While we were in Pembrokeshire we really wanted to visit the local theme park Folly Farm. From our research it seemed to be the best value for money, be heavily oriented on animal interactions (which our children love) and have a family-friendly outlook.
It took us another drive of about 45 minutes from where we were staying but that just meant another opportunity to take in some of the beautiful Welsh countryside.
When we arrived we were (cunningly) channelled through the gift shop into the main park. Once there it was refreshing to be in such an open area, especially for Morgan who can react negatively to crowded, noisy places. Straight away we headed for the Cwtch Cafe to allow Morgan to settle into the surroundings gradually.
I went in to get us drinks and snacks and came out with far less than I intended, due to a surprisingly expensive menu. People entering the park who are intending to feed their hungry brood should probably wait as other establishments further into the park are more reasonably priced and have a wider range (such as those found in Carousel Woods).
Once we set off properly into the park, we quickly came to a huge indoor area which appeared to be filled with a mixture of play equipment and farm animals. It was an odd mix but the kids loved alternating between playing and saying hi to the animals. There were goats, sheep and pigs and they all seemed in a very good state of health and happiness (at least to this layperson).
Marshall was very excited to be able to milk a real goat while Claudia was less enthusiastic (read:petrified) and was content to milk the fibreglass cow instead. Morgan didn’t deal particularly well with this area but loud, echoey areas aren’t really very easy for him to deal with.
In this one area there was a lot to see and do and we passed through smaller rooms containing mice and insects as well as the larger animals. There was a strong emphasis on hygiene around the farm areas and it was encouraging to see so many kids adhering to the advisory notices to wash up after touching the animals.
From here we moved on to the Vintage Fairground. The fairground is beautiful and you get to walk amongst some incredibly well maintained rides and attractions. There’s a fair mix of rides for younger children and older thrillseekers and I even discovered a few rides that I’d never heard of! Marshall and I enjoyed a go on something called Caterpillar; a high-speed ride where you sit in (for want of a better description) a circle of cars that are connected in a circle. The ride speeds up and then covers over with a green sheet like a giant caterpillar. This video (not mine) should help enlighten you if that description didn’t do the job.
Claudia enjoyed the smaller rides and on the little train even became firm friends with another little girl that she just met. They chatted all the way around sitting next to each other like old friends, then they got off holding hands!
As charming as all these rides were, they do represent a bit of a disconnect in the pricing at Folly Farm. Having already paid at the door, all the rides do require purchase of additional tokens. The number of tokens required varies between rides but you’re paying out somewhere between 50p and £2 for most of them.
Folly Farm are very clear about their pricing on the website and I can’t accuse them of not being up-front about this in particular, but what I did find is that we became a lot more picky about what to go on. As a result we did go on less rides but then maybe that also could have been why most rides had a very short queue (which we appreciated). It’s not a practice I’m a big fan of and you are left with the vague impression that you’ve paid for something twice but then the price on the door was pretty reasonable and we had a really good time of it overall.
The same building had what I can only describe as the biggest indoor play area my eyes have ever been laid upon. Situated right next to a number of food outlets, Carousel Woods is basically Lothlorien reconstructed from netting and tube slides. The kids immediately ran off and got involved whilst we got a cup of tea. Unlike most soft-play areas, Carousel Woods is not self-contained and children are free to roam across the open cafeteria areas when moving between sections.
As the cafeteria got busier it did become more difficult to keep an eye on the kids and also for them to find us when they’d finished playing. Still, for the scale of the place it was certainly impressive and this was one of the many parts of Folly Farm that were included in the door price.
After tiring out the kids in Carousel Woods, we immersed ourselves in all the various exotic animal exhibits that Folly Farm has to offer and there are plenty of them! We loved seeing penguins playing (both from above and below the water), saw ostriches gallavanting about and even saw lions resting on a hilltop inside their large enclosure. Perhaps a highlight of the animal attractions though was a blue and yellow macaw with a talent for showing off.
Overall we had a great time at Folly Farm. If you want something at a gentler pace that is much less focused on high-speed rides and more on animals and discovery then Folly Farm is definitely worth a look. The price of entry was pretty decent and there was plenty to see and do inside. We’d definitely go back again, given the chance on future holidays. Check out the rest of our pics below!