It had been raining, when we visited the "biggest butterfly experience in the world" although until the opening of the massive 100m rainforest Biome scheduled for construction later this year, I wonder how accurate this statement is? It is closed during the winter. Check before arriving.
However the current indoor butterfly house is filled with over 600 tropical flying butterflies – 60 species from 20 different countries. This large heated greenhouse type building is the main attraction for visitors, but is very hot and humid. Here you are surrounded by the flapping wings of many brilliant colours darting between tropical plants. Keep still for a moment and many will perch of your head and clothing. This is an incredible experience, and I noticed that conversation is hushed by the amazing emotional experience. Suddenly the world seems a peaceful and beautiful place!
Seen at its best when the sun is shining, Butterfly World has much to offer visitors, both young and old. Hords of school children were led by harrassed teachers, but welcomed by the friendly and enthusiastic staff. Apart from the butterflies there is an Insectorium, but that was a bit too creepy for me.
The parkland area (27 acres) contains many walks, which are made of compressed gravel. There are some gradients and steps. I borrowed a mobility scooter (£3 donation) sponsored by the local St Albans Shopmobility service and I could access virtually all areas.
Admission prices are below average at present (concessions are available) but are bound to increase next season (2013) if the Biome is completed by then. It was expected to be ready this year!
The comfortable Nectar House Cafe offers a wide range of fairly expensive food, and not always well prepared or presented. The serving area is small and can be frustratingly slow if you are behind a party of school children. There are four picnic areas which many will use, also outside play areas. The extended under cover seating area offers views over the parkland. The adjoining Gift Shop has many unusual gifts, and there is a plant sales area.
There are many designer gardens, most of which you can wander through in a zig-zag pattern to avoid going back through the same one to get to the next one. This area leads to the Chrysalis Lake, the most beautiful part of the park.
It is easiest to arrive by car and park in the massive parking areas. To see everything you should allow at least 2-3 hours which includes time for refreshments. You will certainly enjoy your visit, whatever the weather. It is an unusual and worthwhile attraction.