Clearly word has spread that Vivid at Taronga Zoo is one of the best family-friendly events because it was sold out last Saturday night. However, being a ticketed event (tickets are limited) ensures crowds are kept to a manageable level. The huge animal light installations have kids wide-eyed with wonder and although this was our second year visiting, I still marvelled at the delicate animal sculptures and loved the many new additions. This year we took my Mum and one of AJ’s friends with us and it was a hit with everyone proving Vivid at Taronga spans the generations.
Walking from the car park to the entry of the zoo there’s a tangible air of anticipation in the crowd. It’s wonderful to hear the kids exclaiming as they catch sight of the projections on the heritage-listed main entrance, signaling the magical night ahead of them.
If heading into the city is an overwhelming thought, I urge you to give Vivid at Taronga Zoo a go. You can park in the zoo’s car park, visitor numbers are limited and a one-way circuit around the zoo makes sure the crowd moves in an orderly fashion.
If you’ve visited Taronga Zoo before you’ll know that it’s located on a hill which affords the animals, and visitors, spectacular views of Sydney Harbour. Nothing changes at night, there’s still a hill to negotiate and the views are enhanced by the beautiful colours of Vivid on the Harbour Bridge and city buildings. Organisers have done their best to ensure the installation route winds its way in a manner which avoids the worst of the hills on the return with ramps making this event accessible to all. We feel this year’s trail is easier than last year’s trail when pushing a wheelchair or pram. I’m never happy to look on from afar so we did push over some soggy grass in parts to get close to some of the installations like the Gorillas.
Taronga does a wonderful job of spreading a strong conservation message in everything it does and Vivid is no exception. This year’s theme is Lights for the Wild which encourages visitors to become part of the experience by interacting with the sculptures. Interactive wristbands are included in the entry price and these light up when you approach the installations allowing you to be a light for the wild.
Each of the installations and light sculptures tells a tale of conservation. Taronga Zoo is working to help save 10 species from extinction over the next 10 years and Vivid at Taronga helps to illuminate this conservation message each night.
BJ doesn’t think a trip to the zoo is complete without a ride on the Skyrail and during Vivid the ride is extra special. Not only will you be able to appreciate some of the light installations from above but you’ll also have a great view of Sydney Harbour. If you like the sound of that, you need a Blue Pass ticket. Each night there’s a limited allocation of Blue Pass tickets that include a round trip on Taronga’s Sky Safari cable car experience. The Blue Pass doesn’t cost any extra but you do need to select it when choosing tickets. Manual wheelchairs can be accommodated on the Skyrail depending on width. The Skyrail is stopped to ensure safe loading.
All the installations are beautiful but our favourite is the Port Jackson Shark which visitors can enter.
The lights pulse and make for a magical experience.
BJ loved this one as it’s so immersive.
We grabbed warm drinks at the café but many families were having dinner. I highly recommend feeding the kids a light snack before heading to the zoo as many families were stopped mid-trail snacking.
This year, for the first time guests can enjoy a VIP two course dinner in an underwater themed light show at The View Restaurant at Taronga Zoo. This is open to all guests of Vivid at Taronga from Thursday to Sunday. You can read more about dinner at The View here.
Vivid at Taronga Zoo runs from 26 May – 17 June and if you’re thinking of going, particularly on a weekend, I suggest booking now. Weekdays are quieter.
There’s two sessions each evening for the zoo.
• Session 1: 5.30–7.30pm
• Session 2: 7.30–9.30pm
(Note: last entry is at 8.30pm)
Companion card is accepted.
You can check availability and book online here
14 accessible parking spaces are located on the ground level of the Taronga Zoo car park. Parking after 4pm is $9 per vehicle. If you have a vehicle which won’t fit into the car park there’s a limited number of street parking spaces just past the zoo on the left. I’d suggest arriving early if you want to nab one of these. With the disability parking permit this provides free parking but it is a little push up a hill to get to the main entrance of the zoo.
Accessible stand-alone bathrooms are available at the entrance, at the base of the Giraffe enclosure, near the food court and at the rear of the Port Jackson Shark.
Stop and take a break. We stopped at a couple of park benches around the zoo to give Mum a bit of a break in the steep stretches. There’s a lovely spot overlooking the Turtles and the Port Jackson Shark which breaks up the final hill.
Don’t stop at the tiger and elephant installations at the start. Everyone seems to stop with the excitement of seeing these beautiful installations at the beginning of the trail which causes congestion. You pass them on your way back at the end of the evening and you’ll get better photos on that side of the fence.
If you are driving to Taronga Zoo allow time for congestion on Bradley’s Head Road. Hubby and I were in two cars and I drove the back roads and arrived well before Hubby. Not that I’m competitive of course!
BJ insisted on riding the Skyrail the minute we arrived but I suggest it’s a lovely way to end the evening. The queue is usually not as busy then.
We watched the projection on the main building at the entrance as we exited. There was less of a crowd by that time of night.
If you are keen to see Taronga in the day and night, you can get a 30% discount on a daytime ticket if visiting Vivid on the same night. You will have an hour between closing of the zoo at 4.30pm and the start of Vivid at 5.30pm. You can read about our recent visit to the zoo here.
You can read more about accessibility at the zoo here.
We were guests of Taronga Zoo but as always our opinions are our own. We wouldn’t be revisiting if this wasn’t an attraction we loved last year.