I don’t even know where to start with this one. We had season passes for Blair Drummond Safari Park 2 years ago (a Christmas present from family) and we were there at least once a month. We’ve had group trips here and met friends here. I’ve lost count of the number of times we’ve been to Blair Drummond in the past few years!
Needless to say, we absolutely love Blair Drummond. There is so much to do and you could easily spend the day here without seeing everything.
A trip to Blair Drummond is not a chilled day out. It is a full on, fun filled, tea & ice cream fuelled, activities galore day out.
Typically, our day goes something like this:
- Do the safari drive round all the animal enclosures
- Go on the boat trip to the chimps, wander around lemur island & have a go on the pedal boats
- Head towards the play area via the elephants, rhinos, giraffes & lions
- Have lunch – picnic or barbecue, maybe in the restaurant if we’re feeling flush
- Play in the huge play fort
- See the sea lion show & have a few turns on the astroglide
- Go to see the tigers, the monkeys and the kids farm
- Probably have a few more turns on the astroglide/play in the playpark
- Do the safari drive round the animal enclosures again on the way out
Every time we go to Blair Drummond they are so excited about seeing animals that we always end up doing the safari drive as soon as we arrive in the park. And again before we leave, spending way more time in the monkey enclosure than I’d like on the slight off chance that the monkeys will eventually jump onto the car. (They have done this maybe twice out of about 25 times but the kids will it to happen every time.)
You first drive into the big paddock with the zebra, buffalo, guineafowl, the rhinos, plus a few others. The rhinos aren’t always there; they are sometimes in their indoor enclosure (where you can pop in to see them) so don’t be disappointed if you don’t see them on your drive round. The buffalo are absolutely beautiful animals.
Next up is the lion enclosure. Sometimes the younger lions are playing and there’s lots going on; sometimes they’re all lazing around. It’s always quite incredible when they walk right past your car in front of you though. They are absolute stunning and bigger than you think they’ll be!
After the lions you’ll get the choice of going through the monkeys or skipping that enclosure. In all the times we’ve been the monkeys have jumped onto our car twice and they’ve never done anything but just sit there. If you’re swithering about going through there I wouldn’t worry about your car. (However if a monkey does happen to nick a window wiper, it’s not my fault.)
The final enclosure mainly has lots of deer and antelope. We were there a couple of weeks ago at the beginning of April and there are quite a few babies around which was very cute. You can also see the camels from here.
If you didn’t travel by car to get to the Safari Park there is a safari bus running at regular intervals throughout the day. You can also use it if you just don’t want to drive your own car through.
The chimpanzees at Blair Drummond have their outdoor space on an island in the middle of a wee river, and to see them you have to go on one of the big blue boats to Chimp Island. The boats take maybe 40 or so people and one side is completely caged. That’s the side that will be closest to the chimps during the trip and the cage is there so you don’t get whacked with a bush or something else that a chimp chucks at the boat. Poop. I mean poop. It doesn’t seem to happen often but I have seen the big boy chimp fling a really big branch at the boat behind ours (he apparently really doesn’t like the guy who was driving that boat!)
The boat trip lasts about 15 minutes and we’ve never not seen a chimp. They are mostly sitting about on the island or having a lie down in their little shelter, but sometimes you’ll see them foraging around for some food or down by the river watching the ducks.
You aren’t really allowed to eat or drink on the boat, but the only way I have ever been able to get baby boy to sit still without screaming is by bribing him with raisins or some other food stuff. So I’ve had to use those in the past!
My only negative with the chimp boat is that the boat driver (what do you call those – a skipper?) used to chat to everyone through a headset and mic, but now you get a standard recording. You do get all the information every time, but some of those boat drivers were pretty funny and there’s a lot less personality in it now.
There is usually a little queue to get on the boats. On the busiest day I can think of we waited about 20-25 minutes but normally it’s no more than 10.
The Sealion Show
I’m not a fan of shows with animals doing tricks, so the first time we went to see this I was a bit apprehensive. The show is less about the animals doing tricks though, and more about how the keepers look after them. They talk about training and what the keepers teach the sea lions in order to have a good relationship with them, to keep them as happy and healthy as possible and so that the animals are confident dealing with their vet – imagine weighing or taking blood samples from a 100 kilo, slippery, very clever animal made mostly of muscle, and with sharp teeth?!
Anyway, we’ve been along to the show a few times now and I actually quite like it. It’s informative and it’s fun for the kids too.
The Rest of the Animals…
I mean, there are lots. The big ones (in stature) are the giraffes, elephant (singular – she’s an old lady and apparently she’s a bit persnickety about whom she shares a house with which tbh I totally get), rhinos (the baby one is quite big now but still super cute) and tigers.
