Seattle’s Woodland Park Zoo is a 92-acre urban oasis located on Phinney Ridge. The Zoo presents exhibits featuring animals in their natural habitat, is accredited by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums, and certified by the American Humane Conservation program. The zoo is dedicated to wildlife conservation.
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Woodland Park Zoo special exhibits & events
In this section, we highlight special exhibits and events at Woodland Park Zoo. For general information, scroll down to the section About Woodland Park Zoo, which includes General Admission ticket prices and how to get discount tickets.
WildLanterns holiday light festival at Woodland Park Zoo (November-January)
Illuminate your holidays with an immersive, interactive, larger-than-life experience unlike any in the Northwest! WildLanterns presented by BECU returns this winter with brand-new lanterns and themed zones, along with some returning fan favorites, that will “wow” anyone, no matter their age!
Things to know about WildLanterns
- When: November 11, 2022 – January 22, 2023. 4:00 PM – 9:00 PM. Closed most Mondays (open December 19 & 26), November 24, December 3, December 24, December 25. Closed Monday-Wednesday in January.
- Sensory Friendly Nights: November 16, December 13, and January 12. Features special low sensory experiences to provide a comfortable holiday adventure for everyone. This low stimulating experience is welcome to all! On Sensory Friendly Night, Zoomazium will be transformed into a designated Sensory Friendly space called Zoomazium NightLights! The light settings will be dimmed to maintain the Sensory Friendly atmosphere. There will also be a soothing soundtrack that includes owls hooting and wind and river noises.
- Tickets available online only, timed entry. Last timeslot is 2 hours prior to the close of the event each evening. Arrive promptly for your scheduled time; arrivals greater than 30 minutes past the scheduled time may experience delays or rebooking.
- Ticket prices: $29.95-34.95 Adult (13+), $25.95-29.95 Child (3-12). Zoo members can receive a 20% discount.
- Paid Parking: On-site parking available at $6 beginning at 3:30 PM. West Entrance (5500 Phinney Ave. N). South Entrance (750 N. 50th Street).
- Strollers are allowed along the open pathways for WildLanterns.
- WildLanterns is not the same event as WildLights. WildLanterns is a new experience at Woodand Park Zoo.
- More info: WildLanterns – Woodland Park Zoo Seattle WA
- More Christmas lights: Free and paid Christmas light displays around the Puget Sound region and Free Christmas tree lighting events around Puget Sound
Butterfly Garden & Microsoft Pollinator Patio Garden at Woodland Park
Molbak’s Butterfly Garden is home to hundreds of free-flying butterflies representing species native to North America. Take a walk in a beautiful garden while butterflies fly around you! You’ll learn about the butterfly’s life cycle while watching new butterflies emerge from their chrysalises before flying free in the garden.
- Open Memorial Day to Labor Day.
The Microsoft Pollinator Patio Garden is full of ideas and actions you can take to protect and encourage native pollinators such as hummingbirds, beetles, bees, and flies. Before you go, download the Butterfly Identification Guide, which identifies the most common species in the Butterfly Garden. Before you leave, take a sneak peek at the zoo’s Silverspot Butterfly Lab where zookeepers and teen volunteers hatch and raise endangered Oregon silverspot butterflies for release into protected wild habitat.
- Open year-round
Both gardens are located near the West entrance, on Phinney Ave. N. between N. 55th and N. 56th St. More info: Tickets and Hours – Woodland Park Zoo Seattle WA
Want to attract beautiful butterflies and other pollinators to your own backyard? The Zoo also has several online resources that provide information about how YOU can influence pollinator populations through choices you make in your garden. More info: Molbak’s Butterfly Garden and Microsoft Pollinator Patio – Woodland Park Zoo Seattle WA
FREE Woodland Park Rose Garden open every day
Enjoy nearly 3000 roses representing over 200 different varieties, showcasing those that thrive in the Pacific Northwest climate. Since 2006, the Rose Garden has been pesticide-free. One of the benefits of being pesticide free is the zoo can feed the spent flowers to animals in the zoo, most notably the gorillas, which have become quite fond of roses.
If you want to enjoy blooming roses, visit from May-September. Peak season for blooming roses is June-July. However, any time of year, you can enjoy the architectural elements, as well as learn more about rose care and sustainable gardening. The natural approach to gardening includes building healthy soil, site selection, smart watering, and other techniques.
- The garden is located at the south entrance, just outside zoo gates at N. 50th Street and Fremont Ave. N.
- Open from 7:30 a.m. until dusk every day of the year, free of charge.
- Peak season to visit FREE Woodland Park Rose Garden is June-July
- There is a fee to park in zoo lots during Zoo Hours; free while the zoo is closed.
About Woodland Park Zoo
Seattle’s Woodland Park Zoo is a 92-acre urban oasis visited by over 1 million people a year. The site dates back to the city’s early history. Over the decades, the park has undergone many changes
History of Woodland Park Zoo
The site of Woodland Park Zoo was originally an English-style estate owned by Guy Phinney. His property included a large house, formal rose garden, a deer park, pump house to bring water from Greenlake, impressive stone entrance on 50th Avenue, and an electric trolley line along Fremont Avenue for his private street car.
After his death in 1893, his widow donated the property to the City of Seattle who hired the Olmsted Brothers to create a public park out of Guy Phinney’s estate. They retained the formal gardens, laid out new pathways, created animal quarters, and left the informal woods to the east. In 1930, the property was bisected when Highway 99, Aurora Avenue, was built through the park, creating “Upper” and “Lower” Woodland Park. Through the 1930s to 1960s, several projects were built, including beaver ponds, monkey island, bear and feline grottos, a children’s zoo.
