1. Wear Comfortable Shoes
This is a big park with a varieties on its topography. It goes up and it goes down. Sometimes, it’s steep. Sometimes, it’s not. I realized that having the zoo on the tail end of a 3-theme-parks-in-three-days streak might not have been the smartest of travel plans. We were already exhausted from the two whole days of being out in parks and having been dealt with this park that has a lot of walking and ins and outs and ups and downs through the exhibits, let’s just say, somebody spent a lot of time on somebody else’s shoulders.
Don’t worry about getting too tired, there are a lot of benches around the park. Actually, Tonie and I caught a late morning snack in front of the spotted leopard exhibit and had a few peanut butter cookies and water. I actually think we spent a little too much time there, just sitting – no emo moment here – just because of pure exhaustion.
Speaking of water…
2. Bring a large water bottle
With all that walking, you’ll want to be able to score some water breaks every now and then. Water fountains can be found in strategic places but generally, it’s just a smart thing to do to carry a larger bottle of water in the 750ml and above spectrum.
Tonie and I are really big water drinkers so we had that covered from the start. Yes, we do some things right.
3. Make use of the Plus Pass Park Ticket
The tickets we got were the regular park tickets plus a 4D movie. To be honest, you can opt out of the whole 4D movie thing but with a 5 year old, it was kind of hard to make a pass at the offer. You’ll save yourself something like $5 by not watching. The 4D movie is basically a condensed version of the actual movie with parts thrown in so they can spray you with water or blow you in the face with a fan.
All tickets give you access to the tour bus, Kangaroo Express bus, Skyfari cable car and shows. The Plus Pass ticket ust gives you the 4D movie.
4. Get familiar with the park map
We ended up going through certain parks of the map a couple of times. We took a ride in the Kangaroo Express and found ourselves in the wrong park of the park. We took the Skyfari cable car up to the other end of the park and made things super hard for ourselves.
We kinda ran around in circles, by the time it we sorta figured out where we were and where we had to go, we were a little tuckered out.
The way to go around this is to get on the tour bus first so you can scout out which parts of the zoo you want to go take a longer and closer look. The good thing about the tour bus is that it starts and ends in the same spot of the park so you don’t have to reassess your location when you’re done.
The Kangaroo Express is another kind of bus but doesn’t have the tour guide touch, rather it acts as a commuter bus to get from Point A, B, C, D and E. We hopped on the Kangaroo Express hoping to get to the front of the park and found ourselves nowhere near it. There are only 5 Kangaroo stations around the park so they’re pretty far from each other. Ergo, you might end up like us, when we got off the Kangaroo express, we found out that we actually put ourselves much much farther from our destination than when we started.
5. Check for special activities
Prior to visiting the park, check for any special events and activities they are having. Usually during the start of spring or summer school break, they would have some very exciting events such as Zoo Sleepovers. They also have art workshops that they integrate with some animal encounters.
More than just for the little kids, the Zoo also has programs for the older kids in high school, designed to entice them to a career into wildlife conservation, veterinary medicine and other related careers.
They also have events like for Mother’s Day, they have a special Mother’s only event for the entire day.
6. Make use of the park’s special features
Play areas, Skyfari Aerial Tram, Kangaroo Express, Tour Bus.
All that walking and getting lost can make one really tired. Thank goodness for the play area! There’s one gem little play area that’s tucked away in the corner near the petting area.
I consider this another exhibit of animals. I call them the tired parents. Oh yes, this area is just swarming with immobile parents who have just given up with the kids. It doesn’t matter if you see the kids diving head first into the soft cork-floored playground. Doesn’t matter if the kids are upside down hanging by their shirts or belt buckles. Those parents aren’t moving unless it’s to hand their kid a juice box.
Admittedly, I was one of those parents.
7. Watch the shows
This isn’t Sea World. The animal-centered shows aren’t the highlight of the zoo but still, they’re good, small and intimate shows. Currently, they have a sea lion show and one that features their highlighted exhibit of the year, the koalas.
8. Take your time going through the park
It’s a big park. There’s a lot of walking and a lot of incline and some stairs. Take the whole day to go through the exhibits and maybe staying for a little bit and observing each enclosure. Walk slowly. It’s a great park with a lot of activities and if you plan your day well, you will be able to leave with a great feeling of accomplishment.
On the other hand, you had us. We just wanted to get out of there. We were exhausted and we didn’t want to walk another step. And it wasn’t even 3pm when we did. We missed a few exhibits and pretty sure we breezed through a few others.
9. Also, do not do what we did: 3 theme parks in 3 consecutive days.
That’s just not smart. At all.
Actually, if you just do that, you’ll be fine.
For more information, please check out the San Diego Zoo website.