During the Summer holidays I celebrated my 34th birthday. I know, I don't look old enough.
In order to celebrate, we decided to head down to west Wales to spend the day at Folly Farm Adventure Park and Zoo. We'd last been there over five years ago with Mr. TheBoyandMe's nieces and nephew, and I couldn't wait to show The Boy the different farm animals, the old-fashioned funfair rides and the indoor play area. Plus, I had been champing at the bit to see the only giraffes in Wales.
FollyFarm is not a theme park, thank goodness. It's been going for over twenty years, initially as a farm diversification project and then when the owners' daughter and husband joined the management, they brought their Disneyland training with them to make it more of an adventure with rides and attractions for all ages.
At the heart of FollyFarm remains the Jolly Barn which is home to a huge variety of farmyard friends: sheep, pigs, donkeys, horses, chickens, goats, etc. While this is now a small part of the various attractions, it remains my joint favourite section and is constantly filled with children under seven years, petting, grooming and learning about everyday farm animals.
My second favourite area of FollyFarm is the Vintage Funfair. This is seriously good fun! A stunning carousel proudly dominates the centre of it, but there are the other really traditional rides; the swing-chairs, the dodgems, ghost-train, fun-house and waltzers. There are also a whole heap of other rides for younger children, and this is the first time The Boy had experienced rides like this unattended. My heart was in my mouth the entire time, but he had such fun and I saw him grow up just a little bit more in front of my eyes.
The rides in this section require tokens, which cost 50p each. Most rides are only one token, very few are two tokens. While this is a nominal amount, with the entrance fee of £9.00 for adults and £8.00 concessions (peak times), spending much time in this zone could soon mount up for a family of four or more. The Vintage Funfair is a must-see element of FollyFarm (especially if it's raining), but you will need to budget it into your expenses.
The other area that I was really excited to see was the Folly Zoo, mainly because of the giraffes. There are many different zones, equating to habitats: Desert Heat, Australian Outback, African Reserve etc. This last one was, for me, the best. There are (from what I recall) six giraffes and their facilities are fabulous. They are absolutely thriving in their environment. The zebras are also magnificent specimens with a huge paddock area for roaming, running and being quite frisky in!
It was quite a chilly and wet day when we went there, and so we didn't spend a huge amount of time outside. However there are masses of areas and attractions for little, and big, ones to play on. They have had a ferris wheel installed since the last time we were there, but the JCBs, sand-diggers, ride-ons, adventure playgrounds are all still there and covered in swarming children. It's a very popular aspect of the park.
The central area is where most of the food outlets are. There's a range including the usual burger and chips, along with a family restaurant and a cafe (bizarrely there's also a fully-licensed bar), and a sandwich/light meals section. Hot drinks are around £1.50, a baguette £3.25, a baguette meal (including crisps and drink) is £5.35. These are average places for a tourist attraction. There are also two large areas (one indoor, one outdoor) for picnics, which is what we took with us. There are plenty of bins around and recycling facilities, along with people sweeping up dropped litter.
We had a good time in Folly Farm: the range of attractions are wide-ranging and aimed at family entertainment without a cacophony of sirens and screams, the facilities are good and the atmosphere is fun. The entrance fee does vary with season and there are additional costs for rides, so check the website before you go.
And one last thing, it's in West Wales and on a hillside: take a pac-a-mac with you, along with your sunscreen. When it's hot, it's a sun-trap and glorious. When it rains: don't let it spoil your fun!
We were provided with free entrance tickets for the purpose of this review. My opinion is, as always, honest.