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Everything about Central Florida Zoo and Botanical Gardens tickets, prices, what to see, animals, hours, etc

Nestled along the tranquil shores of Lake Monroe in Sanford, Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens offers an alluring escape to nature’s heart. 

With over 350 animals representing 100 diverse species, including clouded leopards and endangered Indian rhinos, the zoo provides an extraordinary wildlife experience. 

Being located in Sanford, it’s easily accessible from Orlando and surrounding areas.

This makes Central Florida Zoo a convenient and family-friendly destination for a day of adventure and education.

Explore beautiful botanical gardens and enjoy exciting attractions, ensuring an unforgettable visit for all ages.

This article gives you all the information you need about Central Florid Zoo and Botanical Zoo tickets, prices, hours, what to see and more. 

Snapshot 

Opening Hours: 9 am to 4 pm

Year Opened: 1923

Best Time to Visit: Early morning

Ticket Prices: Starting from $21

Location:

3755 W Seminole Blvd, Sanford, FL 32771, United States | Get Directions

Where to buy tickets for Central Florida Zoo 

You can get your Central Florida Zoo tickets at the ticket counter or online.

To make the most of your visit to the Central Florida Zoo, consider purchasing your tickets in advance online. 

Doing so provides a range of conveniences and benefits. 

First and foremost, it helps you bypass potentially long and time-consuming ticket counter lines, a common occurrence during peak seasons. 

Additionally, pre-booking your tickets allows you to secure your preferred date and time, ensuring a smooth entry experience. 

Online Central Florida Zoo tickets often come with cost savings compared to on-site prices, making it a budget-friendly choice. 

Explore exclusive ticket options online to tailor your visit to the Central Florida Zoo according to your preferences.

Central Florida Zoo and Botanical Garden entry ticket

You can bypass the long waits under the scorching Florida sun with a skip-the-line ticket to the Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens. 

Spend more time exploring the diverse wildlife and beautiful botanical gardens.

Discover a world of incredible creatures, from clouded leopards and monitor lizards to snakes, birds of prey, alligators, and playful monkeys. 

Get up close and personal with a range of species.

Unwind in the serene botanical gardens and admire the exotic flora and prickly plants. 

You can watch butterflies and hummingbirds flutter among the vibrant blooms.

Ticket Includes

  • Skip-the-line admission to Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens
  • Wharton-Smith Tropical Splash Ground
  • KaBOOM! Playground
  • Free Parking

Central Florida Zoo Ticket Prices

On weekdays, Central Florida Zoo tickets for visitors between 13 and 54 years are priced at $21, while children aged 3-12 can enter for $15. 

Senior citizens aged 55 and above can enjoy the zoo for $17. 

Children under two years old are admitted for free.

During weekends, ticket prices are $24 for adults, $20 for seniors, and $18 for children.

AgePrice
Adult ticket (13 to 54 years) – Weekdays$21
Child ticket (3 to 12 years) – Weekdays$17
Senior Citizen ticket (55+ years) – Weekdays$15
Infant ticket (Below 2) – WeekdaysFree
Adult ticket (13 to 54 years) – Weekend$24
Child ticket (3 to 12 years) – Weekend$18
Senior Citizen ticket (55+ years) – Weekend$20
Infant ticket (Below 2) – WeekendFree

Central Florida Zoo offers Zipline adventure. If you wish to try it, you can book Central Florida Zoo and Botanical Garden tickets and Seminole Aerial Adventure tickets in combination.

Central Florida Zoo opening hours

The Central Florida Zoo and Botanical Gardens is open from 9 am to 4 pm, offering enough time to explore the zoo.

Please note that the zoo will be closed on Thursday, November 23, 2023, and Monday, December 25, 2023.

Enjoy a day of adventure and discovery during the zoo’s regular operating hours.

Best Time to Visit the Central Florida Zoo

The best time to visit the Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens depends on your preferences and schedule. 

To make the most of your visit, mornings are an excellent time to explore the zoo. 

The animals are more active and responsive to visitors during this time. 

Cooler temperatures also enhance the overall experience.

