You know it’s going to be a bit of a giggle fest when your knees are wedged between the large hairy legs of a German stranger on a cramped wooden train chugging through the streets of Puerto de la Cruz. My obvious itchy discomfort was a source of great amusement to Amy, aged 11 and Chloe aged 12, over on holiday with my friend Sarah, their infectious chuckles had already been fired up by our journey up from Los Cristianos on a TITSA bus.
Loro Parque’s well oiled publicity machine grabs most family’s imaginations as soon as they touch down in Tenerife and based on my past visits, I never hesitate to fuel their interest further. As we arrived at the grand entrance to this animal themed box of delights, I tried to share the first impressions of my guests and to see if it lived up to its billing as a family favourite. Estate agents would call it kerb appeal, and Loro Parque scores early with the imposing pagoda entrance backed by large metal parrot statues and even hedges trimmed into the shape of a pack of elephants linked trunk to tail.
On a very hot and busy day we spilled inside delayed slightly by the huge multi coloured Koi Carp as we were funnelled over the lake bridge and snapped with two pretty polly’s on the way into the main body of the park. With three good women to organise me we set our sights on ticking off the four big shows first and headed for the performing birds at the Loro Show in a tall central hall. With 10 minutes to the start of the show we got some of the last seats and barely had time to appreciate the standing room behind us that allowed child buggies good parking spots. With a whoosh multi-coloured parrots swooped overhead and landed on their stage perches below to perform counting tricks, bell ringing and other cute turns. Amy and Chloe were engrossed and even slightly bird phobic Sarah was won over.
Twenty minutes later we were back on our mission and heading for the Sea Lions” show. Their small amphitheatre was stocking up well as one large, shiny, whiskered star was draped lazily over the performance area. Quite a few late-comers were kept at bay by a rope but as the park staff shuffled people to fill any gaps, we again had a good view, this time standing at the back. The music struck up, the trainers and the other sea lions slithered out and we were all caught up in a whirl of slipping and sliding as the sleek stars clapped, dived, rolled over and kissed their way into everyone’s hearts. The girls” smiles confirmed the general feeling, another hit.
Next stop the dolphins. Although baking hot the park is designed with plenty of shady paths linking the attractions, Amy and Chloe led the charge as we did our best to keep up with their youthful enthusiasm. The venues were getting bigger now but the demand still called for sensitive stewarding. As new arrivals were fed up to the higher seats the front rows were filled with buggies and their eager passengers. The animation girls kept the mood light as they built the anticipation with competitive clapping between the various sections.
The dolphins wowed everyone with high leaps and general playfulness and one lucky child was selected for a close encounter at the pool side, that special memory of stroking a dolphin will stay in her memory for years to come. The only disappointment of the day for Amy and Chloe was not getting soaked at the Orca Whale show, we sat a few rows behind their places at the edge of the splash zone. After a build up of catchy music and cheeky video close ups of the crowd, the whales announced their arrival with a few jumps and tail flips to send waves lapping over the pool side. Even those who had bought 3 euro plastic coveralls had a refreshing wash and Amy and Chloe giggled as their legs got sprayed. The creatures and the thrills don’t come much larger than the Orcas, their size contrasted by their intelligence and sheer beauty.
Regrouping in a café, expect captive audience prices, we took a vote on the next stop, luckily Planet Penguin got the thumbs up, saving me from stamping my feet and having a bawling fit. I’m a penguin addict and was glad to see the girls also delighted in their waddling on ice antics and majestic gliding under the ice and water floes of their huge snow dome.
Always leave them wanting more would be a good motto for Loro Parque, there is so much to cram in, the second visit 10 euros ticket is a good idea. We flitted by many of the enclosures ogling otters, admiring apes and treasuring tigers before heading for home. It was tough trying to get the girls to name a favourite, they loved everything but Amy was smitten by the penguins and Chloe chose the dolphins and whales. When it comes to family appeal Loro Parque is still serving up enough holiday memories to cram Noahs Ark.
- Loro Parque ““ Puerto de la Cruz
- Website ““ www.loroparque.com
- Open daily 8.30 am to 6.45 pm
- Adults 32 euros, residents 19.50 euros – includes all shows
- Children (ages 6 to 11) 21 euros , residents 13 euros
- FREE trains from Plaza Reyes Catolicos, Puerto de la Cruz seafront