Yes, it's that time once again. When our family ventures out to one of our favorite summer time spots, The Fort Wayne Children's Zoo, and then report back to all of you what's going on at one of the country's BEST zoos!
We are always so excited to visit the zoo, see all of our favorite animals and check out everything new they have going on; and this summer there are definitely new and adventurous attractions to see. Plus this year, we were extra lucky because Maa Ma got to join us for our day of fun!
Now for us, part of exploring the zoo is seeing what new food/menu options they might have added since our last visit; and to best do that, we decided to ask Chef Matt, the zoo's executive chef some questions we had about what we saw. We were lucky enough to meet Chef Matt in person last year and wanted to follow up on a couple things, and had some new thoughts too.
1. Last year when we spoke, you mentioned you had some new ideas you were looking to develop for this season. Have you been able to implement any of those?
I did work on some new ideas for this season unfortunately a lot of them were put on the back burner. This tends to happen a lot in our environment. We did work on other projects such as building more shelves and storage for product, revamping the line at Rays by pulling out the registers and adding a grab and go cooler, adding a second soft serve machine to Matilda’s, adding an Icee mix up station in Africa, and purchased some much needed equipment for all the stands. I did get a chance to play with Mt. Dew ice cream. It turned out great and we run it on occasion and on holiday weekends. Right now I am working on doing something fun for Zoo Brew.
2. We noticed a family meal available at the Tree Tops Cafe and were wondering if there are any other family options we didn't see.
Unfortunately at this time Tree Tops is the only place we offer family meals.
3. Have you ever considered having daily lunch specials (especially sat Ray's Grille)?
We do run specials quite a bit. I have not made it a mandatory daily thing at this point, but I can tell you that Ray’s has ran Krab Rolls, Strawberry Short Cake, and Banana Pudding with Nilla wafer cups. In other locations we have done Chicken and Waffles, Specialty Pizzas, Pizza Fries, Pizza Pretzels, Deep Fried Cookie Dough, and Brownie Sundaes.
4. What is your biggest meal seller? We realize popcorn and ice cream are crowd favorites, but besides those.
Chicken Tenders Baskets, Burger Baskets, Pizza, then Ice Cream…… In that order.
5. Have you ever looked into offering Lemonade Shake Ups? We love them and know they are a hit at other places we enjoy during the warm months. Just a suggestion :)
Funny you asked this. This was one of the concepts that got put on the back burner, but yes I have the concept all drawn up and was looking at putting it in Africa. Bees are always a problem with a concept like this especially at a zoo. So for now it’s still just a concept, but it is still on my radar and something I’d like to do.
If you don't know about all the new and exciting things going on at the zoo this summer, you have to check out the completely remodeled Australian Adventure. Part of this was finished last year when we were there, but not Sting Ray Bay is open, where you can actually pet a sting ray! Not to mention a gorgeous outdoor eating area perfect to grab some shade and rest. Plus, there are plenty of great photo opportunities as well.
Oh, and while you are there, you have to take a ride on the new Crocodile Adventure River Ride. If you've been before, it's the log ride we all loved as kids, but even better! So relaxing, but still exciting too!
And of course no trip to "our" zoo is complete without seeing our favorite exhibits as well. For us, it doesn't get better than watching the Sea Lions play. Seriously, we could sit and watch these adorable friends all day long. They are definitely the boy's favorite!
The Fort Wayne Children's Zoo has been a family favorite since I was a little girl. If you live in our neck of the woods, and haven't planned your summer trip yet, you MUST! Or even if you live within a couple hours, it is definitely worth the drive. You won't regret it! To learn more, buy tickets or plan your visit, be sure to check them out online, on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram! Follow along for all the zoo fun!
Disclaimer: I received free tickets in exchange for this feature. All thoughts and opinions are my own.