Before entering the Woodland Park Zoo, I downloaded the Zoo app to see how far away it was, what the weather was like and if any special events were going on. It also provided language settings, interactive GPS maps, an events calendar and exhibit details with a Youtube video for each animal. If you scroll down to tours, you can mix things up with a GPS guided tour where you can learn what animals are most affected by climate change, to a tour of hidden fun secrets around the Zoo. The first tour that comes up is fitting for fall in Seattle: rainy day tour, guiding you through the Zoo using overhead canopies and covered areas to give the driest paths possible.  One great feature if you have a large group is by using pin codes you can track and locate friends in the Zoo if they are using the app as well.

Once you enter the Zoo, the terrain is relatively flat with a hill going down to the Northern trail. A few things to help enhance your experience are: look for animal tracks in the cement in front of exhibits, they tell a story. If you notice the primate statues, they are from artist Georgia Gerber, whom brought us Rachel the pig at Pike Place Market. When you get to the Malayan Tiger exhibit there are two tigers, can you tell them apart? A little hint is to study their facial stripes patterns.

The horticulture at the Zoo is amazing and well thought out. Not only do the plants enhance the environment of its surrounding exhibit, but the Zoo uses plants able to survive the climate and precipitation of Seattle. I saw bamboo nestled next to tea plants bordering the Asian otters, how cool and natural looking is that?

Other great amenities are conveniently located restrooms with beverage vending machines.

Food options are primarily located in the Rainforest Food Pavilion, with a diverse menu ranging from hot dogs, nachos or some yummy tacos. For parents that have small children, Zoomazium is an indoor high interaction play area. I was too big for this ride but I understand if you can guess the secret animal, you get to meet and pet it. I love this idea for rainy days or for little ones that are getting overstimulated. Parking is six dollars for the day and mobility scooters are available upon request.

Woodland Park Zoo has made itself a very conservation friendly, easy to navigate learning experience with a ton of overlooked amenities. After hours catering is also available for office or birthday parties with optional food menus providing breakfast, dinner buffets, cocktail bars and picnic lunches. There are a ton of amenities to add to a party like having it in front of the Jaguar cove with face painting, caricature drawings and yes, you can set up unlimited carousel rides for guests with a Raptor flyby on your 40th birthday if it’s in your budget.             

To summarize my tips on how to make the most out of your zoo experience: download the app, look at the times for keeper talks at exhibits that interest you, keep your eyes out for hidden Zoo secrets and if you see a Zoo volunteer ask them anything Zoo related and it may come with a good story of the animal your requesting information on.   

Michael Dean