Cincinnati Zoo

Location: 3400 Vine St
Cincinnati, OH  45220
Price: Basic Ticket: $19/adult, $13/kid – tickets are offered at a discount if you buy ahead of time.  Also there are other add-ons you can get with the base ticket such as unlimited train and carousel rides.
Parking is $10
Smashed Penny Machine: Several throughout the park

Our main destination for this trip was the Cincinnati Zoo.  My daughter and I had watched all the videos of Fiona the baby hippo on YouTube and wanted to go see her ourselves (even though I explained to my 7-year-old multiples times 1-year-old hippos aren’t little anymore).

Thanks to a huge array of solar panels in the parking lot, the zoo actually has semi covered parking.  The covered parking was nice because it was still raining when we arrived at the zoo.  We paid for our admission and parking (when you use your other zoo reciprocity discount you cannot purchase online beforehand).   We opted for the Adventure Ticket which includes zoo admission, unlimited rides on the train and carousel and a 4D movie.  This ticket is normally $28/adult and $22/kid (we received 50% off with our local zoo membership).  A single ride on the train is going to run $4/person, a single ride on the carousel is $3/person, and the 4D movie is $5/person.  If you plan on doing all of these things then the Adventure Ticket saves you money.  They offer an in between option that gives just unlimited rides on the train/carousel.  Make sure you pick the ticket that’s going to maximize your money.

Because of the rain and the fact we arrived at open, the zoo was empty for most of the morning.  Normally we didn’t see more than 1 or 2 other families in any given area.  Because it was Spring Break for local schools as well there were several groups of Spring Break Campers in the zoo but the zoo was certainly not busy.  Our daughters rode the carousel by themselves.  Thanks to the cool weather lots of animals were very active.

If you opt to do the Adventure Ticket you have to pre-select your 4D movie.  We opted to watch Storks at 10:30.  We were a little off on timing as we reached the area of the theater 30 minutes before show time.  We wandered over to watch the manatees swim and kill a little time.  Not a big deal just meant some back tracking with walking.  I would suggest that if you are planning on coming when the weather is going to be hot, I would plan to do the movie during the early afternoon to give you a chance to just sit in some A/C.  The 4D movie was just a typical 4D experience as a condensed version of the full length film.  If you have never done a 4D experience, it is basically a 3D movie but they add extra effects such as fans blowing during a windy scene or a mist of water that lightly sprays you during a water scene.  I had not seen the film so it was entertaining.  My older daughter had seen the movie but still really enjoyed the experience.  The baby sat mostly still for the movie (it’s only 15 minutes) but wouldn’t wear the 3D glasses.  I’m not sure I’d necessarily recommend the 4D experience but it was kind of a neat splurge.

When we exited the movie the rain had stopped and crowds had started to increase.  We decided to work our way towards the only indoor seating food stop Base Camp Café.  Food options were mostly sandwiches, salads, fries and basic deli style servings.  The kid’s meal portions were large enough for two young children to share.  We also just bought the souvenir cup and just split the drink.  We would later spend $1 to get a refill (maximize your cash and ask for lite or no ice).  Food costs are on par with every other zoo I’ve been to.  Staff was friendly.  Food was ready quickly and there was ample indoor seating. In nicer weather there is a LARGE outdoor patio that overlooks the African exhibit.

After lunch we rode the train which makes a short loop around the pond in the center or the zoo.  It did some nice views of several exhibits including the flamingos and wolves.  The tracks went right next to the pond which delighted the baby as her favorite animal is ducks (or literally any bird).  Afterwards we finished touring the zoo with the African section and large cats.  They have giraffe feedings for $3 per person.  This got our oldest the chance to feed 3 pieces of lettuce to her favorite animal and makes for a neat photo opp.  Sadly because of the cool weather the hippos were not on exhibit (guess we’ll have to go back another day).

Also there were many members of staff out at the various buildings and gift shops with animal encounters.  Our girls got to pet several lizards and snakes.  I’m not sure if they normally have so many animal encounters or if the zoo anticipated large crowds with Spring Break.  Either way it was fun to learn a little about these creatures.

Around 1:30 we had seen most of the zoo and we stopped for souvenirs and a final restroom break by the front gate.  My daughter collects smashed pennies.  There were several machines scattered throughout the zoo and each has its own designs.

Overall:  I thought this was a very nice zoo.  The zoo was not perfectly flat so be prepared for some uphill walking at times but nothing too hard.  The zoo was clean.  The animals seemed well cared for.  Staff was friendly.  I would come back for a second visit.

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