Opening times
  • Saturdays and Sundays until end of October 2023
  • Two timeslots per day, 1pm and 3pm
Type of place

Wheelchair access is not available for this experience but is available for family members and friends who wish to travel on the train as a passenger.

Book your experience

Whipsnade Zoo is home to impressive steam engines, and our unique Footplate Experience gives you the chance to learn all about them as you ride on the footplate. 

The Superior steam train with passengers on board at Whipsnade Zoo

Our steam engine experience at Whipsnade Zoo is a perfect gift for train enthusiasts!

Ever wanted to find out what it really takes to be one of our steam engine drivers? Our Footplate Experience allows you to gain an insight into what goes on as you ride on the footplate of one of our beautiful steam engines, Excelsior or Superior. Steam past amazing animals such as Asian elephants, domestic bactrian camels and greater one-horned rhinos and ask our experts all of your burning questions about the Great Whipsnade Railway. 

Please note, participants must be 18 years or older.

How much does the Footplate Experience cost?

  • £30 per person 
  • ZSL Gold Members, Patrons and Fellows receive a 10% discount on this experience. Please enter your CRM ID in the Offer Code box.
The railway team prepare the steam engine for its journey at Whipsnade Zoo

What does the Footplate Experience include?

  • Briefing with driver or fireman
  • One participant per experience giving you plenty of opportunity to ask our driver and fireman lots of questions.
  • One round trip on the footplate of one of our steam engines, Excelsior or Superior for the participant
  • Up to four family and friends get to ride free on the train, in the front carriage to get the best view of you on the footplate during your experience. (Additional family and friends can join them on the trip but must purchase train tickets at the Station Store)
  • A certificate to remind you of your trip.

Please note that admission to Whipsnade Zoo is not included and must be purchased separately or ZSL Gold or Silver Membership held.

What can I expect on the day of the Footplate Experience?

This 15 minute experience begins with a health and safety briefing from either our driver or fireman, while one of our platform staff settle your friends and family into their front row seats. You will then be shown onto the footplate ready for your experience to begin. After the train gets back to the station there will be the opportunity for your friends and family to take photos of you on the footplate before you will be presented with your certificate.

Steam train at Whipsnade Zoo

Important information to know before you book

  • Admission to the Zoo is not included and must be purchased separately.
  • Participants must be 18 years or older.
  • You must arrive 20 minutes before the time of your experience.
  • Participants must wear closed toed shoes (walking boots or similar) and full-length trousers and long sleeves to take part in the experience.
  • Participants must have a good level of mobility due to the access requirements of each steam engine.
  • Participants with additional needs must be accompanied by a carer during the initial H&S briefing. Due to the size restrictions of the footplate, this carer cannot ride on the footplate but will sit in the front carriage behind the participant.
  • Wheelchair access is not available for this experience but is available for family members and friends who wish to travel on the train as a passenger.

Read our FAQs and manage your booking here

Book your experience

  • A group of Keeper for a Day experience participants with a giraffe


    Make your Zoo visit even more memorable with a Whipsnade Zoo experience

  • A steam train at Whipsnade Zoo
    Currently closed - reopens in February half term 2023

    The Great Whipsnade Railway

  • Nighttime at Lookout lodges Whipsnade Zoo
    Sleepover at the Zoo

    Lookout Lodge - Sleepover at the Zoo

    Experience the Zoo after-dark at our cosy Lookout Lodges. We provide three entertaining and educational tours around the Zoo including a sunset tour, torch-lit night tour and a morning tour.