Friday, September 19, 2008

A Review of Members Night at Roger Williams Park Zoo, Providence, RI.

In August Roger Williams Park Zoo hosted their annual members appreciation night. This meant the zoo stayed open from 5 - 8:00 pm. Just for members. We decided it would be a fun weeknight outing for our family and attended.

I believe a RWP Zoo membership is one of the best deals in the state. A Family level membership is only $79 and includes 2 adults and 4 children. Visiting the Zoo twice for my family (Ellie is still free) would cost us $72. You see why I think this is a good deal. Paying for a membership means I can take the kids to the zoo any day and stay as long or as little as I want and still feel like I got my money's worth.

Even though I think a zoo membership is a good deal, I felt disappointed in their members night and the zoo in general. I expected a night designed to show appreciation to the members. That's not what we experienced.

I anticipated seeing Zoo Keepers and docents answering questions at various animal exhibits (unlike during normal hours when I've rarely seen them). Nope. We saw one Keeper hard at work to care for the elephants. He clearly did not have time to answer our questions. Another Keeper carried a young wallaby around in a pouch and was a highlight for our evening. She answered questions but was FLOCKED by people.

Also, we could hardly see the free popsicle stand because of all the workers hawking do-dads as a fundraiser. Not to mention getting around the raffle ticket table and the DJ. I understand the need to raise money. Really I do. But I thought the night was supposed to be about appreciating the members of the zoo. Apparently it was another way to get money from people who already support the zoo.

I think this member night highlighted areas of disappointment I already have. Our trip to Mystic Aquarium a couple of weeks prior didn't help matters. Hands-on exhibits and Docents/Keepers everywhere. Those people really know how to run a place. I wish RWP Zoo would learn a few things from them.

That's not to say I won't go back. I still think it's a frugal deal for my family. Not to mention I only drive 15 minutes to get there. I just wish they would focus a little more on customer service.
Ellie enjoyed her popsicle!
We're still perfecting the popsicle technique.
Will in deep concentration.


Amy said...

Hmmm....customer service? That seems to be something missing in a lot of places today! I do have the agree--it is a great deal! I am thinking next year about spending the extra $10 so that I can other adults with me--family or friends. Wouldn't take long to make that worth the $ either! :) We do enjoy our time at RWPZ!

wherever HE leads we'll go said...

Customer service is definitely lacking in a LOT of places. In some ways I miss the zoo in RI. I think it is much bigger and better than the one we have here. Of course, I have never gone looking for zoo keepers since I was there for my own enjoyment & usually without kids. : )

We did buy a membership to our zoo this year & have gone about 7 or 8 times - WELL worth the money. At times, we have had to skip some things & leave early & we never felt like we were wasting money. We have more than paid for our membership with all the trips we have taken. We will definitely do the zoo membership again.

Alicia said...

That is a great price for membership, but I totally think that night was not as a thank you, but instead to get you to "invest" in the zoo. I obviously can't complain about our zoo (The San Diego Zoo), and I can't decide if our membership is overpriced or not. For our family (w/o Sam costing yet) it's $113 for a membership. That includes the Wild Animal Park, which is like going on a safari (it's cool, but really a once a year kind of thing). The biggest problem with our zoo is it's HUGE. It's very spread out, and it's a lot of walking to get from one exhibit to the next. The kids get too tired. So even though the Little Rock zoo was LAME and UNDER CONSTRUCTION ALL THE TIME, it was at least nice when I had my little toddler to see the whole zoo in an hour and a half.

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