As I have mentioned before on here, we recently purchased season passes to the San Diego Zoo and the San Diego Wild Animal Park (fantastic deal and I’d recommend it to anyone!). You can read about our first trip to the San Diego Wild Animal Park (here is part 1), but I wanted to wait until we had another chance to go back before writing a post about the park. I’m so glad I did that because I’ve completely validated why it is so important to spend a few minutes prepping before going to these parks! I made the mistake of thinking that I was a theme park veteran and that with sunscreen, we’d be fine. Ha! Was I wrong! Learn from my mistakes so you can have a fantastic time because it really is a fantastic park if you do a little prep/planning. I’ll be writing about this park in several parts because I’d like to share what we did wrong the first time in part 2 and what we did right the second time in part 3. Part 1 is about Dino Mountain specifically.
When we went to the San Diego Wild Animal Park, our main goal for the day was to go see the Dino Mountain exhibit (because of our little Paleontologist in training!), we didn’t take the time to check the weather forecast (click here to do that now). Really big mistake in the summertime! We arrived at the park just before 10 am on a Sunday just as the day was getting warm. Parking was a piece of cake and we walked right in. Just after entering the park I coated the kids in the usual sunscreen spray. That was about the only thing I did right that day. I dramatically underestimated the amount of walking we would be doing for the day in the heat. We easily found the Dino Mountain exhibit and went there first. We loved it and I wish it were to be a long term exhibit, but unfortunately it closes September 7, 2009. After we finished I took a quick peek at the map (view map here) and we decided to wander over and look at the Tigers. It looked like a short walk. Little did I know it was a long walk in the now scorching sun!
I’m glad we had decided to purchase a couple of the very over priced water bottles for sale at the exit of the Dino Mountain (I made a mental note to buy water bottles before entering the park next time because they don’t seem to be concerned about how much water people bring in the park) - between the four of us we finished off the waters in not time. The Tigers were apparently smarter than us because they were sleeping the shade.
After heading over to see the Tigers there was really only one way that made any sense to head and that was towards the Lions and Journey into Africa area. What is really embarrassing to me is that I didn’t realized this was the loading for the free safari tour (you can read about this in Part 3 of this post). This would have been a perfect break in the day. The kids were exhausted by this point and we were all super hot. We were basically ready to head home (even after a few minutes spent in the Savanna Cool Zone water area).
After lunch at Samburu Terrace, we took the Great Lift Rift back up to the other area of the park. We LOVED the Air Conditioning, mist and elevator ride. Without it, the walk up the hill would have not been fun.
On our way back to the exit I managed to detour us enough through the waterfowl area. I immediately knew we’d made a critical mistake in our day, we did the hot long walks first. We did manage to walk by the Meerkats at the perfect time – Lunch! That was hilarious to watch the interaction between the zoo keeper and the Meerkats!
Mental Notes I made for next time:
-Bring lots of water
-Ultra Comfortable walking shoes a must
-Follow the freeway signs to the park, not the Google App directions
-Bring the water bottle fans we purchased at Disneyland to help keep cool
-Check the weather forecast, it is a good 10 degrees warmer that most of San Diego, so keep that in mind. It was 103 degrees as we got in to the car at 1pm.
-Go absolutely as soon as the park opens on a Saturday to avoid crowds and traffic. The animals are more active in the mornings when it is cooler.