Going to the zoo is an iconic family experience that can also make for a wonderful date night or outing with friends. The Phoenix Zoo, in particular, is incredibly versatile, offering something to please visitors of all ages. Spanning 125 acres, this beloved destination is home to over 3,000 animals that are bound to delight.
The good news is that you can easily buy discount Phoenix Zoo tickets to avoid paying full price at the gate. In this guide, I explore the best options for keeping the cost of visiting the Phoenix Zoo to a minimum without using coupons and promo codes that don’t work. I also have a few tips for fun ways to level up your zoo experience once you get there.
Gate Prices for the Phoenix Zoo
If you buy Phoenix Zoo tickets at the gate, general admission runs $39.95 for visitors ages 14 and up — or $29.95 for children ages 3-13. Kids 2 and under can enter the zoo without a ticket.
A few modest discounts are available for specific types of visitors (seniors and students, for example) at the gate, but this may not be enough to convince some to stop by. Plus, I list a few alternative options below.
Online Daily Admission Phoenix Zoo Tickets
While some attractions use significant discounts to encourage visitors to purchase tickets online and in advance, this is unfortunately not the case for the Phoenix Zoo. Instead, buying daily admission tickets online costs more than buying them at the gate.
In addition to the standard cost of general daytime admission, this approach adds a $2 convenience fee. This is a one-time charge, so it shouldn’t be too big of a deal if you intend to purchase tickets for several people at once.
Phoenix Zoo Discount Options
Given the price of admission at the gate, it behooves most visitors to seek out discounts. A variety of options are available to various types of attendees, so it’s worthwhile to study your choices to learn which is best for your situation. We’ve highlighted several of the best kinds of Phoenix Zoo discount tickets below.
1. Discounted General Admission Tickets (Top Pick)
Easy to access and convenient to use, these tickets allow you to avoid the hassle of reserving. They’re available via aRes, where you can score a major discount without having to jump through any hoops.
As an authorized ticket seller, aRes provides access to a variety of excellent attractions in the San Diego area and throughout the nation. You can purchase tickets and go straight to the gate.
If you take advantage of aRes for Phoenix Zoo discount tickets, you’ll spend $32.95 per adult for daytime admission, as well as $22.95 per child between 3 and 13 years of age.
As with online tickets purchased directly through the zoo, a small convenience fee will be added of $2 per ticket. However, the total price comes in under what you’d pay if purchasing tickets at the gate.
Phoenix Zoo General Admission – spring promo!
Save $8! This ticket is valid for one 1-Day admission up to one year from the purchase date. Price: $32.95/adult and $22.95/kids ages 3–13
2. Discounted Phoenix Zoo Lights Tickets (Seasonal)
In addition to daytime tickets, aRes offers discounted admission for the Phoenix Zoo ZooLights event. Held on select evenings between late November and mid-January, this walk-through experience brings a whole new dimension to the zoo. It incorporates millions of twinkling lights, as well as awe-inspiring animal sculptures and dozens of lanterns situated along the Africa Trail.
Phoenix Zoo zoolights Admission
Temporarily not available (seasonal). Save $7! This ticket is valid for one 1-entry to the Phoenix Zoo ZooLights Event, which includes all new animal lanterns and light displays, an enhanced Santa experience, and the Zoo’s brand-new music and light show. ZooLights runs now through January 15, 2023. Price: $28/adult and $28/kids ages 3–13
3. Phoenix Zoo Membership Options
If you live in the Phoenix area or find yourself there regularly, you could be the perfect candidate for a zoo membership. Under this approach, you’ll pay far less over time than you would if purchasing tickets for individual visits.
Perks of zoo memberships include unlimited daytime admission and discounts on special events or experiences. The Phoenix Zoo membership discount also applies to stroller rentals and birthday parties. Reciprocal admission is provided, so you may be able to enter other zoos at a discounted rate.
Phoenix Zoo memberships are available at several different levels, so examine potential pricing and benefits thoroughly before you select your preferred option:
If you intend to visit the zoo on your own or with friends who are also members (as opposed to your immediate family), your best bet may be the affordable Individual membership. At just $129, this pays for itself after just four zoo visits in a single year.
