The Cheapest Way to Visit Brookfield Zoo: Hidden Perks of Membership

Photo courtesy of Rachel Kramer, rkramer62 on Flickr

Photo courtesy of Rachel Kramer, rkramer62 on Flickr

Brookfield Zoo is one of the most popular and beloved family hotspots in Chicagoland, but it is not a cheap place to experience. Parking starts at $10 a car and admission is $15 an adult and $10.50 a kid, so the costs add up quickly when visiting with a family. After you take out a second mortgage to afford the parking and admission, it seems like every cool thing inside the zoo has an upcharge as well.

Let's take a quick look at how much it would cost a family of four to spend a day at the zoo:

Admission for two adults: $30.00
Admission for two kids: $21.00
Parking: $10.00
Admission to the Hamill Family Play Zoo: $12.00
Motor Safari Tram Tickets: $13.00
Dolphin Show Tickets: $13.00
Dinosaurs Alive! Tickets: $16.00
Carousel Tickets: $10.00

That is a total of $125.00 without buying any food, snacks, drinks or little pieces of animal junk that your kids will be begging for from every kiosk and gift shop. Most Chicago area residents just cough up the cash and figure that is what a day of fun at a world-class zoo costs. They only visit the zoo once or twice a year because it’s so darn expensive, but worth it.

Fortunately, this just isn’t the case and it is possible to do Brookfield Zoo on a small budget multiple times a year. It just takes a bit of planning and a bit of “inside information.”

Instead of buying pricey one-day tickets, get a family membership for the zoo instead. Personally, I find the Family Plus membership is the absolute best value. With the Family Plus membership, you get free admission for a rolling year for 2 adults and all of the children in your household, plus a free guest with each visit.

If you have more than two kids, this is instantly cheaper than day passes. Also, the fact that memberships are good for a rolling year works in your favor. This means that if you buy your membership in May 2014, you get admission to the zoo until the end of May 2014. Additionally, the plus membership includes parking in the main lot and admission to the children’s zoo and Hamill Family Play Zoo.

The money-saving benefits don’t end there though. In addition to the free parking, you get a coupon book that has coupons for six free guest admissions, four dolphin show tickets, and four motor safari tickets. Additionally, you will get member discounts on all the zoo attractions, all year long. You also get a discount on merchandise in the gift shops and food.

If you’re tempted by a day pass, just say no and get a membership instead. If you already purchased your zoo tickets, you can upgrade to a membership when you get to the zoo and get more bang for your buck.

If your interested in saving even more money at Brookfield Zoo, check back later this week for my article about maximizing your fun while minimizing your budget during a day at the zoo.

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