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“Caboose #3” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Wildlife Prairie Park

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Wildlife Prairie Park
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3826 N. Taylor Rd., Peoria, IL 61536   |  
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Hotel amenities
Springfield, Illinois
Contributor
13 reviews 13 reviews
6 hotel reviews
Reviews in 8 cities Reviews in 8 cities
12 helpful votes 12 helpful votes
“Caboose #3”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 28, 2013

Our second trip here and hoping to make this an annual event. We stayed in caboose #3 and friends were in #4. Such a fun and unique experience. I am in no way a camper and this to me was as rustic as I should go. A step up from "camping". The caboose was clean. Bunk beds in one room and a futon with a top bunk in the other room. The futon was very uncomfortable but the bunk beds were pretty good. The rooom comes with a microwave and small refridgerator. There are towels in the bathroom for at least 5 people. Bring everything else. Good heat. It was nice the first night and rained the next two days but we were still able to hike and see the animals. A ton of deers and bison from our view/site. The animal park is pretty good/adequate. Great little snake exhibit. Excellant for this being the midwest. Perfect place for kids/adults. We went to the rec room and played ping pong and fooseball. Dont forget to find the 20 foot slide in the playground area. It is hidden but super cool (even in the pouring rain). Will be back and hope to try the stables next time. The silo's are fun but only sleeps 2 (maybe 3). We did not grill out this time. Ordered a pizza from Casey's gas station up the road the 1st night and went into Peoria on the second night. Peoria is approx 10 min drive. We went to the outdoor mall and ate at Jillian's Sports bar. Do not eat there! Terrible food and the bar could not make a margarita and the bloody mary was undrinkable. They do have a connected bowling alley and arcade which was super fun for everyone. The mall is great. Old Navy, Charming Charlie's, Justice, etc...Lots of other restaurants in the area.

  • Stayed May 2013, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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18 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    4 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    2.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    3.5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    3.5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (3)
Date | Rating
  • English first
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English first
Virginia
Senior Contributor
25 reviews 25 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 16 cities Reviews in 16 cities
14 helpful votes 14 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 22, 2013

We went to the Wildlife Prairie Park on a Saturday. There had been a lot of rain with flooding around the area but it was sunny and in the mid 50's. With that being said, a lot of the mulch for the walkways had been washed by the rains but they're doing a lot to improve the park (new facilities, stone walkways, new educational animal markers, etc.) We paid $28 for 2 adults and 2 children under 12. When we arrived at 1:30, the lady taking our money didn't tell us that it would be feeding time at the turtle and snake exhibit at 1:45 so we ended up missing the show. We all had a great time seeing the animals as we walked the trails though. We also rode the little train which our son loved ($4 per person = $16 for a 30 min. ride.) We didn't stay overnight so I can't comment on that but, this was a great day trip. Park employees were kind and helpful and we would go back again. They were also advertising a $75 Family Package which included unlimited entrance to the park for one year, 4 one-time admission park passes (for friends I assume), 6 train tickets, and a $20 food voucher to the park grille. Not bad considering we spent $28 (admission) + $16 (train) = $44 and for another $31 we could've gotten a year round pass.

  • Stayed April 2013, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
St. Louis
Senior Contributor
31 reviews 31 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 23 cities Reviews in 23 cities
31 helpful votes 31 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed October 7, 2012

We spent the night in caboose #1. We choose to stay in the caboose because our 2 year old is obsessed with trains. She LOVED it and loved the bunk bed too. It's cheaper then staying at most of the hotels in the peoria area (especially when you add in that you get free admission to the park for the day you stay and the following day), but the beds are not very comfortable, but what do you expect from semi-camping experience? There is a picnic shelter with grills outside the caboose area and the animal enclosure backs right up to the caboose - the buffalo were our first sight when we stepped out the caboose door! Oh and you have to try the "jiggler." You flip a switch in the caboose and the whole thing moves slightly and there's a rumbling noise as if you were traveling on the rails!

The next morning it was raining so we didn't get to see much of the rest of the park. My potty-trainning daughter was terrified of the "composting toilets" in the visitor center because they are basically latrines. She looked in the hole and said "no pot!" The mens rooms have regular toilets though, as the gift shop employee let me know when I was frantically trying to figure out where my daughter could relieve herself without making a mess, and so we went on the mens side and took care of business.

We didn't get to see many of the animals, since it was rainning the next morning which was when we had planned to see the park, so we'll be back some day to see them.

Room Tip: Caboose #1 is closest to the animals, best view!
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  • Stayed August 2012, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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Chicago, Illinois
Senior Contributor
33 reviews 33 reviews
11 hotel reviews
Reviews in 15 cities Reviews in 15 cities
13 helpful votes 13 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed September 18, 2012

My husband & I and our 14 month old visited Wildlife Prairie State Park in mid July 2012. We spent 3 nights in a caboose. Even though the highs were in the upper 90s all 3 days and we were melting, and the beds were horrifically uncomfortable, I really enjoyed our stay.

As for lodging, I agree with the previous posters—set your expectations for camping and this will be one step above that. The caboose we stayed in was unlevel (I was rolling off the twin bed in the middle of the night and ultimately propped it up with a big stick—because the double bed was WAY too uncomfortable to sleep on). The interior was dated but it was clean enough, and there was a microwave, fridge & coffee maker. The AC was loud, and the room smelled musty when we first arrived. We chose the caboose on the end so our “back door” opened right onto the bison range (the bison are fenced in) and it felt like we had lots of privacy there. There was a small lake at the other end of the cabooses. There is a covered area with picnic tables & grills right outside the cabooses. The caboose interior was actually much bigger than I was expecting.

