Tayto Park? Potatoes, We Salute You.
By Nicole Buckler
I have to admit, I was a bit sceptical when heading out with the kids to Tayto Park. I was thinking, Oh God, it is just a place that wants to flog their brand to kids, everything will be rubbish, it will all suck. They hate crisps, all crisps, so how the hell is this going to pan out? But hopefully the kids will be hoodwinked into thinking it was okay. How much whinging can they possibly do in just one day?
Tayto Park is about 30 minutes north of the outer perimeter of Dublin’s northern suburbs. For the uninitiated, Tayto Crisps are cultural phenomenon in Ireland. If you see anyone eating their lunch at their desks in Ireland: there will be a packet of taytos crisps somewhere, and another sneaky one in the drawer too. And probably in the now-defunct fax machine.
The Tayto Amusement Park is located right next to the factory: in fact, the park is an extension of their branding. And a nod to the almighty potato. But to my absolute surprise, the gaff was great. And here’s why: it is so original. There’s nothing in Ireland like it. It is a great combination of stuff for little kids, stuff for teens, and gorgeous grounds that make it awesome. The ratio of staff to visitors is really high, you feel like there is someone within 2 metres of you at all times you can call upon. But the best part of it is all the neat stuff that myself or my kids had never seen before.
I have to say the big favourite of the day was the giant chess board, which shoots water up into the air. It was a very hot day when we were there, and the kids got hell wet. All the kids. All 300 of them that were playing on it. And all were screaming their heads off with the fun of it all. My kids were no different, I always have a change of clothes for them in case someone pukes, falls into something gross, or we meet our arch nemesis – dog poo. So luckily, after we had exhausted the chess board (one hour and 30 minutes later) I changed the kids and on we went.
Another big hit was the petting area where the kids can get up close to the farm animals. They love this shiz. It’s such a nice touch. My kids patted those little goats like they would be made into kebabs if they stopped. They loved it.
My kids weren’t that interested in the zoo-type animals. They were too agog at the awesomeness of all the other things that the park offered them. However the meerkats were the exception because they were just so frickin’ cute and funny. But the other things pulled them away. There are two mazes…one is a little bamboo-garden type thing and the other is a huge spiral that they have to climb in a circular fashion to get to the top. They loved it enough to do it over and over again like obsessive compulsives. I was tired watching them from my comfy chair, my eyeballs had a lot of work to do.
We then went on to have lunch in the restaurant, the ranch-style building feels like a restaurant on the route to the American Mid-West. Portions were huge and my arse was starting to qualify as something from the American Mid-West also. But for those who like a picnic, there was plenty of tables and places to bed down with your posh wrap.
We did the factory tour, however it was disappointing on a Saturday at lunch time, because there was no one working! I think everyone should have been called back in just to entertain my family. However a big thrill on the way out of the factory was the “vortex tunnel”. It is freaky stuff. There is a footbridge through a revolving tunnel. Just one second on there and I felt like I was falling off a cliff and taking everyone with me. I had to back out, and so did one of my kids. But the little one, all of four years of age, marched through like a boss, putting me to shame. Whatever.
And finally, the last favourite was the immense playground. Think about how much kids love playgrounds. Well multiply that by one billion and add 3. This is the boss of all playgounds. Me and my spouse sat down in the shade for an hour while my kids disappeared into it. I wondered if I would ever see them again. I got a bit worried after an hour or so, and went looking for them. I found one but didn’t find the little one. Just when I was starting to worry that my child had decided to make a run for it to revisit the meerkats, I found my offspring deep in the middle of the playground, upside down, doing something that made sense at the time. Phew.
For the teens, there are lots of things to thrill them. The extreme zipline is the stuff teen fun is made of.
But there are loads of other things too to keep them from whingebagging.
Overall, Tayto Park is well worth the money. It is fun, comfortable, and really original, in gorgeous surroundings. We didn’t get to all of the park, but that is what the year-pass is for. I shall be buying one, pronto.
As we left we were given a free bag of crisps. My kids opened them, and for the first time, liked them. Branding does work! Maybe we can all get together and build and fruit and vege park, and hand out carrots at the end? Anyway shutup and hand me the cheese and onion crisps.
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