Sunday, September 6, 2009

San Diego Wild Animal Park - Part 3

Part 3

(You can find part 1 here and part 2 here)

What I found most complicated about the San Diego Wild Animal Park (& Zoo actually) was it was really hard to figure out what is included in the cost of your ticket and what you had to pay extra for. The Wild Animal Park in particular has a large amount of extra cost adventures you can take that can add a ton of cost to your day (Segway Tours for example can add an additional $70 per person, but also have age minimums). There is the Flightline (Zipline ride), Wilderness Ridge Mule Ride, Savanna Safari and Ride on the Wild Side, Roar & Snore (overnight onsite camping), Balloon Safari and Zoowerks – The Ride. All of these cost extra and will definitely enhance your day, but quickly add up. If you’re interested in any of these activities, you can research them on the website and do be aware that many do have age minimums as well. Also feel free to ask at the Safari Booking Station (at the entry) for any tips about what adventures would be right for your family. They are very friendly and happy to help you.

This time we came prepared! I’d checked the weather forecast, grabbed several water bottles, the kids had our water spray fans (picked up at one of our many Disneyland trips), tons of sunscreen, everyone had sunglasses, ultra light clothing and a plan.

We arrived at the park at about 9:30 am and headed straight for the Journey into Africa tram. A ticket is required for this, but if you paid regular admission to the park or have a membership (great value especially because you also get membership to the San Diego Zoo!), it is included. Doing this first in the morning was great timing because it wasn’t too hot and all the animals were still active. The views are awe inspiring and leave you with the feeling you have truly just been on an African Safari!

After the Safari ride, we mostly followed the Kilimanjaro Safari Walk for the rest of the day. The Jameson Research Island was another cool stop on our walk. There are several feeding dispensers (bring quarters!) and you can feed the birds along the floating bridges. The birds definitely knew what was up and as soon as they heard the dispenser, they began coming towards us. The boys loved feeding the birds! There’s also a misting station for the kids to get wet and a Dino Dig area.

Instead of following the Kilimanjaro Tour to the left (west) of the Lagoon, we went to the right wanting to see the Lemurs again. As we were walking past Lemur Island, I saw one of the Zookeepers parking her cart and pulling a large bucket out of the back, I knew it had to be feeding time for something. We followed her to the overlook area just in time to see her feeding small fish to all of the birds. That was really neat because we got to see a lot of the birds come up close to us and it was just plain entertaining watching the birds steal from each other and do fly-bys! I’d highly recommend taking note of which animals are being fed when and making the effort to watch. In the couple of times we have gone to the Wild Animal Park now, we’ve seen several different feeding times and have always really enjoyed them.

Our family’s favorite find of the day without a doubt was the Animal Care Center. My kids could have spent hours there alone! Three baby cheetahs were running around the playrooms having a ton of fun. They were hilarious to watch and so cute!

If it’s your first time at the park, I’d highly recommend taking the “Kilimanjaro Safari Walk” as your main route for the day (veer up to check out the Tigers if you’re ambitious and it’s not a hot day). Due note that The Kilimanjaro Safari Walk is a 2 mile walk, but the park is quite accommodating for strollers and joggers, so if you have you have kids under 5 I’d highly recommend bring something for them to sit in!

I can’t emphasize enough how much easier it makes your day to arrive at the park early… when we arrived we were able to park at one of the first few aisles, but as we left the park (just before 2pm), people were still arriving and they were parking at the bottom of the hill! The Wild Animal Park handles crowds very well. We were actually really surprised to see how many cars had arrived after us because the park just didn’t feel that busy. Taking a few minutes to prep ahead of time made our day FANTASTIC!

Have you been to the San Diego Wild Animal Park? Any tips I missed?


Sandi Ormsby September 6, 2009 at 11:48 AM  

Thank you for posting such great pics. I agree with you, go EARLY..first it's so darn hot there, it's unbelievable. Yes, costs can add up quickly and I recall my husband taking our son on the tethered hot air balloon (similar to Irvine Great Park), which he wasn't tall enough to see over the basket, and couldn't be held by daddy..but a thrill regardless. I just can't recall if we had to pay extra for that. I think we did.

I really want to check out the roar and snore, but it appears to sell out very quickly. Not to mention, I believe kind of pricey.

I used to work w/someone that lived near there. He would go super/super early to have coffee and watch them feed the animals. Apparently, they are more active during the early morning times. However, with drive time and getting kids ready, that's a challenge. (something to keep in mind later)

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