Tyranosauraus Rex and triceratops egg at Jurassic Kingdom Osterley Park

Review: Jurassic Kingdom dinosaur exhibition, Osterley Park

Tyranosauraus Rex and triceratops egg at Jurassic Kingdom Osterley Park

“Wow, that’s amazing!” A huge roaring Tyrannosaurus rex greeted us as we arrived at Jurassic Kingdom and the three year old was clearly impressed from the start. The Jurassic Kingdom dinosaur trail is an outdoor exhibition of animatronic and static dinosaurs. There are huge ones towering over you, baby ones hatching out of eggs and hungry-looking ones clawing and fighting each other all along a woodland trail.

Jurassic Kingdom is a touring touring exhibition and we visited it in the first few days at its launch location at the National Trust property of Osterley Park, West London. It will be there until 17th April before touring around the country (see tour locations and dates below).

Osterley House, location of Jurassic Kingdom dinosaur exhibition

They dinosaur models are fairly good; quite realistic and the ones that move usually also have an impressive roar. Our son was a bit frightened by some of the louder roars but he just asked to move away to look at them from a bit of a distance, and he can be a bit overly sensitive. Plenty of children younger then him seemed to be loving it and roaring loudly back! Most of the dinosaurs are roped off and you’re asked not to touch them but there are some smaller ones that you can climb on along the route or dinsaur eggs that you can pose inside for photos. The majority of them – mostly the larger dinosaurs – have signs with details of their names and some information about where they lived and what they ate etc. Personally I think it would have been good if all of them had labels, or at least names, as our son kept asking what they were all called and I’m a bit rubbish at remembering! We were impressed by the amount of dinosaurs he did recognise though and it never ceases to amaze me how little kids, including ours, can remember the really complicated dinosaur names that I can barely pronounce.

There was also an area that I thought was just a sandpit – I steered our son past it quite quickly as I knew he’d want to take his socks and shoes off and I was reluctant as it was a cold day. However, I’ve since read online that it was actually supposed to be a T-Rex excavation pit but it really wasn’t very clear and they could have had some better signage. We probably would have had a go if we had realised.

Pterodactyl or pterosaurs dinosaurs at Jurassic Kingdom, Osterley Park

Along the trail there are woodlands and a den building area as well as some swings to play on, so lots of natural attractions to amuse the kids apart from the dinosaurs. The bluebells are also starting to make an appearance in the woodland and there’s even a nesting swan very close to the path that the children were all intrigued by.

There’s a small marquee labelled as an education area which has a few chairs in and shows a film about dinosaurs if you need a sit down and a rest on the way. There are also a few toilets dotted along the route.

Diplodocus dinosaur at Jurassic Kingdom, Osterley Park

At the way in and out of the trail, along with a virtual reality ride (an extra £5), a merchandise stall and toilets, there are some food vans. Although these were advertised as “mouth-watering street food vans” online it seemed to be fairly standard van food like chips, coffee and sweets so nothing that was very appealing and I was glad we had brought a picnic. Tickets are not cheap when there is a whole family visiting, so we weren’t alone in bringing our own lunch. And unlike some short-sighted attractions, there are no restrictions on bringing your own food which is great. There are a few logs and picnic tables dotted along the trail but it’s probably a good idea to bring a blanket as they were all busy – they could definitely do with a few more. Half way along the trail there were a few more vans selling drinks and churros and, as we love churros, we shelled out an extortionate £6 for a large portion which turned out to be cold and tastelesss so I’d definitely give those a miss. (I know, we’re mugs!)

Dinosaurs fighting, Jurassic Kingdom at Osterley Park

You are asked to specify an hourly entrance time when you purchase tickets and when we arrived at about 11am the trail was very busy. However, it never felt overly crowded and it seemed like there was a steady stream of people arriving throughout the day. Also, nobody seemed to be actively checking our time slot so I think this is more to help stagger visitors rather than something they are really strict about. The trail seemed to appeal to both girls and boys alike with kids of both sexes running around excitedly. (This made me happy as far too often dinosaurs seem to be marketed mostly at boys for some reason.)

Animatronic dinosaurs at Jurassic Kingdom Osterley Park

We spent about three hours doing the trail at a very leisurely pace and with a long stop for our picnic lunch. So you could obviously do it a lot quicker if you needed to or you can stay longer as there is no time limit once you are inside. You could also spend some time looking around Osterly House itself, there’s a National Trust cafe outside the trail if you want something other than the food from vans and the Cadbury Easter egg hunt is taking place in the gardens at the other side of the house. However, our Little One was pretty exhausted by the long walk and the excitement so he was happy to head home full of chat about his favourite dinosaurs.

I’d definitely recommend a visit for any little ones who like dinosaurs and, even for children with only a passing interest, it’s a great way to get the kids out and about in the fresh air enjoying the gardens and woodland.

Diplodocus at Jurassic Kingdom Osterley Park

Parking is provided in fields next to Osterley Park and it is worth noting that the walk to the entrance of Jurassic Kingdom at the side of the house is quite long for little ones and ours was not the only one complaining how far it was. However, it will be no problem for older kids and I just wish we had remembered to bring the buggy board. The whole trail is suitable for prams and is a flat, easy walk.

Jurassic Kingdom will be at Osterley Park until 17th April and then will be embarking on a UK tour.

