Columbus Zoo

Has anyone been to the Columbus Zoo lately? Not only is it a great zoo but they have a water park, Zoombezi Bay and an amusement park, Jungle Jack's Landing. The water park looks pretty good if you like waterparks. The amusement park just has one coaster but it is the Sea Dragon a 1956 John Allen coaster that is actually pretty fun. Most of the rides have a safari theme and name and looks quite different than Wyandot Lake. The park has a new flume which was down when I visited and a swinging boat ride that went on and on. I usually handle these rides ok but this ride nearly did me in. The park could use some more rides like another coaster and a ferris wheel ride.

crazy horse's avatar

This zoo is on my list of places to see.

How is the zoo portion of the park? How would you compare it to the detroit or toledo zoos? But more importantly, I want to visit this German restaurant I saw on the food network that is in

Have you or anyone been to this place?

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Jeff's avatar

I really like the newer Asia part of the zoo. Their elephant habitat is impressive (and clearly the influence for the one being built in Cleveland).

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Having visited the zoo multiple times a year since I was born until I moved to Indiana I got to watch it grow and change, but man, my mom and I were completely lost when we went last month! It has changed a lot in the seven years we hadn't been there, and the elephant habitat has seen an overall decrease in visibility. I remember when they used to have them wide open to view from the paths, with a large and deep ravine separating the habitat from the viewing area. I don't necessarily mind the foliage they've put in as a result of filling those ravines, though they have cut down on overall visibility quite a bit. They have done that on every exhibit that had the ravines as a separator.

But aside from that point, yes, the zoo is a great place to go, especially in the winter with their outstanding light display. It was really great to go back for a visit, and I really want to get back for the Polar Bear exhibit opening next year. But if I end up in Orlando, that probably won't happen. The amusement side is almost too wide open I think, but does have some cool looking rides. I had only been to Wyandot Lake once back in like 01, so I don't remember too much about it. Sea Dragon was a fun little coaster at the time, though.

Original BlueStreak64

LostKause's avatar

I have always been told that the Columbus Zoo is one of the best in the country. The zoo, along with the waterpark and the amusement park, is also on my list of places to visit sometime, especially since they have a traditional flume.

It's only about a 3 1/2 hour drive form my house.

Did they ever get Sea Dragon running this summer? Funny, I used to go to Wyandot Lake almost every week, but I don't even have a pass to the Zoo. VERY short hours (except Wednesday nights) means I can basically only go there on the weekend, and this summer there was no coaster every time I checked.

Jungle Jack's Landing does have a Larson Flying Scooter that I had some success with this season, but in general the park is just as lacking in rides as Wyandot Lake was. At least they do have an odd flume, and they did keep both the Scrambler and the Tilt-A-Whirl. The whole ride park sits in the space where Wyandot Lake's entrance plaza and half the waterpark used to be. Most of the old midway is actually still intact, with the result that the coaster, which was the centerpiece of Wyandot Lake, is badly donnikered at Jungle Jack's. A big part of that is because the old Canoochee Creek lazy river, which runs around the coaster station and under the coaster, was incorporated into Zoombezi Bay, but Zoombezi Bay and Jungle Jack's Landing are separately gated parks. At least this year, the Zoo went to a POP plan for the rides. The zoo also has some other rides (included in the POP) apart from Jungle Jack's, including the Mangels/Ilions carousel originally from Olentangy Park; a CP Huntington-type train, and an odd Hopkins non-rapids ride.

The Zoo just achieved "#1" status in some listing after playing second fiddle to San Diego for many years. Ever heard of Jack Hanna? Director of the Columbus Zoo for many years and still affiliated as the 'director emeritus' and spokesman. That's why the Columbus Zoo just replaced Busch Gardens as the sponsor of his network television program.