A small step up in price will allow you and a loved one to enjoy unlimited entrance to the Phoenix Zoo. The Individual Plus membership costs $169 and is designed for two people. This is the preferred option for couples who love to hang out at the zoo — or for small families with children under the age of 3.
As one of the most popular Phoenix Zoo membership options, the Family plan covers two adults and up to four children between the ages of 3 and 17. With a total cost of $279, this is a steal that could quickly pay off even if you visit the zoo with your family just twice over the course of one year.
If you’d like to add another adult to the mix or accommodate a large group of children, you’re in luck: the Family Plus membership is good for three adults and up to six kids under 18 for $389.
Like the memberships described above, this option includes unlimited daytime admission. Better yet, it adds a complimentary Safari Cruiser to the mix.
The options highlighted above are all considered base-level memberships. If you’re ready to go to the next level and provide extra assistance to this nonprofit zoo, you can invest in a supporting membership. Two main options are available: Friend and Partner.
As a Friend of the Phoenix Zoo, you’ll pay $500 for the year. This will get you unlimited daytime admission for three adults and up to ten minors. Like the Family Plus membership, this also incorporates a complimentary Safari Cruiser. Additional bonuses include two tickets for friends that can be used on a single day of admission, plus an appreciation night during the annual ZooLights festivities.
Membership as a Partner costs $1,000 per year. This may seem like a steep price, especially since its daytime admission coverage is similar: three adults and up to ten minors. That being said, your extra financial commitment could get you quite a bit in return:
- Four daytime admission tickets good for one-time use
- ZooLights member appreciation night
- Annual Discovery tour
- Complimentary Safari Cruiser
Guardian Conservation Society
Highly dedicated members who desire a strong future for the zoo can opt to join the Guardian Conservation Society. These memberships are available at levels ranging from $2,500 to $10,000. Benefits vary accordingly, with all guardians receiving:
- Unlimited daytime admission for donors and up to twelve guests.
- Complimentary camel rides and admission to Stingray Bay
- Voting privileges during the annual meeting for the Arizona Center for Nature Conservation
4. Military Discount Tickets
The Phoenix Zoo recognizes the incredible bravery and sacrifices of our nation’s military members. To honor these heroes, the zoo provides military discounts of $5 per ticket. This Phoenix Zoo military discount is only available to visitors with valid photo identification.
The zoo has also been known to provide free daytime admission to the park exclusively for both veterans and active military members on Veteran’s Day.
5. Senior Discount Tickets
Zoo visitors ages 60 and older qualify for senior discounts of $5 per visit. This price reduction only applies to daytime admission.
6. Student Discount Tickets
The zoo is a great place for high school and college students to check out, especially since it offers a targeted discount. This is available to any student between the ages of 14 and 59, as long as they’re able to provide proof of their academic status with an ID card.
Like the military and senior discounts mentioned previously, this option takes $5 off per daytime ticket.
7. Member of Affiliate Zoo or Aquarium
Do you currently hold a zoo membership outside of the Phoenix area? Depending on where you’re a member, you might be able to enter the Phoenix Zoo at half price. This is even available to some aquarium members.
Check out the official list of reciprocal program participants to determine if you qualify for Phoenix Zoo discounts. This list is subject to change anytime.
8. EBT Discount
The Phoenix Zoo EBT discount is available to any visitor with an EBT card issued by the state of Arizona. Available only on Tuesdays and Sundays, this option provides access to up to four zoo tickets for $10 each.
9. In-Person Group Discounts
The Phoenix Zoo provides a variety of group programs designed to educate and entertain animal enthusiasts of all ages. Depending on the specific program, this may provide access to zoo attractions or presentations at a discounted price. However, in some situations, these offerings come at an increased cost.
Outreach Live on Location
Bringing the zoo directly to the public, this program typically costs around $200 for a classroom or $260 for a non-educational group. Depending on the size of the group, this could mean a lower cost per person as compared to standard zoo admission — plus avoiding the cost and hassle of transportation. This program should be requested well in advance by completing a form online.
