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No such thing? Exploring The Gruffalo Discovery Land at Twycross Zoo | Planet Attractions
     

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No such thing? Exploring The Gruffalo Discovery Land at Twycross Zoo

The new Gruffalo Discovery Land at Twycross Zoo opened to the public in April. Lauren Heath-Jones paid a visit to The Deep Dark Wood to find out more






Twycross Zoo in Leicestershire, UK, has welcomed a new attraction with the opening of The Gruffalo Discovery Land.

Occupying 16,000sq m (170,000sq ft), the attraction - a first of its kind in the UK - is based on Julia Donaldson’s bestselling and much-loved picture books and is the result of a multi-million-pound investment. It was developed in partnership with Magic Light Pictures, the production company behind the animated shorts based on Donaldson’s works and The Gruffalo brand manager.

Aiming to educate young visitors on the importance of protecting the natural world and inspire the next generation of conservationists, The Gruffalo Discovery Land transports guests to the world of The Gruffalo, combining the beloved characters; Mouse, Fox, Owl, Snake and the Gruffalo – illustrated by Axel Scheffler – with their real-life animal counterparts.



Opened in April, the immersive land serves as a walk-through storybook, with animatronic vignettes and clips from the popular animated film, sharing extracts from the story as guests make their way through the attraction.

The journey begins with a photo opportunity where visitors can get their picture taken with life-sized versions of The Gruffalo and Mouse, before entering the Deep Dark Butterfly Wood, where they are transported into the wonderful world of The Gruffalo.

A retrofit of the existing Butterfly Forest, the Deep Dark Butterfly Wood showcases the lifecycle of the butterfly, bringing guests face-to-face with tropical species and exotic plants.

It’s a very cute experience, although the anxiety that you’re going to step on a butterfly is real. A similar experience, although birds not butterflies, at Gatorland in Florida has a rule where guests must keep their feet flat to the floor, shuffling instead of walking, so as to protect the animals and I can’t help but feel that a similar policy might be helpful here. Also, as a retrofit, not a huge amount of Gruffalo themeing has been added but seeing the butterflies, some of which were huge, does make up for it.



Next comes Owl’s Treetop House. In this part of the land, the path is surrounded by bird enclosures, so guests can get up close to birds of prey including the grey owl himself, as well as interactive points with activities, games and photo opportunities to keep the little ones happy if the animals aren’t playing ball.

Other attractions include an aviary, where guests can encounter smaller birds, a goat enclosure and a stage offering live entertainment, where visitors can dance the Woodland Wiggle with the zoo’s entertainers and even get a photo with The Gruffalo.

The star attraction though is a two-metre-tall (6.6ft) animatronic of The Gruffalo, enacting the climactic scene in the book where Mouse finally does come face-to-face with the legendary creature and tricks him into believing that Mouse is actually the most feared animal in The Deep Dark Wood.



A themed dining experience and retail area complete the experience. While we didn’t try the food on offer at the Oh, Crumbs! Café – although I’m assuming the menu includes such delights as roasted fox, owl ice cream, scrambled snake – we did pay a visit to the gift shop where there was everything from plushies, art and crafts sets, homewares, backpacks, lunch boxes and postcards. The merchandise wasn’t just limited to The Gruffalo IP either with products reflecting Donaldson’s other IP such as Stick Man, Room On The Broom and The Gruffalo’s Child.

Whilst, The Gruffalo Discovery Land is undoubtedly a lovely experience, there are some teething problems. For instance, its entrance is located close to the zoo’s entrance and if you miss it, like we did, there’s no signage to direct you to it. Similarly, at the time of our visit, the zoo map had yet to be updated to reflect the change so we spent a long time wandering around looking for it. On the plus side, we did get to see the rest of the zoo, on the downside the new investment has served to make the rest of the zoo look a bit lacklustre in comparison. Hopefully, this new land is a sign of what's to come for the rest of the zoo.







