5 Tips for Visiting April the Giraffe + Our Experience
We went to Animal Adventure Park yesterday! Unlike half of the people who were there that drove 4+ hours to get there (we saw cars from Michigan, Texas, Illinois, Maryland, Vermont, and more!), we only had to drive 20 minutes up the road. We're not usually people who would jump on a trend like this, but how often does something like this happen near you?! So we had to go take advantage of the awesome opportunity to go visit! We actually heard about this park last summer, after we visited the Ross Park Zoo with our families, and our youth pastor's wife told us Animal Adventure was WAY better. (Sorry Ross Park Zoo, but we're gonna have to agree with her on this one!) Since our families had already made the trek (almost 2 hours for my family) to the Zoo, we decided we would check it out this summer instead. Giraffes were one of the animals I loved and obsessed over as a child, so I did keep up with the giraffe cam a bit this spring, but was not as committed as some other people. It was the middle of my last semester in college, for goodness sake! I just so happened to be watching when April gave birth, so that was cool. If it wasn't only 20 minutes away, we probably wouldn't have gone. Kudos to the people driving from all over to go (although we think you're a little crazy!).
First of all, I have to say that this park was AWESOME when it came to care of their animals. They all looked super happy, healthy, and clean. Like many others, we were so impressed with how nice it was there. They have a really great staff as well! Super friendly, accommodating, and interact with the guests... giving the place the "small town" feel you would expect.
Here are some tips we came up with after visiting:
1. Go on a weekday
We can't stress this enough. We went on a Thursday, and it was still quite busy. We also went before school has officially let out for summer in NY (at least in the area we're in), which helped! One problem was that there were NINE school buses in the parking lot when we pulled in. I half-expected this though, so it was annoying but I was not surprised. We just so happened to have been planning to go on a day that turned out to have GORGEOUS weather, but we had local friends who had gone in the weeks before when the weather was gloomy and rainy, and they said that kept the amount of people down as well.
2. Traffic, Parking, & Navigation
If you are going in a large group, take ONE car if possible. My mom, my sister, and my mom's best friend came up to go with us, but we all met at our apartment so we could take a vehicle together. Remember, this is a small town place that is not able to accommodate a lot of cars in their parking lot! On the weekends they are offering a free shuttle service... use it!! There is more information on their website and Facebook page. Also, be mindful that there is a lot of road work taking place on the highways surrounding the park, so you might have to be patient as you are driving there. The park is located on a back road in the middle of nowhere, but it is really easy to get to. There aren't a lot of signs leading the way to the park (at least from the way we took..we were driving on Route 88 East) so I strongly suggest you use a GPS to get there rather than depending on the signs to get you there. I don't even recall seeing one sign from the direction we came from... we followed our GPS and we came upon it, but we wouldn't have found it without at least googling it's location first.
3. Cost & Extra Fees
You can check out their Prices on their website, but we have some insider tips on how to plan for how much it's really going to cost you. There are admission fees, but as you're paying for those they will ask if you would like to purchase some $3 feed cups. They're cute little plastic souvenir cups that are filled with animal feed, and can be used for most of the animals. We grabbed 4 cups at this point, but I'm warning you, don't impulse buy here! Not all of the animals can eat this feed, including the Giraffes. If you want to keep it easier, maybe grab one or two cups here, but plan on buying more later once you're inside the park. When you get to the giraffes, there is a station to purchase carrots (5 for $3). If you want to get close to the giraffes, this is your best option. My group bought some carrots because we had our nieces with us, but Luke and I probably wouldn't have otherwise. There are enough people around that have bought carrots so the giraffes do get close. I even had Oliver rustle through my hair as we got a selfie with him! As for some of the other animals, you can go inside the welcome center and purchase grapes for the monkeys, carrots for the camels, lettuce for the tortoises, etc. I recommend going into the park and scoping the animals out before purchasing. You will be able to see which ones are active or sleeping, and really make your choice as to which ones you want to see more than others. That way you will be able to make the wisest choices with your money. You are not allowed to bring outside food into the park, so be prepared to either buy lunch or eat outside of the park on the picnic tables they have provided. One more thing- there are pony rides for the little ones close to the entrance of the park. They cost $3, and yes, it is visible to your child's eyes, so be prepared to be begged to ride! There was not a long line when we were there, so my niece was able to get on pretty fast... it was 2 times around the pen, so not a long ride.
4. Best Time of Day to Go
We arrived at the park around 12:15, and after getting situated and standing in line, we were inside around 12:30 (remember this was a "slower" day so you might be waiting longer). We went right down to the giraffe area, which was crowded, and were able to get a few pictures of her and baby from a distance. Right as we were arriving there, the zookeeper was coaxing them inside the barn with lettuce. We later found out that they were not going to be coming back outside for the rest of the day. The barn was open to go inside and see them, but it is harder to see them and the lighting is not as good. I'm assuming that this is how they run it every day, so if you want to see April and her baby outside, you're going to need to come before 12:30. They let Oliver out right after, so the crowd died down a bit and we got a chance to get some pics with him. If you want to avoid the crowds, go after 1. It got a lot calmer after that, and we were actually able to get close to Oliver and go inside and see April for a bit!
5. Have fun and be Patient
This park is great, and you're going to love it! Our biggest tip is to just enjoy your day and be patient! Keep in mind that it's a small park, and they do a really good job of trying to let people see all the animals. Also, listen to the Zookeepers and other Staff! They had to correct people often on where to feed/not to feed certain animals (You're only allowed to feed the Giraffes on the observation deck and in the barn). There are signs up letting you know which feed is right for each animal, so be mindful of that as well! The Zookeepers and Staff are full of knowledge, and don't mind answering everyone's questions. We overheard the story of April and how this was her 4th calf, but the 1st one she has been able to mother, as the farm she was on before would take and sell her calves after they were born! You can tell that everyone there loves their jobs (well, it is the beginning of the summer so that might change by October) ;). There are a lot of animals to visit and interact with, so if the Giraffe area is busy, go wander off and visit them for a while! You can only look at some Giraffes for so long, so make the most of your entire trip and enjoy the other animals.
Here are some photos from our day there!
He sniffed my hair!
My baby doesn't look like you!
Oliver is such a flirt! 😉
My mom in her matching outfit with the Zebras
Such a fuzzy baby camel.
An outtake... but I love that he's totally interested in us!
This guy just cracks me up.
I told my sister to act like she's a Kardashian, just casually posing while she's petting him.
We hope this guide helped you with planning your trip! A lot of your questions and concerns can be answered through their website.
Will you be visiting April this summer?