When Chester Zoo offered to give us tickets for a day at the zoo I was so excited. They only asked for a blog post if we enjoyed ourselves so how could I resist! We had an amazing time so here I am sharing with you the best bits!

I can’t possibly share everything because I took over 300 photos!! Four of us went on the day out, me, Stuart, Ben who is 11 and Stuarts Nephew Ryan who is 12. We were all very excited so read on to see how we found the day out.

I would definitely recommend a nice breakfast before you go, there are some lovely places for breakfast in Chester. If you are going for a particular event such as the Chester Zoo Lanterns do check out if there are any changes to the availability of food in the zoo etc.

Arrival

We met a representative of Chester Zoo to collect our tickets at the entrance so did not have to queue. That said we did notice that there was not much in the way of a queue at 10 am when we arrived. Also, there was no queue at around 1 pm when we went back to the car for our lunch. The signage is very straightforward. It looks easy to work out where you should queue depending if you have pre-booked etc.      

A group of Roan Antelope some sitting on grass some standing

The Layout

We loved the layout of Chester Zoo. It is big enough to truly be a whole day out. The layout means there are plenty of options to cut back towards the entrance if you have left a picnic in the car! There are maps everywhere which are all really easy to use.

Every member of staff we encountered throughout the day, even those whose roles are clearly not customer service based (ie ones cleaning animal enclosures etc) knew all we needed to know and were happy to point us in the directions we were looking for!

Two zebras behind a wire fence

The Animals

We were very impressed with the variety of animals to see at the zoo. Obviously, some animals were harder to see because they were in less visible parts of their enclosures. This is always to be expected somewhere like this.

The enclosures were all designed well so the animals all appear to have a lot of space with varied environments and all genuinely appeared comfortable and enjoyed their surroundings. We all loved the black rhinos and their babies. Other favourites were the flamingos, the elephants and their babies, the giraffes and the painted dogs. To be honest, though we loved all the animals and it was hard to choose favourites!

Ben and Ryan standing smiling at the camera, Ryan is on the right and is a lot taller.

Fun for all the family

All around the zoo, there were little extra tasks that all the family could do like the one below. There were information signs for each animal. They included a variety of facts and figures that were suitable for all. There was so much to do as we walked around and play areas too, one of which was also suitable for adults! It was definitely fun for all the family. Even the walks between animals were filled with nice areas to take photos, activities, and lots to learn.

A sign saying flap like a bird in front of a bush and walk way

Food at the Zoo

We took a picnic and chose to go back to the car for it. Ben was getting sore from walking and needed his wheelchair. I did, however, note on the way around the zoo there were a lot of areas suitable for a picnic or even just sitting for a snack.

With many options to buy food there and I was impressed that it wasn’t just sandwiches and burgers there was some great variety in a few different areas of the zoo. The photo below shows some of the food options we saw and shows how good the prices were. We felt that they were very comparable to other places you may eat out. There were also a good amount of vegetarian choices too which of course as a vegetarian I love!

A sign listing food available at one of the outlets including flatbreads, vegetable pad thai etc, prices all around seven pounds.

Accessibility for Wheelchairs and Pushchairs

Throughout the whole zoo, we did not find any steps to anything which was brilliant. There were good ramps, where necessary, due to the terrain. All of the animals were visible to everyone whatever their height with fences and glass designed appropriately. There were a few times I saw children in very low pushchairs struggling to see.

However, these were unusually low so I don’t think for the vast majority there would be an issue. Ben was very impressed that through the second half of our day there when he was in his wheelchair he could still see everything!

Ben in his wheelchair smiling at the camera with an enclosure behind (no animals can be seen) showing he can see even in his wheelchair.

Getting Close to the Animals

While each animal had a suitably sized enclosure as you can see we got a great view of all the animals, look how close we were to this bear! All my photos were only taken with my Samsung S7 edge phone. Although some were zoomed-in many were not!

A black bear facing towards the camera climbing slightly onto a branch

Educational information about the animals and their environments

The information on the signs was amazing, each had a similar layout so it was easy to see how rare an animal is, where it came from and other important information but it was also set out in such an easy to understand way that children were inclined to read it too. We loved the interactive signs sharing information that otherwise it is hard to imagine such as the one below.  

