Disclaimer: My family was provided with tickets to experience Wild Wonderland at Lowry Park Zoo. All opinions are my own.
We arrived at the zoo promptly at 6:20pm. Wild Wonderland was scheduled to open at 6:30pm, so we waited in line for a short bit, got our tickets, and then we were instructed to go wait in a pretty long line for entry in to the zoo. I noticed on the ticket vendors sign that they were Autism Friendly and certified through CARD so I asked what that meant at the Zoo. I know what it means at Busch Gardens, but had never asked about services at the zoo before. She told me that they had a special map and all rides were disabled friendly. It was at this time that I asked her if we could somehow avoid that long entry line because we had an au-some little dude with us that doesn't do well in lines and it would make our visit start off so much more enjoyable. She agreed and let us in through what Ronin called "the golden doors."
Upon entering the park, we were greeted by a wonderful light display and festive music!
We quickly asked for directions to the Ice Slide because we wanted to knock that out of the way ASAP to avoid what we knew would be really long lines! We stopped for the #TampaTrio to take a quick photo at Zoo Blvd.
And yes, that's a Tampa Trio sign that Ella is holding in her hand.
We scurried through the beautiful lights and ended up in Wallaroo Station, where we noticed that there was no ice slide, so we took a look at our map and realized that the slide was on the total opposite end of the park. We made a quick pit-stop at the penguins and then began the trek over to the slide!
But along the way we got side-tracked by reindeer!! While we were waiting in line to see the reindeer, we saw fireflies!! Haley was so excited! She loves fireflies and was just thrilled to see them in Florida!
The reindeer were really cute. I couldn't snap a good photo of them since they were feeding behind two rows of fencing. One had lost an antler due to shedding and that was pretty cool to see.
When we came out of the exhibit the kids had the opportunity to touch and feel a real reindeer antler!
And then they each got a turn to be a reindeer.
And off we went to find the slide! And find it we did. It wasn't open when we arrived at 7:06pm. So we decided to wait in line rather than get out of line and come back. The kids entertained themselves by playing in the sand gravel in the back lot. Lots of parents were telling their kids to stop, but not me. LOL. As long as they weren't throwing it or eating it, more power to them. FINALLY after waiting what seemed like forever, they opened the slide. And more waiting ensued. But they got a turn and said it was worth the wait! Here's a video of them coming down the slide!
They jumped in the bouncy house and then we walked over to see the stingrays and manatees.
They always enjoy sea life.
The manatee exhibit was super cool, but what they enjoyed more than the manatees were the snakes! They had a HUGE rattlesnake that was very active and moving all throughout its cage. Yikes! I didn't want to snap any photos out of respect for the snake, but trust me when I say that it was HUGE.
Then we decided to walk back over to the other side of the park and see some of the African animals, but along the way we got sidetracked by the merry-go-round. And to make it even better, we were first in the group to board, so each of the trio got the animal that they wanted. SWEET!
Finally we made it to Africa where they got to feed the giraffe!
It was $3 each kid for 2 pieces of Romaine lettuce. $9 for 6 pieces of Romaine lettuce. But it goes for a good cause, so whatever.
We went and had a quick visit with the cute Pygmy Hippo and tried to see the Cheetah (no luck...we'll be back for that one!!) and they had lots of beautiful displays set up!
A quick glance at my watch showed me that it was after 9pm, so it was time to start heading back towards the zoo entrance. Along the way we came across the beautiful Frozen Forest an icy winter wonderland full of glistening ice, snow and more!
Dozens of beautiful Santa's were on display!
And they even had a flying Santa!
The kids and I had a great time exploring Wild Wonderland at Lowry Park Zoo. There were some exhibits that we didn't see, like Santa. My gang doesn't believe in Santa, so they had no desire to wait in line to see him, and we did some of the other rides at Zoo Boo and we really didn't want to wait in any more lines (sensing a theme here?? Lines are super hard for us with an autistic child.)
We will certainly be adding Wild Wonderland to our annual Christmas traditions. It's a great way to get out, be active, and Push Away the Screen.
Wild Wonderland is open select nights through December 30th. Check their website for more details.