What You’ll See at the Columbus Zoo in 2024

Planning a trip to the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium this summer? Along with an array of adorable animals, you’ll encounter a bustling scene of construction fences. The zoo is undergoing multiple exciting improvement projects, with some set to debut soon and others slated for completion next year. Join us for a region-by-region tour of the zoo to discover what’s new and upcoming!  

Columbus Zoo Entry Village

Before you even get inside the Columbus Zoo you’re met with construction walls and the sound of ongoing work. Security enhancements are underway as they are installing an EVOLV security system at the front entrance.

It’s said it will have four lanes, can screen about 6,000 to 7,000 people an hour, and cost around $1.4 million dollars. A similar system is already in place at the zoo’s waterpark, Zoombezi Bay.

North America

North America, the oldest region of the zoo, is undergoing a $40 million dollar makeover into North America Trek.

Phase 1 will focus on the creation of new and improved habitats for the Mexican wolves, trumpeter swans, song birds, bald eagle, black bear, and North America river otters. See a diagram of what phase 1 will look like once completed below.

The former home of the Mexican wolves is now the future home of the North American river otters.

The former bison and pronghorn antelope enclosure is where the Mexican wolves and black bears will be. Those walls going up are what’s labeled “LSS Building” on the diagram (Life Support System).

I wonder how much of that $40 million was spent on construction fences?

The train station has a revamped stroller parking section and new queue area to buy tickets.

This looks to be the start of the new black bear den building.

The trumpeter swans have been moved to a new enclosure alongside the moose habitat while their new home is worked on.

The old bald eagle aviary and beaver habitats have been completely demolished. You used to be able to make a loop around North America, now there is only one path in and out. Phase 1 is expected to be completed in summer 2025.

Polar Frontier Region

The only change I noticed in the Polar Frontier region is it appears one of the eateries have been updated. I believe this location used to serve Donato’s pizza, now is called The Coop with a chicken based menu. See the prices below.

Heart of Africa Region

There are no longer any pony or camel rides at the Columbus Zoo. Ostriches have taken over the old camel course. Below is the platform where you used to get on and off the camels.

Shores Region

So the sign at the Carousel says ride tickets are $2 but the price has actually been raised to $3 per rider (FREE for Gold Members, FREE for ZooMore Wristbands).

Congo Expedition Region

Who says VR is dead? In the Congo Expedition region near the food court you’ll find the new Wild Explorer Virtual Reality ride by Immotion. There are 12 seats that move while you enjoy a VR adventure: Shark Dive or Gorilla Trek. Minimum height requirement is 36 inches. Cost for zoo member price: $6, Non-member price: $7. Included with a ZooMore wristband. In my past two visits to the zoo, I did not see a single person riding this attraction or anyone who looked remotely interested in it. We’ll see how long it lasts.columbus zoo Wild Explorer Virtual Reality ride by Immotion

The former insect-themed playground has been demolished. For now it is an empty lot but according to the zoo’s map it will soon become Congo Social – a shaded seating area with a food truck featuring Harvest Pizza and draft beer.

The zoo is nearing completion on a major renovation for the bonobo’s indoor habitat. The $4 million dollar investment is scheduled to reopen this summer.

Australia and the Islands

The popular Dinosaur Island Boat Ride usually opens around Memorial Day Weekend but appears to be in an extended closure, most likely waiting for a part to arrive from a supplier if I had to guess.

columbus zoo dinosaur island boat ride closed 2024

The good news is the dinosaurs are all in place and can be viewed from the pathways for free.

columbus zoo dinosaurs 2024

Adventure Cove Region

The paratrooper flat ride next to Sea Dragon (which seemed temporary to begin with) has been removed from the park and replaced by one large umbrella (for now). Hopefully there will be a new ride here eventually.

Another new ride for the Columbus Zoo to bring their total number of attractions to 19 is Scooter Pals. ScooterPals can be rented in the old log flume station in Adventure Cove and are programmed to only operate within the Adventure Cove area, around Conservation Lake, and in the Asia Quest loop. Beyond those areas, the scooter will slow to a stop until riders re-enter one of those areas

The cost to rent Scooter Pals is $5 plus 0.35 per minute (meaning a 15 minute ride will cost you $10.25). Two people can ride at once. Again, in my past two visits to the zoo I did not see anyone riding these. I think the rental station should be moved closer to the zoo’s entrance for more visibility. I do love that the zoo is willing to take risks and try new things.

Finally, the Falcon Fall drop tower and the Flying Clipper swinging ship ride were also closed and I don’t believe have operated at all in 2024 yet. Tidal Twist has been open though! Always check the zoo’s website for the latest status on which rides are open or closed.

Columbus Zoo Construction Update Video

If video is more your thing, check out this quick update:

And here’s a quick history lesson on the oldest operating wooden roller coaster in Ohio, the Sea Dragon:

 

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That’s it for our tour of everything new and different at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium in 2024! What project or change are you most excited about? Let us know in the comments below.

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