Project Orangutan Zoo Crew
Ideal for preteens, this STEAM-oriented program gets students closely acquainted with the orangutans while incorporating hands-on lessons about engineering and consumer decision-making. It consists of three ninety-minute sessions. Altogether, the experience costs $90 for nonmembers or $75 for members.
Few field trips get students excited, like hanging out on the zoo grounds with their classmates. This can be an affordable option for taking learning from the school setting.
With the Phoenix Zoo, educational rates depend on the nature of each field trip — guided versus self-guided, for example. Sometimes, educational groups can visit for just $8 per person.
Additional discounts may be available when special education is involved ($6 per person) or when the group qualifies under the ZooReach program ($4 per person). ZooReach also provides scholarships to Title I schools, allowing students and teachers to visit free of charge.
Storytime at the Zoo
Head to the Doornbos Discovery Amphitheater to meet ambassador animals and read nature stories. This costs $5 per child — but the price of admission is not included.
This program is designed for novice birdwatchers, who learn about local species in the classroom and then build their birding skills while exploring the zoo. The experience costs $20 for non-members or $18 for members, but zoo admission is not included.
The Phoenix Zoo provides a wealth of exceptional photography opportunities. Animal photography skills can be quickly sharpened during Photography Walkabouts, which typically cost around $18 when it’s available (in addition to the admission price).
10. Supervisory Care Rates
Special needs organizations have the opportunity to receive reduced rates for daytime admission. The 2020 – 2021 supervisory care rate was $10 for adults and $8 for children. To qualify, you’ll need to complete an application (scroll to the bottom, under ‘Other Discounts’) and submit verification of your organization’s work with special needs populations. This may involve a 501(c)(3) certification form or pamphlets about your organization’s services.
11. Pogo Pass
Like many tourist towns, Phoenix offers an all-inclusive pass designed to reduce the per-attraction cost of visiting the area’s top destinations. Known as the Pogo Pass, this membership program is also great for locals who like getting out and seeing the best this city offers. Purchased annually, it can deliver huge savings for everything from zoo visits to sporting events.
The Pogo Pass does not, like a typical zoo membership, provide unlimited access — but it does include two free visits per year. Additionally, the pass includes visits to Enchanted Island, Uptown Jungle, and Pangaea Land of the Dinosaurs. You can also use the pass to reserve tickets to Arizona Diamondbacks or Phoenix Mercury games.
While the Pogo Pass typically costs $199.98, discounts are often available.
Important Phoenix Zoo Tips for Visiting
Once you’ve determined which types of Phoenix Zoo discount tickets you want to purchase, it’s time to plan for the perfect day at the zoo. Keep the following considerations in mind as you prepare for a fun, laid-back visit:
For regular visitors, the zoo is open most days starting at 9 a.m and in the summer the park usually opens at 7 a.m. Members, however, get to arrive an hour early and explore a uniquely peaceful zoo.
When the zoo closes for the day depends on the season. In November, December, and most of January, daytime admission ends at 4 p.m., with the attraction opening for ZooLights between 5:30 and 10:30 p.m.
Between September 1 – October 31, the zoo is open from 9 a.m. (or 8 a.m. for members) until 5 p.m. During the summer, June 1 – August 31 hours shift earlier: 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. Always check the calendar before you go.
Parking and Public Transit
While many attractions charge for parking, this is completely free at the Phoenix Zoo. Specific parking lots are provided for school buses and other vehicles. Finding parking in the main lot is typically easy; set your navigating app to 455 North Galvin Parkway in Phoenix.
Access to the zoo is also available by bus or light rail. Keep in mind that, if you take the Valley Metro Rail, you’ll need to walk for twenty minutes after you get off at Priest Drive. Otherwise, bus routes 3 or 56 will drop you off near the zoo entrance.