(Top tip: go see the tigers around 3pm as their food enrichment is set up before the tiger talk at 3pm and that’s when you’ll most likely see them actually doing something – like climbing a tree to reach a big hunk of meat and bone.) Then there’s all the monkeys, the penguins, the meerkats, the otters etc.
One of our favourite parts is the lemur walk through area. Which is pretty much exactly as it sounds. You walk through a series of enclosures where the lemurs are out wandering free; the humans have to stick to the paths and the lemurs can roam as they please. It’s a great concept. You just have to keep little kids back as lemurs will growl like angry cats on occasion if your small child annoys them…
There’s also the farm area with sheep, goats, chickens, llamas, pigs etc. You can get up close to them and maybe even pat one if it comes close to the fence. I remember the petting area was a big field you used to just walk into and would be surrounded by sheep and llamas. Well it’s not like that anymore, just in case you haven’t been in 20 years.
And of course there’s the leaf cutter ants. Genuinely, these are the little lady’s favourite animals. She was so incredibly excited to see that they were back last time we were there and she would watch them for ages. They are incredible wee things. They’re in the indoor elephant enclosure so make sure you go see them collecting their leaves and taking them all the way back to their nest!
The Play Areas
There are a couple of parts to the play area at Blair Drummond. The big huge fort play area is one of my kids’ favourite places to play. It’s got quite a few levels, each with stairs or a big net or slanted climbing wall or whatever to get up to it. And at least 5 big slides coming down from it too. It’s easy for adults to manoeuvre through (there’s something to be said for that when you have small kids who want to do exactly the same as their older siblings) and my kids will play in here for hours.
The pirate ship play area is for younger kids and has a few slides and bits to climb. Both of mine really enjoy this bit too; even the 5 year old. This area is a giant sand pit too and there are usually a bunch of buckets and spades and stuff lying around for kids to play with.
Just behind this next to the restaurant there is also a small covered play area. It is mainly aimed at young kids but it also has one of those sand play areas with all the pulleys and tubes to move sand around.
There’s a whole bunch of different kinds of swings, a seesaw and there’s also a big spiders web here too. We can’t leave until the little lady has climbed it at least twice.
At the other side of the restaurant you’ll see the Astroglide. This is genuinely one of our favourite things to do. All of us. We all go and get our mats and we can all go down together and it is so much fun. The little man has been coming down on my knee since he was about 8 months old and he still goes on my knee now. He loves it, as does his big sis. (The astroglide will close if it’s raining so just bear that in mind.)
Then there’s all the fairground rides. I’m not gonna lie; we’ve never gone on any of these and we are unlikely to. There’s so much other stuff to see and do that, honestly, I’m not going to bother paying for the rides.
The restaurant serves up a good selection of hot and cold food. The soup is usually quite nice as well. All my kids ever want is a lunch box so they’ve had these a couple of times and they are decent. The food is expensive but you wouldn’t really expect anything else in a place like this. Also you do get pretty HUGE plates of food.
There are a few ice cream, ice lolly, candy floss, tea & coffee, donut stalls dotted around too. They’re those hot sugary donuts like the ones you get by the seaside in Largs (or at the Fort haha) – you know the ones. We always end up with a few of those.
If you want to do your own food, there are quite a few barbecues in the big BBQ area. I know when I went as part of a big group we booked one, but if they’re free you can just rock up and toast your marshmallows or sausages or whatever. A fun wee extra to add into your day!
The Extra Bits
Almost the entirety of Blair Drummond seems to be wheel friendly. (I’m not sure about accessibility of the chimp boats as all buggies have to be left on the dock.)
They have special events on throughout the year. The halloween one was great when we went last year, though we did terrify the toddler a tiny bit with the scary Alice in Wonderland dark walk-through thing. They had a big cat week this week, and last time we were there was superhero weekend when we met firefighters and sat in a fire engine, did some parkour, made superhero badges, plus a few other extra activities.
If you buy tickets online before you arrive prices are £16.50 for adults, £13.50 for kids, free for under 3’s. It’s about £1.20 more expensive per person if you buy on the gate on the day. There are sometimes free child passes so keep a look out for those – Stirling services normally have the leaflets when they’re available.
They do offer annual passes for £55/£45 for adults/kids for the whole year. They’re only good if you’re going to use them, but if you are going to use them they’re definitely worth it! We were very kindly gifted some passes again this Christmas by my parents (annual passes are the way forward at Christmas – more days out; less stuff!) and we’ve used them numerous times this year. For us, the passes are totally worth it.
Blair Drummond Safari Park is one of our favourite places for a day out. There is so much to do here that it’s unlikely you’ll do it all in one day. There are tons of animals to see from big elephants to teeny tiny ants, boats to go on, loads of bits to play in, shows, talks, and definitely don’t forget the astroglide. Really fantastic place.
Blair Drummond Safari Park is located at