The Bottom Line
Tayto Park is a "theme park" in County Meath and geared at families with children - though the selection of animals on view makes it interesting for adults too. Very good for a day out with the family, quite good if you visit without kids and are not on the lookout for peace and quiet. Focus is on physical activity and a learning experience, a very welcome change from passive entertainment. A top tip if you need to keep the kids amused in the greater Dublin area and the weather is with you.
- Very family-friedly theme park on outskirts of Dublin.
- Focus on physical activity for children.
- Educational experience with animals and glimpses of native American culture.
- Good food at reasonable prices in restaurant.
- Friendly staff ... ad free Tayto crisps.
- Entrance fee fairly high, though much cheaper with annual membership.
- Early closing in summer.
- Ireland's first theme park ... inspired by a potato in a red jacket.
- Family-friendly with most activities geared towards children.
- Adults will enjoy animal displays most.
- Within easy reach of Dublin and the commuter belt.
Guide Review - Tayto Park near Ashbourne (County Meath)
Tayto Park near Ashbourne (County Meath) is a brand-new attraction just outside Dublin (off the N2) and some teething troubles might still be expected. When we visited in early April 2011, the spectacular "Eagle Sky Adventure Zone", a daring "assault course" not for the faint-hearted afraid of heights, wasn't finished yet. But the rest of the park was well worth the visit - and would be more so if you had children in tow.
Tayto Park might be described as Ireland's first "theme park", but instead of a rodent the leading theme is ... a potato. Or rather "Mr. Tayto", the man inside the jacket, a cult figure in Irish advertising and a brand of potato crisps. A larger-than-life statue of Mr. Tayto himself greets visitors and countless potato-puns (some groan-inducing) litter the park.
As to what there is to see and do - the park falls into two sections. A huge number of attractions are activity areas for children. Save, challenging and destined to make then sleep soundly afterwards. The focus is on physical activity (not a bad idea since you get free crisps ...). Parents and guardians will be happy to let the kids run wild. They would be even happier maybe if there were more benches and seats around the play areas.
The other section of the park is devoted to animals. Pride of place goes to a herd of American bison - Largo Foods (the owners of the Mr. Tayto brand) also produce buffalo-flavoured crisps and you can buy bison burgers in the shop. Other animals include a bunch of raccoons (usually swaying in high trees fast asleep), an ocelot, a skunk, porcupines, Nepalese foxes, Highland cattle, goats, pigs, Sicilian donkeys, loads of colourful birds, rabbits and even albino kangaroos. A weird and wonderful mixture that will also please adult visitors.
Scattered throughout the park are various totem poles, some with detailed explanations of the imagery and its significance. Interesting.
To top things off, a tea house (built in trees) and a restaurant offer food and drink. At surprisingly acceptable prices - though the € 12 entrance fee for both kids and adults is not exactly low. If you are (fairly) local, look into a year's membership ... a bargain in comparison.
One niggle I have ... why close the park at 6 pm in summer? On long summer evenings this seems to be too early, especially when many animals are in siesta mode during most of the day.