Ben standing in front of a sign about flamingos comparing his arm span with the wing span of a flamingo

Toilet facilities

I know this is not something many people particularly add in a review but I was keen to share it! I used a few different toilets around the zoo and all were in good clean working condition, I did not find any problems with any and there were plenty to be found with very rare queues which in August on a nice day at the zoo I did find surprising. There were wheelchair friendly toilets too around the zoo and changing areas for babies.

In the zoo, I was also pleased to discover there is a Changing Places toilet there. This is a completely accessible toilet for people with disabilities including a hoist, changing bed, and toilet, shower washing facility and sink. The toilet is huge and does not require a key to access so there is no messing around hunting where you need to ask for the key and it really does mean that Chester Zoo is accessible for everyone regardless of disability. Like all other toilets it was clean and well-stocked on our visit. If you wish to read more about the accessible toilet click here.  

A group of elephants including a baby elephant all standing close together.

Is it busy?

Obviously, it is a hugely popular attraction and it will attract a lot of people. We went on a lovely Wednesday in the middle of August. Whilst there were a lot of people there it really wasn’t too busy at all as we walked around. If you have a child, like Ben, with Autism or a similar disability who struggles with busy areas we found it was great and it wasn’t an issue at all. Obviously, there may be other days where it is busier but I can highly recommend giving it a try!  

Ben and Ryan walking along a walkway between enclosures, no animals seen, no other people in photo showing how empty it was

Gift Shops

Around the zoo, there were various places you could spend money. There was an area which sold named leather bracelets and other safari type gifts, areas with face painting, names drawn with animals, and of course the main gift shop at the entrance/exit.

One thing I was very impressed with as a mum at Chester Zoo was that it was not compulsory to go through the gift shop! I hate days out where you are forced to go through gift shops. When you have already spent money on a day out sometimes it is the last thing you want is to spend another small fortune on soft toys and keyrings! Why do kids always like keyrings anyway, they don’t even have keys!

The main gift shop is next to the entrance/exit but it is so easy to avoid too. I think this really shows how Chester Zoo is such a great day out and they are not just focussing on grabbing your money at every opportunity as some places do!

I did have a peek in the gift shop and noted that it was very big with a big variety of gifts of varying prices. They were very much the standard sort of prices you would pay for these kinds of things at gift shops on days out!  

A picture of a very hairy orangutan!

Our best bits

We all loved the whole day and seeing all the animals. The best bit for Ryan was the Bear, Rhinos and the Flamingos, Ben most enjoyed the Penguins and Meerkats and Stuart enjoyed the Butterfly house. I loved all the baby animals because I’m maternal and soppy like that! I took so many photos I will share a few more below!  

A close up photo of a green and brown butterfly on a leaf with wings sread
Ben smiling in front of glass, behind the glass are lots of logs at varying heights and some monkeys on one log
A photo showing a group of penguins all standing on a large rock area with water in the foreground
A family group of black coloured apeas sitting on a log with two adults, one is bigger than the other and a baby

Would we recommend it for a day out?

We were all chatting on the drive home about it. We all absolutely loved the day. All four of us said we would recommend it and would go back again! The only thing we would say is to ensure you allow the full day there. If you don’t you will be disappointed as it really is a full day out!

Pinterest pin of a close up of a giraffe

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4 Comments

  1. I live less than an hour away from Chester Zoo and go nearly every year, it's still not been beaten by any other zoo I've visited. This is a great review and really does truly reflect how fab the zoo is 🙂

  2. It looks like you all had an amazing day. I've never been to Chester zoo but it sounds like one of the better zoos. I never considered how many zoos actually make you walk through gift shops but now I kind of feel sorry for my parents since I made them buy me a lot of overpriced keyrings as a kid!

  3. It seems like you had a lovely time at the zoo. I love to take mine although we haven't been able to go to our local one very often.

  4. It sounds like you had a fab day out at Chester Zoo. I remember visiting as a kid, and it was, without a doubt, the best zoo I'd ever been to 🙂

    Louise x