Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Amazonia - Scotland's Indoor Rainforest

When we were in Edinburgh during the October half term, we were looking to do a few bits and pieces that Top Ender and Big Boy would enjoy. We had used our favourite search engine to find some tourist type suggestions of things to do and when we discovered that Amazonia was within driving distance of where we were going to be staying, we figured we'd be able to go there and knock off doing Top Ender's research for her half term holiday project on the Amazon Rainforest.

Top Ender's Half Term School Project

Roughly at the same time, we applied to take part in the Tots 100 and MoneySupermarket project to find Britain's Best Day Out and so we knew that we were expecting to have a good day, we were going to be on holiday, be together as a family and spending some time in a Rainforest! Unfortunately for us the tickets sent by MoneySupermarket didn't arrive before we left for Scotland, but we didn't mind as we wanted to go to the attraction anyway and didn't mind paying the £17.35 for a family of four on the day we decided to go (if you buy online in advance it is £15.35).

The day that we went to Amazonia was also the day a local School had arranged a visit (as Scotland and England have different term times) which meant that it was rather busy and we did trip over a few bags and coats which were spilling out of the designated areas for the group visitors, as we entered the attraction but the attraction and staff could easily handle the number of visitors and my children quite liked not being in School when the Scottish children obviously were!

After paying at a hut themed payment desk and having our hands stamped so that we could be readmitted if we needed to leave the attraction to go to the toilet (which we did approximately five minutes later), we walked through those horrid flap like doors that you always get at butterfly houses and in to the main attraction area. The first thing we noticed was of course the butterflies who were, well flying... that is apart from the ones that were doing impressions of the dead parrot from the famous Monty Python sketch!

Top Ender, Big Boy, Daddy and I spent quite a while looking at the different animals and reading the information plaques by each tank or cage, with me being careful to avoid anything that looked vaguely snake like.

Top Ender outside a Python Tank

We learnt a lot about different species and walked round a couple of times to make sure we didn't miss anything, which was easy as it wasn't really that big. The best part was trying to convince Top Ender and Big Boy that an empty pond area actually contained some of the worlds most dangerous animals, but I don't think they believed us!

There was a great Halloween themed craft out for visitors to take part in, where you could fold Origami style some paper bats. We all had a go at following the instructions and even now, a good three months later and the bats are still hanging in the children's rooms as they are so proud of what they created. It was really nice to have this small craft area as it did give us a break from the information overload of reading the different notes about the different creatures.

The highlight of the visit though wasn't the visit to the gift shop, (reasonably priced and not a huge selection so even people like me who don't make decisions could easily find something they wanted) but the hands on session (An extra £1 per person) where we all got to touch or hold different animals (depending on your preference) and find out a little bit more about them from the staff member who was hosting the session. If you wanted to you could have your photo taken for an additional £3, but as you could take photographs or video whilst the session was going on, we didn't really see the point.

Big Boy holding a Cornsnake

The trip to Amazonia was great for the children, but I couldn't help and be a little disappointed. We were only there for a couple of hours (and that included eating our lunch and playing on the amusements in the M&D's Theme park of which Amazonia is part of) and I just felt that there was an aspect missing from the trip that I couldn't quite put my finger on.

Eventually I worked out that it just wasn't the Rainforest experience that I was expecting, the whole place which is kept immaculate, just didn't deliver on the promise of being Scotland's Indoor Rainforest and was more glass cages around the outside of a room, but I may have been spoilt from trips to places such as London Zoo and Edinburgh's Our Dynamic Earth.

If you are heading up to Scotland (or on any Family Day out anywhere in the UK) make sure that you visit the MoneySupermarket vouchers site as you will find discount vouchers that may make a family day out more attractive to your budget!

We were sent tickets to the attraction, but we didn't use them as they arrived after we went to Scotland.

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