Central Florida Zoo – tickets, prices, discounts, animals, zipline

Image: Orlandosentinel.com

Central Florida Zoo and Botanical Gardens is on the edge of Lake Monroe in Sanford, Florida.

Because of its location, the family-friendly tourist attraction is also referred to as Sanford Zoo. 

Both locals and tourists visit the zoo for its 350 animals on display and numerous wildlife experiences. 

In this article, we share everything you must know before purchasing your Central Florida Zoo tickets. 

Sanford Zoo hours

The Central Florida Zoo opens at 9 am and closes at 5 pm every day of the week. 

The last entry is 30 minutes before closing. 

It remains closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas.


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Best time to visit Sanford Zoo

The best time to visit Sanford Zoo is as soon as they open at 9 am.

There are four advantages of starting early – the animals are most active early in the morning, the temperatures are still moderate, the crowd is yet to get in, and you have the whole day to explore.

When you start early, you can explore for a few hours, have lunch, and then begin exploring the zoo again. 

We recommend weekdays for a peaceful visit because it gets crowded on weekends and school holidays.


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How long does Sanford Zoo take

If you are visiting with kids and plan to attend keeper talks, feeding sessions, etc., you will need 3 to 4 hours to explore Sanford Zoo in Florida.

However, if you are a bunch of adults and want to wrap up soon, you can cover most animal exhibits in 90 minutes. 

Tip: When you buy Central Florida Zoo tickets online, you can skip the long lines at the ticket office and save time.


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Central Florida Zoo prices

The regular Sanford Zoo ticket for an adult costs $19.50.

The most significant Sanford Zoo discount is reserved for kids three years and below – they enter for free.

Children between 3 to 12 years get the second-best ticket discount – they get a 30% discount on the adult ticket and pay only $13.75.

Seniors (55+ years) get an 18% reduction on the ticket’s cost and pay only $15.95 for admission. 


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Sanford Zoo tickets

Purchasing your tickets for Sanford Zoo online is a better experience for three reasons:

  • Online tickets are cheaper than the price you will pay at the entrance
  • You don’t wait in the ticket counter queue and waste your time and energy
  • Tickets on-site are sold on a ‘first-come, first-served basis. Booking your tickets online (and in advance) ensures a guaranteed entry

The tickets get emailed to you. On the day of the visit, you can Skip the line at admissions and proceed directly to the check-in booth to scan your smartphone ticket.

Kids under three years get in free, but please select a free ticket for them.

Ticket price

Adult ticket (13 to 54 years): $19.50
Child ticket (3 to 12 years): $13.75
Seniors ticket (55+ years): $15.95


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Combo tickets

Combo tickets give you more for less and are popular among tourists visiting Central Florida Sanford Zoo.

Visitors must consider Combo tickets for the following reasons: 

1. They are a great way to save up to 20% on your ticket expenses.

2. Some visitors finish exploring Central Florida Zoo in two to three hours and need another nearby attraction to make it a full day’s outing

Crayola Experience + Central Florida Zoo

Crayola Experience is a vibrant world of color where young artists can try their hand at 26 immersive and engaging activities.

They get to wax, paint, chalk, dry markers, and indulge with digital play stations.

They also get to meet Crayon Characters, solve riddles, etc. 

The combo is popular because both Crayola Experience and Central Florida Zoo appeal to families with kids. 

After a 10% discount, this combo costs $41 per person.

Kennedy Space Center + Central Florida Zoo

At Kennedy Space Center, visitors get to see the Space Shuttle Atlantis, travel to the Red Planet, and even see a rocket launch.

It is just one hour from both Orlando and Sanford.

The Space Center appeals to the younger generation of space explorers and is a hit with families with kids.

After a 10% discount, this combo costs $72 per person.


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Central Florida Zoo animals

The Central Florida Zoo and Botanical Gardens is home to more than 350 animals representing over 100 species.

Their collection includes international favorites from all over the world and animals such as the Black bear, American alligator, etc., which are native to Florida. 

Amphibians at the Zoo

You can see amphibians at the Central Florida Sanford Zoo, including poison dart frogs, salamanders, and the African bullfrog, in the Herpetarium.

The Insect Zoo inside the Wayne M. Densch Discovery Center also has some amphibians on display. 

Since these are indoor exhibits, check out the Sanford Zoo’s amphibians later in the day, when the temperatures are soaring.

Birds at the Sanford Zoo

All through the zoo visit, visitors see a wide variety of birds, including birds of prey, tropical parrots, and even some local wildlife.

Don’t miss out on the American Black Vulture and Bald Eagle. 

Discovering invertebrates

At the Central Florida Zoo, you can see various invertebrate species in the Insect Zoo, inside the Wayne M. Densch Discovery Center.