The 1968 Forward Thrust Bond began a new phase of zoo development, establishing new criteria organized around an ecological approach to zoo design. New exhibits developed included African Savanna, Gorillas, Primate Islands, and North American Marsh and Swamp.
The 1985 Zoo Bond Issue provided funding to build additional elements of a long-range plan, includng The Asian Elephant Forest exhibit, Tropical Rain Forest exhibit, Education Center, ZooStore, Animal Health Complex, Northern Trail exhibit and Trail of Vines.
In 2002, the Woodland Park Zoological Society was established to assume the responsibility for operations and management. New exhibits added since then include African Village, Jaguar Cove, the historic carousel and Zoomazium, the Humboldt penguin exhibit, Banyan Wilds, and Butterfly Garden.
Perched on Phinney Ridge looking eastward towards Green Lake, today’s zoo is dedicated to wildlife conservation, strives to save animals in the wild, and presents exhibits to feature animals in their natural habitat. Woodland Park Zoo is accredited by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums and certified by the American Humane Conservation program, a validation of the zoo’s high standards in animal welfare.
Visiting Woodland Park Zoo
The Zoo is open every day except Christmas Day (December 25). Advance online purchase of zoo admission tickets is strongly recommended. A limited number of tickets will be available for purchase in person at the zoo.
There are two entrances to the park:
- West Entrance, 5500 Phinney Ave. N., Seattle, WA 98103 (Phinney Ave. N. between N. 55th and N. 56th St.)
- South Entrance: 750 N. 50th Street, Seattle, WA 98103 (N. 50th St. and Fremont Ave. N.)
Zoo Admission Prices
- Zoo admission (as of October 10, 2022): Adult (13-64) $18.25. Child (3-12) $12.50. Senior (65+) $16.25.
- Parking: $6 for first 2 hours; $2 each additional hour. $12.00 maximum daily rate.
- More info: Hours and Prices – Woodland Park Zoo Seattle WA
Listed below are many ways to save on zoo admission tickets.
How to get discount tickets to Woodland Park Zoo
Listed below are the ways you can obtain discount tickets to Woodland Park Zoo. Some are available to everyone and some are available to select groups.
Become a member of Woodland Park Zoo and receive free admission. Individual membership begins at $54 and pays for itself in 4 visits. Customize your membership to fit your needs and family. Members receive free zoo admission for the year, a free subscription to MyZoo magazine and e-newsletter, free wall calendar, discount tickets to the WildLights winter festival, access to pre-sale tickets for ZooTunes summer concerts, invitations to special events, and reciprocal membership benefits at other zoos and aquariums, plus discounts on ZooStore merchandise, food/beverage, and special attractions. More info: https://www.zoo.org/membership.
Use your Seattle library card. The Seattle Public Library (SPL) Museum Pass program allow SPL and associated cardholders* to reserve a family pass to several museums, including the Woodland Park Zoo. You must reserve a pass for a specific date, and there are a limited number of passes available each day. So plan to reserve a pass well in advance of the date you wish to visit. For more information, visit https://www.spl.org/programs-and-services/arts-and-culture/museum-pass.
- *Note that you can get a free SPL card if you live, work, own property, or go to school in Seattle, Bothell, or most of King County (except city of Yarrow Point and Hunts Point), or if you have a Library card issued by any of the following library systems: Everett, Kitsap, Pierce County, Puyallup, Sno-Isle, or Timberland.
Connections Community Program. The City of Seattle and human service organizations in King, Pierce, and Snohomish County offer qualifying individuals and families free or reduced fare tickets through the Connections program. This includes organizations such as the Boys & Girls Clubs, YWCA, public health facilities, DSHS offices, King County government offices, city governments throughout King County, Seattle Parks Community Centers, and many, many other organizations that serve children and families. The goal of the program is to provide opportunities for everyone to experience Seattle attractions, regardless of circumstance. If you are a client at a partner organization, inquire with them about obtaining Woodland Park Zoo tickets. For a complete list of partner organizations, visit: https://www.zoo.org/document.doc?id=2582 or visit: https://www.zoo.org/community
Seattle CityPass. Save 49% or more on Seattle’s best attractions with CityPASS, including the Space Needle, Seattle Aquarium, and 3 more attractions of your choice. Purchase CityPASS at our link below or at the zoo gate. More info: https://www.citypass.com/seattle
Other Selected Discounts. The following discounts are available to those who qualify. More info: https://www.zoo.org/discounts
- EBT/WIC. Individuals, families, foster families, or kinship caregivers and their family members can purchase discount tickets and discount passes.
- Persons with Disabilities can purchase discount tickets at zoo gates.
- Seniors. Mayor’s Gold Card or Flash Cards offers steep discount off regular admission prices.
- Military. Active, retired and veteran U.S. military personnel or military spouses and their family members can purchase discount tickets with valid ID.
- Groups purchasing twenty (20) or more tickets in a single transaction are eligible for discounts.
Volunteer. Individuals ages 16 years and older can become volunteer ambassadors for Woodland Park Zoo, primarily working to engage with zoo guests by offering assistance and information. Volunteers accepted into the program are asked to pay a one-time fee of $30 (assistance is available), attend an information session and training, commit to the Volunteer Program for a minimum of one year, and volunteer a minimum of six hours per month. More info: https://www.zoo.org/volunteer
But wait, there’s more!
- Find more tours & attractions in the Puget Sound region.
- And here’s a list of 101+ always free things to do for fun.
- More free and cheap things to do every day: Greater Seattle on the Cheap event calendar.
- Still more ideas for frugal fun: Greater Seattle on the Cheap home page.
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