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Bronx Zoo Trip — Dinosaur Safari, Snow Leopards and Souvenir cups

I took Duchess to the zoo today (August 7, 2014). It was Members Night, so we got to stay past closing. Our main purpose was the free walk through of Dinosaur Safari, which normally costs members $3 per person to ride in the truck.

WOW am I glad I did NOT stand in that horrendous line (an hour seems average, at 40 people per truck and four trucks max on the road) and spend $3 per ticket (nonmembers pay $5) for what amounts to a five minute drive along a narrow road with lots of big plants and not very impressive dinosaurs.

Walking through gave people the opportunity to take their leisure in walking and take pictures with the dinosaurs behind them. So unimpressed were we that we didn’t stop for a single picture. There was nothing interesting enough that Duchess wanted her picture taken with.

Of course I didn’t expect real ones. But it took us longer to GET THERE (tram ride from one end of the park to the other, walk up the road and then down another road, wondering which way we were supposed to go because there were no signs, past the birds of prey and around into the thing than it took us to actually walk through it.

We spent about five minutes in the “hands on” section where you could use a worn paint brush to move sand off fake bones adhered to the bottom of several sandboxes, see a replica of an allosaurus skull and a replica of a t-rex foot skeleton.

Duchess enjoyed the $5 bucket of popcorn we got afterward more than she did the free walk through dino safari.

The cost of the “free refill” souvenir cup was well worth it, however, as I refilled four times. At $3 per serving and two servings in the cup, that’s $24 worth of soda pop and water for free.

And wow what a show the snow leopard put on! He was up top of his habitat, waiting for his keeper to come open the access hatch and let him into his nighttime pen. Keeper was a good two hours late doing this and kitty knew it. Kitty was annoyed that his schedule was being thrown off. He started prowling the top ledges, then made a big leap toward a telephone pole and bounced off it onto another ledge. He did this a few times, off both of them. Tried to leap into a bush, but there’s no way that bush would support him. Then he saw a bird inside his habitat. He stalked down that bird and took a swipe at it. I don’t know if he made contact or not, but the bird zoomed for us and whapped itself into the fence.

Plopping down to the ground, it just sat there, frozen and with wings out while kitty stopped and sat there and looked at it like…shit, what am I supposed to do with it now??? Kitty looked at it, starting prowling around, came back to look at it again. Eventually it recovered enough to fly again, but it couldn’t figure out how to get out, so kitty chased it again. I do have some footage of it but editing is so long and slow with me that I don’t know if I’ll ever get it posted to youtube or fb.

We rode the monorail at the end of our day rather than the beginning. If you ever come to NYC, right before closing is the best time to ride the monorail! The track runs over top of some of the sheds, so a bunch of the animals were grouped directly below us. They knew it was late for getting inside too. Some were more patient than others. And we were able to get a good look at some of the offspring.

If you’ve never been to the Bronx Zoo, it’s not something you can readily do in one day. Get a membership and visit two days in a row. You’ll have more fun than if you spend the day dragging around lower Manhattan looking at all the standard tourist fare.

Why get a membership? Because it’ll pay for itself in one trip with a family of four.

Tram – $5 per person PER RIDE
Congo – $5 per person
Butterflies (they fly around free and sometimes land on people…so cool) $5. Used to be $3.
Carousel — $5 per person per ride
Monorail — $5 per person
4D movie theater – $5 per person
Jungle World — $5 per person

That right there is $140 saved if you only use the tram once. (We used it three times. We were a party of three, so that’s $45 just in tram rides we didn’t pay for.) There’s a lot of up and down walking due to the terrain of the zoo. The center, where Bear Mountain is…is aptly named. There are stairs to take you up and down some sections and back and forth ramp paths for others. There are only two places to get on the tram (behind the zoo center and at the Asia gate) but you can get off at several stops. And sometimes the driver will let you get on between. Depends on the driver.

They have this “total experience” ticket, but what’s included changes each day as I understand it. That is $34 for adults and $24 for children. So $68 and $48 for a family of four is $116 in admission, but you still have to pay for anything extra that’s not included that day. And if you come two days to see everything, that’s $236 in tickets.

Basic entry is $17 for adults and $13 for children 3 to 12. $34 + $26 = $60 for a family of four.

$150 in side attractions
$60 for admission
You’re at $210 already out of pocket for the lesser admission.

Did Grammy come along for the trip? Add her tickets and extras too and you can see how much it ads up FAST.

And you get 10% off all purchases made at the larger food stations (little carts don’t give discounts) and all purchases made in gift shops.

The Family Premium membership is $189.00 and includes three adults and two children. Plus you get a free t-shirt.

So if you go the second day to hit all the stuff you didn’t get to see (because this place is MAMMOTH and spread so far out that there are MILES of WALKING involved), you’d be getting all those admissions and all those additional tram rides for free.

You can bring your own food, but remember that you have to carry it all around all day.

The Bronx Zoo is absolutely worth the time and effort. Just plan your trip and do NOT EVER go on Wednesdays! That is “free admission” day and you do NOT want to be ANYWHERE enclosed that NYCers can get into for free.