Hawaii Mom Blog: Off-Island: San Diego Zoo Safari Park




February 21, 2013

Off-Island: San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Our very last stop on our trip to San Diego was the San Diego Zoo Safari Park in Escondido.

Highlights of Our Trip:
The San Diego Zoo Safari Park is a wildlife sanctuary home to thousands of animals, several of which are endangered species, as well as thousands of plants.

My kids loved watching the gorillas prance around in Gorilla Forest, the elephants roam in Elephant Valley, and the California Condors spread their wings in Condor Ridge.

One of the biggest highlights was going on the Africa Tram tour.  To see giraffes, gazelles, and other animals roam freely throughout the Africa Plains was quite an amazing sight.

On the tour we also saw a northern white rhino, one of only 8 left in the entire WORLD (click on all photos to enlarge)!

One of our favorite exhibits was the Bats.  Seeing all the fruit bats was very intriguing.  They look rather cute, but once they spread their wings, they started to look a little scary!
My kids also loved seeing all the various types of birds in the lagoon, and we all thought the Blue Shoebill Stork was such a cool bird (I actually thought it was a statue at first!),

My personal favorite exhibit was the Okapi. I love whenever I see this beautiful creature - a relative of the giraffe despite looking somewhat like a zebra. 
A fun moment for our entire family was when we found the animated Robert the Zebra.
He was quite a character, joking around with passersby and anyone who'd stop to chat.  Even my husband couldn't help but start a conversation with him, and my kids giggled whenever Robert spoke to them.

My kids also had a great time playing at the Fisher Price Samburu Jungle Gym, and we were able to watch two shows - Frequent Flyers Bird Show, which featured many types of birds both big and small, as well as Cheetah Run, where we watched a cheetah run a track in less than 6 seconds (people start lining up to get a good view at least 30 minutes before the show starts, so get there early!).

For lunch we stopped at Samburu Terrace.

Although the wait was very long (only one window was open for a very long line), the food was quite good.  I ordered a Chicken Strips plate which I shared with my boys, my oldest ordered a Kids Meal Chicken Quesadilla (which also came with a drink, Pirate's Booty, raisins, and animal crackers), and my husband ordered a Chicken Salad.

Visiting with a Child with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD):
I know every child will behave differently in different environments, but for us, we try to prepare my oldest son, who has an ASD, as best as we can in order to minimize challenges whenever we visit a new attraction.

Prior to visiting, we made sure to let him know where we were going and what kinds of things we'd see at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park (there's also a free San Diego Zoo Safari Park app that could come in handy for kids who love to play on the iPhone like my son does).

While at the park, he did fairly well in terms of following directions, but because he loves to walk (and walk and walk), and there are plenty of long paths throughout the park, there were times he did start to wander off and get ahead of us.  My husband did have to remind him quite often that we all needed to "stay together."

Because the Safari Park is rather large, we made sure to take plenty of snack or rest breaks whenever possible to minimize the chance of meltdowns.

He did have some meltdowns, but to help him self-calm we'd simply tell him to take several deep breaths, and if that wasn't enough, we'd tell him we'd go back to the playground, or any exhibit he enjoyed (like the lagoon to see the ducks) if he was able to stay with the group/not wander off/etc.

For those with kids on a GFCF diet or any other type of special diet, it's probably best to bring your own food to dine on (large coolers are not allowed).

Final Thoughts:
It was simply amazing to see all the different plants and animals that we saw at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park.

Despite having a long wait at the restaurant, overall we had a great visit.

Every staff member we encountered was friendly, helpful, and knowledgeable, which made our visit even that much more enjoyable.

We can't wait to visit again!

Below are more photos from our visit.  Enjoy!
Click to play this Smilebox slideshow

San Diego Zoo Safari Park:  15500 San Pasqual Valley Rd  Escondido, CA 92027; (760) 747-8702

Parking: $10 per car

Admission: $44 Adults (ages 13+); $34 Kids (ages 3-12) - includes Africa Tram tour; visit the San Diego Zoo Safari Park website for more ticketing options.

Thank you to the San Diego Zoo Safari Park for providing complimentary passes for review purposes.  All opinions are my own.  I received no monetary compensation for this post.

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