Paignton Zoo is a popular summer holiday visit – but can you by-pass the queues and even pay less for your ticket? Here are some top tips from Zoo insiders.
First of all, plan ahead. Staff from the charity zoo’s Front of House team suggest reserving electric mobility scooters or manual wheelchairs a week in advance, as they get booked up at busy times. Pre-book Zoo tickets online, bring your code with you and get fast-tracked through Gate 5. And grab yourself an expert guide for free; the Zoo has an app that you can download before you come – simply go to www.paigntonzoo.org.uk.
The school holidays are of course the busiest time of year, but Fridays and Saturdays are usually quieter than the rest of the week. Arrive early – both Paignton Zoo and sister zoo Living Coasts in Torquay open at 10:00am. There are large free car parks at Paignton Zoo, but during the school holidays they fill right up, so use another means of transport if you can; if you come by public transport you get a discount on entry.
When you arrive, think about buying a Zooper Ticket. This gets you into both Paignton Zoo and Living Coasts in Torquay and offers a discount of up to 25% off on separate entry. Tickets are valid for six months, so you don’t have to rush to use them. Invest in a map and guide book and get your hand stamped so you can go out and come back in again later on.
Once you’re in, check the times of talks and feeds – there’s a big board just inside the entrance. From baboons at 10.45am and crocodiles at 11.15 to tigers at 12.15pm and giraffes at 1.15, there’s something for everyone through the day. Allow at least four hours for your visit – though you could easily spend all day in the 85-acre site. Give every exhibit some time, but if you don’t see very much at one enclosure, go back later.
Curator of Lower Vertebrates and Invertebrates Luke Harding: “Stay all day and attend all the talks – the site changes as the day progresses, so it’s worth walking round at least twice.”
“Use the map to plan your day – including where you want to be for lunch,” says Helen Warren, Director of Guest Services. “Ask any member of staff for assistance, we’re here to help you get the most out of your day.”
The busiest time of day in the restaurant is between 12:15 and 2:00pm (12:45 and 2:30pm Sundays). Try and make your food selection before you get to the food service point. If you have a large family, one of the takeaway kiosks could be a better option – there’s plenty of outdoor seating. The Great Giller burger bar is near the Jungle Fun play area and the Hangout Pizzeria is near the Avian Breeding Centre.
Executive Director Simon Tonge says: “Take your time, look carefully, be patient. Take pleasure in the small things as well as the big ones. Read the signs! Oh, and don’t look male primates directly in the eye, as it’s a threat.”
The people who work at Paignton Zoo have all sorts of handy little tips that could make the day go more smoothly, like sensible footwear and binoculars. Parents should make sure children have their mobile telephone number, so if you get separated, Zoo staff can contact you.
Whitley Wildlife Conservation Trust Reserves Warden Dave Ellacott says: “Escape to the nature trail when you want some breathing space in the summer!” One of the best tips for any local is to become an annual passholder. Passes pay for themselves after three or four trips and mean you can pop in whenever you like.
There’s nothing like wandering around the leafy grounds, discovering all those amazing animals and treating yourself to an ice cream or a fresh-baked pizza. Paignton Zoo is a real value-for-money day out – but these tips help make it even better.
Top ten tips for getting the most out of Paignton Zoo:
- Plan ahead – book mobility scooters, wheelchairs and Zoo entry tickets
- Download the Paignton Zoo app
- In the school holidays, Fridays and Saturdays are the quietest days
- Buy a Zooper Ticket – it gets you into both Paignton Zoo and Living Coasts and offers a discount of up to 25%
- Be organised – check the times of talks and feeds, use the map
- Avoid the busiest time of day in the restaurant – between 12:15 and 2:00pm (12:45 and 2:30pm Sundays)
- Don’t look male primates directly in the eye, as it’s a threat!
- Wear sensible footwear and take binoculars
- Parents should make sure children have their mobile telephone number, so if you get separated, Zoo staff can contact you.
- Locals can become annual passholders and pop in whenever you like