To mark Henry’s first Birthday, we planned a special family lunch with BBQ and cake, a chance to toast such a special year with grandparents, but we also wanted a really special day out with the boys, away from the distractions and routine at home, one that we’d all remember and enjoy. It’s really hard to think of attractions that the whole family will get something out of, especially when there’s a four year age gap between my boys. Henry just loves animals and Louis lego, so when we heard there was a new BRICKOSAURS lego exhibition at Marwell Zoo in Winchester, just over an hours drive out from where we live in Surrey, we knew it was perfect.
A world exclusive for the Zoo, they are the first to host an interactive dinosaur lego exhibition on this size and scale, using over 2 million bricks, and taking over 10,000 hours to compile! Well, we couldn’t miss this.
On Saturday morning after breakfast, we headed out for the day, excitement levels at an all time high! With fond memories of visiting Marwell myself as a child, I remember the thrill of spotting giraffes, tigers, penguins and monkeys, as well as hours spent in the adventure playgrounds. Before we left we downloaded the free App to help us plan the day and help us find out what’s on, such as the giraffe talk that we eagerly headed over in time for.
The walk from the entrance to the far end of Marwell is a good 20 minute walk without stopping to look at animals, so we decided to start the day with the Marwell Rail Train, which chugs through African Adventures, offering a chance to see zebras, giraffes, rhinos and flamingos amongst others. A highlight of the day, the boys loved getting so close to the animals and waving at people waiting to cross the tracks.
Next on the agenda was Penguin Cove, since Louis watched Happy Feet and Madagascar, he’s been Penguin mad. We couldn’t believe how close up to the penguins you could get and the impressive viewing areas offered sites from above and below tank level.
During our day we followed the BRICKOSAURS Trail – an illustrated guide to the zoo with numbered destinations along the route where legosaurs could be found. These large scale model designs were super impressive. Next to each one were facts about the build length, bricks used, number of builders and fun facts, such as where the inspiration came from. There is so much to do at Marwell, but having the sparkle of Dinosaurs hidden amongst the enclosures and on way to the encounters definitely added extra fun and engagement to the day.
One of the major plus points about Marwell for us is the adventure playgrounds, for which there are 5 dotted about the zoo offering variety between encounters. When Henry napped we headed over to the most challenging of the playgrounds Wild Explorers and Louis’ absolute favourite was Fur, Feather & Scales which had monkey bars, always a winner!
For lunch we stopped at the main Café Graze, the main self service restaurant in the Zoo offering hot food and snacks to eat in or take away. Louis is extremely fussy so we have to take packed lunch for him, but Ant and I enjoyed hot food and shared it with Henry. All the food in Café Graze is either locally sourced or using fair trade standards and profits go back into the Zoo trust. Unfortunately the queue was so long, but we did arrive at peak time, but there were plenty of tables. Around the park are enormous amount of picnic tables as well as an indoor Picnic Lodge.
After lunch we headed over to Marwell Hall where BRICKOSAURS Base Camp is based. Marwell Hall is the original 15th century house on the estate which was a grand home to a series of family’s, before it was bought in the late 60s by John Knowles, who later set it up as a zoological park in 1972. Grand in it’s appearance, it’s also dripping in the most amazing wisteria and the zoo have kept beautiful colourful beds in the ‘formal gardens’.
At Base Camp we were greeted with a 2 large lego pits (one duplo) giving the boys free reign to get creative… Louis made a house for the Dinosaurs and Henry enjoyed smashing brick towers.
Last stop of the day (before the gift shop!) was the new Tropical House, which opened last year. The impressive biosphere offers a natural based habitat for a variety of animals, including free flying birds, small insects, reptiles and tropical plants. It’s also home to 2,500 fish in the very impressive 70,000-litre aquarium, which had Henry transfixed.
After a long and packed day at the park we headed home, two tired children in the back of the car, full of happy memories, hearts so full. Definitely one special place not far from Surrey that we can see ourselves taking the boys to year after year to enjoy. The BRICKOSAURS exhibition is on until 1st September 2019. If you are able to visit before it goes it really will not disappoint.
thanks for reading
Marwell kindly gave us a family ticket to the zoo in exchange for our review, for which the images and words are my own.
BRICKOSAURS will be included with general admission and will be on display from 5 April until 1 September 2019.
A family ticket to Marwell Zoo