The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is one of the most popular attractions in Ohio, where you will find more than 7,000 animals across nearly 600 acres.

You’ll want to spend a full day there, if not multiple days. Thankfully, you can find discount Columbus Zoo tickets through authorized sellers so that you have more to spend on fun extras like giraffe feedings and upgraded experiences.

Everything you need to know about getting Columbus Zoo discount tickets and some helpful information you need for your visit is listed below. This way, you don’t have to try promo codes, coupons, and other deals that don’t work.

You can save on tickets, tours, and hotels through my affiliations. If you make purchases through the links in this post, I may be compensated.

Gate Prices for Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

The cost of Columbus Zoo tickets at the gate are as follows for those who aren’t residents of Franklin County:

  • Adults (ages 10–59): $24.99
  • Child (ages 3–9): $18.99
  • Ages 0–2: FREE
  • Seniors (ages 60+): $18.99

If you were to purchase online through their website, you’ll also pay a $2 processing fee and a $3 conservation fee. Guests are encouraged to pay the $10 parking fee online before arriving at the Zoo.

You can also purchase a 2-day package where you get admission for one day to the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium and another day to visit the sister Zoombezi Bay water park. The Zoombezi Bay operating season is from the beginning to the end of summer, so you can only buy this package in the summer when Zoombezi Bay is open.

If you want to save some money on gate prices, check out all the discounts below and see what you can save.

The Best Columbus Zoo and Aquarium Discount Ticket Options

As mentioned already, you have multiple options you have for finding discounted Columbus Zoo and Aquarium tickets. The discount varies depending on when you visit and whether you meet some eligibility requirements.

1. Discounted Single-Day General Admission Tickets

One of the best ways to purchase tickets at a discounted rate is through aRes Travel. They are an authorized seller of Columbus Zoo tickets. We use them to sell tickets to Disneyland, Universal Studios, San Diego Zoo, and other major theme parks across the country.

aRes Travel charges a $2 per ticket processing fee, but you will still come out ahead.

Just like the normal admission price for entry to the zoo, your ticket is valid any day that the zoo is open, which is every day of the year except Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day. So, you have a lot of flexibility in using these discounted tickets.

Two polar bears play at Columbus Zoo.

2. Franklin County Resident Discount

You can receive discounted tickets to the Columbus Zoo if you live in Franklin County, where the Zoo is located.

Franklin County Residents can use a valid driver’s license, a state ID, or a current utility bill to prove they live in Franklin County. These resident discounts are good all year long for general admission.

  • Adults (ages 10–59): $24.99
  • Child (ages 3–9): $18.99
  • Ages 0–2: FREE
  • Seniors (ages 60+): $18.99

Additionally, this popular attraction offers occasional Franklin County Community Days throughout the year where county residents can purchase tickets at 50% off. Check the calendar for dates.

A pink flamingo with a green blurred background at Columbus Zoo.
A flamingo at the Columbus Zoo in Ohio

3. Columbus Zoo Membership Options

If you visit the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium often enough, having one of the Zoo memberships is the best way to save money. There are multiple options for Zoo memberships or season passes, but all of them include free admission and free parking.

In addition, you also obtain additional discounts and benefits, which can vary based on your membership category. Members can take advantage of seasonal Early Member Mornings where they can enter the Zoo before the general public.

Once you choose your membership, you can activate it online using your ticket or voucher number. Then, your membership card will be mailed to you, or you can pick it up in person at the season pass processing office. You can save an additional $5 per membership if you purchase your membership online.

The total savings varies by the membership, but after just a couple of visits, you will make up for the cost of the membership.

Gold Individual

The Gold Individual membership is the best value, given all the benefits you get. In addition to the free admission, you will have free rides, animal feedings, and admission to the theater and Zoombezi Bay. The membership is only for one person.

Family Plus

The most popular membership at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is the Family Plus membership which gives membership benefits to two primary named adult members in the same household plus either dependent children or their grandchildren up to the age of 21. You also get admission for two additional named or unnamed adults.

Family

The Family Membership is similar to the Family Plus membership, but it does not include admission for the two additional adults. But it still includes admission for either dependent children or grandchildren.

Individual Plus

Another individual option, other than the Gold Individual membership, is the Individual Plus membership which allows you to visit with one unnamed adult during every visit to the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium.

Individual

You can also opt for the individual membership, which allows you (and no guests) access to the Zoo all year long.

Family Access Membership

Finally, there is a Family Access Membership which is a discounted membership category for families in programs like WIC, Medicaid, and the Ohio Direction EBT Card. 

You cannot buy this membership online, as you have to provide proof that you are in one of the qualifying programs and provide a photo ID. This membership also allows access for primary named members of the same family.

