Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Zooropa - Our Trip To The Toronto Zoo

After a few days away from the minions for a business trip and some visiting with the family out west, we knew we'd be spending Monday with them.  When we heard the weather in Toronto was going to be over 20 degrees a trip to the zoo seemed like the perfect fit.

I thought I'd take this opportunity to share some tips on what we did that work best, along with some lessons learned from some areas where we dropped the ball along, and some photos.

Taking a closer look at the animals

11 Tips for A Successful Trip To The Toronto Zoo

  1. A Nice Spring Weekday Is The Best Bet
    Because we pulled the kids out of school for the day and went on a Monday it was really quiet at the zoo.  This meant that we were able to park close by, get to see the popular baby panda bears without a wait, and our only competition for spots in front of exhibits were preschool kids in strollers. 
  2. The Wagon Rental Was Worth It
    It was eight dollars to rent a wagon and it was probably the best money we could have spent. The kids could sit and enjoy the view on the longer walks between exhibits and thanks to the wagon we were at the zoo for four and a half hours and able to visit all of the areas on our "must see list".  If you have your own wagon bring it and save the eight dollars.

    I'll admit that I let Chris take 95% of the shifts with the wagon
  3. Pack lots of Water
    If you go in the early spring not all of the outdoor fountains are equipped with water yet.  I learned this the hard way when I tried to fill up my water bottle in the African Savanna.  
  4. Bring A Spare Set Of Clothing
    Washroom lines are always filled with strollers and kids who need to go desperately.  We didn't need our spare clothes, but it came close twice - once when Molly was car sick on the way to the zoo (thankfully she's gotten much better at barf bag aim) and the second when Jack waiting until he was desperate to tell me he had to go.  
  5. If You Want To See The Baby Pandas...
    Go on a weekday.  We didn't have to wait longer than about a minute to see them, but judging by the display leading up to it and the fact that the last "admission" to that area is an hour before close, if you want to see them don't plan for a weekend trip.  I was happy that we didn't have a line to see the pandas, especially since Molly spent about two seconds looking at them before she told me she wanted to go to the gift shop.

    This is the mama panda
  6. Plan Your Route According To The Most Important Animals First
    Molly really wanted to see the African animals and Jack really wanted to check out the reptiles, particularly the Komodo Dragon.  We made sure to cover those areas first, with anything else (like the Pandas) being a bonus.  Otherwise you risk tired kids who aren't going to enjoy what they're most excited about in the first place.  Molly loved being in charge of keeping the map safe from us. Molly's favourite animal of the day was the zebra.

    Molly's survival instincts are great.  She wouldn't turn her back on the Komodo Dragon
  7. Think About Snacks & Then Double It
    Since Molly was car sick and lost her corn flakes on the way to the zoo she was absolutely ravenous about an hour in.  By lunch time she had polished off four clementines and most of our crackers.  Usually these snacks would have meant a lighter lunch, unfortunately because we didn't have more packed it meant a $39 trip to the snack bar for fries, pizza, and a chicken sandwich that Molly refused to eat.
  8. Pack Your Own Lunch
    It wasn't a busy day at the zoo, but still a 10 to 15 minute wait for food, which was basic pizza, fries.  Bring your own food to avoid the crowds and enjoy a little family time at one of the many indoor or outdoor picnic areas.
  9. Let Your Kids Play
    Yes it's meant to be educational, yes, it costs close to a hundred bucks for parking ($12) and entry for a family of four ($76) and you want them paying attention to the animals, but also let them play.  Molly wanted to climb on all the rocks,whereas Jack was content to play with his latest two Lego Figurines between exhibits.  Molly wanted to check off all of the animals we saw, like a scavanger hunt, unfortunately we didn't have a pen on us, next time we'll bring one.  Also don't be afraid to divide up.  Jack wanted more time checking out an interactive exhibit with snake skins and giant beetles.  Molly happily sat outside with me, climbing on statues and eating up all of our snacks.

    Climbing Time
  10. Leave Before Your Kids Melt Down
    We could have pushed to another area of the zoo, but the kids were tired, and immediately fell asleep on the car ride home.  Instead of fighting our way through another exhibit and getting annoyed at them for being five, we decided to leave while we were ahead.  They lasted four and a half hours at the zoo with the wagon, it would have been more like two and a half or three maximum without the trusty wagon.
  11. Don't Obsess With PhotosI witnessed a lot of parents fighting with their kids over getting a lot of pictures, sometimes I was that parent. We quickly realized Jack only wanted to pose in front of his favourite animals, and that was okay.  Focus on the experience before the photos.

    Looking at the "big cats"

    Remember to get in some pictures with your kids parents!

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