Hello to Hello Kitty Secret Garden, Drusillas Park, East Sussex

I am excited to write this post, for the images alone. There is often a lot of softly filtered vintagey stuff on my blog, so it’s time to give it a kick of kitch.

hello-kitty-secret-garden
An area set up for sitting and being photographed with HK. My son chose instead of use her as a climbing frame…

Anyone who has dipped into this blog will know that I have previously written a lengthy post about Drusillas Park in East Sussex. I think it is a good place which strikes the balance of commercial and family-run/personal just right. And it’s a surprisingly good option for a rainy day. You can see the post here.

drusillas-map
The Hello Kitty Secret Garden part of the Drusillas map

A couple of months ago, Drusillas contacted me to invite my boys and I to visit again with some friends as part of a press day to road-test the Hello Kitty Secret Garden attraction newly installed at the park. That day was yesterday!

I grew up in Hong Kong and Hello Kitty was a BIG part of my life for the LONGEST time. So I jumped at the chance.

My eldest son, who is now five-and-a-half, wasn’t quite as keen. But anyone who used to follow the Little Lewes Facebook page will know that I am a not a fan of stuff geared specifically to boys and girls, so I wasn’t going to say no based on the fact that I have boys.

little-girl-in-hello-kitty
My friend came – as did most of the little girls at the Secret Garden – suitably dressed for the occasion

However, in the name of a fair appraisal, we did take a girl of the same age along.

The Secret Garden is nicely done. It’s manicured and clean and there’s space. But yes, it’s very very pink indeed.

line-up-barriers
The queue-formers (is that what they’re called?). In pink

I was also surprised by how small it was – just three rides, which you have to queue up for. There are some restrictions to these, please check here for details.

hello-kitty-car-ride
The CUTE car

My sons were interested primarily in the car ride. We had to queue for 20 minutes and it felt like we were in the car for about 40 seconds as you only go around a track once. They were disappointed that the steering wheels didn’t move, but that became a minor detail to them in the scheme of things.

car-ride-hello-kitty
Look at that wheelbarrow!

There are eight cars and each takes two people. There are height restrictions and this being Hello Kitty, many of the kids that are interested in the character are too short to go on the ride alone. So there were a lot of adult bottoms on those seats. I’m just thinking through the wait here…

tea-cup-ride
Our teacup!

My sons also wanted to go on the teacup ride, which I was excited for as I saw them so many times on Disney videos growing up, and have wanted to go on one since I was little.

You can fit four people in each cup and you turn the wheel in the middle of the cup to whizz yourself around. I felt sick but happy and the kids LOVED it.

teacup-ride-hello-kitty

The sort of drop ride (very tame, but my little female friend was the only one who tried it) also had a queue, but it only takes I think six children at a time. She liked it enough, smiling and saying her tummy felt funny afterwards.

drop-ride-hello-kitty

The big hit was meeting Hello Kitty herself in a nearby cottage. My girl was the only one of our party interested in this – the boys had started to tear about and had grown tired of queuing. But the outside of the cottage was cute and pristine and inside, Hello Kitty gave little T a cuddle and a postcard.

hello-kitty-cottage

hello-kitty-wallpaper
Hello Kitty has personalised wallpaper. WANT
hello-kitty-meet-and-greet
Hello Kitty waiting to meet and greet

When she came out she whispered, beaming: ‘She’s written me a letter! She wants me to come back and see her!’

letter-from-hello-kitty
The prized postcard from HK herself

The meet and greet is only open weekends and East Sussex school holidays, so check the website for details. There is also the Parlour next door for fake tats, hair braiding and face painting. The boys could be contained no longer, so we didn’t give this a try.

Later asked, my sons said they’d liked Hello Kitty Secret Garden, but that they liked the animals and playground more. I think as an attraction embedded in a huge park with lots to do, it’s a thrill for the right audience (girls of a certain age – I have to admit, grudgingly). It wouldn’t be something to go to Drusillas specifically for, but I am sure that’s not why they’ve built it.

hello-kitty-merchandise
The merch

FYI the merch is as fabulous as it was in my day as a six-year-old. Jewellery cases, cutlery sets, tutus, plush toys dressed in rainbow dresses and even one with a mermaid tail… All C-U-T-E!

I am lucky to have a sometimes-daughter who is out of the country for half term. I had someone to shop for. (She’s getting a white visor with HK’s face on the front. Shhh, don’t tell).

teacup-ride
Just one more teacup shot… Indulge me

THE ESSENTIALS

Drive: 14 minutes

Address: Drusillas Park, Alfriston, BN26 5QS

Tel no.: 01323 874 100

Website: drusillas.co.uk

Hours: Open daily, except Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day; Winter: 10am-4pm; Summer: 10am-5pm (closing times are last admissions – park closes an hour later)

Price: Hello Kitty Secret Garden is included in the price of entry to Drusillas. Anything you have done in the Parlour (face painting or tattoos or braiding) is extra.

Entry to Drusillas varies wildly depending on number of people, ages, and time of year. For the (rather complicated looking!) price grid, see drusillas.co.uk/times-and-prices but bear in mind these are only correct at time of posting (May 2014).

The day we went, we were kindly given two family tickets, each for one adults and two over-twos by Drusillas. This would have been £99 in total. It is worth noting that the annual passes for Drusillas are a great saver if you plan to go more than four times in a year. They are priced at £59 per person (adult or child) per year for unlimited access.

There are also online deals to be found. Don’t bother searching anywhere else – Drusillas will not be beaten on price in terms of reduced entry to the park. Try the Online Price Squeezersign up for emails showing details of offers, or use Tesco Clubcard ‘Buy in Full Clubcard Deal’ tokens. All the details for all three methods of gaining discounted entry are here: drusillas.co.uk/discounts-to-drusillas

Disclosure: Drusillas Park’s digital marketing team contacted Little Lewes about the possibility of a blog post in exchange for inclusion in its press day for the Hello Kitty Secret Garden opening. I accepted the ticket because I love Hello Kitty and wanted to see what the attraction adds to the park. My view is my own and that of my children and their friends, and is fair and unbiased. Thank you Drusillas, for another great day out.

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I’m Kate, a copywriter, brand consultant and editor who creates messages that are clear and clean. I create these for brands and agencies both big and boutique, in areas including design, homes and interiors, travel, fashion, lifestyle, beauty, food, and kids and families. I believe clear, clean messages bolster brands and businesses. They evoke emotion and ignite inspiration, and when written well, they’re easier to absorb – and respond to. I live in Copenhagen and am half-English, half-Danish. I write as comfortably in American English as in British, and behind the scenes I'm also studying Danish. Need help getting your message out? Contact me.

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