Tips for Visiting the San Diego Zoo with a Wheelchair or Limited Mobility


I have heard people share concerns that the San Diego Zoo might be challenging with a wheelchair or limited mobility because there are a lot of hills. However, I’ve found that there are great accessible options available, making getting around the San Diego Zoo with a wheelchair very doable. The San Diego Zoo is a world-class zoo, you’ve gotta go!

visiting the san diego zoo with a wheelchair

Enjoy the San Diego Zoo with a wheelchair or limited mobility

I love the San Diego Zoo – we’re pass holders and especially enjoy sharing the zoo with visiting guests.  When my guest have a wheelchair or limited mobility, I make sure that they know the ins and outs of how to make the most of their zoo experience with the following tips.  Also, the San Diego Zoo provides special parking right in front of the zoo entrance for those with handicap parking permits, ADA rest rooms, and wheelchair access to shows and exhibits.  Here’s a link to the San Diego Zoo’s accessibility web page.

Accessibility tips for visiting the San Diego Zoo with a wheelchair:

Access Two for One

You get in free as your disabled friend’s helper/attendant.

Get a Priority Pass

When you buy your ticket, let them know someone in your party needs mobility assistance and they will give you a priority pass, which gets you right on the next bus tour.

Rent a Wheelchair or Scooter

Wheelchairs, and motorized wheelchairs are available for rent on a first-come, first-served basis near the park entrance.

Take the Guided Bus Tour

It’s a 35 minute ride in an open-air double-decker bus that will take you through the main animal areas, where you’ll see the exhibits, as well as get an overview of the park. Then, if there’s an area you wanted to spend more time in, you can return after the bus tour having seen what the area is like.

Use the Express Bus for Those with Limited Mobility

The Express Bus is NOT wheelchair accessible, but if you have limited mobility, the hop on/hop off Express Bus is the perfect way to see exhibits with a minimum of walking.

Ask for a Ride

If you do decide to walk the park and get to tired pushing the wheelchair, or you need a quick ride to the park entrance, for example, ask any zoo employee for a handicap pick up. Some one will come and pick your party up and get you where you need to go. Don’t hesitate to ask if you need help, this option was offered to my granddaughter who’s in a wheelchair and seemed like a fairly routine thing.

Enjoy the Skyfari® Aerial Tram

The Skyfari® aerial tram takes you over the tree tops for a bird’s eye view of the park.  If you have a wheelchair, go ahead and get in line with it, then when you load, they’ll either keep the wheelchair there for your return (if you just want a round trip) or send it on the next tram car so you can get in and tour that side of the zoo for a while.

Pit Stop

If you are looking for a large changing area with a bench, or privacy for medical needs, go to the First Aid Station and they will provide a room for you.

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