With a spare Saturday, we decided to hit the zoo, but is West Midlands Safari Park worth visiting without kids? Like most children who grew up in the Midlands, I spent a lot of my childhood visiting West Midland Safari Park. I’ve been on school trips, with friends, and with family, but I haven’t been for years. My husband, being a Northerner, has never been.
When is the best time to visit West Midlands Safari Park without kids?
Don’t go during school holidays. Are you mad? If you don’t need to wait for holidays, go during term-time, and the park will be much quieter. If you can, go on a weekday. Weekends are busy.
If, as we did, you do visit on a Saturday, GET THERE EARLY. The gates open at 10 am, so aim to be there about a quarter of an hour before that. You’ll have to wait, but it means you can drive around the safari bit at your own pace. Later in the day, even with restricted entry, the cars were bumper to bumper in there. Like a traffic jam with giraffes.
Booking is per person, not per car going into the safari, so you aren’t going to end up paying extra per head because you haven’t got a carload of kids. For admission only, adults pay £24, or £35.60 for admission and the rides.
At the moment, you have to book in advance to go, so don’t just turn up at the gates.
When you first arrive, you have the option to head into the safari, or you can park up and go into the park itself. Unless it’s hectic, I’d suggest hitting the safari first. You can drive around at any point during the day, but the safari closes earlier than the rest of the park and tends to get busier as the day goes on.
But is the safari part of West Midland Safari Park worth visiting without kids? Absolutely. It took us a little under two hours to get around it all. There were a few points where we had to wait, but there’s plenty to see, so we didn’t mind.
You can order animal food when you book, or you can buy it at the gate for £3.95. If you’re not with kids, I wouldn’t bother. You can feed various animals as you go around, but who needs to be slobbered on by a camel? We were quite happy to watch other cars feeding the animals (and inevitably having the box of food stolen in the first section).
The Safari is divided into sections themed on geographical areas. You’ll weave in and out of these as you drive around. For those of you who remember visiting in the ’90s, don’t worry. There are no monkeys anymore, so no more risk of having your car trashed by the little beasts. I have fond memories of a visit with my uncle, where we watched a monkey rip all the rubber seal off the windows of the car in front of us. Good times.
During the safari, you can see giraffes, rhinos, white tigers, lions, cheetahs, elephants and more.
After you’ve driven round, you can walk through the Discovery Trail. There are more animals to see here. Again, I think this is well worth it without kids.
In this zone, you’ll find Penguin Cove, Reptile World, Creepy Crawlies, the Twilight Cave (you walk in with the bats), and an Aquarium. The displays aren’t huge, (don’t expect tanks to rival the Sea Life Centre) but there’s plenty of interesting creatures to see.
Don’t miss Lorikeet Landing. For £1.50, you can buy a small pot of nectar to take into the Lorikeet enclosure. The beautiful, rainbow-coloured birds land on your hands to drink the nectar. You’re probably better off going in without kids, as there are a lot of birds and they are loud. A lot of the kids we saw seemed to find the experience a bit overwhelming. Just beware of being pooped on…
The Discovery Trail is also home to the Sea Lion Theatre. There are several shows a day, showcasing how the Sea Lions are trained. Whether this is worth it on an adults-only trip depends on how you feel about trained animals. The Sea Lions here are coached using positive reinforcement to allow for health checks and to keep their minds and bodies active. We enjoyed the show, finding it both entertaining and interesting. If you do go, get there early, as seats fill up fast.
Land of the Living Dinosaurs and Ice Age
These areas both lead off the Discovery Trail. Both take you through a timeline of, shockingly, the Ice Age, and the Dinosaurs, through a series of life-size models.
Most are static, though some move and have sound effects. If the weather’s nice, the displays are fun to walk through. Some of the models are looking a little worse for wear, thanks to being outside all the time, but the notice boards are interesting, and there are some genuine fossils to see, which is pretty cool.
If you’re pressed for time, or the weather sucks, you can skip it without missing much though, if you’re there without children.
Adventure Theme Park
If I’m blunt, calling this bit a theme park is a bit imaginative. It’s a funfair. If you didn’t pay for rides when you booked, you could buy a wristband on the day for £15, or purchase ride tickets for anything you want to go on. The extra price is really where you have to ask yourself if West Midland Safari Park is worth visiting without kids.
If you don’t have kids with you, I don’t think the wrist bands are worth it. The vast majority of the rides are aimed at children, and even the larger rides, like the rollercoasters, aren’t that big. You can buy six tickets for £9, which will be enough to cover you for most of the adult rides. I’d work out which rides you want to go on and how many tickets that’ll cost you, and buy those.
Go expecting a small funfair (with all the same rides I remember from when I went twenty years ago) and you’ll have fun. Go expecting a theme park and you’ll be disappointed.
Walk through the ‘theme park’, (wave to the hippos on the way) to find the African Village. This bit is easily missed, as it’s tucked away at the back of the park, but don’t skip it.
If you’re on a grown-ups day out, I think this is a secret gem. A lot of the family visitors don’t walk far enough into the park, so never find it at all, or they get distracted by the massive play area just outside.
Just inside the African Village, you’ll find the meerkats. These guys were a highlight for us. There are loads of them, rolling around, playing, digging, and generally being adorable.
Don’t miss the Lemur Wood. Here, you can go inside the lemur enclosure and get up close to ring-tailed lemurs, white-fronted brown lemurs, and red-bellied lemurs. Go slow, and look up. If you march through, it’s easy to miss them. When we went in, there were several red-bellied lemurs high in the tree right by the gate. Take the route marked as the longer path; all the ring-tailed lemurs were along here. There were dozens of them in the trees and running along the trail, but we’d have missed them all if we took the short-cut.
If all your animal feed wasn’t stolen by a camel, you can get rid of the last of it in the goat walk. This is a fenced-in walkway through some goat pens. If you’re not bothered about goats, you won’t miss much by skipping it.
I’m all for going to ‘family’ places without kids, but often the food in these places is less than delicious and pretty expensive. I was pleasantly surprised by the offering at West Midland Safari Park.
There are the usual snack kiosks throughout the park and two sit-down cafes. The kiosks offer things like sweets, popcorn, crisps, pizzas, and hot dogs, as well as soft drinks. I was pleased to spot a range of coffees on offer and tea from Tea Pigs. Better than your standard snack kiosk!
If you’d rather sit down to eat, you can hit Burger Co in the Adventure Theme Park or the Dino Diner by the Discovery Trail.
Expect theme park prices, but the food is reasonable. My husband and I both chose the Loaded Nachos. The nachos themselves are out of a packet, but the chilli topping was surprisingly decent, packing some heat and some smoky flavour. Don’t expect high-quality, but I was pleasantly surprised.
Another bonus for the grown-ups? The restaurants sell alcohol. You can order wine, beer, or cider with your meal.
Is West Midland Safari Park worth visiting without kids?
The big question. Is West Midland Safari Park worth visiting without kids? Yes. There’s plenty to see, even for adults. The animals are well-worth seeing, and even if the fun fair is small, the rest of the park is worth a visit. Have you been recently? What do you think?
We bought our own tickets for the park, and paid in full.
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