Top Exhibits to Check Out
The Phoenix Zoo is sizable, so you’ll want to set aside several hours to see and experience it all. Visit length varies dramatically from one person or group to the next, but it’s typical to spend somewhere between two and four hours at the zoo.
As you explore the zoo, you’ll meander along several themed trails. Trees, bodies of water, and other landscape features help you feel as if you’ve entered another world, even before you see any animals. Top trails include:
- Africa. Showcasing several iconic animals associated with the zoo setting, this popular trail gets you within viewing distance of all your favorites: lions, zebras, giraffes, and rhinoceroses. If you have extra time, check out the extension known as the Desert Trail, where you’ll find Arabian oryx and desert bighorn sheep.
- Tropics. Featuring an aviary, a Monkey Village, and the Land of the Dragons, the Tropics Trail takes you through lush habitats as you observe iguanas, anteaters, tigers, jaguar, tropical birds, and more. This large loop contains many side trails, so give yourself at least an hour to see it all.
- Children’s. Youngsters adore this kid-friendly trail, which, for most visitors, should take about half an hour to navigate. Many of the animals viewed from this trail are as adorable as the little kids who toddle between exhibits. Get ready to watch gibbons, tamarins, and emu. The trail also leads to a farm area that young children will be thrilled to check out.
- Arizona. Reflecting local wildlife and landscapes such as the Sonoran Desert, the Arizona Trail introduces visitors to many intriguing animals that live near Phoenix. Highlights include bobcats, mountain lions, and the Mexican gray wolf.
You’ll see a variety of animals out and about while wandering the zoo’s top trails, but your visit will be even more memorable if you attend animal presentations or take part in animal encounters. Many of these require an additional purchase — but the extra price is typically modest, and, according to many visitors, well worth the cost.
Stingray Bay is a top option that costs just $5 per person to enter, plus $4 per food cup if you want to feed the fish. Camel rides are also fun, and, at $8 per participant, surprisingly affordable. If you’d like to learn more about the zoo’s top animals while taking a break from walking, hop on the Safari Cruiser for $6 per person. The Zoo also offers slight discounts on these activities if you are a member.
Eating at the Zoo
Many tourist attractions force visitors to purchase their snacks, meals, and beverages onsite. This is not the case for the Phoenix Zoo, however — you’re even encouraged to bring a cooler stocked with your favorite foods. Keep in mind that outside glass containers and alcoholic beverages are prohibited.
If you prefer the convenience of eating onsite, you can choose from a variety of dining locations, the majority of which are decidedly kid-friendly. Grab a burrito at the Crossroads Cafe or a perfectly seared burger at the Savanna Grill. Adults can purchase craft beer at Keg Corner or the Lakeside Lounge.
Phoenix Zoo Tickets & More FAQ
By now, you should have a solid grasp on what a visit to the Phoenix Zoo might involve — and how much it will cost. Still, it’s natural to have questions about the reservation process and the experience in general. We answer several common queries below:
Does the Phoenix Zoo currently offer a teacher discount?
In general, teachers not visiting during field trips should not expect to receive discounts for the Phoenix Zoo based on their employment status. If visiting with students, however, they may enter at a reduced rate, as described in the field trip information above.
Another exception? Faculty and other staff members from Arizona State University. The discount level may differ based on when you visit; call reservations to learn more. Otherwise, if reserving tickets online, you can use the promo code Ringtail21.
Does the Phoenix Zoo offer a first responders discount?
Unfortunately, the Phoenix Zoo does not currently provide a discount targeted at first responders. That being said, first responders can take advantage of several discount options highlighted above.
Do you have to make reservations to visit the Phoenix Zoo?
No. You do not need reservations to visit the Phoenix Zoo. It’s encouraged that guests purchase tickets in advance to minimize contact at the entrance area and streamline the entire process of getting into the attraction. That being said, it’s still possible to purchase tickets at the gate.
Show Off Your Wild Side at the Phoenix Zoo
No matter which discount you use, you’ll be glad that you set aside a day to explore the Phoenix Zoo. Get ready for a day of lighthearted fun with your favorite animals.
See also how to buy discount:
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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