Cotswold Wildlife Park and Gardens review

Our rating 
3.8 out of 5 star rating 3.8
User rating
cotswold-wildlife-park-and-gardens_208285

In a nutshell

This family-run animal park is a great option for children of all ages, with plenty of interesting creatures to see. Preschool and primary kids especially will love the outdoor adventure playground
Fun for kids
4.0 out of 5 rating 4.0
Fun for parents
3.0 out of 5 rating 3.0
Worth the money
4.0 out of 5 rating 4.0
Facilities
4.0 out of 5 rating 4.0
Family friendliness
4.0 out of 5 rating 4.0
Pros: Spacious setting, kids will love the range of animals and giraffe walkway, dog-friendly, wheelchair/pushchair accessible, great adventure playground
Cons: Limited food choices, lunch queues in peak season

When we visited:

We visited the Cotswold Wildlife Park on a scorching hot and busy day during the school summer holidays

Advertisement

What age is the Cotswold Wildlife Park best for:

Best for: Children aged 3-12 years

Still good fun for: Babies and toddlers (0-2 years), teenage siblings

How much does it cost?

  • Gate prices: Adults £16, children 3-16 years £10.50, under 2s free
  • Online prices: Adults £14, children 3-16 years £9.50, under 2s free

Is it good value?

There is easily enough to do at the park to entertain a family for the whole day, and as online ticket prices have remained at the same level since 2014 I’d say this is a competitively priced attraction.

Are there discounts or cheap tickets available for the Cotswold Wildlife Park?

You’ll get a discount by booking online tickets in advance, but also check Picniq for special offers

Any extra charges once I’m there?

There is a gift shop near the entrance, but this could be avoided easily enough. For those who do want to treat the family with a souvenir there are plenty of pocket money options, with small gifts starting at around £1.

The mini train runs from April to October, and it’s £1 a person (under 3s free).

How long will we spend at the Cotswold Wildlife Park?  

There is plenty to keep most families entertained for a full day out. Alongside animal enclosures, there are expert talks at specific times during the day and the adventure playground has a good range of well-built equipment. There’s lots of space to run around in.

cotswold-wildlife-park-and-gardens_c

What does the Cotswold Wildlife Park offer for families?

The Cotswold Wildlife Park and Gardens is a family-run, family-friendly animal collection in the Oxfordshire countryside, near Burford. It opened in 1970 and is now one of the UK’s largest zoo collections, supporting rare breeding programmes and conservation in the wild.

What shouldn’t be missed?

Highlights for us were:

  • The large animals (such as the rhinos and lions) are, of course, magnificent to look at
  • When we visited, however, it was the capybara enclosure we struggled to tear the children away from
  • The capybaras put on a little show that was perfectly timed for us – first we had a baby catching a piggy-back on its mum. Eventually it was joined by its twin for a game of tag. When the chase was over they posed for a series of kissing pictures right in front of us
  • There’s a fantastic (accessible) giraffe platform that pretty much guarantees a great view (and photo opportunities) of the park’s tallest residents, whether they are inside or outdoors. This area was definitely one of the highlights for us
  • Then there are the more popular babies – a zebra, rhinos and some of the primates, which definitely had visitors hooked

Are all the animals easy to spot?

Given a good-sized enclosure, and a range of spaces and plants to hide in, not every animal was as easy to observe as the capybaras were. It was clearly too hot for the lions, who we just about spotted sprawled out in the sun, but they certainly weren’t going to play a game of chase in front of us. We’d been really lucky to see lots of wolves on a previous visit some years ago, but, although we tried, there was no signs of life in their enclosure this time. But that’s part of the joy in a large wildlife park, you never know what you are going to see or enjoy the most.

cotswold-wildlife-park-and-gardens_i

Is it easy to make your way round with small children?

There’s a lot of space to explore here with a good number of really large enclosures. That means children can play and chase around happily, rather than being confined to row upon row of animal houses. But little legs can get tired towards the end of the day, so maybe start with some of the further away collections before you stop for lunch.

The adventure playground is good way to end the day if you want to really exhaust smaller visitors before you hit the road home.

Although spacious, you are unlikely to get lost in the park and gardens, but a downloadable map and an app are both available if you want to make sure you don’t miss anything.

