The Madagascar PLAY! space at Chester Zoo

During half term we visited Chester Zoo to check out the newly opened PLAY! space featuring a range of different areas created by play experts and launched at the end of May.  The Madagascar PLAY! space is a really active adventure play area designed to encourage children to explore and have fun.

new Madagascar PLAY! space at Chester Zoo
new Madagascar PLAY! space at Chester Zoo

New PLAY! area at Chester Zoo

We first arrived at the PLAY! space around lunch time – this wasn’t entirely intentional but just happened to be the point at which we stumbled across it whilst exploring the rest of the zoo.  The Madagascar PLAY! Base Camp is conveniently situated near a couple of eateries and with plenty of outdoor spaces for picnics – and as such it was extremely busy at lunch time on a sunny day in the middle of half term!  This is of course to be expected and didn’t really pose too much of a problem, we were still able to find a picnic table to eat our lunch (which we had bought on site after not really planning ahead and forgetting to take a picnic!) but it did mean that it was harder to keep an eye on all three children when they wanted to play in different spaces.  After a short play we agreed that we would go and explore the rest of the zoo and then come back to the PLAY! Base Camp towards the end of the day for an ice cream and some time to play.

new Madagascar PLAY! space at Chester Zoo - Lost Forest
new Madagascar PLAY! space at Chester Zoo - Lost Forest climbing equipment
new Madagascar PLAY! space at Chester Zoo - baobab tree with slide
new Madagascar PLAY! space at Chester Zoo - baobab tree

Make sure you take a towel and some spare clothes!

This turned out to be a good plan – the Madagascar PLAY! Base Camp was still busy but we felt there was room to breathe.  We were able to let them explore more as it was easier to keep them in our line of view with less people around.  The PLAY! space centres around the Lost Forest which, with its scramble nets and various climbing opportunities, was right up Ben’s street.  To the side of the Lost Forest, we found the sandy beach with its shipwreck which Amy was really excited by.  The sand was beautiful and clean (as you’d expect having only been open for a week or so).  The girls loved being able to take their shoes off and feel the sand between their toes!  And finally, we led them to the dry river bed which I must admit I had a love / hate relationship with!  On a hot sunny day, it was a joy to see so many children splashing about and exploring the different pumps and dams, working together as a team to fill up different sections of the river bed and paddling around barefoot.  Had the weather been colder I’d have been more bothered about the potential for wet clothes and miserable children!  Visiting the PLAY! space on our way out of the zoo was a stroke of genius in this instance as it meant I wasn’t really bothered if they got soaked, I’d have just stripped them off when we got to the car.  As it was, the flow of water through the river bed is fairly minimal – obviously if you sat down in it you’d get pretty wet but for the sake of splashing about a bit with your feet you’d struggle to get too soggy.  That said, next time I will make sure I’ve got a towel and a change of clothes with me – just in case!

new Madagascar PLAY! space at Chester Zoo - beach and sand play
new Madagascar PLAY! space at Chester Zoo - dry river bed
new Madagascar PLAY! space at Chester Zoo - water play
new Madagascar PLAY! space at Chester Zoo - riverbed

The Madagascar PLAY! Base Camp is a really great addition to Chester Zoo.  If I’m honest my three would probably have been quite happy to play about at Base Camp for most of the day and took some coaxing to leave at home time (thank goodness for ice cream bribes . . . )  A visit to Chester Zoo isn’t a cheap day out – at around £100 for our family of five if we pre-book online – and for that price I want to see lots of animals, not watch the kids clamber around on a posh climbing frame!  Next time we visit I will definitely save our visit to PLAY! Base Camp for the end of the day when they can play for as long as they like without me worrying that we need to get on and make sure we’ve seen everything before home time!

new Madagascar PLAY! space at Chester Zoo - skipping lane

If you want to see footage from the PLAY! space and what else we got up to whilst we were at Chester Zoo then check out our video here:

*We were invited to visit Chester Zoo to try out the new Play! space free of charge for the purposes of review however all thoughts and opinions remain our own*  

*Read more reviews here*

*Read about more of our adventures here*


  1. June 14, 2017 / 9:43 pm

    That looks like such a fun place for the kids to play, if mine spot something like that then they lose interest in the animals immediately!

