I should probably toss this out there...
My wife and I both have spring birthdays. Usually once a year we travel from LA to San Diego (about 2.5hrs) and go to the zoo. We're a big family. This year before our yearly trip I crunched the numbers... 2 adults, 3 kids... for a small amount more we could get AP's and go more then once. So we jumped at the chance. We've been back about 6 or 7 times this year (the baby was born in July). We're already saving to renew next year.
There has been a lot of talk about the Wild Animal Park's name change. WAP was included in our APs. It wasn't something we asked for, or added on, it was just part of the package so to speak. We could have upgraded our membership and received free parking at WAP, but we didn't, and don't go enough to justify it. Because of our AP's the "Journey into Africa" tram is free for us, if that wasn't included I wouldn't even bother going. I have issues with paying to get in to WAP then paying again to take the tram to see the animals we paid to get in to see. We bought the AP's for the SD Zoo and we primarily use them for it. The following is a collection of pictures. They're organized to some degree but I didn't note too much.
"funny lizard"... the 3 year old wins the "best tagline of the day" award. This exhibit is a "look down" style exhibit. The main difference being it uses a lot of glass so kids can see "through" rather then trying to climb and see "over".
This is the "new" Galapogos Tortise exhibit. It is a small retaining wall and then a unique railing system that allows smaller kids to easily see these gentle giants.
He's almost 8 and she's about to turn 3. As you can clearly see, she can see them without assistance. She was speechless. Her 3 year old mind didn't know what to think of those "really big turtles". The old exhibit utilized the rockwork you see in the background. The "rocks" were roughly 4ft high, and I would have to either hold the kids up or have them stand in the stroller just to see the animals. This new design allows most small children to walk up, and see the animals without any parental assistance.
While I "could" have managed a shot like this before, it would have been a lot more difficult to do.
This is just a cool shot!
My oldest along with another daughter (almost 5). They can clearly see the Komodo dragon without any help from dear old Dad.
I thought this was an amazing shot as well. Special thanks to the SD Zoo... in LA you'd have to be on your belly to get a shot like this!
Here are the older 3 looking into the python exhibit. The window ledges are roughly 2ft off the ground. I just missed the shot of all 4 (the 3 year old went running back to Mom on that side).
My wife and I LOVE San Diego Zoo because of it's exhibit design and philosophy towards small children. You only need to walk through the reptile house to experience exactly what I am referring to. Each exhibit has large windows, and low ledges. Our 3 year old can walk up without any assistance and see the exhibit. As a parent, that right there is the reason I willingly drive from LA to go to the San Diego Zoo.
LA has a Zoo, personally I think it is an embarrassment. For my children to see an animal at the LA Zoo I have to perfect my "Chinese acrobatic balancing skills of instability". I somehow have to sum up the strength and willpower to hold each one up at each exhibit. By the end of the day I feel like I've been at the gym. Considering that I have no issues driving to the SD Zoo instead of "roughing it" at the LA Zoo... I don't have to pick my kids up each time, they can see the animals on their level, and exhibits are designed and re-designed with them in mind. Part of the philosophy being that if the kids can see it then the adults will easily see and appreciate the same exhibit.
For anyone wondering... I've sent a "thank you" email to the SD Zoo on many occasions. I've also sent "constructive criticism" to the LA Zoo along with side by side comparison photos. You can't simply assume "they know" and hope changes are made.