Weekdays typically offer a quieter and less crowded atmosphere, making it easier to observe the animals and enjoy a peaceful visit. 

If you prefer a livelier atmosphere, weekends are a great choice.

The fall and spring seasons are ideal for visiting the zoo. 

Central Florida’s weather is pleasant during these times, with milder temperatures and lower humidity.

How Long Does it Take to Visit Central Florida Zoo

The duration of your visit to the Central Florida Zoo and Botanical Gardens can vary based on your interests and the pace you explore. 

On average, visitors spend 2 to 4 hours at the zoo to see most animals, enjoy exhibits, and take in the gardens. 

However, it’s essential to allocate extra time if you wish to participate in additional attractions, educational programs or visit with young children who may require more time for exploration. 

The zoo offers diverse experiences, so you can tailor your visit to your preferences.

How to reach Central Florida Zoo

How to reach Central Florida Zoo
Image: Aaroads.com

You can drive up to Central Florida from different regions like Orlando, Volusia County, etc.

Here are the driving directions to the Central Florida Zoo:

From Orlando:

  • Take I-4 East to Exit 104 (HWY 17-92).
  • Turn left onto 17-92 from the exit ramp.
  • The Zoo is located 1/8 mile ahead on HWY 17-92.

From Orlando (via Central Florida Greenway 417):

  • Travel north on the Central Florida Greenway (417) until it ends at I-4 in Sanford.
  • Head east on I-4 to Exit 104 (HWY 17-92).
  • Take a left from the exit ramp onto 17-92.
  • The Zoo is located 1/8 mile ahead on HWY 17-92.

From Volusia County:

  • On I-4 West, travel to Exit 104.
  • Exit to the right onto HWY 17-92 from the ramp.
  • The Zoo is situated 1/4 mile ahead on the right.
  • If you’re traveling south through Volusia County on HWY 17-92, the Zoo is on the right side, just past the St. Johns River Bridge.

From Brevard County:

  • Take Interstate 95 to State Road 46, Exit 81 (Sanford/Mims).
  • Travel west to Sanford.
  • Turn right onto HWY 17-92 and follow through Sanford and around the lakefront.
  • The Zoo is two miles past the Central Florida Regional Hospital on the left.

From Lake County:

  • Travel south on Highway 441 to State Road 46.
  • Go east on 46 to Interstate 4.
  • Take I-4 east one exit.
  • Exit at #104 and follow the signs to the Zoo.

Botanical Gardens and Animals in Central Florida Zoo

1975, the Central Florida Zoo found its new home along Lake Monroe. 

Today, it’s a haven for more than 350 animals, representing over 100 species. 

From the resilient scorpions to the majestic giraffes and the endangered Indian rhino, the zoo introduces visitors to some of the planet’s rarest creatures. 

You can also discover fascinating wildlife from your own backyard, such as the Florida black bear and the American alligator. 

The zoo comprises five sections: Amphibians, Birds, Invertebrates, Mammals, and Reptiles.

You can also explore the different botanical gardens,  such as:

Butterfly Garden

A captivating sight featuring an array of plants carefully selected to attract butterflies, hummingbirds, and other pollinators. 

Discover nectar and host plants that support butterfly life cycles.

Health and Wellness Garden

Delve into the intertwined history of plants, health, and medicine. 

This garden showcases culinary, medicinal, and aromatic herbs, highlighting the crucial role of plants in our well-being.

Browse Collection

Witness the Zoo’s efforts to provide enriching animal diets.

Look for examples of browse, plant material that stimulates natural behaviors in animals, like nesting and foraging, located near the otter habitat.

Spines, Thorns, and Prickles Garden

Learn about the various defense mechanisms plants have developed to deter herbivores. 

This garden educates visitors about three types of defenses: spines, thorns, and prickles.

Bromeliad Collection

Explore the fascinating world of bromeliads, a diverse group of plants belonging to the Bromeliaceae Family. 

These plants can be found throughout the Zoo, both on the ground and growing on trees.

Fern Collection

Discover the ancient world of ferns, plants that reproduce via spores. 

