Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Storybook Gardens - London

Did you know that starting in the 1950s, 25 nursery rhyme themed parks sprung up across North America? It's true, someone wrote a scholarly article about the phenomenon of nursery rhyme theme parks (it has footnotes!). London's Storybook Gardens is one of the ones that is still going strong.

When I was a kid, Storybook Gardens was a park with some statue type things that depicted famous kid's stories like the little old lady who lived in a shoe.

The little old woman has apparently finally had enough and has
 abandoned her giant shoe home to these ragamuffins. 
That was it.  That was Storybook Gardens.  Well, that and maybe some animals?  We drove all the way to London, paid money for that and we liked it!  According to that article I linked to above, some people are actually so nostalgic for the old timey version of Storybook Gardens that they may mount an exhibit of the old statues. 

Well times, they are a-changin' apparently because Storybook Gardens is now much more elaborate. 

Now, they have all kinds of newfangled things (in addition to some refurbished statues of nursery rhymes.)

Was he always this creepy?
Like a great playground called Pirate Island which has, you guessed it, a pirate theme.  It is one of the best playgrounds I have seen but it is big so if your kids are little it can be hard to keep an eye on them especially if you have more than one or it is really busy.  There is also a smaller playground area for little kids. 

The Pirate ship is only one part of the playground area. 

I have never actually seen it this busy so don't worry!

In addition to the pirate ship and giant slide there is also a rock climbing wall and a spider web type contraption.  

Heading down the slide

A great splash pad that has lots of shade for parents as well as a huge sand area for little kids to play in.  They also have change rooms and bathrooms right on hand which is something that is often overlooked at splash pads. 

I can't stress enough how great the shaded tables are for parents!
The park is geared to fairly little kids but there are some rides including a Ferris wheel, a carousel, a train that goes around the park, a flying elephant ride, swings and a giant slide.  None of them are too scary.  Well, I am freaked out by Ferris wheels since they are so high and there are basically no safety harnesses or restraints on them.  You could just jump right out if you wanted to.  I don't want to, obviously, but kids are, less than smart shall we say.  I worry, is what I am saying.

My kids all alone on the swings.

My wee one up at the top of the Ferris Wheel all alone.  Sniff. 
They also have a farm area where they have some animals that you can pet.  Along with some nice walking trails.

Goat feeding time.  Photo courtesy of Storybook Gardens

They have special days, such as Princess Day, Spiderman Day and Winnie the Pooh Day with visits from those characters and special events.  Check their calendar to find out what special days they have coming up.

The price is pretty reasonable, $25 for a family of four and parking is free.  They also have specials like dads are free on Father's Day and kids are free on June 15th etc.  Check the calendar for more details. 

You can bring your own food, but you have to eat it outside the park.  This is no problem though since Storybook Gardens is located inside a nice big city park called Springbank Park, so you can just have your picnic at one of the tables in the shade and then head back inside when you are done.  There are also some concession stands throughout the park. 

One thing to keep in mind is that no bottled water is sold at the park, or apparently anywhere run by the City of London, so bring your own refillable water bottles.  There are fountains throughout the park. 

Directions can be found near the bottom of this page.

Also in the area: London Children's Museum

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