Some of this section’s highlights are – the Giant African Millipede, Chilean Rose Tarantula, Madagascar Hissing Cockroach, and Mexican Redknee Tarantula. 

Meet the Zoo’s mammals

Mammals are the biggest hits of any Zoo, and it holds for the Central Florida Zoo as well.

During your visit, do check out the Florida Black Bear, Giraffe, Greater One-Horned Rhinos, Otter, Cheetah, Two-Toed Sloth, Ring-Tailed Lemurs, etc. 

Reptilian residents of the Zoo

The Central Florida Zoo’s Herpetarium is home to venomous snakes from both around the world and those that are native to Central Florida.

Don’t miss out on the numerous variety of crocodiles, alligators, and snakes on display. 


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What to do at Sanford Zoo, Florida

After seeing the animals, you will still have lots to explore and do at the Sanford Zoo. 

The Animal Carousel is just outside Central Florida Zoo’s entrance, and visitors can try them before entering or after they are done exploring.

The Carousel costs $2 per child and is free for an adult with a child. 

The kid gets to choose their favorite Zoo animal to ride – from alligators, giraffes, ponies, and more.

Splash Ground

The Wharton-Smith Tropical Splash Ground is a great way to beat the heat and is part of the regular Sanford Zoo entry ticket

It features streams, sprinklers, and sprays, creating an oasis inside the Central Florida Zoo. 

Its water features, including animal sprinklers, raining trees, and a bucket dump, make it an all-time favorite. 

When the temperature goes below 60 degrees Fahrenheit, Splash Ground is closed for the day.

Giraffe Feeding

Giraffe feeding at the Central Florida Zoo is an opportunity to get up close to its tallest inhabitants and learn about them. 

You may get a chance to interact with either Rafiki or Gage – two of the zoo’s giraffes. 

Visitors can feed the giraffes from 10 am to 5 pm, and the experience costs $5 per person.

Barnyard Buddies Children’s Zoo

At the Barnyard Buddies Children’s Zoo, kids can interact with farm animals such as alpaca, chickens, donkeys, goats, llama, etc. 

For an additional charge of $2 per portion, kids can feed specific animals at this Central Florida petting zoo.

Children love this hands on experience – don’t be surprised if they request for one last look before you exit the zoo.

Visitors can purchase the animal feed from the ZOOfari Outpost Gift Shop.

Image: Funlearninglife.com

Botanical Gardens

The Central Florida Zoo is home to breathtaking flora growing throughout the area. 

The zoo has three gardens – Butterfly Garden, Health and Wellness Garden, and Spines, Thorns, and Prickles Garden.

Meet the Indian Rhino

Meeting the Indian Rhino at Central Florida Zoo is an exclusive activity, and space is limited to five participants per encounter.

The encounter with PJ, the playful one-horned Indian rhino, costs $20 per person and can be booked at the zoo.

You must choose between three times – 11.30 am, 11.50, or 12.10 pm.

A paying adult must accompany kids under 13 years.  

Bungee Bounce

Bungee Bounce at Sanford Zoo Florida is an adrenalin-filled activity that gets everyone excited. 

It is at the front of the Zoo under Seminole Aerial Adventures.

Keep an eye on the treetops overhead as you launch towards the sky, then dive back down to do it all over again.

Bungee Bounce is available from 10 am to 4.30 pm and costs $7 per person per ride. 

Age and weight restrictions that apply. 

Keeper Talks

Also known as Animal Encounters, the Keeper Talks are a great way to learn about the animals, their habitats and see them in action. 

The Keepers Talks at Sanford Zoo happen all through the day, and for some animals, they happen twice a day.

The moment you enter the zoo, ask for the day’s schedule of the keeper’s talk so that you can plan your day.

All Keeper Talks are part of the regular zoo entry ticket.

KaBOOM! Playground

The KaBOOM! playground is a great place to play and interact with others.

The 2,500 square-foot playground includes a Funnel Adventure Tube, a Treehouse Climber, a Triple Racer Slide, etc. 

Access to the playground is part of the regular Central Florida Zoo ticket.

Face Painting

Younger kids love to look their wildest at the zoo, and the face painting section helps. 

They get to choose the animal they want to look like before the artist gets to work. 


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Sanford Zoo Zipline

Also known as Seminole Aerial Adventures (SAA), the Sanford Zoo Ziplines Courses are popular with both kids and adults. 

If you are an adventurer seeking a new kind of thrill, you will love navigating from tree to tree using rope bridges, zips, suspended disks, and numerous other elements. 

You also get to see nature from a new perspective.

Depending on how big a challenge you want to try, there are three types of Zipline courses at Central Florida Zoo. 

