Life with Autism is tough. Life as an Autism parent is tough too. Most parents love to have fun days out with their kids, but it’s not that easy when Autism is involved. Personally, I like to find out as much as possible about a venue before I visit. So with that in mind, today I am answering the question, is Monkey Forest Autism friendly? We were gifted 2 press tickets, and purchased a 3rd ticket on the day.
Read on to find out how our visit went…
Is Monkey Forest Autism Friendly?
Arriving at Trentham – Is Monkey Forest Autism Friendly or not?
Upon arriving at Trentham Monkey Forest, I was pleased to find there were quite a few disabled bays near the front of the venue. When you walk up to the gate, you can either show your e-ticket if you booked online, or pay at the gate. (It’s cheaper to book in advance online). We didn’t have to queue here, but you may have to at peak times. You have to show your gate ticket to gain access to the Monkey Enclosure, so make sure you don’t lose it between the entrance and there!
Once through the gate, you’re in a large, open plan area. Here, you’ll find the cafe, toilets, play area and covered, outdoor seating which is ideal for picnics. We headed here to eat before seeing the Monkeys, as no food is allowed in the Monkey enclosure.
The disabled toilet was large, but there isn’t a hoist or changing table available to use. This meant I had to lie Sam down on the muddy floor to change his nappy. Not ideal, as people’s shoes, wheelchairs and pushchairs had brought a fair amount of water and mud into the bathroom. (We visited on a wet day).
Heading Into The Monkey Enclosure
Once you’ve shown your ticket, you are let through a large metal door into a holding area. Once the door behind you closes, the one ahead of you opens into the Monkey Enclosure. From here onwards, you won’t find a toilet or anywhere to eat until the exit, and it’s a walk of approximately a mile to get all the way around.
The first half of the walk is all up hill, and the second half is down hill. You break up your walk, stopping to see the Monkeys, watch feeding time and joining in with the learning areas. Honestly… I wouldn’t want to push a special needs buggy or a wheelchair around there, and was relieved we’d left Sam’s at home.
Sam was blown away by the Monkeys, and spent ages watching them…
All of the Monkeys in Monkey Forest are Barbary Macaques. There are over 140 of them living within the Monkey enclosure, including 3 babies at the moment. The one pictured above spent ages watching Sam, and he returned the gesture for ages, too. Sam’s non verbal, but he seemed to get a lot out of this moment they shared. I managed to get some amazing snaps on my phone of this particular Monkey – How cute is he! (Pictured again below).
The Monkeys are fed in 2 different areas throughout the day, at alternating hours. There’s plenty of signs around to show you when the next feeding session is happening. We caught one of them and I managed to film it, too. This video shows how feeding time goes.
As we walked around, I found staff pretty easy to spot in their yellow coats. A few of them were brilliant at explaining why the Monkeys were behaving as they were, and none were phased by Sam.
We visited on a really wet day. It was intermittently pouring down, then brightening up for a few minutes in between showers. There was plenty of tree cover, so none of us were soaked to the skin. There were still a lot of people there, and I think it might have been too busy for Sam, had we visited on a hot and sunny day. The paths do get a little crowded at times. The kids still had a great time though. (We met up with my friend, Bex and her 2 children when we visited).
In answer to the question, is Monkey Forest Autism Friendly, I’d have to say: Fairly. If you visit on a quiet day, chances are you’ll survive, as long as your child can walk a mile up and down hill.
The speed at which you walk is relaxed, and you can decide whether it takes you an hour or 3 hours to walk round. They do ask you to keep on the right side of a 3 foot high wooden barrier, so if your child is likely to run off and climb, you may have issues. Additionally, you are supposed to be quiet so as not to scare the monkeys. However, Sam did quite a few loud, excited screams and nobody said anything about it.
- Eat before you go into the Monkey Area.
- Use The Toilet before you go into the Monkey area.
- Have a spare pair of hands if your child is likely to try to climb the barriers.
- Book tickets online before attending.
- Wear wellies on a wet day.
- Leave the special needs buggy at home.
- Don’t expect a hoist or changing table big enough for a child over 3 years old.
- Don’t visit on hot, sunny days as it’s likely to be extremely busy.
Finally, if you’ve found this is Monkey Forest Autism Friendly post useful, check out more of my Autism content here.