4. Columbus Zoo and Aquarium Group Discounts

The Columbus Zoo and Zoombezi Bay both offer group discounts that you can take advantage of if you have 25 or more people visiting the zoo in your group. Options for group discounts are listed below.

Magellanic penguins in an exhibit at Columbus Zoo and Aquarium.
Chatty Magellanic penguins

Franklin County Group Outings 

If you are planning a group outing with a group from Franklin County, you get an even bigger discount than Franklin county residents already do.

Admission with these discounted tickets is:

  • Adults (ages 10–59): $16
  • Kids (ages 3–9): $11
  • Kids (ages 0-2): Free
  • Seniors (ages 60+): $11

Non-Franklin County Group Outings 

You can still plan a group outing and receive a discount if your group is not part of Franklin County. Your discount will be $0.99 per person.

  • Adults (ages 10–59): $24
  • Kids (ages 3–9): $18
  • Kids (ages 0-2): Free
  • Seniors (ages 60+): $18

School Group Discounts

There are also discounts to the zoo that schools can use if they are organizing a field trip. The qualifications for school group discounts are a little different than the other group discounts, and you only need 15 people in the school group. 

Depending on when you are visiting, whether or not you have a state-certified curriculum, and whether or not you have proof of tax exemption, like being a non-profit, your group rate will vary.

5. Seasonal Columbus Zoo Offers

You can also find some Columbus Zoo tickets that vary depending on the time of year you visit.

Wildlights

Wildlights is a special holiday event where the whole Zoo is covered in Christmas lights. You also will be able to visit Santa and partake in other festive activities.

While there is no special discount for the event, you can use the offers listed in this article, and you receive access to more events during the event.

Sensory-Friendly Santa Experience

This event is only $5 for people with sensory needs and their families to participate in. It includes a visit with Santa in a less stimulating environment.

The capacity of the event is controlled, and there are reduced sounds. Kids who have sensory needs will enjoy seeing Santa with decreased visual stimulation.

6. Donor Memberships

You can also become a member of the Columbus Zoo with a donation. You can make multiple levels of donations, and you will be invited to special events depending on your donor level.

Colo Society

The highest donor membership level is for those who donate $1,000 or more. You will participate in special events to see how your money helps improve the Zoo and the lives of the animals.

Keepers Club

Another option is the Keepers Club which requires a donation of $500 or $750. Depending on which amount you donate, you are either helping wildlife conservation efforts or funding breakthrough improvements at the Zoo, which help care for the animals.

Lion rests in the grass at Columbus Zoo.

7. Half-Price Winter Admission

I do not see anything released for 2023 yet, but I would encourage the client to check again closer to January. In 2022, this offer ran from mid-January to mid-March.

8. AAA Discount to Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

The Columbus Zoo does not specifically offer tickets for AAA members, but you can go to your local AAA store or go on the AAA website to purchase tickets.

The discount on Columbus Zoo tickets for AAA members can vary, so contact AAA with any questions.

9. Military Discounts to the Columbus Zoo

Both active and non-active duty military members are eligible for a Columbus Zoo discount year-round. The discount is $2 off for up to six tickets.

These discounted tickets can only be bought at the ticket windows, and you must show a valid military ID.

10. COTA Zoo Bus Customer Columbus Zoo Discount

The Columbus Zoo offers a discount to visitors who ride the seasonal COTA Zoo Bus as a way to help keep the planet clean and safe for the animals and us. 

The Zoo Bus operates from early May to late October, and service times vary. Between Memorial Day and Labor Day, there are services seven days a week, so you can take advantage of the discount for COTA Zoo Bus customers whenever it is convenient for you. During the shoulder season, the zoo bus has limited service on weekends.

The Zoo Bus makes stops at the following places before dropping you off at the Zoo’s entrance:

  • Statehouse
  • High & Broad
  • W. Spring Street and N. Front Street
  • Griggs Dam Park & Ride
  • Dublin Park & Ride

COTA Zoo Bus customers are eligible for $3 admission to the zoo, which is one of the biggest discounts they offer. You will receive your voucher for $3 admission when you register to ride the zoo bus. Then, you can redeem the voucher at the ticket window.

11. Reciprocal Admission — 50% Off

If you are a member of a zoo or aquarium on this list, you’ll receive 50% off general admission. Reciprocal members must present their zoo or aquarium membership card and a valid photo ID at any ticket window.

The reciprocal discount for other zoos and aquariums doesn’t apply to parking or Zoombezi Bay tickets. Reciprocal Zoos and Aquariums include Cincinnati Zoo, Smithsonian National Zoo, Nashville Zoo, and many others.

