We review Jimmy's Farm and Wildlife Park, which offers animals, bouncy pillows and a few surprises along the way
We last visited Jimmy's Farm and Wildlife Park on the day it opened after the first pandemic lockdown in July 2020.
Back then we were impressed with what it had to offer, even if at that time you had to follow one-way routes around the park and not every attraction was open due to covid-19.
So we were excited to return in June 2022 and see how things had changed nearly two years on – and on one recent Sunday we did just that.
Getting to Jimmy's Farm is easy. Located just off the A14 at Wherstead, a clearly signposted route takes you down a single-lane road to the farm and its free car park.
Eager children, such as our five-year-old daughter Clara, can get an early sight of animals thanks to goats in pastures next to the car park.
After a quick stroke with the friendly beasts we dragged Clara away to the site entrance, where a giant white metal sign spelling 'Jimmy's' is the perfect spot for an Instagrammable photograph.
Just inside the complex are various shops and picnic tables dotted around an orchard.
Fearing the excitement inside the wildlife park itself would prove too distracting for Clara to actually eat her lunch, we steered our disgruntled child to a table for our food (plenty of picnic spots are also located inside the wildlife park) before heading towards the wildlife park entrance.
Along the way we spotted a peacock strutting – feathers down – near the farm shop, but promised Clara we would look for him again on our way out at the end of the day.
Immediately on arriving at the entrance cabin it was clear the farm had undergone some upgrades since the summer of 2020.
We suspect the cabin itself is new, while we could spot brightly-colour bouncy pillows which were definitely not in situ two years ago.
Entry was quick and we were greeted by the armadillo enclosure – one of Clara's favourites from the day – before it was our child's turn to steer her parents around the park's attractions.
It's no surprise we were dragged at breakneck speed to the playground and bouncy pillows, but with plenty of benches for adults to sit on and a snack shack selling coffee and ice cream (we wanted the caffeine at this point) we were all set for a little relaxation while Clara entertained herself.
When we did finally make a proper start on seeing the park's wildlife, we were all entertained by the meercat enclosure ahead of visiting the butterfly house (an attraction not open to the public in July 2020).
Inside the tropical atmosphere butterflies of all sizes and colours flitted gracefully about, with one even landing on my arm as I paused to photograph a different butterfly.
I was enchanted, Clara was disappointed it had not landed on her (she's seldom still enough for such an event) and my husband missed it entirely as he scrutinised other fluttering creatures within the humid enclosure.
Then it was on to feed the donkeys – we were armed with animal feed from the entrance cabin – before Clara found yet another adventure playground, with its own adjacent Hobbit house.
After yet more playtime, we walked the outback safari and ventured into the reptile house for some crocodile spotting.
With sunshine warming our bones, a cool walk around the woodland adventure – including an area for den building, which was a hit with our little one – was definitely called for.
I don't want to give too much away about the woodland adventure, but let's just say humans are not the only occupants of the wood and you never know what – or who – you might encounter at each turn.
By this point we had almost seen everything at the wildlife park and only had one spot left to emboss on a creature trail activity we had been following.
So my husband was sent off to find the armadillo stamp – it took him so long because he was watching the creatures running around their pen – while I supervised Clara on her return visit to those bouncy pillows.
After another prolonged bounce, we headed to customer service (at the entrance cabin) to collect Clara's badge for completing the trail and headed home.
I'd like to say she was all bounced out, but I expect she could have spent another hour or so happily jumping in the sunshine.
Oh, and we did find the peacock again as we walked to the car – he was stood in a gravelled area proudly displaying his colourful feathers, much to our delight.
"Next time we come here, I'm going to find one of his feathers," Clara promised as we finished what had been a very enjoyable afternoon.
The complex is clean, well organised, spacious and with plenty to entertain children of all ages and interests. I know Clara will insist on a return visit very soon.
Dogs are welcome at Jimmy's Farm. Access to the gardens, shops and restaurant is free, but charges apply to the wildlife park.
For more information and tickets, go to https://jimmysfarm.com/