Dallas Zoo Membership - Worth It?
We LOVE going to the Dallas Zoo! My kids have a blast, I do too, the animals are so fun to watch, and we feel comfortable there. The new hippo exhibit and brand-new baby hippo, Adanna, is our current favorite, closely followed by feeding the giraffes in the Giants of the Savannah exhibit, and of course the animatronic dinosaurs at the temporary Dinos exhibit. We always end our visit with time in the Children’s Zoo, brushing the goats, feeding the birds in the aviary (say hi to Khaki for us!), and splashing in the water. A trip to the Dallas Zoo is one of our favorite ways to spend an entire day.
But as my readers know, we’re a frugal family, both out of necessity (single-income home) and by choice as we strive to live a minimalist(ish) lifestyle. Depending on your definition of frugality, the zoo isn’t exactly a “frugal” outing. One visit for a family can run upwards of $100. But one thing I insist on investing in, frugality be darned (to an extent), are experiences, rather than toys, gadgets, and junk that will ultimately be easily forgotten or broken. One of the experiences we choose to invest in is the Dallas Zoo, but we do it the most frugal way possible.
That means we purchase a Family Membership. The total cost of an annual family membership is $116 (normally $129, but 10% off with this promo). With a membership, you get free parking and free entry for two named adults and up to four kids. Also included in a membership are six tickets for the monorail or carousel and discounts at the zoo restaurants and gift shop. You’ll probably still face some extra expenses (feeding giraffes and birds, snow cones, gift shop, etc.), but a membership will offset those costs significantly.
On the other hand, you could choose to pay per visit. I’ve done the math and a single visit to the Dallas Zoo for a family of 4 is $72 minimum- that’s just for parking and entry.
2 adult (ages 12+) entry- $34 ($17 each)
2 child (ages 3-11) entry- $28 ($14 each)
As I mentioned, that total doesn’t include any extras such as feeding the giraffes and birds, riding the monorail or carousel, your kids cornering you in the gift shop, and snow cones. (You may be wondering, “What’s her deal with snow cones? Are they required for zoo admission or something?” No. My kids just love snow cones and will loudly ask for them two thousand times in the course of five minutes. I’m not proud of it, but on a fun zoo day, I tend to give in to these requests.) So it’s not hard to imagine that a family day at the zoo can easily add up to $100 or more. Youch! Given that info and the properties of basic mathematics, a Dallas Zoo family membership more than pays for itself after only two visits.
And there are several other membership perks as well. You get reciprocal membership (discounted admission) to over 150 other zoos and aquariums nationwide, so when you go on that Spring Break family vacation, you can check out the local zoo or aquarium at a discounted rate. But be warned, the Dallas World Aquarium and Fort Worth Zoo are not included in the reciprocation, unfortunately.
Members also get free access to special events throughout the year, such as the Safari Nights Concert Series, Member Mornings, and Member Happy Hours (21+). And there are even more perks and freebies if you choose a higher-level membership than just the basic family membership.
In a nutshell, if you think you’ll visit the zoo more than once in a calendar year (remember, it won’t always be boiling hot outside!), a membership is your most frugal option. It’s math, people.
Enjoy your Dallas Zoo days! I know we will too.