One of our regular winter school holiday outings is during the annual Wild Nights at Werribee Zoo, when the zoo is open after dark for a series of special events. This year the event is on for 7 nights from 9-15 July 2017.
While the old favourites are there every year (marshmallow toasting!) each year there’s a slightly different program to enjoy.
The highlight event this year is the Cirque Africa show. Note you need to book a session for 6pm, 7pm or 8pm at the time of purchasing tickets due to limited seating capacity under the big top.
During the 30 minute show we are treated to a number of high-energy and awe-inspiring circus tricks, from hoops to balancing acts to acrobatics, all to the sounds of a live band.
In addition to Cirque Africa there’s a special serval animal presentation (extra $5 per person)…
….glow in the dark fun Glow Zone….
….a bandicoot lantern parade…
….and a Secret Garden of laser beams to explore….
…plus most of the usual zoo displays and features.
The only disappointment is that the Glow Zone is inside Ranger Kids this year, which means the usual play areas aren’t open. I usually like to hide in Ranger Kids when the weather’s getting bad or for some quieter playtime, but it’s not available this time.
To have the best experience if possible I recommend arriving close to 5pm, as the regular zoo visitors clear out of the carpark and before the traffic gets bad on the freeway. It also means that you are able to catch the end of daylight and no queueing at the ticket counter. Book into the first circus show at 6pm after an early dinner.
This year we decide to BYO thermos of hot food to avoid queueing and for our budget. Turns out it’s a hit as we can enjoy eating outside, in the dark, with the sounds of the animals for company!
Wild Nights at Werribee Zoo is a really special experience and MY favourite time for visiting the zoo, let alone the kids! The program includes old favourites and fresh content every year, if you time it right you can experience most things by 7:30pm and if you’re a Zoo member it’s a bargain night out for only $10 adults or $5 kids aged 4+ years.
- 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 the Cirque Africa shows at 6pm, 7pm or 8pm. You will need to show your ticket before entering the session;
- Note that the Secret Garden uses smoke machines and lasers so it may not be suitable for people sensitive to those effects;
- Meerkat Bistro and Hippo Beach cafe are both open until 8:30pm, hot food available until 8pm;
- Ranger Kids includes the Glow Zone this year so the usual play areas aren’t open;
- 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 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, Toast marshmallows, go animal spotting at dusk, 6pm Cirque Africa; 6:30pm Glow Zone/Secret Garden; 7pm Bandicoot lantern parade.
Wild Nights at Werribee Zoo, Werribee Open Range Zoo, K Road, Werribee South +61 3 9731 9600
Sunday 9 July to Saturday 15 July 2017
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