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No such thing? Exploring The Gruffalo Discovery Land at Twycross Zoo | Planet Attractions
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No such thing? Exploring The Gruffalo Discovery Land at Twycross Zoo

The new Gruffalo Discovery Land at Twycross Zoo opened to the public in April. Lauren Heath-Jones paid a visit to The Deep Dark Wood to find out more





Twycross Zoo in Leicestershire, UK, has welcomed a new attraction with the opening of The Gruffalo Discovery Land.

Occupying 16,000sq m (170,000sq ft), the attraction - a first of its kind in the UK - is based on Julia Donaldson’s bestselling and much-loved picture books and is the result of a multi-million-pound investment. It was developed in partnership with Magic Light Pictures, the production company behind the animated shorts based on Donaldson’s works and The Gruffalo brand manager.

Aiming to educate young visitors on the importance of protecting the natural world and inspire the next generation of conservationists, The Gruffalo Discovery Land transports guests to the world of The Gruffalo, combining the beloved characters; Mouse, Fox, Owl, Snake and the Gruffalo – illustrated by Axel Scheffler – with their real-life animal counterparts.



Opened in April, the immersive land serves as a walk-through storybook, with animatronic vignettes and clips from the popular animated film, sharing extracts from the story as guests make their way through the attraction.

The journey begins with a photo opportunity where visitors can get their picture taken with life-sized versions of The Gruffalo and Mouse, before entering the Deep Dark Butterfly Wood, where they are transported into the wonderful world of The Gruffalo.

A retrofit of the existing Butterfly Forest, the Deep Dark Butterfly Wood showcases the lifecycle of the butterfly, bringing guests face-to-face with tropical species and exotic plants.

It’s a very cute experience, although the anxiety that you’re going to step on a butterfly is real. A similar experience, although birds not butterflies, at Gatorland in Florida has a rule where guests must keep their feet flat to the floor, shuffling instead of walking, so as to protect the animals and I can’t help but feel that a similar policy might be helpful here. Also, as a retrofit, not a huge amount of Gruffalo themeing has been added but seeing the butterflies, some of which were huge, does make up for it.



Next comes Owl’s Treetop House. In this part of the land, the path is surrounded by bird enclosures, so guests can get up close to birds of prey including the grey owl himself, as well as interactive points with activities, games and photo opportunities to keep the little ones happy if the animals aren’t playing ball.

Other attractions include an aviary, where guests can encounter smaller birds, a goat enclosure and a stage offering live entertainment, where visitors can dance the Woodland Wiggle with the zoo’s entertainers and even get a photo with The Gruffalo.

The star attraction though is a two-metre-tall (6.6ft) animatronic of The Gruffalo, enacting the climactic scene in the book where Mouse finally does come face-to-face with the legendary creature and tricks him into believing that Mouse is actually the most feared animal in The Deep Dark Wood.



A themed dining experience and retail area complete the experience. While we didn’t try the food on offer at the Oh, Crumbs! Café – although I’m assuming the menu includes such delights as roasted fox, owl ice cream, scrambled snake – we did pay a visit to the gift shop where there was everything from plushies, art and crafts sets, homewares, backpacks, lunch boxes and postcards. The merchandise wasn’t just limited to The Gruffalo IP either with products reflecting Donaldson’s other IP such as Stick Man, Room On The Broom and The Gruffalo’s Child.

Whilst, The Gruffalo Discovery Land is undoubtedly a lovely experience, there are some teething problems. For instance, its entrance is located close to the zoo’s entrance and if you miss it, like we did, there’s no signage to direct you to it. Similarly, at the time of our visit, the zoo map had yet to be updated to reflect the change so we spent a long time wandering around looking for it. On the plus side, we did get to see the rest of the zoo, on the downside the new investment has served to make the rest of the zoo look a bit lacklustre in comparison. Hopefully, this new land is a sign of what's to come for the rest of the zoo.







 



© Kazoo 5 Limited 2024