Can Buying a Zoo Pass Save Money?

With my wife being a stay-at-home mom, she’s always on the lookout for things to do with Tyler. Now, our little boy is only a year old, so the options for activities are fairly limited. One thing we decided to do this year was to buy a family zoo membership. I remember going to the zoo as a child and watching the animals (I’ve always been a fan of monkeys). It was always fun, and I enjoyed it.

I fully realize that our 1-year-old son isn’t going to totally understand the zoo, but he looks around and watches everything. He sees the animals and starts babbling. Right now, he calls just about anything with four legs “dog”, but in time he’ll learn. Taking your kids to the zoo is one of those things that I believe is under-appreciated today. I mean, the zoo can be an educational wonderland for kids (and without them even realizing it). It engages the kids and encourages curiosity and learning. As Tyler gets older, I’m looking forward to answering all the questions he will have about the animals.

From a financial standpoint, the regular per-visit admission price for an adult is $8 (children under age 3 are free). Our family zoo membership cost $65 and includes my wife and I plus all our dependents under age 18 (just Tyler for now). We also added the option to add one guest pass for $15, bringing the total cost of our zoo membership to $80. But for that $80, we can go the zoo as many times as we want for the entire year. An additional perk is that we get discounted admission to a lot of other zoos throughout the country, which is nice.

For Amanda and I to break even on this, we need to go to the zoo for a total of 10 visits ($80 for the membership divided by the $8 regular per person admission = 10 admissions). Now, this is 10 individual visits and not 10 family visits. So, if I’m only able to go 3 times (say, on weekends), and my wife goes 7 times (on weekends, plus the occasional visit during the week), the membership will be worth it. The thing is that my wife is home taking care of Tyler all week, so I know they will go to the zoo a lot. And with the guest pass, she can even take someone else along on those trips.

So, how much can we expect to save by buying the zoo pass? Our zoo is open from the beginning of April pretty much through Thanksgiving, which comes out to around 35 weeks. Even if we go to the zoo once a month for those eight months, that makes a total of 16 admissions. This would normally cost $128, but with our zoo pass is only $80. Total savings = $48. Realistically for us, that is a pretty low estimate. I think a more accurate estimate is that we’ll all go once a month (16 admissions), but that Amanda will probably go to the zoo during the week with Tyler and a guest (a grandparent, aunt, etc.) at least once every three weeks (another 12 admissions). This makes a total of 28 admissions that would normally cost $224, but with our zoo pass is only $80. Total savings = $144. This doesn’t even include the savings from the guest pass, which would be another $96 (since the guest wouldn’t have to pay for their admission on those 12 trips).

If you live fairly close to a zoo and have children, a family zoo pass can be a huge money saver.