Family Visit to the Toronto Zoo and How to Save on Admission
We hadn't been to the zoo in a couple of years. It was a yearly trip but things get so busy with Liam getting older and into sports and to be honest, it's a lot of walking with nothing in between. I'm all for the walk but when you are pulling a wagon with a 50 pound kid in it, plus our snacks and stuff (and sometimes a second kid wants the perk) it can be a bit daunting.
However, this year Logan has been studying Penguin's in JK. I'm impressed that he has quite a bit of knowledge on the different Penguins and held on to some facts he learnt in school. He was still longing to see the Chameleon as well so I figured out how to make the trip more manageable on the pocket and how to we can see more without walking an extra 4 miles.
First off if you plan to visit, to me I find it to be a bit on the expensive side. I understand that the cost of operating such a place may warrant these fees and so on but it is an expensive outing for a family. For a family of 4, 2 adult tickets at $29 each and if the children are over 2 it's $19 each for them! Plus $12 to park. That's $108 just to get in. Unfortunately, that doesn't include the few rides and stuff in there nor does it include the "Zoomobile". It does include the Splash Pad (when opened, not on our visit).
There isn't too many options to cut the costs. One of my favourite options is through Airmiles. I collect Airmiles and numerous other points, it's free and I have enjoyed a lot of benefits from it. I don't ever buy anything because of Airmiles that I wasn't already planning on buying unless it is ridiculous good deal which is almost never. The best way to collect Airmiles is with credit cards because they give the most and make it worth while. If you shop at one of their sponsored stores you can probably earn quicker too. Otherwise, it takes a while to accumulate points. However, lots of you have that card for years and rarely ever check in on it. You probably have enough for the 2 admission pass to the Zoo. It is a total of 450 Airmiles. Usually, that is worth $40-$50 dollars in this case it's closer to $60 so I find this a good use of the points! I did however only use one for the adults and we paid the $19 each for kids (using for the kids would only be $38 which isn't as good of deal) and $12 for parking. So we entered at $50.
The other option is a City Pass if you are visiting out of town or are taking a week off in the summer and want to visit the destinations on the Toronto City Pass, it saves you on money at all the tourist locations. You get to visit CN Tower, ROM, Casa Loma, Ripley's Aquarium and either Toronto Zoo or Ontario Science Centre. You have 9 days from first visit to visit the rest. Better bet for someone visiting out of country/province then a local unless your planning a whole stay-cation.
As I was saying before, one of the downfalls of the Toronto Zoo is how spread out it is making it long walks to the different sections. We normally would take a wagon in case for Logan, he is 5 and handles walking well but for such a long day it is a good measure. Though from our last few experiences, we didn't get to a lot of spots because we were done after the long stretches in between. So we decided to ditch the wagon and use the Zoomobile. It is pretty pricey but it's a good rest here and there, you get to see some stuff along the route etc. I'm up in the air with it because a family of 4 cost $30 and that is discounted. $9 each otherwise. There is only 4 stops which I think isn't efficient and they make the Canadian section down the steepest hill and there is no transportation for that point. I personally think they should sit down and re think this whole set up.
We did skip a portion of walking right at around Africa section and we didn't have to do the walk from Canada to Tundra area so probably saved us 30 min around those points. Logan wanted to see Cheetah's but we didn't do the 20 min walk to back track for them however. We caught glimpses of the Jaguars and Flamingo on the drive to Tundra. Overall, using the Zoomobile worked good for this trip. My phone still tracked us to walking 41/2 miles even using the Zoomobile.
Now I don't know how long they have had a Tim Horton's at the zoo (for any non Canadian friends, it's our coffee chain) but I truly appreciate it. One thing I'll give Tim Horton's credit for is they don't price gouge at Tourist locations which is such a relief. We had an early lunch before getting there, we had packed snacks for while we were there and left at dinner so we didn't buy food but kids were dying for a Popsicle. Once we were by Tim's though I got a frozen lemonade and a Ice Capp for the price of one Popsicle ($5). While I was in there, I only saw breakfast foods on board in middle of afternoon and think they offer all day breakfast. You may want to inquire ahead of time if you're planning to have lunch, especially later lunch. There is other food options around the park and you can definitely pack your own lunch to eat at many picnic sites too.
Of course no trip to the zoo with the kids could be done without a visit to the Kid Zoo! They still managed to have a last blast of energy playing tag with some other kids for 20 min. They just walked over 4 miles now they are running around while we are having a well deserved rest. In this area there is the Splash area which opens May 19 for the weekends and then daily over summer holidays. It is a very large and busy area in the middle of the summer.