Free year-round admission to the Indianapolis Zoo and White River Gardens to visit all of the adorable and amazing animals that call the Zoo home. That’s one of the biggest and most well-known benefits of Zoo membership.
But the benefits don’t end there — not by far! There are so many different ways for guests to enjoy their membership. If you’re a new Zoo member, discovering all the ins and outs can be tricky, but I’ve picked up a few tips during my time working in the Membership Office. How do I get the most out of my membership? These are my secrets:
• Preview what’s new at the Zoo
Over the past few years, the Zoo has opened some exciting new exhibits, including the all-new exhibit, Flights of Fancy: A Brilliance of Birds presented by Citizens Energy Group that opened in May 2012. Members got to see it before the general public during a members-only preview. These events give members an opportunity to learn about the animals and exhibits with less of a crowd. So when your friends say “Oh, did you hear about the new exhibit at the Zoo? It opens on Saturday!” you can say, “Yeah. I saw it already. It was awesome. You should totally go!” They will be stunned and wonder how you already saw it. They’ll think you must be a very important person! (It’s true.)
And this perk will be especially important in 2014 when the International Orangutan Center opens. I don’t know if you’ve seen the plans for it yet, but — holy cow! It will be focal point for the Midwest when all is said and done, and you can be one of the first to see it! The date is still TBA, but you’ll want to mark your calendars for this one!
• In the event of events
As much as I love seeing the adorable animals, we also host some amazing events here at the Zoo. If you’re into music, you won’t want to miss our summer concert series, Animals and All That Jazz and Zoolapalooza. Members get in free and you’ll also ride for free on the featured ride of the night! Then bring the kids in their cutest — I mean scariest — costumes for ZooBoo presented by Indianapolis Honda Dealers. And don’t miss the beautiful lights at Christmas at the Zoo presented by Donatos and Teachers Credit Union. Those events are free for members as well! To promote the finalists of the Indianapolis Prize, the world’s leading award for animal conservation, the Zoo hosts an event called Meet A Hero, Be a Hero. Hear the heroic animal conservation tales from the finalists themselves, get their autographs and do some fun crafts. And, you guessed it, it’s free for members!
• The breakfast club
Zoo events like Christmas at the Zoo and Animals and All That Jazz are a huge hit with families and draw great crowds every year. But maybe you’re asking yourself, “What can I do with a membership that non-members don’t have access to?” I’m glad you asked. Breakfast with Santa and Breakfast with Bunny are members-only events. Bring your family to enjoy some sausage, french toast and O.J. with Jolly Ol’ Saint Nick or the Easter Bunny. We only take a limited number of reservations, which gives these events a very private, personal feel. But take my advice, reserve your spot early because they go fast!
• More for less is more
How about a few other bonuses and discounts? Those are always good! First, when the Entry Plaza was renovated in the spring of 2012, we added a Members Only Express Line. So while everyone is waiting in the blistering heat or the freezing cold to purchase admission tickets, you can waltz on by — like the true VIP you are. No waiting for you! If you’ve brought friends, they’ll receive an admission discount just for hanging out with you. How about gift shop purchases? Discount! What about ride ticket packages? Discount! How about Dolphin In-Water Adventures, parking for special downtown events, birthday parties, Zoo camps and memberships at other Indy-area landmarks? Discounts all around!
• Reading between the lines
You may be wondering how you can keep all these events, discounts and other benefits straight. Don’t worry, you can always find this great info on the Membership section of our website. But if you’d rather have the info come to you, we’ve got you covered with the biannual magazine and the monthly eNews. In addition to member benefits info, you’ll also get fun animal facts and photos, previews of what’s coming soon and the chance to win prizes by playing a hide-and-seek-like game in the eNews. I haven’t won yet, but then again I’ve never been good at hide-and-seek.
• All those adorable faces
If all of these events, discounts and benefits weren’t enough for you, we have hundreds of other reasons, too. And you can visit them any time you want.
Kelli Agnew, Zoo Membership guru