Last week we went to the Indianapolis Zoo for the first time in over a year and a half and it was so great to be back! Thanks to Indy Social Media Moms and the Indianapolis Zoo, we were able to attend Christmas at the Zoo for free for purposes of this review. Opinions are 100% of my own however.
Christmas at the Zoo is a fun way to enjoy those dark, cold December nights!
I know as a mom it is so hard in the winter to want to do anything after 5pm when the sun and the temperature start to drop, especially since many kid-friendly places are closed after 5pm. I know my kids want to get outside in the winter, but they don’t always last very long (they are a baby and twin preschoolers) in the cold. But, Christmas at the Zoo allowed me to not only get out after 5pm, but also to enjoy the outdoors and have fun while doing it! Because the Indianapolis Zoo isn’t all outdoors. There are plenty of places to warm up along the way.
The night we went was pretty cold too, with temperatures around 22 degrees. But, we bundled up (a friend said she put her kids in snow pants and never heard a single complaint!) and toughed it out. I like to joke that I’m from Wisconsin so I am used to colder temperatures than 20 degrees (which is very true, although, I do not like being cold: go figure), so I channeled my inner Wisconsinite and reminded myself that this is really not that cold, which it honestly wasn’t, especially as we warmed up in the Oceans exhibit and the Marsh Theater for the Dolphin Show.
The Lights at Christmas at the Zoo
Seriously, the Indianapolis Zoo, at night, with fresh fallen snow glistening, cold breath misting, and hundreds of colorful Christmas lights shining is just so gosh darn beautiful! I loved that Christmas at the Zoo captures the awe and wonder of the Holidays with their Christmas lights display. There were light bulbs strung everywhere! I loved it! I know as part of our 25 Days of Christmas family activities we like to drive around and see Christmas lights because it’s just so pretty (and another great thing to do on those dark, cold nights). The Indianapolis Zoo saved us that gas money by making their whole park magical. Fun fact!: This is the first time all the lights are 100% LED efficient!
The Holiday Dolphin Show
I haven’t been to the zoo since about April 2012, when my daughters turned 2, but I don’t remember the Dolphin Show at the Indianapolis Zoo being as awesome as it was for us when we visited Christmas at the Zoo! There were more dolphins doing more tricks, with more trainers, in time and beat to fun Holiday music and glowing lights! It was a real show! My 3-year old daughters loved it; even my 8 month old baby loved it! We clapped and cheered during the whole thing. My husband and I were both very impressed! And the best part? The show is totally free with your admission! They have two show times 6:30PM and 8PM.
Santa’s Tropical Paradise
Unfortunately, we were not able to go to the White River Gardens (admission is also included in ticket price) to check out Santa’s Tropical Paradise, even though I really wanted to. My kids were complaining about being cold and bedtime was drawing near. However, I wanted to mention another great (indoor) part of the Christmas at the Zoo celebrations. At the White River Gardens you can get photos with Santa, decorate cookies with Mrs. Claus, write/send letters to Santa, and more!
Christmas in the Ocean
We spent some time in the Oceans exhibit, petting sharks, finding Nemo, and checking out the penguins. In the Oceans exhibit you can get a photo on Santa’s sleigh (perfect for groups), check out more trees, lights, and other Holiday displays, and more. The seal outside the Oceans exhibit was even barking away as we arrived. Plus, it’s very warm inside.
Other Great Things about Christmas at the Zoo
There are performances by local school choirs. You can get FREE refills on hot beverages all night long at any food service location. You can take a Holiday Train Ride or take a spin on the Carousel! You can also see real reindeer! There is also a nursing mothers room by the new bird exhibit (which is closed, which was sad since we’ve never seen it), which is great for all those breastfeeding moms (like me!).
However, not all the regular exhibits and parts of the Zoo are open this time of year. The Forest exhibit IS open however (one of the few), and we were able to check out the tiger up close and personal, which has always been one of our favorite things to do at the Indianapolis Zoo!
Christmas at the Zoo runs now through December 29, 2013, each Wednesday through Sunday from 5PM-9PM. It is also open on Monday, December 23 and Monday, December 30, but closed Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
Admission is free for all Zoo memberships and is included with regular admission. Memberships are $109+ for Individuals, and $129+ for Families/Grandparents (they make great gifts!) and include parking.
Regular Admission: $10 adults; $9 Seniors; $8 Youth (2-12); Children under 2 FREE. Parking: $6 regular vehicles; $10 for RVs/Campers
You can get discounted tickets by buying them online, at participating Donatos locations, or at Teachers Credit Union locations. Or you can bring a new hat, scarf, or glove to donate to the Mitten Donation Tree that supports our local St. Mary’s Child Center to save on admission. They also offer a 20% Military discount to all current and former members of the military, good for up to four tickets per visit, with ID.
Have you gone to Christmas at the Zoo in Indianapolis before? How did you keep your kids warm? Did you love it? We did!