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Posted on 25th September 2014

The Ark, Poole Park Wins Development Of The Year In The Sibbett Gregory Poole Tourism Awards

The Ark, formerly Gus Gorilla’s, closed last September for major refurbishment to transform it into a brand new family destination. Local couple, Richard and Sarah de Lisle, invested more than £1.6m into the project creating a stunning new café, soft play, ice rink and ice cream parlour at the heart of historic Poole Park which opened in December 2014. 

“After months of hard work, we were thrilled to finally unveil The Ark last December.  Our vision was to create a family-friendly, welcoming destination where local people and visitors to the area could meet up, socialise and enjoy great food and drink in a relaxed atmosphere and I believe The Ark has lived up to that vision” said owner, Sarah de Lisle.

" We’ve had an incredible first year and it’s a real privilege to receive this accolade in recognition of our achievement to date." said Sarah.

 Find out more about the awards

Posted on 24th September 2014

The Ark Has Been Selected As A Finalist In This Year’s Dorset Tourism Awards!

The Ark has been selected as finalist in the 'Small Visitor Attraction' category in this year’s Dorset Tourism Awards which will be presented at The Tank Museum on 16th October. 

The Dorset Tourism Awards were launched in 2013, and have gone to new heights this year with an increase in both categories and entries.  Their main aim is to raise the profile of Dorset as a destination and recognise its top quality and progressive tourism businesses.

The Awards saw an increased 67 entries across 16 categories, with each going through a three-stage judging process.  Firstly each entry was pored over and scored by tourism professionals; secondly, a programme of visits were carried out, leading to recommendations for each category; and finally these recommendations were considered by an independent panel. Finalists were selected from across the county with businesses from Lyme Regis, Poole, Weymouth, Cranborne, Sherborne and Bournemouth amongst the list.

Andrew Alder of headline sponsors Saffery Champness and a member of the judging panel said: “We have been delighted by the high standard of entrants and the quality of their submissions.  It’s quite clear from all the hard work and commitment of the businesses involved that these awards have captured the imagination of the regional tourism industry and the accolades they bring. We were particularly pleased by the entries for the Entrepreneurs Category which we helped to introduce this year. A big thank you for everyone’s time and effort.”

Robin Barker of Services for Tourism, who created and manage the awards programme, commented: “It is a real delight seeing the increase in entries this year, along with the commitment to quality shown by all concerned.  The judges have faced some very difficult decisions and I congratulate all entrants for their vision, drive and dedication.”

Find out more here

Posted on 6th June 2014

Anyone For Tennis?  The Ark Holds A Key To Poole Park Courts

The Ark holds a key to the Poole Park courts and can take bookings.  Just pop-in, pay and play*!

* Subject to court availability

Posted on 28th May 2014

New - The Ark Summer Camp 14th July 29th August 2014

The school summer holidays are set to see the UK basking in glorious sunshine once again but just in case they don’t The Ark team has devised an all-weather multi-activity summer camp suitable for children from 5 – 12 years of age. 

With an emphasis on enjoyment and team building, The Ark activity camp will not only increase your child’s confidence, but also their overall fitness, coordination and balance. 


The Ark is committed to getting children more active, and what better way to have fun inside and outside this summer than with Tux and his friends? 

With more than 40 activities throughout the course of the week, including football, ice-skating, street dance, cheerleading, basketball, cricket and dodgeball, there is plenty of opportunity for children to have fun and be active. Our arts and crafts sessions will bring out their artistic side – who knows there could be a budding Hockney or Hirst lurking within? 

The Team 

Our fully qualified activities team is committed to delivering a memorable experience for every child. Whilst the emphasis for your child is on fun, your child’s safety and well-being is paramount and first aiders are available at all times. Each member of the team is Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) checked.

Ask for details next time you visit The Ark or email Rachael

Posted on 21st March 2014

Mothering Sunday Afternoon Tea

New! Afternoon Tea

To celebrate Mothering Sunday, The Ark is launching a delightful afternoon tea. Served 11am-5.30pm on Sunday 30th March, The Ark afternoon tea for two (from £19.95) includes: pot of tea, sandwiches with a choice of filling, selection of cakes, glass of sparkling wine (additional charge) and a pink rose for Mum’s to take away (Mother’s Day only). After Mother’s Day, afternoon tea will be available on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays (12.30-4.30pm) only. 


Since opening in December 2013, The Ark has established itself as one of Dorset’s premier family attractions and a firm favourite amongst local and visiting families. Providing an unforgettable fun-filled experience for both children and adults alike, the stunning new café and leisure attraction is located at the heart of historic Poole Park, with ample parking and all-weather facilities.


‘After an incredibly successful opening and initial trading period, we’re delighted to be launching two exciting new events. We’ve been thrilled with the support and custom we have received to date, and we continue to pride ourselves on offering the very best in family entertainment. Our Friday family fun nights offer exceptional value for money and an opportunity to explore everything The Ark has to offer, and our afternoon tea is a must! We look forward to continuing to welcome families from the Dorset area and beyond’ said Owner, Richard de Lisle.


The Ark has been specially designed to offer a friendly, welcoming atmosphere to parents as well as children. The light and airy café area boasts free wi-fi, newspapers and magazines, delicious homemade food and fresh coffee, roasted locally by Poole’s Beanpress coffee company (Little Red Roaster) and freshly ground onsite at The Ark. 

Open year round (except 25 Dec), The Ark provides fun family entertainment, rain or shine, for a full day or a few hours. Come on down and enjoy the fun!


The Ark, Poole Park, BH15 2SF, Tel: 01202 717197

Open 10am – 6pm 7 days a week*

*Except 25 Dec Closed, 26 Dec 10am – 4pm, 1 Jan 10am - 4pm 

© 2017 All Rights Reserved. The Ark is a trading name of South Coast Caterers Limited.