Located in well, Little Rock, it’s one of our “What are we going to do today?” go-to places. It is, admittedly, over-priced. Which is why I recommend to everyone (even with one child) buy the season pass. If you’ve already paid then it takes the pressure off when your younger kiddos have a meltdown (“Callin’ it off, this is too much work for fun”), when you don’t feel like walking all the way over to see the bears today (“Next time, kids, don’t worry”), or when you’re just looking for a quick place to let the kids run between shopping trips (“We’re only staying a few minutes today, but we’ll be back for longer next time.”) It just generally makes you a more relaxed mom – and we all need that, right?
A couple of insider tips on tickets (and they may never do it again, but you never know – keep your eyes open!) they offered their season passes for half price this year at Christmas – we jumped on it and gave it as a one of the big Christmas presents – our family of 7 has a year pass (as many trips as we want) and we paid $42.50. Also, last year in the midst of the “Staycation conserve gas money craze” – they gave free admission for the summer. Oh, and they have a nation-wide zoo and aquarium exchange program – if you’re planning on travelling it’s worth checking out.
We love it because when you go at “off” times I can let the younger kids roam from me a little farther. Let them get their “gotta run around like crazies” out. The Zoo’s site explains that the busiest days are Thursday and Friday mornings in the spring and Saturdays through the summer. Go early in the day and early in the week to have it to yourself. Also, it helps to call ahead they don’t mind telling you if they have schools scheduled or events planned.
As homeschoolers, we like to do lapbooks and learn about specific animals (my girl just finished up an elephant lapbook and is excited to go back and really watch for all the things she just learned). You can play “I spy” with the younger ones. Here’s BigMan finding the bird I described to him in the Bird House.
You can turn your trips into a geography lesson and learn where each animal is from.
Another benefit of having a pass and going often is that you get to see more of the animals doing what they do. Last time we went we got to see the baby chimpanzee that we had missed the first 2 times we went this year.
They have a carousel and a train you can ride. This is my major pet peeve - they each cost $2 per person per ride. For our family of 6 paying persons to ride a 2 minute carousel it costs us $12. To be clear, if our family rides both the carousel and the train it’s $24. And the train ride is severely lacking for that price. Plus, they’re usually not open during the week. I noticed the family package now includes 2 free rides to each of those, but it’s still not worth it.
What is worth it are some of the other extras.
One of my favorite places is the very kid-friendly playground (this is about mid-zoo and has benches for mom – this is where we snack -shh, don’t tell anyone! – and I nurse the youngest while the rest run wild – contained. I like contained.
You can feed the fish, which is always fun. And play under the covered picnic area. It’s painted awesomely and my kids call this the echo place – they love to yell and stomp and generally embarrass me here!
They are building a new Penguin habitat set to open in the fall of 2010. So exciting!
Which brings me to another downside – with all the construction going on, which is great, a lot of the paths are unexpectedly closed. Leaving you to backtrack. I don’t like backtracking. It makes me grumble. Hey, Zoo, a current map or at the very least, signs warning of deadends would be nice. Just sayin’.
Eat before you go and stash a water bottle in your stroller – the food and drinks are also frighteningly overpriced. We did splurge once and get the little animal water bottles with lemonade for each of the kids for $5 a piece. After picking myself up off the floor I was able to enjoy the fact that the kids LOVED the bottles. They were dishwasher safe and it was similar to the price of cool water bottles from Wal-Mart.
One of my kids’ favorite parts is the reptile and bug cave.
Get a map when you get there. Locate the bathrooms, playground, and places you most want to hit. Make a plan – you’ll be happier.
We love the Little Rock Zoo, but I’m not delusional. I have been to other zoos. The Memphis Zoo still puts ours to shame. But they’re working on it. It’s getting better. And, hey, it’s all we’ve got. I’m still hopelessly devoted to it.
While working on this post my 8 year old spontaneously came up with a poem and my 3 year old looked at the pictures and begged to go today. “Now!” he screamed.
The zoo is a land
That is so grand!
You can visit the Little Rock Zoo’s official site to check out current pricing, events, and contact information.