The Zoo features various species of ferns, providing visitors with insights into the diversity of these plants.

Things to do in Central Florida Zoo and Botanical Garden

After interacting with the animals in the zoo, here are some things to do in the Central Florida Zoo: 

Animal Carousel

No trip to the zoo is complete without a ride on the vintage Allan Herschell carousel featuring 30 animal figures like giraffes, zebras, camels, ostriches and more. 

This ride lets kids of all ages enjoy the magic as colorfully painted animals breeze by to the sounds of carnival music. 

Children can enjoy the Animal Carousel for $2. 

Splash Ground

Cool off at Splash Ground, an exciting water play area perfect for Florida’s hot weather. 

Kids can revel in aquatic play with popping jets, spurting fountains, and buckets that fill and dump water. 

Tots have their own section with mini slides, squirters and spinners. Pack swimsuits and let the kids go wild at Splash Ground.

Giraffe Feeding

Get up close and personal with the tallest land mammals at the zoo’s giraffe feeding station. 

For just $5, you’ll receive a lettuce leaf to hand-feed these gentle giants. 

Connecting with these incredible creatures face-to-face is an unforgettable experience. 

Make sure to have your camera ready for some selfies with the giraffes!

Barnyard Buddies Children’s Zoo

At Barnyard Buddies, kids can pet, brush and interact with friendly domestic animals like sheep, goats, donkeys and pot-bellied pigs. 

They’ll learn all about how these animals contribute to farms and families. 

Feeding the animals is encouraged—you can purchase animal feed tokens on-site. 

Expect lots of hands-on fun with fuzzy critters in this special zoo area designed just for kids.

Botanical Gardens

In addition to animals, the Central Florida Zoo also boasts stunning themed gardens like the Florida Wetlands, Wekiva Springs, Rainforest, and Wekiva Falls Botanical Gardens. 

Wander through tropical plant life and admire water features, including a waterfall and crystal-clear springs. 

It’s a tranquil, shaded oasis for escaping the Florida sun. 

Meet the Indian Rhino

The zoo’s newest exhibit is Samburu, a greater one-horned Indian rhinoceros that weighs over 4,000 pounds.

During scheduled educational sessions, get a close view of this armored tank-like creature and learn about rhino conservation efforts from zoo educators and experts.

Discover how rhinos differ from hippos and elephants—hint: it has to do with their upper lip.

Bungee Bounce

Bounce, climb and leap on Trampoline Things’ Bungee Bounce attraction. 

This amusement park-style feature has kids hooked to elastic harnesses to safely somersault up to 25 feet in the air on giant trampolines. 

Fly high or gently rebound—the Bungee Bounce lets kids control how high they go. 

It’s bouncing excitement for thrill-seekers aged five and up.

Keeper Talks

Chat with zookeepers during regularly held keeper talks at major exhibits like Primate Island, White Tiger, Black Bear Hammock and the Herpetarium house.

Zookeepers offer fascinating facts about the species they care for and highlight the animals’ personalities. 

It’s a chance to get an insider’s view of what happens behind the scenes at the zoo.

KaBOOM! Playground

The vast, colorful KaBOOM! playground features a labyrinth of obstacle courses, climbing structures and slides over cushioned astroturf. 

Kids will let loose on this dynamic play structure that’s perfect for burning off energy after seeing the animals. 

There are activities suited for preschoolers all the way up to bigger kids from themed elements, including a Jeep to climb on and even a helicopter to explore. 

Face Painting

At Face Painting stations located in Imagination Station near the playground and gift shop, kids can choose from cheek art designs like butterflies, rainbows and more. 

These washable paints provide the perfect souvenir so kids can show off their favorite zoo creatures. 

Face painting starts at $5 per design, making an already fun zoo trip even more memorable.

Central Florida Zoo Zipline Adventure

In addition to wildlife exhibits and animal interactions, the Central Florida Zoo also features thrill-seeking fun with Seminole Aerial Adventures. 

This treetop ropes course has three sections tailored to different age groups and comfort levels. 

Conquer all three courses for hours of challenge and excitement at exhilarating new heights.

