Lowry Park Zoo: Zoo Boo 2014

When Lowry Park Zoo reached out to ask if the #TampaTrio and I would be interested in attending the 2014 edition of Zoo Boo we all shrieked with delight!

The kids had seen the commercials for London Frightmare (the only new house at Zoo Boo this year) so they were especially excited to see that one!

We arrived at the park, grabbed our map, and plotted out our course.

Last year we waited a VERY LONG TIME for the "rides" so we decided as a family that we didn't need to do them this year. We go to the zoo a few times each year, so we could hit up those rides on another visit when it wasn't so busy.

There were 6 houses in total, ranging from 1 skull (very mild) to 7 skulls (could be intense for some)

This was the order that we went through the houses:

1. French Quarter- 3 skulls

2. Pharaoh's Tomb- 6 skulls (this one is our favorite!!)

3. Wake the Dead- 6 skulls (2nd favorite!!)

4. Tangled Terror- 7 skulls

5. London Frightmare- 7 skulls

In addition to the houses and rides, they also had a Spooky Fun Fair. For an additional charge you could step right up and try your luck at one of these fun and challenging games

  • Spooky Duck Pond
  • Scary Bat Toss
  • Ghostly Hit
  • Zombie Aim
  • Creepy Kangaroo Stomp
  • Booshell Toss

Also in the Spooky Fun Fair (free with admission):

  • Tiki Trek Bounce
  • Bouncey Slide

We did NOT participate in any of the Spooky Fun Fair activities. My gang said it all looked too babyish.

Sigh.

But that doesn't mean we didn't have fun!! Because we did!!

Just having the opportunity to all be together, to be present, and to have fun, was much needed!!

James and I both really enjoyed the $5 ShockTop beers.

When the trio were babies they used to love the "dancing man" that we'd see at the neighborhood car lots, so they loved seeing one all spooky-like!

Ella loved the headless horseman, and Haley loved the opportunity to tell us all about Ichabod Crane. She's such a smart, well read girl. I wonder where she gets that from?

Just because Zoo Boo didn't frighten my gang doesn't mean that it won't frighten yours.

This skull was spitting something so Haley ducked down to prevent being hit.

And there were lots of skulls all over the place. My trio just stood and looked at everything.

I love the girl photo bombing our picture. She and Ronin struck up quite the conversation in line. He's something else that kid.

Zoo Boo is open October 3-4, 10-12, 17-19, 23-26 & 30 - November 1

Hours

7-11 p.m. on Fridays & Saturdays
7-10 p.m. on Sundays & Thursdays

General Admission

$18 adults (ages 12 & up)
$14 children (ages 3 - 11)
Children Under 3 are FREE

Annual Zoo Pass Holders

$12.50 adults (ages 12 & up)
$10 children (ages 3 - 11)

Visit their website for more information.

 

Push Away the Screen: Sea Lion Splash at Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo

**This is a guest post by my daughters, 8 1/2 year old old, Ella and 10 year old Haley.**

 

Last Thursday was take your child to work day.

My mom has a pretty cool job. She's a lifestyle blogger. That means she writes about fun stuff that our family does that she thinks your family might like to do too.  It just so happened that on that Thursday my mom had been invited to go to Lowry Park Zoo to see their newest traveling exhibit, Sea Lion Splash and she thought it would be a great opportunity for me and Ella to see exactly what she does for her job. Best part was that she told Ronin he had to go to school because it was take your DAUGHTER to work day. Ronin fell for it, and we had a very nice girls day out. Okay, so back to sea lions.

Sea Lion Splash is a family owned business. They even brought their daughter with them to work that day. I'm guessing she was about my age, maybe a little older. How cool to work with sea lions everyday!

The Peters Family travels all over educating people about sea lions. When they aren't traveling they live in Myakka City, Florida which is kinda close to where my mom grew up in Venice, FL. But she's never been to Myakka City.

We asked them some questions after the show and learned that the Peters Family has has 10 sea lions, almost all rescues, divided among four facilities: two mobile units that travel the country to state fairs and zoos, a permanent facility in Myrtle Beach, S.C., and a private base of operations in Myakka City, where the Peters and the sea lions rest between trips.

We saw 4 sea lions. 2 were Pategonian Sea Lions and 2 were California Sea Lions. Did you know Pategonia is way down at the tip of South America. It gets COLD there!

The 2 California sea lions were named Poonkie and Lily. They were SO CUTE!! California Sea Lions are much smaller than Pategonian Sea Lions.

Here are Lily and Poonkie giving each other a kiss. Adorable.

These sea lions were orphans. That makes me sad that they lost their mom and dad. But I'm so happy that someone like the Peters family rescued them!

Next up were the 2 Pategonian Sea Lions. These guys were MUCH BIGGER!!

We saw Stella and Kitty. Kitty was my favorite. She was so sweet. We learned all sorts of cool facts about sea lions and Stella showed us how to make sure to clean up marine pollution!

We saw them do all sorts of neat "tricks" like sliding on their belly, and they also demonstrated how strong they are! They can hold themselves up on ONE FLIPPER!!

 But my favorite part of the show was the after party!! We got to touch the sea lions AND have our picture taken with them. It was INCREDIBLE!!

The sea lions were very soft and they smelled like fish. But I didn't care! I got to touch a sea lion!!

I LOVED being able to see Sea Lion Splash. It was an experience that I will remember FOREVER!!

There were other things to do at the exhibit area too! There was a big inflatable slide, a bounce house, and a sandbox. We came back to this area twice during our visit and both times there was no one there but US!! That was so cool!

After the show we spent the rest of the afternoon exploring Lowry Park Zoo. Mom let us go on Gator Falls 4 times, and 3 of those times we never even had to get off the ride!

It was such a great day and I got to see my mom's job. I have to say I think she has a pretty cool job. She gets to go to places like the Zoo and Busch Gardens, but she does spend a lot of time taking pictures and making notes. She also is obsessed with hashtags. I don't get hashtags. Not yet anyway.

Sea Lion Splash will be at Lowry Park Zoo until May 31st. It's NOT included in your daily admission, but it's only an extra $2 per person, so we highly recommend that you do it. You won't regret it!!

Have YOU ever met a sea lion??

Push Away the Screen: Wild Wonderland at Lowry Park Zoo

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. Tongue Out

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. Tongue Out

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.