People-powered Family Fun in the Heart of Snowdonia
Greenwood Family Park (Gelli Gyffwrdd)
On a recent family holiday to North Wales, I had the chance to revisit one of my favourite family days out. The kids were a little older, and I wondered whether they would still enjoy it? Of course, they would! Greenwood Family Park (also known as Greenwood Forest Park or Gelli Gyffwrdd) is simply bursting with family fun for all ages. Oh, and did I mention the main reason this exciting family attraction is top of my list? This innovative family day outputs sustainability at the heart of all it offers, meaning less guilt when you're out and about with the kids, as well as giving you the perfect chance to educate your little ones on eco-friendly living. What's not to like?
So, before I go on to list everything there is to do at Greenwood Family Park, let me delve a little further into the many ways it attempts to be sensitive to the stunning Welsh countryside that surrounds it.
The most exciting way that Greenwood Family Park manages to be kind to the environment is by harnessing the visitor's energy to power the attractions in the park. And with kids running around everywhere, that's a lot of energy to spare.
One of the stand-out rides at the park is the Green Dragon Rollercoaster, which is not only thrilling but runs from the energy produced by those who are waiting to go on the attraction. Before you get to ride, you need to get into a lift. I vaguely remember having kinetic energy explained to me in science lessons back in my school days, so here it is at work. As the lift goes down, potential energy is converted into kinetic energy which can pull up the empty cars, as well as generating electrical energy which feeds into the grid. Also, as you queue for the ride, there's the chance to read little information points which tell you everything else Greenwood Family Park does to be eco-friendly; giving you the ideal chance to talk to the kids about the little differences we can make to help the planet.
The Green Dragon Roller Coaster is powered by the people
The other favourite attraction, as voted by my 11, 9 and 5 year old was the Solar Splash. Jump in a two person boat and head down a choice of two water slides. They're high, they're fast and once the kids have had a go, be warned. They will want to do it again.....and again....and again. Get there early and beat the queues. As the title suggests, these are powered by the solar panels which have been installed in the park.
The final attraction that needs a mention when it comes to fun people-powered rides is the Enchanted River Ride, where you jump in a boat (five people can fit in a boat, and dogs can come too) and pull yourself through the course using the ropes. The kids will enjoy this one, but they might need your help to stop you getting stranded!
Letting the kids do all the work on the Enchanted River Ride
As well as using people power and solar power throughout the park, there's lots more great environmentally-friendly features about Greenwood Family Park. When on a family day out, I often feel incredibly guilty about the amount of packaging waste the family and I manage to create. On good days, we manage not to consume much, but there are always days when we haven't got round to packing a flask of coffee or bringing our own packed lunch. At Greenwood, thankfully the majority of food and drink containers are biodegradable. Their cooking oil is processed into biodiesel, and there are plenty of recycling bins scattered around the park.
Since opening in 1993, Greenwood Family Park has planted a remarkable 10,000 trees and aim to plant around 500 new ones each year. Rainwater is harvested and used for flushing toilets. And as well as powering the Solar Splash, the solar panels produce around 80% of the park's annual requirement. Absolutely amazing.
What Attractions Are There at Greenwood Family Park
The Solar Splash was unanimously voted the best ride in all the park
If you have kids in tow though, sustainability just won't be enough to keep them happy, so it's a good thing Greenwood Family Park has thought about its young visitors too. The majority of the rides are suitable for very young children, meaning that there's no taking turns to look after the little ones whilst the rest ride. The whole family can take part, which makes for a great day out for everyone. For the bigger rides, the Green Dragon Roller Coaster has a minimum height of 97cm whilst Solar Splash has a minimum height of 95cm and a minimum age of 3.
Other rides at the park are the Little Green Run and the Great Green Run which is basically sledging, and kids and grown-ups will absolutely love racing each other down the hill. The Moon Karts were a huge hit with the kids, with everyone beaming as they raced around the track. We chose to sit these ones out, giving us the chance to enjoy a coffee in peace. They might have looked like lots of fun, but they also looked ridiculous tiring; we saw a few kids pushing them up the hill.
There are also lots of other fun attractions and trails to take part in, such as the Barefoot Walk; be warned, I'm pretty sure this is more painful the heavier you get. My youngest breezed through whilst the grown-ups and my 11 year old hobbled our way through. There's also a bouncy pillow, forest theatre, archery, plenty of playgrounds to climb on, indoor play area, den building and more.
The majority of the park is free to use once you have paid to enter, but there are a few things you will need to pay extra for such as the Woodland Rovers, craft activities, donkey rides and the face painting.
Before you leave, make sure you visit the Magic Chair and don't forget to get a photo so you can show the kids. Take a look through the peeping hole and marvel at how tiny your children look whilst sitting on the chair. And then....run away (only joking!) If you get an adult to stand in front, the effect is even better, making you appear like a giant. Both you and the kids will be amazed.
Where is Greenwood Family Park?
Greenwood Family Park can be found in Snowdonia in North Wales, close to the coastal town of Caernarfon. It is well signposted and has a large free car park.
Where Can I Eat at Greenwood Family Park?
There are several snack bars in the park which sell family favourites such as hot dogs and jacket potatoes, burgers and ice cream. We had brought a packed lunch, so only sampled the ice cream which was delicious, but the rest of the food looked tasty too.
There is also a restaurant/ cafe on site close to the entrance called the Wood Barn cafe which serves a good selection of food, including vegan and vegetarian choices.
If you bring a packed lunch, there are several picnic areas and plenty of seating around the play areas to enjoy your food too.
The amazing magic chair
Events and Parties at Greenwood Family Park
For anyone looking for a children's party with a difference, this could make for a fantastic choice. In the winter months, the party is restricted to use of the Play Barn and party room only, but summer birthday parties include access to the rest of the park. More details can be found here.
Throughout the year, Greenwood Family Park also hosts special events such as SpookWood for Halloween, Enchanted Christmas throughout December, Pirate Week and more.
Everything Else You Need to Know About Greenwood Family Park
Because most of it is outdoors, the main park only opens from February Half Term until the end of October half term. The rest of the year, you can only gain access to the Enchanted WoodBarn indoor soft play, restaurant and gift shop.
Dogs are allowed at Greenwood Family Park, as long as they are kept on a short lead, and that they are friendly and won't bark too much. However, you can't leave them unattended and they are not allowed in the restaurant, so if you would rather join in with all the fun, you might want to leave them at home. If you do bring them, don't forget they can join you on the boat ride.
Greenwood Family Park has a shop which no doubt you will get dragged into on your way in or out of the park by eager children. What I liked about the shop was that there was a good selection of toys, sweets and accessories that were reasonably priced. You won't have to spend a fortune in the shop, and there are plenty of pocket money toys to choose from.
For a family day out, I thought the cost was pretty reasonable. At the time of writing, tickets were from £9.70-£16.75 for adults and £9.40 - £16.20 for children, but you can save around £1 per person by booking in advance online.
More information about Greenwood Family Park can be found here.