Vivid Sydney is an annual explosion of colour that creates such a buzz of excitement across the city once the sun goes down. And it is definitely the place most of Sydney, as well thousands of international visitors, flocks to for a few weeks in May-June. For families, Taronga Zoo is a fantastic way to get in on the full Vivid action without getting stuck in the infamous Vivid crowds. NOTE: Use special offer code FTW40 when booking for 40% off tickets on Tuesday 12th to Thursday 14th June.
This is the third year Taronga Zoo shines a light on conservation and the wonders of wildlife with its spectacular display of light sculptures. We have been all three years and I am VERY happy to report that it just keeps getting better! Thank you Taronga Zoo for listening to the feedback each year and improving on Lights for the Wild.
What We Love About Vivid Taronga Zoo
There is a LOT to love about the Vivid Lights for the Wild precinct at Taronga Zoo. Our top five things are:
- There are limited tickets (and crowds) so much more relaxed and enjoyable than the other precincts. Plus kids can easily see the light installations.
- It combines animals and lights – and is very beautiful.
- The Lights for the Wild has an educational and conservation message.
- We can easily drive and park there. Plus it is pram friendly.
- There are views out over Sydney Harbour.
What’s New This Year
A Port Jackson Welcome
I was initially really disappointed to hear that the light projection on the heritage entrance was not going to be there this year. It has been a favourite of ours the last two years. And we usually have our picnic dinner while watching it. On arrival, this year you will be greeted by the Port Jackson Shark (which you exit through). But don’t fret (like I did!), the light projection has just moved to the Taronga Centenary Theatre. Here you get a 270-degree cinematic experience while the kids rest their feet.
Three Session Start Times
There are now three different sessions, starting at 5:30pm, 6:30pm and 7:30pm. And this seems to have made a BIG difference to queues and the crowds…not that Vivid at Taronga Zoo has ever been overcrowded like the other precincts. There was no line when we arrived a bit after 5:30pm and we hardly had to wait along the walk for the interactive installations or to see the sculptures in full view. It was such a pleasant experience crowd wise this year.
New Animals and Ones Drawn By Kids
There are a few new animals this year, plus all the old favourites. Though one of our favourites from last year – the jellyfish – sadly haven’t made a return. What we liked the most was the addition of animal light sculptures made from kids drawings.
New Rest Areas and More Food Options
It is hard to miss the entrance of fairy lights for the American Express Rest Zone near the giraffe enclosure. But I wouldn’t have gone in except for a staff member inviting us in and letting us know that there was a bubble machine inside. This was a BIG hit with my two and it was a great spot to wait while hubby caught up with us. There are toilets here and a parents room, plus drinks on sale and lots of seating. So a great pit stop for families before continuing on. We always bring a simple picnic dinner but there definitely seemed to be a lot more food options along the walk this year.
Drive (particularly with little ones)
Parking is easy and only costs $9. Yes it would be nice coming over and seeing Vivid from the water, but it makes the night a very long one. There was surprisingly no line to enter the carpark this year. We always park on the lower level (follow the exit sign down), which makes leaving that much easier. And while you get a bit of traffic on the way there, the drive home is super quick.
While there are a lot more food options throughout Vivid at Taronga Zoo, they are towards the middle of the walk and are expensive. If you have kids that won’t wait that long for dinner, it is best to grab something before entering at the two food trucks. Or pack a picnic dinner and find a nice spot to enjoy it, which will save you a heap of money. We found a great spot just outside the theatre on a rock. And had a view over the giraffes to the city.
Vivid at Taronga Zoo is Pram Friendly
Taronga Zoo is exceptionally pram friendly. A signed route with ramps and paved paths leads you through the Lights for the Wild experience. For families with children who no longer use a stroller (like us), you may want to think about bringing one along. Even if your child ends up walking the whole time, you can put your extra winter clothing and bags in it. The walk is reasonably long….it took us 2hrs from beginning to end, with a dinner stop along the way. And it starts by going downhill and then of course you have to come back uphill at the end (when the kids are tired).
This is usually a highlight for us but we gave it a miss this year…mostly because the tickets for it were all sold out until the second or third week of Vivid. But we saved so much time not having to line up for it – this is one line that never seems to go away, though it didn’t seem as long this year. Probably because of the additional third session. Note: It now looks like tickets for the sky safari are sold out for all 5:30pm sessions and mostly just available for entrance at 7:30pm.
Go Early in the Week and Check the Weather
Going Monday to Wednesday is the best option with little ones for Vivid Sydney full stop. And Vivid at Taronga Zoo is no different. Plus this year it’s cheaper to go mid-week!
If you can, plan to go on a not so cold or wet night. The breeze off the water can be very cold! This will mean not booking tickets until closer to the day, which only works if you don’t want to go on the Sky Safari and aren’t that big of a group. Keep in mind that Vivid has been extended this year for another week and runs until 16th June. And it runs rain or shine.
- Session Times: 5.30pm, 6.30pm, 7.30pm (start times only, approx. 2hr experience)
- Duration: It took us exactly two hours, with a dinner stop and two preschoolers without a stroller. Taronga Zoo closes at 9:30pm.
- Ticket Prices: Monday to Thursday (ex Public Holiday) is Adults: $23.95, Children: $17.95, Concession: $21.56. Friday to Sunday and Public Holidays is Adults: $26.95, Children: $18.95, Concession: $24.26. Children under 4 are FREE. NOTE: Use special offer code FTW40 when booking for 40% off tickets on Tuesday 12th to Thursday 14th June.
I am more than happy to pay the entry fee, seeing there are limited tickets, it’s a beautiful location, the Lights for the Wild are gorgeous and the ticket money goes towards animal conservation projects around the world. It truly is a wonderful way to enjoy Vivid with young kids.
Our only thing to be improved this year is that staff should be dressed in more high-ves jackets. They were lots of friendly staff around to help but they were not always easy to spot in the dark.
How to Get to Taronga Zoo
We much prefer driving to the Zoo and parking is only $9. It makes getting home a LOT quicker and the evening a lot more manageable with little ones.
But if you don’t have a car, or want to see the Vivid lights at Circular Quay from the water, then public transport is the way to go. You can catch a train to Circular Quay and then catch the ferry to Taronga Zoo. If you’re lucky enough to catch the 5.45pm ferry from Circular Quay to Taronga Zoo, you will even get to see the city light up from the water at 6pm. And we hear it is a spectacular view! A shuttle bus runs from the wharf to the entrance, but it is NOT FREE. Plus, there is limited pram space available and there can be a long wait.