As for Schmidt's, I haven't been down there in a while, but I had one of their "Bahama Mama" spicy sausages for dinner last night. The food is good, but even if you don't like the sausages, the giant cream puffs are fantastic. Oh, and be aware that the bier is served in Germanic quantities...the large serving is about a quart. During the daytime, at least on weekdays, they do a buffet that offers all you can eat samples of several types of sausage and a couple of other options. A good choice if you suffer from indecision. It isn't cheap, but it is reasonable; no worse than, say, Max & Erma's (which, by the way, got its start just a couple of blocks away from Schmidt's, on 3rd St.) and much better quality than those every suburb type restaurants.

--Dave Althoff, Jr.

    /X\        _      *** Respect rides. They do not respect you. ***
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Sea Dragon started running again in August. I've not heard an explanation as to why it was SBNO over part of the summer.

DaveStroem's avatar

The Zoo is about 3/4 mile from where I work. Yes they did get the Sea Dragon running very late in August. They have a nice assortment of flats but they run them in a kiddie mode. The scooters didn't have any speed when we were there. The flume was quite interesting but unfortunately they ran out of funds to do the planned theming.

The Zoo is top notch as others have said. Also on the Zoo side is the Carousel from Olentangy Park that was located in the Clintonville area of Columbus.

We did not hit the water park this year but I was not overly impressed with it last year.

Now on to Schmidt's. It is a fun place with a band playing most nights. Good food with an emphasis on sausages. As Dave said above leave some room for a Creme Puff.

Before you can be older and wiser you first have to be young and stupid.

Pagoda Gift Shop's avatar

The Columbus Zoo is amazing. No complaints there. I think the new polar bear habitat will be open soon and they will be the largest zoo in the country.

I thought Zoombezi Bay would be cool, but so far I'm not impressed. When they had the vote to name it a few years ago I thought all the choices sucked. Plus, the first few years the pricing was outrageous. I remember it being equal to the cost of a day at CP. Note that is just for the waterpark, not the rides or the zoo! I haven't paid much attention lately so maybe that's changed some.

I believe admission to the zoo and waterpark this year was around $40-45, so a little better, but still a little expensive in my mind.

There is one thing that bugged me all throughout my trip there last month, and that was the question of if they ever had giraffes. I want to say they did, but I am not 100% sure. Also, didn't there used to be a Giant Panda exhibit, or am I thinking of Cleveland?

Original BlueStreak64

I seem to remember a temporary Giant Panda exhibit in Columbus but it would have been a while ago (at least 15 years?). I remember waiting in an incredibly long line for a brief glimpse of a panda that was sleeping in the corner of its cage. Could have been an animatronics display for all I would have known. Course that is true with a lot of visits to zoos looking at sleeping animals.

Schmidt's garlic sausage is really good too. The German Village area looks great but driving on the brick streets gets old fast. Don't let that discourage you though, it's a terrific place to eat and makes a visit to Columbus bearable.

Pagoda Gift Shop's avatar

I don't remember Columbus having any pandas in the last 20 years. I know that they did have giraffes, but I think they were never brought back after being sent away during some of the major construction in the last 10 years.

Like I said, I thought I remember there being a panda exhibit in Columbus. But maybe not. Quick search online found:

"This booklet is from 1992, when giant pandas from China were on exhibit at the Columbus Zoo."

Last edited by GoBucks89,

I would have only been three in '92, so I must be thinking of Cleveland. I thought I was right on the giraffes, though. They were over by the elephants and rhinos, right?

Original BlueStreak64

DaveStroem's avatar

Yes the Columbus Zoo did have Pandas & Giraffes. The giraffes were across the walk way as you went up to the Pachyderm building.

As to the pricing the Zoo has always been included with the water park ticket, but not the other way around. The water park is a for profit business where the zoo is a non-profit. This causes much confusion in the way that they have to price things.

Before you can be older and wiser you first have to be young and stupid.

DaveStroem said:
Yes the Columbus Zoo did have Pandas & Giraffes. The giraffes were across the walk way as you went up to the Pachyderm building.

That's what I thought. I was pretty sure I wasn't imagining things when I walked back there and said "Where did the giraffes go? I'm pretty sure there were giraffes here."

