Updated June 2016
Wild Nights at Werribee Zoo is an annual night-time adventure for the winter school holidays, when the zoo is open after dark for a series of special events. Every year Lady AB and I have a brilliant time, even though it is waaaay past her bedtime. It’s a bargain for $10/$5 if you’re a Zoo member.
This year the event includes a special serval animal presentation, fire shows, marshmallow toasting, glow in the dark fun, a bandicoot lantern parade and a psychedelic Secret Garden to explore.
Note that the latter uses smoke machines and lasers so it may not be suitable for people sensitive to those effects (and in fact Lady AB is really freaked out by the noise and smoke from the machines).
After last year’s experience (when we arrived just after 5:30pm) this year we arrive at 5:15pm so that we are able to catch the end of daylight. Arriving early also means no queue at the ticket counter and we can book into the first scheduled serval presentation at 6:15pm. We explore all the experiences for about 2 hours without stopping for food.
Lady AB is most excited about toasting marshmallows, the fire-spinning performers, the lantern parade and basically the whole experience of being outside in the dark. She spooks herself wondering if there are animals lurking and prowling in the shadows as I forget to bring a torch.
There’s not too much lining up involved if you time it right and the crowds aren’t enormous so there’s room for everyone. Sometimes if feels like we have the zoo to ourselves.
The Bandicoot Hideout is open for visitors 5:30-8:30pm and you can see endangered bandicoots and other nocturnal animals.
Serval Under the Stars is a talking presentation with servals and worth viewing as servals are shy creatures and are not on display at the zoo generally. The presentation goes for about 10-15 minutes.
Wild Nights at Werribee Zoo is a really special experience for young and old. There’s enough to keep kids interested without exhausting or over-stimulating them (or you) and you can still bundle everyone home at a decent hour.
- Book tickets ahead online, though on busy nights you will still have to queue to enter.
- The event runs from 5:30-8:30 though your ticket allows you to enter from 4pm. I highly recommend arriving close to 4pm to avoid peak hour traffic along the Westgate freeway. Arriving before 5:30pm also means you avoid the long line up at the ticket office and get to explore the zoo at dusk without the crowds;
- When you buy/show your ticket at the ticket office you will be asked to book for one of two sessions of ‘Serval under the stars’. You will need to show your ticket before entering the session;
- Meerkat Bistro and Hippo Beach cafe are both open until 8:30pm, hot food available until 8pm;
- Ranger Kids open until 8:30pm;
- Peak hour at Hippo Beach is 6:30pm. The cafe there has a few hot options (pies, sausage rolls, sandwiches).
- Rug up – there’s not much indoor shelter so it will make your trip more pleasant if you’re warm;
- For indoor shelter the Meerkat Bistro and indoor play area is open;
- Bring a torch – many of the paths are not lit well so you will need torchlight to see ahead. Plus it’s more fun!;
- Suggested itinerary – 5:30pm Bandicoot Hideout, Glowzone, Toast marshmallows, go animal spotting at dusk, 6pm head to the Serval Under the Stars presentation as gates close 6:15pm (also 7:15pm); 6:30pm go through the Secret Garden to the fire show; 6:50pm fire show (also 7:45pm); 7:15pm Bandicoot lantern parade (also 6:15pm).
Wild Nights at Werribee Zoo, Werribee Open Range Zoo, K Road, Werribee South +61 3 9731 9600
Saturday 26 June to Saturday 9 July 2016
Ticket permits entry from 4pm, events 5:30pm-8:30pm.
Adults: $35 / $10 members, Children 4 – 15 years: $7 / $5 members, Under 4 years: Free