  2. June 16, 2017 / 11:16 pm

    What a fun place to visit. Looks like they kids had the best time. Must have a look at that to take mine xx

  3. June 20, 2017 / 8:28 am

    I have only been to Chester zoo once and that was when my eldest was a toddler. Would love to go again. The new play area looks fab, but I’d think I would save it for the end of the day too as it would be hard to get my kids back out #TriedTested

  4. June 20, 2017 / 8:47 am

    That looks so much fun and I’m sure my kids would love to go there as well one day. #triedtested

  5. June 20, 2017 / 9:05 am

    Wow! It looks like an awesome play park! I totally get the want to see more of the zoo though for that price! x

  6. June 20, 2017 / 9:10 am

    Oh looks like a fabulous place to visit! I love play parks that incorporate sand and water. I’ve never visited Chester Zoo before, so maybe I’ll add it to my summer maternity bucket list

  7. Jodie Melling
    June 20, 2017 / 9:11 am

    This looks amazing! When we visited recently it wasn’t open yet but it looked huge. We will definitely have to go back and visit.

    Jodie x

  8. June 20, 2017 / 10:29 am

    Oh wow this looks like amazing fun and my two would love it. If only it was closer.

  9. June 20, 2017 / 10:43 am

    Ooooh I wanna go here!!!! Fab post, pics and video hun!


  10. June 20, 2017 / 10:51 am

    This looks amazing! We haven’t been to Chester Zoo as it would involve an overnight stay but it is on my ‘list’ and this great playarea would definitely have Mia’s interest! I like the fact it has different zones and plenty for all ages to do 🙂


  11. June 20, 2017 / 11:00 am

    I love the look of this play area. Our local zoo has a good one too which we always save until the end of the visit :o)


  12. June 20, 2017 / 11:08 am

    We love Chester zoo and are members. My daughter adores the new play area #TriedTested

  13. June 20, 2017 / 1:46 pm

    This looks like great fun – I reckon my boys would love this more than the animals! #triedtested

  14. June 20, 2017 / 2:11 pm

    My children would love this play area and it would be hard to drag them away, We would easily spend the entire day here from opening until closing but £100 is a lot of money for us to spend on a day out. It does look great fun though. #TriedTested

  15. June 20, 2017 / 2:16 pm

    That looks like so much fun! I kinda miss the boys being young enough to enjoy places like that.

  16. Jo - Pickle & Poppet
    June 20, 2017 / 10:17 pm

    This looks great and looks like the children enjoyed it so much. It’s the sort of play area that I would struggle to get Reuben out of!

  17. June 21, 2017 / 7:27 pm

    My boys adore Chester Zoo and Mini was there with school residential only a couple of weeks ago. I really love play areas, we tend to visit at the end of our visit and have a sit whilst the boys run off steam before getting in the car for the journey home

  18. Lisa (mumdadplus4)
    June 22, 2017 / 9:42 am

    This looks amazing I haven’t been to the zoo for years I must take the boys they would love it.

  19. June 22, 2017 / 1:44 pm

    I remember the first time I took my 3 to a play park after first becoming a single mum and it was traumatic.I was constantly looking for their heads in the crowds.In the end I had to force them to stay in one place together.Visiting zoos with huge adventure parks can be tricky.You don’t want to spend £100 on just doing that and not visit the zoo itself.

  20. June 23, 2017 / 8:35 am

    It looks fab – we’re planning on taking the boys soon, but like you say it’s not cheap! We’ll definitely take your tip and leave the play area until the end of the day 🙂 #TriedTested

  21. June 26, 2017 / 1:27 pm

    Looks and sounds great! These trips are never cheap though are they? Sounds like the play would be good as a place on.its own! Thanks for hosting #TriedTested

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