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The Ultimate LA Family Guide ™
San Diego Wild Animal Park Review
The Wild Animal Park is inland and is west of Escondido. The exact address is 15500 San Pasqual Valley Road. The park is off of the 15 freeway.
The ticket prices are as follows: Adults are $28.50 and children ages 3-11 are $17.50. A one-day best value ticket which includes the Journey to Africa tram tour is $33 and children are $22. The park will be open 9 am-8 pm in the spring and summer and then it is only open 9 am-4 pm during the fall and winter. The park is open daily, including all holidays.
While once serving as just the breeding facility to the San Diego Zoo, the Wild Animal Park has emerged as a very famous and visited destination in its own right. The biggest change to the Wild Animal Park if you went there as a kid or as an adult and remember a monorail type railway that gave a 45 minute tour of the park. This rail line is no longer in operation! I know, how could they. We have talked to many people since leaving the park that day and nobody liked the idea of the tram being gone.. This park is huge. No, I take that back. It's gigantic! And our kids don't like being in a stroller. And it was between 90 and 100 degrees that day. Can we say hot!! OK, so they took out the rail tour, so now what. Well, in its place they have what is called Journey to Africa. A big, gas powered open air tram that gives a 25 minute tour of the African section of the park. In the way, way back of the park. Which means you have to go on a very long walk, up and down hills, to get there. In the sun. And once there, you'll see that the tour is $10 extra, unless you purchased the more expensive best value ticket. On their website, the park says that if you purchase the best value ticket online and print it out, the ticket is only $22. So it pays to plan ahead.
About Journey to Africa: Luckily we did not have to wait in line for it. And luckily there are bathrooms next to the line to board. I read on an opinion website that some visitors have had to wait an hour for this tram ride. The tram takes you to see rhinos, giraffes, gazelles, zebras, ostriches and antelope. They all seemingly coexist in what looks like a very natural habitat. Logan and Madison liked seeing the animals on this tram but boy did you get to see more of the park on the previous rail tour. After we got off we went over to the lion exhibit which is right nearby and we had good luck in that the lions were right near the glass so we got a good view. We then went over to one of a few kids areas in the park. This one had water for them to play in and cool off in.
We heaved and hoed back up the hill to find the gorilla exhibit. We were treated to king kong looking lowland gorillas walking around their habitat. Then it was off to the carousel which like all carousels right now is a big hit with M and L. I had a little trouble finding a restroom for them, but afterward we decided to eat lunch.
We found a afe and it was pricey but the portions were pretty good. Just the typical salads, sandwiches, burgers and chicken fingers. Although my family is not made up of vegetarians, we do realize there is something unique about zoos on how you go and view animals and then eat them. We then checked out a little discovery area which had very little for them to play with and then went over to what I think was the best part of the park: the petting zoo. All over the large area were friendly deer and antelope to play with a pet and feed. We all delighted in being able to be so close to these special, friendly animals.
If you are into hiking there is a lot more of the park to see. In fact, much of the territory once seen by the tram is now only available to those willing to hike to the more remote areas of the park. Another feature is there lorikeet landing section where you could feed nectar to the colorful little birds. There are also other high-fee add-ons such as a special jeep tour to get to feed giraffes and a hot air balloon ride.
We enjoyed seeing the animals but wished it had been a cooler day!