From wolves to rollercoasters, Devon’s top attractions can’t wait to welcome you back
PUBLISHED: 12:24 25 June 2020 | UPDATED: 14:09 25 June 2020
Devon’s top tourist attractions can’t wait to open for families once again
Mum Alison Moore has always been perfectly happy to let her four children play next to a pack of wolves.
The family are regular visitors to Wildwood Escot , an animal animal park and wildlife charity in Ottery St Mary. It closed during lockdown but has reopened with measures in place to maintain social distancing.
The Moore children – aged between 16 and one – can often be spotted picnicking, playing or chatting alongside some of their favourite creatures, including squirrels, birds of prey, lynx and Wildwood’s famous wolf pack.
In fact, the family love this place so much that the youngest member, Ralph, one, got his name because it’s derived from the Old English word meaning ‘wolf-counsel’.
“I spent the majority of my pregnancy walking around Wildwood, often next to the enclosure that it had to be done,” says Alison. “The name just stuck.”
Alison, husband Russell and their children Tia, 16, Max, 14, Jasper three and Ralph, one, became Wildwood annual pass holders nearly four years ago and have visited the attraction pretty much every week since.
“We go there all the time,” says Alison. “We live not far away so it’s on our doorstep – we’re so lucky. There is literally something for all the age groups to do.
“The older two like the zip wire and the death slide while my three-year-old is animal mad. It feels as though the animals have got to know us all quite well!”
Like many local families, Alison says the kids have been missing their favourite local haunt and are looking forward to resuming their regular visits.
“We’ve all been itching to go back,” says Alison. “We were constantly checking to see when it would be open again. We often go and meet up with friends and have a picnic – sometimes in the middle of the maze.
“It’s really important that we support local attractions if we can.”
From walking with alpacas to swimming with seals, Devon has many animal attractions you can try.
Over at Crealy , one of Devon’s largest theme parks, staff are looking forward to reopening on 6 July and welcoming back loyal annual pass holders like Jemma Moore.
She used to visit the much-loved attraction when she was a child and now takes her two children, Isla, eight and Freddie, four.
“It’s become a big part of our summer,” says Jemma, who lives in Crediton. “I remember going to Crealy when I was little and it was quite a small attraction with only a few animals and rides there.
“Now it’s grown so much and there’s loads to do. The kids have been desperate to get back there.”
Jemma says she bought a season ticket when Isla was born eight years ago and has watched her daughter’s confidence grow with every visit.
“Isla hates rollercoasters but we managed to persuade her to try the Shark Bay ride and now she loves it. Every year, she’ll try something new.”
Many of Devon’s attractions are relying on their annual pass holders to support them after an incredibly tough few months.
The coronavirus pandemic plunged the tourism industry into crisis but with visitors’ help, it’s hoped our much-loved theme parks, zoos, wildlife parks, heritage railways, museums and more will be able to recover.
“Their future will very much depend on the support and backing of our locals,” says Dick Wood, chairman of the Devon Association of Tourist Attractions (DATA). “Season ticket holders bring footfall all year round and play a significant factor in the attractions’ future - even more so at this current time.
“We would like to thank our local season ticket holders and the general public for the support and generosity they have shown.”
All the places mentioned here are members of the Devon Association of Tourist Attractions (DATA). The not-for-profit group represents the county’s best visitor attractions. To become one of Devon’s Top Attractions, an organisation has to go through a tough inspection process and maintain certain quality standards. Attractions include adrenaline-packed theme parks to animal encounters, historic houses and gardens, museums, steam railways, boats and trams.
Have you joined the Devon Life Facebook Page yet?