Family Day Out Review: Woodside Animal Farm, Slip End
Woodside Animal Farm, Slip End
Value For Money9.0/10
Variety Of Activities9.0/10
Things We Like
- Very reasonable entry price, particularly off-peak
- A surprisingly wide variety of farmyard and non-farmyard animals
- Plenty of things for the kids to do that aren't just animal-centric
- The hands-on Animal Encounters activity is a particular highlight
Things We Dislike
- Limited indoor options (soft play) if the weather is bad
- Feels a little worn and run down in places
- Food and drink options in the cafe are limited
What’s It All About?
Woodside Animal Farm is a great day out for the family in Slip End, Bedfordshire, which provides an alternative to some of the larger, more expensive, activity farms. As well as a large range of animals that you can stroke, hold and feed, there’s a surprising number of other things for the kids, including indoor and outdoor play areas, fairground rides, crazy golf, ride-on vehicles and a sand pit.
What Do We Think?
We stumbled across Woodside Animal Farm in late January and expected it to be somewhere to pass an hour or two. Despite it being cold, we had a fab time at the farm and were really surprised at what the place had to offer. We then returned for a second time a few months later – as the weather was warmer, we were able to spend more time outside and enjoy some of the additional activities that were now running due to the season.
The first thing to say is that Woodside Animal Farm isn’t a Willows Activity Farm or a Mead Open Farm. It’s in the same ball park, but it’d be unfair to compare due to their size, and I imagine, annual budget. They are all activity farms, but it’s similar to the difference between a Premier League stadium and a League One stadium. Things are a bit more worn and less shiny at Woodside, but that is reflected in the price and doesn’t actually detract from the day out.
As the name suggests, one of the main focuses of Woodside Animal Farm is on the animal side of things. This gives kids the chance to get up close and personal with the animals who live there, be it feeding, petting or handling. There’s all of the usual suspects when it comes to farmyard animals – pigs, goats, donkeys, chickens, sheep, turkeys, rabbits and ducks. There’s also some unexpected animals too – alpacas, rheas, llamas, tortoises, a wallaby, a bearded dragon and flamingos.
You can buy animal food from the shop when you pay the entrance fee. Depending on the type you purchased, this can either be used for the birds or for the mammals. The animals are dotted around the farm park so you’re never too far away from something cute and furry. The majority of animals are outside in their own enclosures and pens, however there’s also an indoor Pet Barn which is home to smaller mammals and reptiles.
It’s in this Pet Barn where Animal Encounters takes place. This is one of the free daily activities that happens multiple times per day on the farm. Taking place at a seated area at the far end of the barn, this gave us the chance to hold and stroke three different animals – a bearded dragon, a corn snake and a chinchilla. This lasted approximately 20 minutes and was guided by a knowledgeable member of staff who told us about the animals. This was one of the highlights of our visit for our daughter.
The other free daily activity taking place was the Tractor Ride. This picked us up from outside the tortoise enclosure and took us on a 10 minute circuit of the entire farm as we sat in the trailer. I believe additional daily activities take place during weekends / holidays, however it was just these two when we’ve visited mid-week.
Animals and daily activities aside, we were really surprised at the wide range of other entertainment sources available at Woodside. Firstly, they have an indoor soft play area which works really well if you need a break from being outside. This is split into an upstairs toddler area (under 3’s) which features soft foam shapes, as well as a multi-level play frame for older children with all of the usual things like a ball pool, slide, obstacles and rope bridges.
Outside, there are three distinct outdoor play areas. The first you come across features a number of different wooden obstacles that kids can walk, step and climb across. Over the other side of the path is a huge wooden boat, a bucket swing and a zip wire. Then, a bit further around the corner, there’s a couple of baby / toddler swings.
But that’s not all – oh no! From April to August, they also have a few funfair rides. It’s hardly Alton Towers, but it’s a nice little addition for the kids – particularly as it’s included in the entry price. This comprises of an old fashioned carousel, spinning tea cups and multiple trampolines in the same enclosure.
Around this area, you’ll also find a 9-hole crazy golf course, with clubs and balls available for free from inside a little wooden hut. It could probably do with a little TLC, but it’s a surprising find and fun for the children. For the kids that like ride-on vehicles, you’ll find go-karts for older children in one area, as well as bikes, trikes and scooters in another – again, they are well-loved but still fully functional.
The final area to mention is the large sand pit. This has buckets and spades, as well as large diggers and dumper trucks for the children to play with. This was a huge hit and the kids would have stayed in there for hours if we’d have let them!
There are a couple of different toilet blocks available around the farm, for instance, before you enter Woodside, in the soft play and near the crazy golf – baby changing facilities are available at these. As you’re potentially dealing with animals, there’s also multiple hand washing stations dotted around the site.
In terms of food and drink, you can grab (limited) options at the soft play cafe and there’s a kiosk by the sand pit which is open at peak times. Last time we visited, we took a picnic with us – there’s plenty of benches near the fairground rides and even an indoor picnic area too. Accessibility wise, everywhere is relatively flat and paved, so it’s no issue for a pushchair – the only thing to note is that you can’t take them into the soft play / cafe.
All in all, we’re big fans of Woodside Animal Farm and have enjoyed both of our visits. There’s plenty of things to do for the kids in terms of animals and other activities, plus the entry price of £7.50 / £5.50 (peak / off-peak) is very reasonable when compared to larger activity farms. Aim for a nice day though because the majority of activities take place outside.
What Does It Look Like?
What Do I Need To Know?
Address: Woodside Road, Slip End, Luton, LU1 4DG.
Opening Times: 7 days per week, Oct-Mar 9am-5pm, Apr-Sep 9am-5.30pm.
Price: Adults and over 2’s £7.50 peak or £5.50 off-peak, Under 2’s free.
Toilets: Yes. Multiple toilets onsite, including baby change areas.
Cafe / Restaurant: Yes. Cafe serving limited food, drinks and snacks in the indoor soft play area.
Parking: Yes. Free onsite parking.
Public Transport: Luton Train Station 2.8 miles away.
Duration: 2 to 5 hours.
Age Range: Babies and Toddlers (0-3), Young Children (4-8), Older Children (9-12).
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