OPENING TIMES

10am to 6pm (last entry at 5pm). Entry is by hourly time slots but once  inside you can stay as long you wish.

ADDRESS & GETTING THERE

Osterley Park, Jersey Road, Isleworth, Middlesex, TW7 4RB (sat nav TW7 4RD).

There is parking on site which is an extra £7 which I think is pretty steep on top of the cost of tickets – be warned it’s cash only! It took us about an hour and twenty minutes to drive from Woodford Green.

If you want to take public transport the nearest tube is Osterley on the Picadilly line and its only a 1 mile walk away. Isleworth train station is 1½ miles away. You can catch the H28 Hayes to Hounslow to Osterley, or the H91 Hounslow to Hammersmith to within 1 mile.

TICKET PRICES

London:

£13.50 adults online, £15 on the door

£11.50 Child online, £13 on the door (Under threes go free)

£46 Family Ticket, £52 on the door

Prices are cheaper for the rest of the tour at the other locations in the UK!

The Cadbury Easter Egg hunt costs an additional £3.

JURASSIC KINGDOM UK TOUR DATES

Birmingham 20th May – 4th June

Manchester 8th – 23rd July

Blackpool 5th – 13th August

Glasgow 26th August – 10th September

Newcastle 23rd September – 1st October

Leeds 14th – 29th October

MORE INFORMATION

Jurassic Kingdom website

Osterley Park website

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baby in ball pit owls play centre

Review: Owls Play Centre Fairlop Waters

I have to admit that I’m a new convert to the charms of Owls Play Centre. For a long time I had avoided it due to some friend’s bad experiences there on a wet, Saturday afternoon – too busy, too noisy and all a bit too much. So we had been going regularly to Ashlyn’s play centre and farm which we love but it’s just that little bit further away. But recently I realised that I should be making up my own mind and I’m so glad we went.

toadstools at Owls Play Centre

The first day we went my 3 year old ran around excitedly for 4 hours straight, barely stopping to sip water and shove in some snacks. Since then he asks me almost every day if we can go to the play centre! Luckily for me, when we first went they were doing a deal on the unlimited annual membership and I signed up there and then. And we’ve been back at least once a week since.

baby playing at Owls Play Centre

 

The first thing to say is that I was braced for it to be super busy and I was surprise by how quiet it’s been most times we’ve been. We have been going on weekday afternoons and after a busy period over lunch time it usually empties out by 1.30/2pm, presumably for nap times. And it gets even quieter still around 3pm when parents head off for the school run and although I had expected it to get busy after school it doesn’t ever get super hectic. So that was my first worry resolved.

Owls Play Centre play equipment

The other great thing is the sheer size of the place, it’s purpose built and so there is loads of play equipment to stop the Little Ones getting bored. There are some big slides in the middle and lots of other little areas, climbing sections, tunnels and rope bridges.

slide at owls play centre

There’s also a really fun machine like a giant hoover which you feed the play balls into and it goes up to the ceiling, then it releases them all after a few minutes to squeals of delight. One of the other aspects that I really like is that they play areas are sectioned off into three.

baby in baby area of owls play centre

A baby area for under threes, a toddler area for under fives and then the main section for under twelves.

Toddler play area at Owls Play Centre

There are lots of tables and a cafe so you can sit and have a coffee and some food while the Little Ones wear themselves out. To be honest, the food is not amazing and is mostly the usual beige kids offerings of chips, nuggets, fish fingers etc. It would be nice to see a bit more healthy food and the coffee wasn’t wonderful but let’s be honest no one is really visiting for the food and drink.

play equipment at Owls Play Centre

There are lots of high chairs, changing stations and mini toilets which makes it easier for pre-schoolers who like to do things on their own! And you can bring buggies in as well.

baby in ball pit owls play centre

PARKING & GETTING TO OWLS PLAY CENTRE

As it’s part of Fairlop Waters Country Park there is plenty of parking but the only downside is the cost and the fact you have to have coins. I’m hoping if they have to update the machines for the new pound coins they might install a pay by phone option – especially as half the machines are always out of order. The prices are £1.30 for 1-2 hours but as most sessions are usually a few hours you’re more likely going to be paying the £3 all day charge. The fact that it is right next to Fairlop Waters does mean that you can make a day of it. The lake is lovely to walk around and there are climbing boulders and logs to climb on all around the lake if you need to wear the Little Ones out even more!

If you’re visiting by public transport it’s only a few minutes walk from Fairlop Waters tube and you can get take bus routes 150 167 169 247 275 462 which all stop at Fullwell Cross, stop A.

ADDRESS: Owls Play Centre, Fairlop Waters, Forest Road, Barkingside, Essex, IG6 3HN

PRICES:

£4.20 Toddler (1-3 years)

£6.40 Junior (Over 4 years)

£1.60 Babies Under 1 year or free if accompanying an older sibling

Free Babies under 6 Months

Accompanying adult £1

Annual Membership: £130 Toddler (1-3 years) or £150 Junior (Over 4 years)

FURTHER INFORMATION: Call 020 8500 9669 or email: owls@vision-rcl.org.uk

Owls Play Centre Website

Find out about other activities at Fairlop Waters Country Park including angling, golf, high rope park and Boulders Park by visiting the Fairlop Waters website.