I say our afternoon, but it was only 3 hours, really. I must say, I had my reservations about this one. I am not a fan of Marineland whatsoever, and they run Kid's Island, Aquasplash and Adventure Golf as spin-offs on the same big complex in Antibes. Today, I forgot my disdain of the place for the monkey's sake, so we bundled up the travelling circus and off we went.
First off, I will say that this place isn't exactly cheap. We paid €28 for 2 adults (kids are free up to 3 years). We could have saved €4 each if we had booked online: http://ticketing.marineland.fr/en-GB/products , but alas, our sun-addled brains weren't in gear. I am usually an extremely thrifty person, so I have rather disappointed myself there! I would recommend that as well as booking online, you may also want to take a picnic. To add fast-food meals for a family of 4, you would be looking at around the €40 mark. There isn't a big variety and what they do have is deep fried. Not great for a hot, Summer's day!
Now, to the positives. The first thing that struck me was how well maintained and clean everything is. The animal enclosures are clean and have shaded areas. The animals all had access to food and water- which we saw the staff topping up as we wandered round. The animals all look clean and healthy. It was a big difference to what we saw a few weeks ago at a different animal park (post about that to come shortly). We saw Goats, horses, donkeys, sheep, ducks, birds and rabbits. You can walk into the enclosures to see the goats, sheep and rabbits. Monkey wasn't very happy with the friendly goats, but the DIY enthusiast was very keen to make friends! The sheep got a slightly better reaction (mutual indifference and she LOVED the rabbits. They were very placid little creatures. Very happy to have their tummy's tickled by sticky, little paws! There are pony rides for bigger children, and the queues weren't long at all. You can also go into the enclosures for a little feeding experience and talk about the llamas and lemurs if you have slightly older children
After our little tour of the "farm", we stopped for lunch. You already saw my opinion on that, so we'll talk about the rides. We were very lucky that we could go on a weekday afternoon, as there were no queues to speak of. Monkey had 4 rides on the galloping horses, which are like carousel horses that go around a track. 2 with Mommy, and 2 with Daddy! She also went on the magic river ride. This is a very gentle version of river rapids; a giant, motorised dinghy which weaves around a watery trail which is shared with Aquasplash next-door. She had 1 ride with each of us. We weren't supposed to be allowed on after 13.45PM, but the staff were great, and since the queues were small, they were letting people through. The little one absolutely loved both rides! I think she would have been quite happy to sit on the galloping horses all day long. She looked like an even tinier than usual jockey, gripping the pommel with a fierce look of determination on her little face! I was pleasantly surprised that she could go on the rides at all, since the only safety harness was our arms! I can't imagine it would be allowed in the UK... For bigger children there is also a pirate ship ride where you can all shoot each other with water guns! Monkey would love that, but unfortunately they have to be 95cm tall.
Amongst the rides and animal attractions are several play areas. There is a small assault-course style area which runs adjacent to the animal enclosures (for those who need a dose of adrenalin with their cute and fluffies). There is also a maze and 2 areas with slides and climbing frames etc. One is for all ages and the other for over-5s. They look great, and the kids who were playing there seemed to be having a ball! If all of the above wasn't enough, kids over 1 year can also play in the Playmobil area. This are 2 rooms filled with little towns set up with Playmobil toys. These rooms were the busiest area of the whole place! It must be like Santa's grotto for the tiddlers!
If you have a child who can sit still, there is a free face-painting service available. We saw lots of little butterflies, tigers and Spidermen freely roaming the premises. No monkeys though. Monkeys don't like people touching their faces. "They" have this horrible habit of trying to bite your fingers off! Hopefully "they" will grow out of that one quick-sharpish!
Overall, a lovely little day out. I think when our little critter gets a bit bigger we will definitely be back! Really good for those old enough to appreciate all of the activities available, but still a nice afternoon out for those a little smaller.