There are dozens of fun-packed Snowdonia attractions offering discounts through Snowdonia Pass – but what’s it like to actually visit one? We sent our roving reporter to GreenWood Forest Park for the day to find out…
Strictly speaking, my grandsons Jacob (2½) and Nicolas (8 months) are a bit young to fully appreciate GreenWood. But in the event it didn’t really matter at all – they both had lots of fun.
Jacob’s first fun moment happened before we’d even gone through the gates: as it’s almost Hallowe’en, GreenWood is adorned with spooky decorations, including witches suspended from the overhead signage at the ticket booth. These kept Jacob occupied for at least 10 minutes (during which he pointed and exclaimed “wow!” about a hundred times) before my daughter Emily and I decided it was time to get past the gates and actually explore!
After a couple of minutes of looking at the map and getting our bearings, we headed toward the Puzzle Barn. Instantly, something caught Jacob’s eye: mini mechanical diggers, which he could actually dig up sand with. Well that was his idea of heaven: for hours he kept asking to go on the diggers again!
Not being as addicted to construction vehicles as Jacob, we managed to drag him away to the Little Forest PlayBarn, where both boys had a huge amount of fun. Soft and safe, this building is perfect for little ones and Nicolas had just as much fun as his big brother. He especially loved the ‘light tube’ in the corner – a clear glass tube filled with liquid and colour-changing lights and little floating shapes. Nic was absolutely transfixed!
Jacob, meanwhile, had discovered the things that make noises and was having a lot of fun pressing buttons. There are animals that make sounds, and a big piano keyboard, and a pooing elephant on the wall! You take a sponge ball from the basket beneath the elephant’s tail, pop it into a hole in its mouth and it’s sucked through the elephant’s “intestines” (clear plastic tubes) before falling back into the basket. Jacob loved this, but Nana loved it more!
After about half an hour of soft play we decided to carry on walking around the park to see what else there was to enjoy. Hint: A LOT!
We stopped to say hello to the beautiful donkeys and rabbits, and then Jacob discovered the budgies, which he really loved. And then we spotted the ‘Giant Jumper’ – a bungalow-sized inflatable pillow similar to a bouncy castle, but much bouncier. Jacob loves a trampoline so I took him on for a bounce and it was tremendous fun. Jacob is especially talented at getting Nana to do silly things, so there I was, a rather rotund middle-aged lady bouncing like a fool on an inflatable hillock, in the process making poor Jacob fly up into the air! Just one of a good many laughs Emily and I had that day!
Hungry, we headed back to the entrance where there’s a lovely cafe complete with yet more play areas for children – one for older kids, the other for toddlers. After a delicious lunch and more running around for Jacob, we headed for the MoonKarts. Again, Jacob wrapped Nana around his little finger and we shared a kart around the track, Nana pedalling furiously and Jacob loving every minute.
Exhausted, I suggested we try out the Jungle Boats: what could be tiring about a gentle boat ride around a purpose-built canal? Famous last words! You’re given a paddle ‘just in case’, and it’s just as well because I couldn’t for the life of me figure out the best way to work the overhead ropes! It was hard work, but we got around the course eventually – laughing until tears streamed down our faces. It was genuinely hilarious (almost as hilarious as the moment when a wasp had flown up to me and I’d run as fast as my stubby little legs would carry me – forgetting that I was holding Jacob’s hand, so the poor child was whisked off his feet as he flew behind me. What can I say? I’m very phobic!)
Next stop: the Crocodile Maze, which was very relaxing compared to our previous activities! It was lovely to do something as gentle as walking, and we enjoyed a stroll past the zip wires, Snowdon View and TreeTop Towers (Jacob was a bit young for these) before stopping at the Tunnel Warren – something which Jacob loved so much, we struggled to get him to leave!
It was almost time to go, but I wasn’t going to leave without going on the Green Dragon rollercoaster – it’s one of the things GreenWood is most famous for! I love the idea that it runs on ‘people power’ so I had to have a go. Especially as I’d been too much of a wuss to try the Solar Splash! Leaving Emily with the kids, I hopped aboard and grinned like a loon all the way round.
We had the most amazing day at GreenWood Forest Park. Having lived in the area for 16 years I’m kicking myself that I’ve never visited before. Look how much fun I’ve missed! But I will definitely go back, and one of these days both Jacob and Nicolas will be old enough to try all the other activities… and then, no doubt, I’ll become a very regular visitor!