Family Days Out in East Sussex: Drusillas Park

Widely regarded as the best small zoo in the UK, Drusillas Park in East Sussex offers a fantastic day out for all ages with huge outdoor play areas, soft play, character appearances, and lot and lots of cute and fascinating animals.  It's a great day out whatever the weather, and at any time of year.

The Animals

We love the huge variety of small animals at Drusillas, although at 5 feet plus the giant anteaters Oli and Diego do not necessarily qualify as small!  With everything from mice to camels, and much in between there are cutes and cuddlies everywhere you go.  In fact, there are more than 100 species here.

There are monkeys galore, meerkats, flamingos, penguins, sloths and many, many more.  Some are familiar, some more unusual, and even some farm animals to get up close with.  All are beautifully well kept and looked after.

It's so nice to see captive animals in so much space, in naturalistic enclosures with great enrichment, and obviously happy in their environment.  They also have the opportunity to retreat from people if they wish, so be patient and maybe go back round the animals 2-3 times if your favourite is hiding or sleeping the first time!  (We're looking at you Mr Binturong!)

Our favourites include the squirrel monkeys, servals, red pandas, otters, Fennec foxes and capybaras.  All animals are at children's height with great visibility and low level windows ideal for the youngest children and those in wheelchairs.

Lemurland is a walk-through enclosure where you can get up close and watch the behaviour of these friendly, laidback creatures.  The group of ring-tailed lemurs will sit next to you, run over to have a look at you, and also completely ignore you.  A wonderful opportunity for young children to get up close with such fascinating creatures, just don't touch.

Nearby Lory Landing is a walk-through aviary of friendly rainbow lorikeets who will eat nectar from the pot in your hand, much to children's delight.  (Nectar costs £1 per pot.)


Keeper talks and feeding times happen throughout the day from 11am to 4pm.  Zoo Keeper for the day and Close Encounter experiences are also available, and birthday parties where you can feed the penguins.

As well as all the animal learning you can do here, there are opportunities to learn about Maasai warriors and how they live and Drusillas work in Africa; pets you can keep at home; farm animals; and to test your own strength, speed and other skills in the Zoolympics Challenge.

The Animal Spotter Book asks children to stamp their book as they find various animals around the park, and gives a fascinating fact about each.

Drusillas also runs a brilliant summer club during August, e-mail for more details.

The Rides

Go Safari! is the newest African-themed addition to the park, opening last year, and features some more adventurous rides, for those who want to go higher and faster!  Speed through the air on the back of a Flying Cheetah or take to the skies in the Hippopotobus.

The Safari Express train is a fun short ride around the park.  Go later in the day for less time queueing and quieter trains.

The Hello Kitty Secret Garden has three rides, a Tea Cup Ride, a Car Ride and a 25ft Hopper Ride for the braver kids!  Hello Kitty herself makes regular appearances in her house and there is a Beauty Parlour for face painting, temporary tattoos and hair braiding.

The Play Areas

Go Wild! is the big adventure area for older children with lots of climbing, adventure areas, challenging walkways, slides, and much more.  There is a sand pit area and Get Wet!, a great splash park to get soaked in, adjoining too.

Go Bananas! is ideal for younger children, with animal-themed play areas, slides, climbing, swings, roundabouts and a giant trampoline.  Banana boats and zip slides add plenty more fun.

Amazon Adventure is a big indoor soft play with plenty to entertain all ages and lots of café tables indoors and out for parents to while away some time.

The Eden's Eye Maze features Earth, Fire, Wind and Water pathways with surprises and shocks at various turns.  We love how unsophisticated, tech-free attractions like this one and the singing crocodile are still so hugely popular with children.  Well done Drusillas!

Meet Your Heroes

Various characters appear at Drusillas throughout the year, including those from Paw Patrol, PJ Masks, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and more.  Upcoming summer holiday dates include Chase and Marshall or Skye and Rubble from Paw Patrol; Catboy and Gekko from PJ Masks; Peppa Pig and George; Leo and Ralph from TMNT; Spiderman; and Bing and Flop.  Check the website for dates.

Optional Extras

There are a few seasonal activities in the Events Arena which incur an additional charge.  Panning for Gold is great fun, use the pans to search for gold amongst the sand, you might just get rich.  Penguin Plunge is a giant inflatable which our girls love!

We LOVE Drusillas and highly recommend you visit!

Where to Eat

The Explorers Café is situated near the top of the park and offers the largest range of food choices, including healthier options like jacket potatoes and a salad bar.  Amazon Adventure soft play serves sandwiches, lunch bags, drinks and snacks.  Both are open all year round.

The Oasis Café is in the play area and offers fast food options as well as lunch bags for children.  In the Events Arena the Station Buffet serves hot doughnuts, hot drinks, sandwiches etc.  Both are open seasonally.  All venues sell drinks and ice creams, and there are other small kiosks open at busy times.

If you prefer to bring your own food, there is a covered picnic area outside Amazon Adventure, with lockers to leave your picnic bags etc, and there are other picnic spots and benches dotted around the play areas.  But the biggest picnic spaces is in the Events Arena, where there are dozens of picnic tables.

Practical Stuff

Drusillas is open 362 days a year, closing only Christmas Eve to Boxing Day.  Summer opening times are 10am to 6pm, closing at 5pm in winter.  The park is situated on the A27 between Brighton and Eastbourne at the foot of the South Downs.  Tickets bought online offer the cheapest prices.  Prices vary according to the time of year.  Annual membership starts from £70 per person.

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Disclosure: We were invited to a discovery day at Drusillas during May half-term.  Some photos are from our own visits earlier in the year.

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