I’ve been visiting the Central Florida Zoo in Sanford for 20+ years now. On one memorable trip about 10 years ago I was entraining a very important, and very wealthy, client from England who had insisted on seeing the zoo. While looking at one of the big cats the animal turned, presenting it’s rear-end, and sprayed the Englishman with a nasty musk. After a dramatic, Hollywood movie style pause, we all burst out in laughter. Later that same visit I was pelted with monkey chow by a group of raucous monkeys. Again, laughter ensued.
Lately I’ve been taking my two young girls to the Central Florida Zoo and they absolutely love it. Today I took my youngest as a special daddy/daughter adventure while my wife took the eldest to visit the mouse (and use up two soon-to-expire day passes.) The zoo has steadily improved over the years, with cages slowly being replaced with large open areas. The star attraction has changed over the years as well and right now the stars are two large rhinos that enjoy a vast area to roam in while visitors watch from a broad observation deck.
There are literally hundreds of kinds of animals at the Central Florida Zoo but it is still a modest local zoo with an efficient layout, so it’s an easy half-day trip. Or, if you have kids and are lucky enough to live close by, it’s even a morning jaunt, hitting your favorite animals, the playground, splash pad (which is the real star if you ask my girls) and out before lunch (and the larger crowds.)
The Central Florida Zoo’s annual family pass is one of, if not the, best values to be had in Central Florida. If I recall correctly, we paid $89 for our family of four for the entire year. Parking is free and food is very reasonable (on this trip I spent a total of $7 for a hotdog, fries and drink.) My eldest, shortly after turning 6, once enjoyed their kids zip-line (they have an adult version as well) and they have an outdoor laser tag field. The younger girl insists on a train ride with each visit and likes the carousel as well (if you buy the punch card they are like $1 per ride.) There is also an array of special events throughout the year, we enjoyed early trick-or-treating at the zoo this Halloween but I haven’t done much outside of that.
A few of the cages still seem uncomfortably small, which can be a tad depressing, but I still give the Central Florida Zoo a 9 out of 10 for family fun and value, definitely Genuine Orlando.