Visiting Ashlyns Wildlife Park and Soft Play

Often referred to as Ashlyns Farm or just Ashlyns, this site initially appears to be a Farm Shop and restaurant, but if you take the path to the left of the restaurant you will discover a whole lot more: a soft play, animals, playground and even a small splash park. Located in Essex off the A414 between North Weald and Chipping Ongar, it's not far from Epping and easy to get to by car. 

The entrance to Ashlyns Soft Play
Ashlyns Funbarn/ soft play and Farm Park/ Wildlife Park

Why Ashlyn’s Farm/ Wildlife Park and Soft Play Are Good To Visit With Children 

  • The soft play is a medium size with separate spaces for toddlers and slightly older ones.
  • The outside area has 3 different playgrounds.
  • The outside area has plenty of outdoor seating and open grass area.
  • There is an interesting range of small animals to see.
  • There is a small splash park open in warmer weather.
  • It’s in the middle of Harlow, Ongar, Epping and North Weald so a great location for meeting people who live spread out.
  • It’s an easy, laid back morning or afternoon with lots of options to please most ages. 

What is there to do at Ashlyns Farm?

Ashlyns has indoor and outdoor areas, but it is worth noting that there are separate entrance prices for the soft play, animal area and splash park. Entrance to one area does not allow entrance to other paid areas. You can get a small discount if you book entrance to both the Wildlife Park and soft play.

The Soft Play

Ashlyns soft play is a lovely place to visit all year round with little ones. It’s not huge, but children age 6 and under should have a great time as there are lots of different bits to play on and a great long slide. 

The toddler area is for children age 3 and under. It has a ramp to climb up and a small slide down as well as various blocks and shapes to climb or play with. 

There is seating (although this can be limited if there is a party taking place) and a cafe which sells a range of drinks, snacks and meals.

The soft play is normally pretty clean, but it is getting a bit worn (I first visited 9 years ago and it hasn't changed).

Prebooking is recommended and sessions are 2 hours long.

The soft play opens at 9am, closing at 5pm Monday to Wednesday. On Thursday and Friday you get an extended play session on the 3pm slot and can stay until 6pm. The last session on a weekend starts at 4.30, running until 6.30pm.

Tickets cost: 

  • Baby 6-11 months £2.95
  • Children 1-4 £6.45
  • Children 5 plus £7.45
  • Adults £1.50

It doesn’t list a maximum age for children, but it’s unlikely to hold much appeal for children over 8. 

View from the front of Ashlyns Soft play
The medium size play frame in the soft play has a fun open slide

Side view of soft play and seating
There is a small amount of additional seating round the side of the play frame

Toddler soft play area at Ashlyns
View towards the toddler area from the entrance

View inside the main soft play area
Inside the soft play

Splash Park

The splash park is open in warmer weather. It is only small, but this means it feels more relaxing than bigger and busier splash parks so it's a nice way to cool down with little ones. It has a changing room, toilets and ice cream stall in the mini park area. 

You don’t need a locker for the splash park as it is all self contained and convenient with a little hut in the area.

The 2024 prices have not yet been announced, but they have said it will be open from 4th May. 

Ashlyns Splash Park, Epping, Essex in summer
The small splash park is a nice way to cool down in the Summer with preschoolers

Wildlife Park

Previously called a farm, currently called a "Wildlife Park" and there is also mention of applying for a zoo license. Whatever they are called it is an outside area, with a few buildings that house a range of animals including a reptile room, a barn with small monkeys, skunk, birds and small furries as well as enclosures outdoors with animals including wallaby, donkeys, goats and more exotic animals e.g. palm civet. There aren’t a huge number of animals and it probably won’t take you long to see them all. 

They appear to be in the process of an upgrade and plan to introduce zebras and a crocodile.  The animal area has never been run to its full potential so it will interesting to see how it changes.  The most noticeable part of the improvements currently is that they finally have a website and online booking, given they have been open for many years this is a long time coming. 

The main appeal of the outside area to children is likely to to be the play areas. There are 3 different good size play frames and a couple of bouncy pillows surrounded by sand. Be careful choosing clothes as the sand is the type that stains clothes. 

The play areas are spread out, but if you have older children you should be able to grab a table and have a reasonable view.

The opening hours of the wildlife park are listed as 9 to 5pm everyday. You can stay as long as you want within these opening times.

