First piece of advice I can offer is this: the website is completely wrong. The brochure's not that good either. The interns, however, are very helpful and knowledgable, so this is what I've got:
For $10 per person (no child's price, unless under 2, in which case they are free) you will get admission to:
•the Baby Barn- highlight! Open all day.
•the Pasture- lots of fun, but you do have to pay for food, and the animals will most likely mob you. Can scare little kids pretty easily.
•the Wildlife Trail- neat, but only a walking trail; to feed the deer, you must go on the train ride, which is one ticket per rider over 2. The walk's not too bad but not stroller friendly and if it's rained at all, it's going to be muddy.
•the bird show- another highlight, and about 30 minutes long. Shows at 11:00 and 3:00. Morning show seemed less crowded.
For $25 for an adult, and $12.50 for a child you get access to all of the above, plus the horse show. Now the horse show is a bit of a borderline thing— it runs about an hour and a half, although there is also a rather lengthy intro, and the transitions between acts can run long and are accompanied by no more than slideshows. They seem to only use six riders in the whole show, so I guess it's necessary for changing, but expect young kids to get bored easily. Also, the show is fun, but it's probably not exciting enough to hold the attention of teenagers. If your kids are very excited by horses, and able to sit through the in-between parts, then I'd say go for it. Otherwise, your mileage may vary.
Now, for the things you have to pay extra for:
FIrst off is ANY kind of ride. Tickets are $3 each, 2 for $5, and 10 for $20. You will be pushed to buy the 10 for $20, but I'd suggest working out what you'd like to do in advance so you know exactly how many you need. The tickets are good for:
•the train ride. 30 minutes, and despite the listing of ride times, the only set times seem to be right after the bird show. Other than that, ask one of the interns, and they'll take you out whenever you like! It includes a stop at every pen in the Wildlife Trail, and a quick blurb of information about each. Fun but it seems a little rushed, and it's hard for the kids to get into. Unfortunately, the railings around the pens are built at the perfect level to make it hard to see into the pens from the train, especially for little kids. The stop at the end to feed the deer was really exciting, as they're very docile, but they're not always hungry, and seem to like staying in the muddiest part of the pen. Also, they try to limit how much the deer get fed at any one time (I think they said they have to get medicated feed at night) so you can't stay in there indefinitely. My recommendation would be to walk the trail, if everyone's up to it (it's not too long) and I was given a helpful tip: you can feed the deer leaves through the fence! They were a lot more interested in the leaves, to be honest, so that worked out better.
•the wagon ride. Also 30 minutes, and this one is a tractor-pulled wagon ride, driven by a farmer. He goes past some of the animals and their pond, as well as the horse pastures, although the horses mostly seemed to be inside for the show. He also goes through the Indian Village, and gives a talk about the history of the area, and the Indian tribe that used to live here. Interesting, but disappointing for kids who were hoping to see more animals. You can walk around the pond on foot, if you like. There are some emus back by the horse pastures that are really out of the way, and you don't see otherwise!
•the pony ride. No adults on the ponies, I'm afraid, just kids, though they don't seem to have a problem letting kids around 12-14 on. The pony rides are offered outside, but they take the ponies inside the show arena right before the show to offer rides. The rides inside are longer and climate controlled, and guess what? You don't have to be attending the show to get a pony ride inside! Just have your tickets and tell the people at the door to the arena that you just want a pony ride. They'll bring you up to the edge of the stage and call a pony over for you.
•the boat rides. There are a couple of little electric boats that you can take out for a ten minute spin on their pond— pretty cool! You can see the swans and ducks up close, and they don't try to come after you for food. Life jackets are provided, and each boat can seat up to two people— only two people, though, even if one of them is very little! No holding kids in laps, unfortunately. Only one side of the boat steers, but if you have two kids that want to drive and only one boat is available, they will let you come back at about the 5 minute mark and switch drivers. The only downside is that, since rides are ten minutes long and only two boats are available, if there are people waiting, you'll be waiting a while for a ride. Also, the red boat is definitely faster.
One final note on rides: there are NO CAMEL RIDES any more. I guess the camel that gave rides got retired and is now used for training purposes. Apparently, it's not to train the camel they still have, as he does not give rides, and steals hats and food. (Don't try to pet the camel without having food for it, by the way.)
You'll also have to pay extra for the backstage tour of the horse barn (after the show) but you'd have to refer to one of the other reviews for that. It seemed like it would take too long after a long day.
Animal feed is the last extra expense, and there are three different ways to feed animals: grain, goat bottles, and cow bottles. The bottles are fun, but they are not full bottles! You can see the baby goats are very fat, as they get fed regular bottles as well as any bottles that customers buy (50 cents), so there is only about an ounce or two in each bottle. The goats drink fast, too! If you want a photo opportunity, you'd better have the camera ready! The calves didn't get extra bottles while we were there, but if you were there around noon or closing time, apparently you can buy their regular meal bottles for $1! Those bottles are huge, too! Definitely worth it, but there are only two calves, so I'd ask to be able to buy them early so they don't get sold to someone else. The goats only have regular meal bottles (full ones) for sale around the time they close, I guess, but I assume you could buy those the same way. And lastly, there are two ways to get grain: from the feed dispensing machines, or from the staff. The feed machines are a quarter each, but give very little food and seem to get jammed very easily. The feed from the staff is $1, but you get an ice cream cone full of it, and when you're done with the feed, you can give the animals the cones as well, very clever and cuts back on litter. They sell it outside at the picnic tables, and it seems to mostly be for the animals in the pasture. Inside, only a few animals are allowed to eat it, mostly the ones with hooves. Also, you can feed the animals in the pasture over the fence, which is probably a better option for little kids, as the big goats can get pretty pushy once they realize you have food.
My definite favorite part was the barn, and although the brochure says there is a 'show', there isn't one. Instead, there is staff in there all day, and they'll present the animals to you individually. You can pet anything except the monkeys and the bobcat, and you can even hold a couple of them, like the skunks! The big cage in the center houses some of the most fun animals, flying squirrels. The interns even got the squirrels to jump back and forth between them as a bit of a demonstration, about five feet. Warning though, they will occasionally try to jump to other people, which can be frightening! They don't always seem to have it out, but they also have a baby lemur they can bring out and you can pet. There's a kitten room in the back, as well— they adopt out kittens, although the prices seem to vary depending on who you ask. A word to the wise, as soon as the kids see the kittens, nothing else in the barn is interesting any more. We weren't the only ones who spent the better part of an hour playing with kittens.
The animals seem very well cared for and the girls that work there all seem in love with them. They answered all of our questions and were very knowledgable— most of them are already out of college, actually. I know someone raised concerns about the animals having food or water— I didn't see any animals without water, although sometimes the dishes are hidden, and was told that the animals get fed at night so their food isn't out during the heat of the day and spoil. Smart!
The place is a little rundown, and you can get nickeled and dimed if you go in not knowing what to expect. There IS a $5 fee to buy tickets with a credit card, and their ATM has a $5 fee as well! So, I would bring cash to buy the tickets or buy them online. There is no fee to buy merchandise with a card, although it is fairly pricey. Food is definitely overpriced, but you CAN bring in your own food and drinks, and there are picnic tables to sit at. (For the horse show, you can eat in the theater.) Also, know what rides you want to do and only buy tickets for those. Finally, remember to wear sunscreen, and comfortable shoes (not sandals or flip flops!) that you don't mind getting dirty.
Knowing the things I do, I'd go back, but only for the zoo part, and only as a half day, I think. You'll get the best value if you skip the rides and walk around!
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