
Have you been to Paradise Park in Hayle, Cornwall? What was your best bit?
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