12. Ticket Donations for Non-Profits or Certain Government Agencies

While these aren’t cheaper tickets that you can buy, you can also request charitable donations for the Columbus Zoo. So, that someone who can benefit can receive free tickets.

Ticket Donation Requests

Organizations can request four Columbus Zoo tickets for raffles and auctions as long as requirements are met, such as the location and tax status of the organization.

Group Grants

Organizations that are 501(c)(3) tax-exempt nonprofits or government agencies with tax-exempt status located in Franklin County can also request blocks of tickets. Grants are subject to approval, and the tickets must help meet the group’s goals somehow.

Other In-Kind Donations

If your request does not meet either of the above types of donation requests, you can request other donations like gift baskets, tours, and sponsorships.

Columbus Zoo and Aquarium Ticket Upgrades and Add-Ons

In addition to your admission ticket, you may have to pay other fees, such as parking, or choose to upgrade your stay with lockers or other amenities.

Parking

Parking fee is $10 per car. There is no option for discounted parking, and the parking rate is nonrefundable.

If you do not have a car, want to avoid parking, or just want to help the environment, you can take the COTA Zoo Bus for $2 each way. And, as mentioned above, you’ll receive a discount on Columbus Zoo tickets when you take the Zoo Bus.

Lockers

You can also pay to rent a locker during your day at the zoo. They have two lockers available to rent, small and large, and you have to put down a $5 refundable deposit for each locker you rent, regardless of size. The small lockers are $8 to rent for the day, and the large lockers are $10.

Tours & Experiences

You can upgrade your day by booking a behind-the-scenes tour that will get you up close to wildlife, such as visiting the reindeer habitat, helping to give elephants baths, and learning more about cheetahs. You can even book a VIP tour and have your own personal tour guide and golf cart.

Reindeer at Columbus Zoo.

Important Columbus Zoo and Aquarium Tips for Visiting

You will have a great time at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, especially if you buy discounted tickets.

Make sure you wear good walking shoes, as the Zoo is big and there are over 800 animal species to see. You can rent a manual wheelchair or electric scooter if you need help getting around. Service dogs are allowed in the park, and there are nursing stations, adult changing stations, and sensory bags available to help make the Zoo grounds a welcoming place for everyone.

You can also use Creature Cash, which is like normal cash that you can spend throughout the Zoo. Credit cards are accepted in most places, but there are also ATMs around the park.

Other than seeing all the animals or visiting Zoombezi Bay, there are a lot of attractions at the Zoo. Make sure to check out some of the following:

  • The Grand Carousel Ride (Shores Region)
  • The North America Train Ride (North America region)
  • Dinosaur Island Boat Ride (Australia and Island region)
  • Pony Encounter ride (North American region)
  • Shores Play Park (Shores region adjacent to Discovery Reef)
  • Discovery Reef
  • Stingray Bay
  • Safari Golf Club

You are allowed to re-enter the Zoo on the same day as long as you receive a hand stamp when you exit and show it at the Zoo’s entrance when you come back.

Columbus Zoo and Aquarium Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Does the Columbus Zoo offer a Kroger discount?

Yes. Kroger is the official grocer of the Columbus Zoo, so they offer various discounts and memberships for their customers. You can find discounted tickets to the zoo and Zoombezi Bay by visiting your local central Ohio Kroger.

Does the Columbus Zoo offer a discount for the Wildlights annual event?

No. The rate for admission to the Columbus zoo stays the same for the Wildlights event, which takes place at the end of every year. You can use the discounts above for tickets to the Wildlights annual event.

Does the Columbus Zoo offer a teacher discount?

No. The Columbus Zoo does not currently offer discounts for teachers.

What Discounts Outside of Columbus Zoo Do Members Receive?

Columbus Zoo and Aquarium members get additional discounts to other places and events in Columbus as a further benefit to their membership.

The Wilds

Members of the Zoo receive 50% off Open Air Safari Tours.

Member Advantage

As a zoo member, you can save $3 on admission to many museums and history centers throughout Columbus. You just need to show your Zoo card to receive the discount.

Columbus Crew

There are select games during the Columbus Crew season where Zoo members are offered special pricing.

The Ohio State University

Zoo members receive discounts on certain OSU sporting events.

See also how to buy discount:

Katie Dillon headshot

Katie Dillon is the managing editor of La Jolla Mom. She helps readers plan San Diego vacations through her hotel expertise (that stems from living in a Four Seasons hotel) and local connections. Readers have access to exclusive discounts on theme park tickets (like Disneyland and San Diego Zoo) and perks at luxury hotels worldwide through her. She also shares insider tips for visiting major cities worldwide like Hong Kong, London, Paris, and Shanghai that her family has either lived in or visits regularly (or both).

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