When we arrived, there was a family having a large family reunion with lots of kids. I think this place would be fantastic for that scenario—the family reserved the majority of the cabooses, silos & stable which are all near each other, and of course, kids can handle the uncomfortable bedding and it’s affordable for a large group. Once they left, the guests seemed to be mostly retirees coming to visit for just 1 night for a unique experience. There were a couple other families. Wildlife Prairie has some unique lodging options—cabooses, silos & stables converted to rooms, and a Cabin on the Hill (which is supposed to be the nicest of all).

The park is fantastic from a nature-lovers perspective. It was quiet & peaceful (due to the low crowds?) The hiking trails were beautiful, and I did a mountain bike ride on an amazing trail that seemed to go on forever. The park was mostly empty when we were there (probably because the temps were in the high 90s?). It is a great facility, some great trials, but it could definitely use some TLC and possibly some better management. There is great potential there. I think it’s mostly run by volunteers, who were extremely friendly. Although some of the staff did not seem as friendly & others had no problem smoking on the job (the caboose cleaning staff & person at the snack stand). I found this especially irritating since we were with our 14 month old. There’s a fun little train that you can take thru the park.

Oh, the food at the park was horrible—it is typical theme park junk “food” at its worst. If you don’t want that, be sure to bring your own food.

Even with the cons, I'd still recommend a visit to the park & a stay in the lodging! I'd love to see this place fixed up!

Room Tip: If you get a caboose, I suggest the one on the end, next to the bison range.
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  • Stayed July 2012, traveled with family
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 1 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
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morton, illinois
Top Contributor
75 reviews 75 reviews
33 hotel reviews
Reviews in 44 cities Reviews in 44 cities
69 helpful votes 69 helpful votes
2 of 5 stars Reviewed May 17, 2010

What's good about the place?:
Location -- You get to stay overnight at the park and view places that are normally not seen.
Staying in a Caboose is an unusual experience.

What's bad about the place?:
The lodgings have been let go. Badly in need of renovation. Toilet ran constantly due to a leaky valve.
We were unable to find out how to regulate the temperature. It was 85 when we started due to the heat being on and an outside temp of 68 with some sun. It was 60 the following morning when we turned off the heat and opened two windows.
Beds are uncomfortable. Even with the previous reviewer's cautions, this was less than expected. The matresses are of very poor quality and do not provide for a comfortable sleep. We both woke up sore and stiff the following day.
The rec room had an overpowering smell of mildew. We were unable to stand it and had to leave the area. Again, wasn't expecting 5 star, but was expecting 3 stars. A dehumidifer would go a long way.

For $85 a night, you can't expect a lot. But, unlike the previous reviewer's caution against expecting 5 star accomodations, I would caution you to lower your expectations to camping level. This will be a step up from that and you will be pleasantly surprised. If instead, your expectations are average motel, you will be disappointed.

Unfortunately, the state of Illinois has been ripped off by a succession of governors. Thus, any thoughts of renovation, will have to be placed on hold behind feeding the animals, finding money for schools and police and trying to plug the gaps in our unfunded pensions.

Too bad. This has a lot of potential to be a great place. Instead, it is more of a unique thing to do with the kids or grandkids only. Unfortunately, for us, we have stayed at a B&B Caboose in Washington State and know what this could be.

  • Stayed May 2010, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 1 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 2 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 2 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Chicago
Senior Contributor
22 reviews 22 reviews
5 hotel reviews
Reviews in 13 cities Reviews in 13 cities
18 helpful votes 18 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 5, 2009

One of the greatest mistakes I've seen in reviews for places like Wildlife Prairie, is the expectation that it will be a 5 star hotel. It definitely isn't, but if you like the idea of staying in a log cabin, caboose, grain silo, or stable, this is probably a good destination for you. My wife and I have stayed in all except for the stables and we have decided the cabooses are our favorite. The cabin does have a very nice view though. It is a unique experience and will likely be an enjoyable one for the adventure seeking like my wife and I. Also, if you happen to be there on a Sunday, don't pass up the Sunday Brunch. It is one of the best buffets I have ever eaten at.

  • Stayed July 2009, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 5
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
near Chicago
1 review
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed April 19, 2009

My son & I stayed in a caboose & had a wonderful experience. The "room" was clean and had more space than you might imagine. When we stepped out of the back door we saw that we were pearched right next to the large Bison & Elk area where we could sit on the back end of the caboose & watch. On Sat. morning we attended the Blessing of the Buffalo grounds ceremony conducted by Native Americans . They had a Native singing & drumming group. The cafe even served up Buffalo burgers! At night we were serenaded by howling wolves, arguing bobcats, nesting geese & I could swear I heard a wild Turkey! Oh yea, the staff were friendly and accomidating... we will return.

  • Stayed April 2009
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 2 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Wildlife Prairie Park

Address: 3826 N. Taylor Rd., Peoria, IL 61536
Phone Number:
Location: United States > Illinois > Peoria
Amenities:
Business Center with Internet Access Free Parking Children Activities ( Kid / Family Friendly ) Kitchenette
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 1 Specialty Lodging in Peoria
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
Number of rooms: 14
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
This 2,000 acre zoological park in central Illinois is the home to a variety of native animals to the area. With our unique lodging accommodations, you can sleep right next to a herd of bison and elk, hear the wolves howl at the moon, or even hear the hoot of an owl in the night. There is no other place in the area like Wildlife Prairie Park for a unique overnight experience. Whether you are a family looking for your next getaway, a business professional seeking a different kind of overnight experience, or just someone who likes the thrill of adventure, look no further than Wildlife Prairie Park for your overnight stay. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Wildlife Prairie State Park Hotel Peoria

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