Tickets cost:

  • Under 2 free
  • Children 2 to 16 £7.45
  • Adults £8.45
  • Over 60s £6.95

A muddy path with a large enclosure with sheep in
There are a number of outdoor enclosures to walk around

The reptile house at Ashlyn's Farm Wildlife Park
The reptile house

A large green and wooden climbing frame
There are several different play areas in the Farm Park

Bouncy Pillows surrounded by sand and enclosed in a fence
The Bouncy Pillows are surrounded by sand and there are buckets and spades

A small play area at the entrance of the Wildlife Farm Park
View into the Wildlife Park and a smaller playground

Picnic tables near a wooden and yellow plastic climbing frame at Ashlyns
The play areas all have plenty of seating near them for adults

What age children will enjoy visiting Ashlyns Wildlife Park and Soft Play?

Ashlyns is a lovely place to visit with the ideal age of children probably 3 to 6 years. There are parts that will appeal to younger and older children, but I would only take them if they had siblings in the ideal range or you are meeting a group of friends there.

Children over 9 will probably find the playgrounds and soft play too basic for them, but this will vary between children. 

Is it suitable for pushchairs?

At busy times the soft play seating area can be hard to get around with a pushchair, but it’s fine at quieter times.

The paths in the outside area can get muddy and there is some gravel, but generally you should be fine with a pushchair.

What You Need To Know Before Visiting Ashlyns

Do You Need To Prebook?

Prebooking isn't always required, but now they have online booking on the website it's easy to check availability and book. 

What Is There To Eat at Ashlyns?

In the soft play there are tables where you can eat the food from the café, but you won’t definitely get a table at busy times which can make eating a challenge. The food is child friendly, with both a hot and cold kid's meal deal, as well as sandwiches, wraps, jacket potatoes and sides. As the soft play slot is only 2 hours you might not want to spend time eating though. The café service area is kids’ paradise all in front of them with candy floss, ice cream, chocolates, sweets, slushies etc so not easy for parents to avoid requests for snacks. They also have lots of coin machines in a small space with little toys, sweets, tattoos and little rides so you might want to manage expectations.

There is a main restaurant inside the Farm Shop which has style homemade cakes, sandwiches and standard hot food. This is worth prebooking if you are a large group or you want to visit at weekends. It has a courtyard that is nice in the summer, but limited shade in parts. 

The Farm Shop and restaurant is a separate business entity to the children’s farm and soft play. The restaurant has high chairs and a children’s menu, but it is a little more formal than the café in the soft play. 

There are brilliant picnic facilities in the outside farm park/ wildlife park/ zoo to be. With lots of tables near each playground even small ones for children you should be able to find somewhere to eat if you bring food.

Ashlyns soft play cafe
The café in Ashlyns soft play has lots of appealing snacks and meals

Picnic tables at Ashlyns Farm Park
If you are spending the afternoon at the Farm Park area bring a picnic


There are not enough toilets on site and on a busy day you can expect to queue. In the soft play there is a mixed toilet and a disabled toilet which has a baby changing table. There is a toilet at the far end of the farm and a toilet outside the restaurant at the beginning of the path to the soft play.  

Is it dog friendly?

Dogs are not allowed in the soft play, farm park or any of the other businesses on site unless they are a service dog. 

What to bring when visiting

  • If your children are likely to want to go on the little machines bring some loose change (or don't so you can make excuses). 
  • There are bricks and buckets and space on the sand with the bouncy pillows but you can also bring your own.  
  • The path gets muddy so you might want to bring wellies if it has been wet. 
  • If you are going in the soft play or the bouncy pillows make sure they have socks.
  • Suitable swimwear and a towel is required for the splash park.

How to get to Ashlyns and Where To Park


Ashlyns Farm
Epping Road
North Weald
CM16 6RZ


It is quite close to the Talbot roundabout and Harvester so easy to find if coming from Epping direction. There is a big sign outside on the main road at the entrance. 


The car park is a good size, but there is a lot on site so it could potentially get busy.

What to do Nearby

There are a few places to explore nearby that you could potentially fit into a day out:

North Weald Market - a large outdoor market with free entry and free parking on North Weald Airfield 8am to 3pm most Saturdays.

Also on North Weald Air field you have the lovely Wings Cafe which has an outside play area and you can often see small planes and helicopters taking off.

At Harlow Garden Centre (next to McDonalds on the roundabout at Junction 7 of the M11) you can find North Weald & District Miniature Railway. It's open on limited days run by volunteers between 12 and 4pm. Apart from special events (like Christmas or Easter) when they get booked up, you can normally turn up and go on the mini train for £2 per person. Check their website and Facebook for latest info and what days they are running.

It's only 15 minutes drive to Harlow with a large choice of shops, restaurants, bowling, theatre, playground and more.

Photographs and recommendations by Laura who is on Instagram as @laurac_robotreg

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