Kids Course

The Kids Course features lower elements just off the ground, perfect for little adventurers ages 4-7 who are at least 36 inches tall. 

This self-guided journey starts on the ground obstacle course with activities like cargo net climbs, log rolls and bridges. 

Then, kids can take on aerial challenges like ring swings, tightropes and balance beams, all under seven feet high. 

Parents can accompany nervous kids on the course. 

With kid-friendly features, the Kids Course builds confidence in trying new things while safely developing strength and coordination.

Upland Course

Kids 58” and tall can take on the Upland Course, designed for adventurous climbers over age 7. 

This intermediate self-guided trek features over 50 exciting aerial crossings, like zig-zagging Burma bridges, log ladders and swaying nets. 

Navigating through the trees while clipped to a smart belay pulley system, kids will test their skills balancing, hopping, climbing and ziplining from platform to platform. 

Some highlights include the skateboard crossing, surfboard nets and bongo bridges composed of flexible bands. 

With choices of various paths and elements, the Upland Course lets explorers pick their vertical challenges.

You can book the Upland Course for $36. 

Rainforest Course

Experienced climbers and thrill seekers ages 10+ who meet the 58” height minimum can ascend to a Rainforest Canopy Course set among Central Florida’s towering trees.

This guided tour has brave participants harnessed in as they traverse wobbly bridges, tightropes and even a surfboard crossing over 30 feet in the air! 

Connect through a series of platforms and obstacles in the treetops using clips and a smart belay system for safety. 

Additional ground activities like the cargo net climb and horizontal ladder lead up to the start of this intense aerial adventure only for the bold. 

The Rainforest Course will get hearts pumping as climbers swing through the leafy canopy with birds-eye views of the zoo below!

Central Florida Zoo Map

Central Florida Zoo is spread over 35000 acres and has various zones and gardens. 

It is advisable to carry a copy of the Central Florida Zoo map on your phone when visiting.

With the help of this map, you will be able to find all the gardens and enclosures, know where keeper talks happen and find all amenities.

FAQs

1. What are the Central Florida Zoo’s operating hours?

The Central Florida Zoo is open daily from 9 am to 4 pm, offering visitors ample time to explore its diverse animal and plant exhibits. 

Please note that the zoo is closed on specific holidays, such as Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.

2. What’s the best time to visit the zoo?

The mornings are the best time to visit the Central Florida Zoo, as animals are often more active. 

If you prefer a quieter experience with fewer crowds, weekdays are an ideal choice.

3. What’s the entrance fee for adults?

The entrance fee for adults aged 13 to 54 is $21 on weekdays. 

However, on weekends, the ticket price for adults is $24.

4. How much are children’s tickets on weekends?

Children aged 3 to 12 can visit the zoo on weekends for a ticket price of $20. 

Children under two years of age can enter for free.

5. Is parking free at the zoo?

Yes, visitors can enjoy the convenience of free parking when they visit the Central Florida Zoo.

6. Are there any special exhibits or seasonal events?

Yes, the Central Florida Zoo hosts various seasonal events throughout the year. 

These events, such as Zoo Boo Bash and other themed activities, offer unique experiences and entertainment for visitors of all ages.

7. Can we bring outside food to the zoo?

No, the zoo does not permit outside food. 

However, visitors can explore the on-site dining options and enjoy a variety of refreshments during their visit.

8. Is there a playground for children at the zoo?

Families with children can take advantage of the KaBOOM! Playground at the zoo. 

It provides a fun and safe environment for kids to play and enjoy their time at the zoo.

9. Are there animal encounters or keeper chats?

Yes, the Central Florida Zoo offers opportunities for visitors to have close encounters with animals and engage in educational keeper chats. 

These experiences provide insight into the lives and care of the zoo’s diverse animal residents.

10. What are the closest hotels to the Central Florida Zoo?

Several hotels are conveniently located near the Central Florida Zoo, including The Westin Lake Mary, Orlando North, and the Marriott Orlando Downtown. 

These accommodations offer easy access for visitors looking to extend their stay in the area and explore more of Central Florida.

Featured Image: Mohammed alorabi on Unsplash

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