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A Magical Dreamnight 2024

PUBLISHED 31/05/24

Drusillas Park Welcomes 800 VIP Guests for Magical After-Hours Children’s Charity Event

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On 30th May 2024 Drusillas Park opened their gates after-hours for a truly special event - a magical evening exclusively for the families of children who are chronically ill or have disabilities to enjoy a unique, all-access experience.

Dreamnight is an annual charity event which takes place at zoos around the world with each zoo organising the evening in their own way with one thing in common - the children and their families are welcomed as VIPs.

800 guests were welcomed on the night from 45 children’s charities, hospices, and hospitals across Sussex who were allocated tickets by the visitor attraction to offer to the families in their support.

Guests were free to enjoy the zoo, play areas, and rides, as well as exclusive entertainment in the Park’s Events Arena.

Managing Director, Cassie Poland, commented: “We are so thrilled to yet again host such an extraordinary event, the second since myself and my brother, Ollie Smith, became Managing Directors, and we are confident we will offer this to local families year after year. It's a truly special occasion".

“We are working really hard to continuously improve accessibility and inclusivity throughout the Park, but even with an extensive and supportive offering, days out like this just aren't possible during usual opening hours for so many families. Dreamnight creates the ultimate accessible environment and it's wonderful to see everyone feel so comfortable among their peers."

Drusillas reached out to local businesses asking for contributions towards food, refreshments, and entertainment. They were blown away by the generous and enthusiastic support they received, resulting in an abundance of music, laughter, food, fun and goodies for the families in attendance.

One Stop Party Shop brought along Elsa, Olaf, Buzz Lightyear, and Poppy Troll, with many enjoying a cuddle and a dance with the popular characters throughout the evening. Local circus organisation, Sweet Circus, put smiles on all faces with cool, colourful, and creative workshops. Defiant Sports offered accessible games including tennis, boccia, and cornhole in a mini have-a-go arena. And Brighton and Hove Albion let Gully and Sally loose on the night to meet the children and get up to all sorts of mischief, whilst handing out BHAFC flags and foam fingers!

Volunteers from Pets As Therapy also attended with a group of friendly four-legged friends for cuddles and belly scratches, including Instagram star ‘Maggie the Wonder Dog’ and her sister Millie.

Bellies were kept happy and full all night with tasty BBQ food donated by BidFood, Rollover, Burt’s Bakery, and Fountain and Sons, delicious cakes from Wholesome Food Service and Queensland Bakery, all washed down with ice cold drinks provided by Hancocks and Ninju. Everything was kept nice and chilled by STR Refrigeration, and served on plates donated by Niveck Catering Supplies.

The Park was decorated with beautiful jungle themed balloon archway donated by Tickety Boo Party Shop, and Tansleys Printers supplied a souvenir programme for each guest.

Children left the Park preciously clutching new plush toys and goodies from the hundreds of toys given away in the free tombola, kindly donated by Puckator, Deluxebase, Keel Toys, All Sorted, Ark Toys, and Emblem Print, 

Cassie Poland continued: “Being able to offer a special night to these amazing families who may not otherwise be able to access the Park is a real privilege and we are so proud to support Dreamnight, the atmosphere was like nothing we’ve ever experienced here and by some miracle the relentless rain stopped for almost the entire event!”


“We are so grateful to work alongside so many wonderful businesses who donated more than we could have hoped for to make it such a magical evening. We were particularly touched by the kindness of our team, who all readily volunteered their time to make this event possible. We had so many volunteers that we had almost twice as many people as we needed on the night – we are so proud to call them our team.”

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