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

Buying Phoenix Zoo tickets at the gate may seem convenient, but this ease of access comes at a cost. During the day, general admission runs $29.95 for visitors ages 14 and up — or $19.95 for children ages 3-13. Kids 2 and under can enter the zoo without a ticket. 

A lion rests at the Phoenix Zoo.

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 better 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.

Still, if you’re able to take advantage of an alternative, lower-cost approach, it’s worth your while to ditch the Phoenix Zoo web store and try something else.

Phoenix Zoo Discount Options

Given the steeper 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 types 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 $22 per adult for daytime admission, as well as $17 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. Even with the convenience fee. However, the total price comes in well under what you’d pay if purchasing tickets at the gate.

A giraffe at the Phoenix Zoo.

2. Discounted Phoenix Zoo Lights Tickets

In addition to daytime tickets, aRes offers discounted admission for the Phoenix Zoo ZooLights event. Held 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.

Currently, aRes ZooLights tickets are only $17 for visitors ages 3 and up. This represents a noteworthy price break as compared to the standard $20 when tickets are purchased at the gate or on the official Phoenix Zoo website. Zoo members, however, can score tickets for $16 each.

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: 

Individual

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 $99, this pays for itself after just four zoo visits in a single year. 

Individual Plus

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 $129 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. 

Family

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 $199, 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. 

Family Plus

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.

Like the memberships described above, this option includes unlimited daytime admission. Better yet, it adds a complimentary Safari Cruiser to the mix. 

Friend

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. 

Partner

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 $1,500 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 $2 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 $2 per visit. This price reduction only applies to daytime admission. 

An elephant reaches for food at Phoenix Zoo.

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 $2 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. 

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 Sundays, this option provides access to up to four zoo tickets for $10 each.

A close-up of carousel animals at Phoenix Zoo.

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. In some situations, however, these offerings actually come at an increased cost. 

Outreach Live on Location

Bringing the zoo directly to the public, this program costs $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 members or $75 for nonmembers. 

Field Trips

Few field trips get students excited quite like hanging out on the zoo grounds with their classmates. This can be an affordable option for taking learning out of the school setting.

With the Phoenix Zoo, educational rates depend on the nature of each field trip — guided versus self-guided, for example. Often, educational groups are able to 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. 

Birding 101

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. A shorter Bird Walk program is also offered at $10 for non-members or $8 for members. 

Photography Walkabouts

The Phoenix Zoo provides a wealth of exceptional photography opportunities. Animal photography skills can be quickly sharpened during Photography Walkabouts, which cost $18 (in addition to the admission price). 

10. Supervisory Care Rates

Special needs organizations have the opportunity to receive reduced rates for daytime admission. The current supervisory care rate is $10 for adults and $8 for children. To qualify, you’ll need to complete an application 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

Phoenix, like many tourist towns, 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 has to offer. Purchased on an annual basis, 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 $49.98, discounts are often available. If you purchase one on sale, you might be able to score both zoo admission and several extra perks for $34.98. 

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: 

Zoo Hours

For regular visitors, the zoo is open most days starting at 9 a.m. Members, however, get to arrive an hour early at 8 a.m. 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 5 p.m., with the attraction opening for ZooLights between 5:30 and 10:30 p.m.

Between January 21 and May 31, the zoo is open from 9 a.m. (or 8 a.m. for members) until 5 p.m. During the summer, hours shift earlier: 7 a.m. to 2 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, this trail introduces visitors to many intriguing animals that live near Phoenix. Highlights include bobcats, mountain lions, and the Mexican gray wolf. 
A rhino drinks water at the Phoenix Zoo.

Animal Encounters

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 $7 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 $5 per person. 

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: