Our little family of four did not enjoy this day out at all. From the very start. The entrance had a queue on a very steep hill because the payment booth was not far enough away from gate. This was causing traffic issues and clutch control problems.
After paying and receiving a map, we parked. We were greeted by the first of many announcements over a public address system; it gave directions to a location of a bird display coming up. The bird show was very very very informative, perhaps a little too much so and was given over a very loud public address system the presenters barely pausing for breath over what seemed like half an hour.
We were invited then to join to sea lion display. I consulted the map, it had a path marked in red, this was for people with push chairs and wheel chair users, claiming that up to 70% of the zoo is visible from these paths. So immediately we had just lost 30% of the zoo!!! We headed to the sea lions on the path marked on the map and this turn out to be a very steep grass hill, and when we got to it, the map further suggested a route down to pool sides which had viewing windows, this was wrong also it was steps so we had to carry our buggy down. It was only when we got to the bottom we found an alternate ramped route out the other side which led us back to the car park again. Quite a long walk around from where we started at the bird display. The sea lion display was again more very loud public address shouting, by this time I was thinking it should be done by means of individual smaller speakers spaced out where the crown gathers so that the volume could be controlled and not wide spread noise, I was beginning to feel for the animals having to go through this unnatural noise level every day. We did not enjoy the noise and so left the sea lion show after just 5 mins. The pathway for wheel chairs and buggies was not marked out at all in the park, this led to awful confusion as what seemed like a good path suddenly became stairs or blind ends. Some of the paths were very worrying as they had steep sides with only basic wooden fencing and no mesh wire, my two year old could have easily slip under this fence and tumbled a good 50 to 100 feet in places without stopping. It was becoming very clear that the map was inaccurate and not to scale, and the paths were unsafe and poorly maintained. We tried to find a safe route via the tiger enclosure and ended up back in the car park again. We were invited then to see the chimps display, then informed over the address system that pushchairs could not go into auditorium. So we went for a little walk and found the “walk with the Limas” enclosure we approached and found another no pushchair policy, they had a place to leave pushchairs, but for some reason it was cordoned off with hazard tape. When we go out, our pushchair like most parents is loaded with all the things required to keep children happy fed and clean, so even if the unsecured pushchair bay was free, there was no way we could leave it there. So after nearly an hour seeing very few animals on bad / unsafe pathways, incorrect maps, shouty public address systems and being barred from locations and events due to having a pushchair we decided that the welsh mountain zoo was miss sold as a family day out and decided to leave. We asked an attendant near the shop how to get a refund, They directed us to a white building, down the end of small road away from the main hub. This building did office stuff and first aid. After ringing the bell several times, we asked another attendant why no reply, they said they were on lunch. They said they would try and find someone. After a long while a young chap came and said we would have to wait half an hour or he could take our details for a refund. We agreed on the latter in good faith. He then wrote all he needed to issue a refund and took photographs of our tickets as no photo copier was available and we would not let him keep our proof of purchase, as he requested. So we set off home assured that we would receive a call within half an hour to let us know the transaction was complete.
So off we went. Quite glad to be leaving what is in my experience the worst zoo in the UK. It was little more that a dancing bear show. Nice gardens and play areas for kids and views of the sea, but small animal enclosures and sad, unglossy, repetitive behavior animals. How its stayed open 50 years is beyond me. Did we get our phone call? No, and I can’t say I was surprised. So after an hour and a half we called them back. My wife spoke to Director Chris Jackson, Instead of helping us out with the refund Mr. Jackson proceeded to grill my wife about the whole experience again and started to suggest that we had not researched the zoo well enough and that all the time the zoo has been opened no one but us had any problem with the free map. Furthermore he suggested that we had no business in coming to his zoo if we were not fit enough to push a chair. Over hearing this I had had enough and took the phone from my wife and asked Chris “what’s wrong with you?” he said “what did you say?” I repeated my question, and without another word he hung up. We phoned back and told the phone attendant what had just happened and after a while we were put in touch with the young man who had taken our details at the zoo. I said i was not impressed he just repeatedly told me to put my grievance in writing by post or email. I said “so I can get my refund” he said “no, we have a policy of no refunds” I said “Then why was i directed to your office building by two other staff and then you assured my wife after taking our details the refund would be taken care of. Why were having any conversation at all if you have a no refunds policy” the young man started to back pedal and said “I never said a refund would be given, I said I would see what Chris could do, I was not sure about the refund policy as I have only been here 5 days” So I asked what’s the point of me putting a complaint in if no refund was to be given? He said that some return free tickets could be offered, I said I never wanted to go back to the place nor would I want anyone else to and would be quite happy to say so via social media networks on the internet, he invited me to do so. I asked if I “could speak to anyone else between a rude impulsive director and a man who does not even know what hes talking about?” He barked that I should email them and hung up again. Then despite 4 further attempts to call using different phones they refused to speak and hung up. I hope they treat the animals better.
I have read other peoples experiences of this place and am pleased to find we are not the only people who struggled with the map or access. Also I have read the zoo has given refunds to others in past. The zoo does not take money from disabled chair users, put happily does from people with double or single baby buggies who will struggle and not be able to get see most of the zoo. In my opinion this should be made very clear on all the leaflets all over Wales and on their internet site. As clear as:-
Parents with pushchairs and carers of those in wheelchairs (who pay full admittance fee) will struggle on the unmarked vague pathways and will only have access to 50% of the zoo approx. The Zoo also has a strict non refund of gate ticket Policy.
Of course they never will as it will lose them money, so on they go with a dishonest routine they know most people will be too polite to complain about. I have chosen to complain as If they paid back our £21.90 as a gesture of good will, I would have let it go. But clearly the director does not know what that means. £21.90 is a lot to our on a budget family, especially as we drove 70 miles to see this place, only to be disappointed, lied to and insulted.
Own or manage this property? Claim your listing for free to respond to reviews, update your profile and much more.