Original BlueStreak64

I will say, as soon as Six Flags sold Wyandot Lake and the zoo took over, I have been intrigued with this place and would love to visit.

Anytime you have a place that has animals and rides, I get interested.

Seems like a poor man's BGT or Seaworld. (That isn't a bad thing by the way).

I wish more zoos would do this on this scale.

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maXairMike said:

DaveStroem said:
Yes the Columbus Zoo did have Pandas & Giraffes. The giraffes were across the walk way as you went up to the Pachyderm building.

That's what I thought. I was pretty sure I wasn't imagining things when I walked back there and said "Where did the giraffes go? I'm pretty sure there were giraffes here."

Giraffes were removed to make room for the AsiaQuest exhibit, but will be returning with the African Savannah in early 2011. The lions will also be moved to a new habitat. The savannah will be on the land along Powell Rd purchased from a church last year.

One of the notable things about the zoo is it's geographical layout. It is one of a very few parks that are arranged this way. The animal collections are grouped in areas themed to their goegraphical region: North America, AsiaQuest, African Forest, The Shores, and The Islands of Southeast Asia & Austrailia.

The zoo can easily take a whole day, but you'll want to see it all. Some can't miss attractions are all of AsiaQuest (especially the sun bears, tigers [reputed to have one of the best tiger habitats around], and Fluffy, the larget snake in captivity), the Austrailian Roadhouse, the Komodo Dragon exhibit, and the zoo's famous gorilla collection.

There is a OD Hopkins boat ride through The Islands exhibit that gets you really close to the animals and takes you thru several themed scenes. It's worth the $2.

Also, don't miss the moose, bears, prairie dogs, and bald eagles in North America. Very cool exhibits.

Speaking of the tigers, God forbid that glass ever shatters... there's one hungry guy that paces back and forth every time I'm there, looking for a toddler-sized snack, lol.

I think I've only made it onto the flying scooters in the dry ride park once or twice, but I watched my 7yo charge snap them earlier this summer. I'm not sure he'd ever been on flyers before, so it's not something he was taught to do, so they have to be relatively snappable.

The rest of the flats are 'eh.' Personal bane of my existance is a matterhorn-style ride, shaped as safari cars, which can be ridden at any height but must be accompanied by an adult until 46" or some such. When you have four preschoolers in your group, this means that you ride it forwards, then backwards, four times in succession... and have one seriously nauseated caregiver at the end. LOL... The flume is unusual... last season I found the second hill to be VERY forceful (left bruises on my forearms from the impact at splashdown) but this year it seemed to be toned down a bit.

I was most unimpressed by the waterpark last year. Daycare kids and I bought season passes, sight unseen, and we only went enough for me to not feel guilty about asking their parents to buy the passes. You could buy passes to Kings Island for what it costs to buy the Zoombezi Bay/JJL combo pass, and get a ton more for your money (albeit a longer drive.) Part of that was that it's hard to mind a group of kids in a waterpark (and dangerous, besides,) but most of it was that something new would be added to frustrate me every.single.time we went. (How can the price on a veggie wrap go up .20 between EACH visit?!) I didn't even make it out there this year, despite having a zoo membership and thus being eligible for a $20 day pass.

The zoo itself is awesome; we usually go one way or the other (the zoo naturally divides into 'left' and 'right') and cover those areas in a day visit. The manatees are really cool, as are the lorikeets and kangaroos in the Australia/Pacific Islands area. You can tell the 'newer' areas from the more original ones, and while the original parts are fine, the newer ones are phenominal. AsiaQuest also has a very cool, very striking, conservation element to it as well. I haven't been to too many zoos, but I've seen enough to know that we're incredibly lucky to have this one in Columbus.

Waterpark is closed for the season, but signs at the zoo note that JJL is open weekends through Oct 31. Zoo is, of course, open year round. They have an excellent "wildlights" display over the holidays, complete with later hours, if anyone is considering going then.

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