After the enormous success of our first trip to Go Ape Leeds Castle in the autumn the girls jumped at the chance of taking their friends for a Junior Tree Tops Adventure for a Go Ape birthday party this year and to be totally honest I was relieved to escape the Frozen madness for once as my girls have really overdone that one. Let it go Marianne, let it go.
We downloaded our invites from the Go Ape website and I let the girls write them out only to discover from one school mum that her daughter’s invite had Windsor Castle written on it instead of Leeds Castle :)
The maximum in a group is 8 and I had booked 2 group slots for our party of 15 children, we just had one place left to squeeze a twin brother onto who decided last minute to give it a go.
Our first group was sent off to the toilets before getting harnessed up as the adventure takes about an hour and when you’re up in the trees going to the loo presents some difficulties.
Each child is harnessed up and given a safety talk. We learnt new words like trolley and cable, the children learnt that only two people are allowed on a crossing at one time and only three people on a platform.
A few of the children, actually quite a few but some not admitting it, were a little frightened at the prospect. I must admit from the ground it does look scary, I’m sure the mums and dads were asking what if my little one falls? But the beauty is once an instructor has attached their individual trolley’s to the cable they cannot come off until the very end of the zip wire unless an instructor comes and helps.
There is a mini route for the kids to have a go on and get the hang of the trolley and how it all works before going up in the trees, this is a new addition since our last visit and I was very impressed with the idea.
Once the children are up, parents are on the ground watching and cheering on. Please note you are allowed up with them if they are scared but you will have to return to reception and pay first.
You get two laps of the first ring and a further lap of a more difficult second ring. Most children will be a bit scared as they complete their first ring but the beauty of being in a group is children tend to copy what the others are doing and once they see their friends ahead and smiling they gain confidence. By the time they have come down the zipwire at the end of the first lap they cannot wait to go back up and do it all again.
We did have one very frightened little girl in our group and her dad paid to accompany her and there were still tears. An instructor went up to help them and with his guidance little miss made it all the way around, not only that she was so impressed and happy that she had done it she’s asked her parents if she can have her party there next year too.
It’s addictive and it’s great to be able to cheer your children on doing something they love and that gives them so much confidence in themselves.
They came down from the trees hyper, but not a sugar rush or a ‘we’ve been inside too long’ kind of way. No this was a ‘WE DID IT!’ kind of way, and they were all hyped at how awesome they had been and what they had achieved.
We had booked the Forest Shelter for our afternoon tea, it costs an extra £20 and can sit around 40 people on the two long benches.
I made up picnic boxes and took some girly flower garlands and pompoms to decorate.
The cake made by my wonderful friend Jo at Simply Gorgeous Cakes (thanks Jo – everyone thinks I made it) was superb and delicious too.
Top Tips for a Go Ape Junior birthday party
1. Prepare carefully. Everything must be paid upfront in advance with no refunds from 48 hours beforehand. If people drop out make sure you get your refund early. I had paid for 16 children, once I knew who couldn’t come I was able to go back in and make alterations.
2. Give lots of information. I added a letter with the invite explaining there was free parking, to dress the girls in leggings and trainers – no open toes allowed. No earrings and punctuality is fundamental to not miss out on your slot.
3. Organise your teams. I put one twin at the font and another in the middle as they had already done it once and knew what to expect. this helped the others on their first round.
4. Have drinks on hand, it’s thirsty business in the trees.
5. Be prepared for all weathers as it will only be cancelled in extreme conditions. Gloves are handy in colder weather.
6. Tears and tantrums. Be prepared for some tears before starting, don’t lose sight that it is a BIG thing for little people. You may find your little one is a champion if you take the right attitude.
All in all a fantastic day and all of the parents were so proud of their children being such super heros for the day. I’d definitely book this again. I feel as if I gave my girls and their guests something more than a birthday party this year, a memory that hopefully will live on a long time from now.
If you want to Book now at Go Ape or call 0845 643 9236 to #ShareAdventure.
Disclosure: Go Ape kindly gave us 4 free places for the purpose of this review.