If you know my family, you know how Halloween obsessed my children are. Since he was 2 1/2, Elliot has loved this spooky holiday. We have to visit the stores, drive around the neighborhood, watch the cartoons. He is thrilled! It’s like Christmas, but instead of presents, there are ghosts and witches and zombies (I’m referring to the excitement level of Christmas, not that Halloween itself is comparable to Christmas).
When I found out that the Brookfield Zoo does a “Zoo Boo” (daytime Halloween fun for young kids) and “Creatures of the Night” (nighttime activities from mildly spooky to terrifying). I had asked about the scare-factor for the night events- would they be appropriate for young kids? The ladies at guest services assured me they’re okay. I also checked out their website and looked it all over to make sure that driving an hour each way was going to be worth it.
We’ve been to the Cincinnati Zoo at Christmastime for their zoo lights, and it was a wonderful evening of twinkling lights, listening to Christmas music, and gazing at all the lovely holiday decor. In my mind, I expected this to be a similar experience, except with a spooky factor.
I was incredibly disappointed.
10 5 4 reasons the adult Goods did not have a good time at “Creatures of the Night” exhibit at the Brookfield Zoo.
1) LONG LONG LONG lines. When there are only a few attractions to see, and THOUSANDS turning out for this event, there are long, Long LONG lines. The the attraction that we most wanted to see was the Haunted Tram. We got there shortly after it opened, saw the Pumpkin Executioner (5 minutes), the Corn Maze (25 minutes), and then got in line for the Haunted Tram. We stood in line for 1 hour, 25 minutes. The tram ride was 15ish minutes long. It was cool, and scary enough to make the teenage girls behind us scream the entire time, but no so scary to make all three of my kids climb in my lap. But I’m not sure it was worth the wait time. And the people after us? They waited even longer, the line quickly got much longer soon after we got in line. When we walked to the Extreme Bugs exhibit (which DID scare Elliot- go figure. He laughs at zombies on the tram, but it afraid of a giant plastic bug w/ a green light shining on it), we had to walk past the Trail of Terror PG13 exhibit. Their line was even worse! It didn’t even look like it was moving at all!
2) Large groups of screaming, unsupervised, children running. In the dark (see #3). Not only was I annoyed because these kids were running through lines, bumping into people and just pretty much being crazy, but also, from a maternal perspective, I was worried one of them was going to get hurt.
3) Darkness. The Zoo is not set up for nighttime attractions. There are a few outside lights, but they are far apart. So there’s a lot of darkness. They anticipated this, and set up floodlights. But they didn’t set them up high enough. So instead of illuminating your path, they are at just the right height to blind you. Awesome way to push a double stroller through a crowd.
4) Not a lot of nighttime decorations. A big inflatable pumpkins, a few bales of hay, but not to the extent I expected. I guess I expected orange and green Christmas lights around everything, Halloween music piped through speakers. I expected more Halloween ambiance. When I had to take the kids to an emergency bathroom visit (because no one can ever go to the bathroom when I suggest it), we ended up by the south gate- opposite from where everyone entered- and there were lovely decorations- hay bales, pumpkins, scarecrows, etc- set up down there! But no one would see them at night unless they had wandered down to that bathroom too,
I had started this post with the intention that I was going to have this big long, venting list of complaints against the zoo for what I considered a parentally trying night. It isn’t as long as I had imagined it would be, it turns out those four things really grated on my patience, my nerves (are they the same thing?), and my sanity. By the time we got off the tram, it was after 9pm, and the animal exhibits that are open close at 9:30, and besides being on the opposite end of the zoo as those exhibits, I really wasn’t in the mood to see animals after waiting all that time. We did go see the Extreme Bugs (giant, animatronic bugs illuminated w/ colored lights). And I am still crabby about all that wasted time in line. BUT…Elliot had a great time. And the kids were relatively well-behaved despite all that waiting and being up hours past their bedtime.
So this morning I looked through the pictures. And despite my grumpiness on the subject, it looks like we had a good time. When I ask the kids about it, they say they had a good time. Even Mary, who got freaked out by the Thriller light show being projected on the Swamp entrance, said she’d go again.