Whichever course you opt for, please wear sneakers or tennis shoes – they are mandatory. 

These zipline flights and courses are timed, so arrive no more than 15 minutes before your scheduled flight time.

The last admission for all the three zipline courses is 1 pm.

Kids course

Sanford Zoo’s Kids’ zipline course is designed for young adventurers. 

Children five years and above get to experience 22 elements, two zip lines, and one sky swing.

The participants must be between 3 feet (36″) to 5 feet (60″) tall. 

This course takes approximately 45 minutes to an hour to complete and costs $14.95 per child. 

Upland Course

The Upland course is for adventurers of all ability levels – both adults and kids, as long as they qualify the height criteria. 

The course has 15 elements and seven zip lines and lasts approximately 90 minutes to complete.

Participants must have a minimum height of 4.5 feet (54″).

The Upland Zipline’s course cost is $35.95 per person, and after it is over, visitors can upgrade to the Rainforest course for an additional $12.

Rainforest Course

Sanford Zoo’s Rainforest zipline course tests your mind and your body. 

Adventurers navigate and cross 33 elements and 13 zip lines, and the course takes around two and a half hours to complete. 

Participants must have a minimum height of 4.5 feet (54″) and must complete the Upland course to reach the Rainforest.

The Rainforest zipline course costs $45.95 per person.


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Central Florida Zoo map

With more than 350 animals to see, it is wiser to have a copy of the Central Florida Zoo map to navigate the various exhibits.

Besides the animal enclosures, a map also helps you identify visitor services such as restaurants, restrooms, kids parks, gift shop, etc.

Carrying the Sanford Zoo’s layout is highly recommended if you are traveling with kids because you won’t waste time finding the various exhibits, and in the process, get exhausted.

You can either download the map (377 Kb) or request it at the zoo entrance.


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Food and drinks at Central Florida Zoo

Since this is a smaller zoo, it has a limited number of food options. 

‘Q at the Zoo is located near the Splash Pad and is open daily from 10.30 am till the zoo closes. 

Guests can get all types of fast food—burgers, sandwiches, chicken tenders, etc. Menu

The second snack bar is at the other end of the zoo, adjacent to the KaBoom playground.

Outside food is not allowed in the zoo. However, visitors can use the free picnic seating area outside of the admission counter to eat their home-packed food.


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How to reach Central Florida Zoo

The Central Florida Zoo and Botanical Gardens is at 3755 W. Seminole Blvd. Sanford, Florida 32771. 

The best way to get there is to fire your google map and follow the directions. 

From Orlando

Sanford Zoo is 37 km (23 miles) from Orlando, and if you are driving, you can cover the distance in 25 to 30 minutes. 

On I-4

  • Travel east to Exit 104 (HWY 17-92)
  • Take a left off of exit ramp onto 17-92
  • The zoo is 1/8 mile on the right on HWY 17-92

On the Central Florida Greenway (417)

  • Travel north until it ends in Sanford at I-4
  • Head east on I-4 to Exit 104 (HWY 17-92)
  • Take a left off the exit ramp onto 17-92
  • The zoo is 1/8 mile on the right on HWY 17-92

Volusia County

Volusia County is approximately 45 km (28 miles) from the Central Florida Zoo, and you can drive the distance in a little over 30 minutes. 

On I-4

  • Travel west to Exit 104
  • Exit right off the ramp onto HWY 17-92
  • The zoo is 1/4 mile on the right

On HWY 17-92

  • Travel south through Volusia County toward Sanford.
  • The zoo is on the right side, just past the St. Johns River Bridge.

Brevard County

Brevard County is approximately 116 km (72 miles) from the Central Florida Zoo. Visitors usually drive to the zoo in 65 to 70 minutes. 

  • Take Interstate 95 to State Road 46, Exit 81 (Sanford/Mims)
  • Travel west to Sanford
  • Turn right on HWY 17-92 and follow through Sanford and around the lakefront
  • The zoo is two miles past the Central Florida Regional Hospital on the left

Lake County

Lake County is approximately 65 km (40 miles) from the zoo, and most visitors drive to the family attraction in 55 to 60 minutes. 

  • Take Highway 441 south to State Road 46
  • Go east on 46 to Interstate 4
  • Take I-4 east one exit
  • Exit at #104
  • Follow the signs to the zoo

The zoo has spacious parking, which is free. 

Electric charging stations are available on a first-come, first-serve basis.

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Rekha Rajan: She loves to travel, and when not on the move, she reads about popular destinations or talks to travelers on various forums. She is open-minded, eager, and personable and hence tends towards ‘cultural travels’ which involves the discovery of people and places. She doesn’t like to take photographs when on vacation for she believes in living the moment. Favorite Cities: London, New York, Paris, Rome, Barcelona

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