Happy Hollow Park and Zoo in San Jose is reopening after it’s 20-month renovation. Now, I know that this isn’t news to the San Francisco Bay Area families, because I think most of them were there with us for the member preview day this Sunday. It was reported that the park saw 8,000 visitors that day alone. Like most newly renovated attractions, this one is sure to be crowded its first year.
I’ve only visited the new and improved Happy Hollow once, so I’m not an expert. But I do have a few sanity-saving tips I can pass on. I’ll keep updating the tips on this post after I’ve made a few more visits.
1. Know your parking options. Arrive 20-30 minutes before opening time. There is a new parking lot, so check the website beforehand. On the preview day, there were four lots available and all had at least a ten-minute line to get in, even early in the day. Although the website says parking is six dollars, the parking lot nearest to the entrance is actually ten dollars; the other lots are six.
2. Take a picnic or eat an early lunch. We opted to eat an early lunch around eleven. This was the best move we made all day. By 1 o’clock the line was out the door. Others reported that they waited an hour and a half to get their food. I think that the lines may begin to move faster, once the staff works out some of the kinks. There were no other snack carts in the park, so the cafe is the only option. Luckily there are plenty of picnic tables and grassy areas for a picnic.
3. Check the scheduled events. The puppet show has new times, and the new Leaping Lemur area and Barn Area have zookeepers that do some training sessions with the animals. We saw the trainer and the lemurs, and it was a nice treat. The times are posted on the exhibits.
4. Go Play First. Because the park is so crowded, it pays off to get there early. If you’re there early, then go the park area first. It’s the old, trusty amusement park rule: popular rides first. I also noticed that the new Leaping Lemur area, Double-H Ranch area, and Redwood Lookout Play area were all very crowded, so you may want to let your little ones explore these parts early in the morning. Check the height requirements for the rides before you get in line.
5. Save some time for the fossil hunting. There were few changes to the lower zoo area, with the notable exception of the new fossil dig sand area. Even my older, more world weary child was engrossed in the dig for a while. Toddlers and preschool dinosaur fans were in sandy dino heaven.
* Bonus Tip * If you go this spring, take a peek inside the barnyard. I went all ga-ga when I saw these eight-day-old lambs. So cute.
If you have any tips to share, please leave them in the comments. You may also want to check out the Happy Hollow Facebook fan page; visitors are leaving comments, and tips there all the time.
I hope to have another more detailed post on the renovations in the park later on.