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San Diego Zoo Reservations: Tips & Everything You Need To Know

Many tourist attractions across the country have implemented the use of reservations to experience dining, tours or rides on their property, with the San Diego Zoo being no exception!

With reservations being required more often than ever at theme parks and zoos, we'll breakdown everything you need to know about reservations at the San Diego Zoo!

Questions We'll Answer About Reservations At The San Diego Zoo:

  • Are Reservations Required To Enter The San Diego Zoo?
  • Are Dining Reservations Required At The San Diego Zoo?
  • Do You Need To Make Reservations For Any Shows Or Rides?
  • Are Reservations Required For Tours At The San Diego Zoo?

 San Diego Zoo Logo

Are Reservations Required To Enter The San Diego Zoo?

Unlike other theme parks in Southern California, like Disneyland for example, the San Diego does not require reservations to enter.

Reservations were required for a very brief period in 2020 and 2021, but this requirement has since been lifted for the San Diego Zoo. 

While reservations are not required to enter, we recommend purchasing your ticket in advance online. 

Family Pointing at a Cheetah

The San Diego Zoo can close due to reaching maximum capacity and having a ticket already purchased gives you priority to enter the zoo before those without tickets. 

You can use the promo code “SAVE5” to save $5 per person when you buy your tickets online from Theme Park Center

The San Diego Zoo Safari Park also doesn't require reservations to enter the park - just a ticket!

Again, while reservations are not required, forgetting to plan ahead can still cause issues when you arrive at the park - so always buy your admission ticket in advance. 

Are Dining Reservations Required At The San Diego Zoo?

Nearly all of the restaurants at the San Diego Zoo don’t accept reservations operating on a walk-up only basis.

However, Albert’s Restaurant is the exception to this rule and you'll be able to make a reservation to Albert's if you choose to do so.

Couple Enjoying Food at Albert's Restaurant San Diego Zoo

Albert’s is a full service restaurant that accepts reservations at the San Diego with a more premium menu and dining experience.

TIP: More often than not you won’t have issues getting into Albert’s when making a reservation 1-2 days in advance and even the day of during slower times of the year.

Just to be safe, though, we’d recommend making a reservation at Albert’s at least a week in advance for a better shot at being able to dine there.

While not necessary, we prefer to play it on the safe side to give us the best opportunity to eat at Albert's.


Albert’s is a fun dining experience located smack in the middle of the Zoo, but only open for lunch each day!

It's also important to keep in mind that if you're looking for a formal dining experience at San Diego Zoo then Albert's Restaurant is going to be your only choice. 

All of the other restaurants at Albert's are quick service!

Do You Need To Make Reservations For Any Shows Or Rides?

Reservations are not required for any shows or rides at the San Diego Zoo

Some experiences like the 4D Theater and Balboa Train aren't included in the price of admission and require an additional purchase in order to experience these attractions. 

Couple on the Skyfari Ride

While reservations aren't required for any of the shows (known as Wildlife Presentations at the San Diego Zoo) there are specific times of day when they start, so be sure to check showtimes when you arrive at the zoo. 

The Kangaroo Bus and Guided Bus Tour also occur regularly throughout the day and don't require any reservations, but some tours at the San Diego Zoo do require reservations! 

Are Reservations Required For Tours At The San Diego Zoo?

The San Diego Zoo has a variety of tours including the Animals In Action, Discovery Cart Tour and Early Morning Cheetah Experience which all cost extra on top of your general zoo admission ticket. 

These tours also only take place a handful of times on select dates, so reservations are required to attend.

San Diego Zoo Tour Reservations

When you purchase tickets for these tours and experiences you'll see which dates and times are available to reserve. 

TIP: The popularity and availability of these tours can vary drastically depending on which experience you're interested in, so we recommend booking your tour reservation at least one month in advance 

It's also important to note that pricing of these tours also vary throughout out the year!

San Diego Zoo Cart Tour

Busier times of year like weekends and holidays will see "peak" or more expensive pricing, while weekdays and slower travel periods will see more moderate prices for tours. 

If you have any flexibility in your travel plans be sure to keep this in mind as you could save a lot of money just by making a tour reservation on a weekday instead of a weekend!


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