What to bring:

  • We were caught out by the sun when we visited (some areas aren’t shaded), but managed to buy some reasonably priced sunhats in the gift shop, which stocked a number of other useful bits and bobs
  • It’s probably worth taking extra cold drinks and healthy snacks, to help counter-balance the ice creams and sweets on offer
  • There’s a fair bit of walking so you’ll also appreciate wearing comfortable shoes

What you need to know before you go to the Cotswold Wildlife Park:

  • Check the website to get an idea of times of any special talks or displays you don’t want to miss, like feeding time in the Madagascar
  • Check the weather forecast – it’s a big open space, so if the weather is dry, pack a picnic and take your raincoats if needed
  • Let your children know not to be afraid to ask questions, the keepers are happy to share their knowledge of  the animals in their care
cotswold-wildlife-park-and-gardens_h

Did it cater well for different aged children?

This is a great attraction for animal lovers of all ages. The animal enclosures are spacious and well spread out. The adventure playground is great for any young visitors who need to burn off a little more energy.

The park is very spacious, which could prove difficult for young children just out of pushchairs, as there’s a fair bit of walking involved.

What are the food and drink facilities like at the Cotswold Wildlife Park?

There’s a café, but it can get very busy. We visited on a really hot and busy day during the school summer holidays. As the park is spacious it can mask the number of visitors there and when we went to buy lunch in the café, the queue was literally out of the door.

We decided to use a kiosk nearby where the queue was shorter, but this didn’t offer vegetarian choices (other than chips) so I ended out queuing at 2 kiosks – 1 close to the restaurant to buy chips for half of our party and another, across at the play area, to buy a sandwich. When I went back to that kiosk later they had sold out of sandwiches.

Can you take a picnic?

There are lots of picnic spaces, which would help a family avoid additional costs (and queues). The park has some lovely picnic spots and, as access to your car is available during your visit, I’d recommend taking advantage of these.

What are the toilets like?

Toilet facilities were clean and easy to find, with low sinks for children. There were plenty of baby-changing and disabled facilities. It’s worth keeping in mind that, although there are adequate toilet facilities, some of the outlying animal enclosures could be quite a walk from the nearest facilities.

How well does it cater for disabled visitors?

The park deserves extra special mention for its accessibility

  • It’s large, but flat, with wide paths for pushchairs and wheelchairs
  • All of the enclosures are accessible to pushchairs and wheelchairs, along with the shop, restaurant and train
  • Disabled toilets are available in every toilet block – by the leopards, restaurant, reptile courtyard and by the gift shop
  • Cotswold Wildlife Park has also recently installed a Changing Places toilet (near the gift shop, which is close to disabled parking)
  • The mini train inside the park can take two wheelchairs at a time
  • For more information visit the Cotswold Wildlife Park’s accessibility section

Opening dates and times:

The Cotswold Wildlife Park is open every day, except Christmas Day, from 10am until 6pm from April until October, and 10am until 5pm (or dusk) from November until March. Some areas of the park have additional timings so check the website.

Best time to visit:

The Cotswold Wildlife Park is busiest on Saturdays between 12-3pm, and quietest on Wednesdays and Thursdays after 2pm.

How to get to the Cotswold Wildlife Park:

The Cotswold Wildlife Park is 2 miles south of Burford, in Oxfordshire

  • It’s 22 miles east of Cheltenham, 20 miles west of Oxford and 18 miles north of Swindon
  • The park is best visited by car, and is found on the A361, 2 miles south of its junction with the A40 at Burford
  • Your car is accessible at all times – ideal if you don’t want to carry a picnic around with you all day
  • It’s tricky to get to via public transport
  • The nearest train station, Charlbury, is 11 miles away and lacks a taxi rank
  • You can only get a bus as far as Burford High Street, 2 miles away, and there’s no safe walking route from that point

Do you have to pay for parking?

No, parking is free and plentiful

Worth a long car journey?

We drove for just over 3 hours to visit the park and had a great day out. But it’s probably more suitable for those living or staying a little closer.

Which hotels or holiday accommodation are near the Cotswold Wildlife Park?

The park’s Cotswolds location means there are plenty of picturesque accommodation options for families in the area, including:

Nearby attractions for a longer day out:

Crocodiles of The World – the UK’s only croc zoo! – is a 9-minute drive away, while historic Blenheim Palace creates a beautiful setting for a long walk before exploring its maze and adventure playground.

MFM verdict:

This is a lovely park to see a good range of animals, combined with plenty of spaces to play. But pack a picnic if you can.

Visit the Cotswold Wildlife Park website.

See more reviews of the Cotswold Wildlife Park on TripAdvisor.

Advertisement

Intro to me:

I’m an animal-loving mum and visited with 3 animal-crazy children (aged 11, 9 and 5) and an adult friend, who doesn’t share our enthusiasm for animals, but still had a great day out