Paradise Park is attached to and run by a large Garden Centre of the same name. They share a large car park and entrance – turn left for the garden centre and right for the park. You enter through the Planet Earth area which explains everything from earthquakes to sea urchins and includes several large model dinosaurs which can be made to roar and move by pressing buttons. You exit through two planthouses – the first with a good collection of cacti and the second mainly succulents but with small bridges over pools full of fish. Exiting this indoor area you pass an excellent model of Brighton Pavilion and you are then outside. On the right are the play areas and to the left the gardens.
Paths are marked by coloured arrows so you can choose the long, medium or shorter route. I recommend the longest route (black) as this takes you around the whole garden and all the model buildings. These are excellent and predominately scaled down versions of historic buildings in this part of England. Although called the long route it is still relatively short but makes sure you do not miss anything – we managed to go round it 3 times in the same with a four year old as well as plenty of time in the Play Zone. The great disappointment was that the life size dinosaur safari area was closed for renovation much to the disappointment of many children including our grandson. As this was one of the main reasons to visit with children – gardens and model buildings are more for adults – I feel we should have been told on admission and possibly given a price reduction.
There were several play areas – a good selection of climbing frames, slides etc outside as well as a large inside soft play area for younger children. In addition there were several water shooting, model steering activities for which tokens were needed – it worked out at about 40p for a short turn. Other activities for which you had to pay extra were crazy golf and the little train which ran around part of the gardens. This was £1 each but we felt it was worth it as it went round 3 times. The problem with the train is that it is accessed via the garden centre rather than from the gardens. This means that if you wish to return to the gardens you have to go out and then back in via the Planet Earth and greenhouse areas again. You have the same problem if you want to go to the cafeteria which is part of the garden centre – no food or drink is available in the gardens or play area.
Overall we enjoyed our day but feel there should be a short way of getting between the train and cafeteria and the main gardens. The cost of £9.99 for the 4 year old and £8.99 each for us seemed relatively high as the area with the large dinosaurs was closed. However, if you live in the area, the family (2 adults and 4 children) season ticket for £69.99 seemed good value.