The Wilds Tips and Tricks in Cumberland, Ohio…We finally made it to the Wilds! This is on everyone’s Ohio bucket lists or “Best Things To Do In Ohio” lists. It is ranked as one of the best drive-thru safaris in the USA. So we finally got to see what all the hullaballoo was about.
The Wilds is open year-round and, in addition to their safaris, offers zip line safari tours, horseback riding, fishing, and even luxury yurt glamping. We booked the daily open-air safari. We really enjoyed the nice breeze and unobstructed views. I was happy to see all of the lush landscape that the animals have to roam. It was like they were really out in “The Wild”. However, despite these great things we wish we would have done some things differently and that is what I am going to share with you.
Making the Reservation
We had planned to go on an earlier date, but I waited until the day of to reserve online, so I could get a more accurate weather report for the day. The problem was that when I tried to reserve the tickets I discovered that you can’t make reservations for The Wilds on the same day. So we ended up going to Cedar Point that day instead which wasn’t so bad!
The next time, though, I thought I was prepared, I went to make our reservation a few days in advance. This time everything was sold out except for one seat on 4 different tours! This was really disappointing, but I booked one seat on the 1:15 tour and another seat on the 1:30 tour. I thought that at least we could go even if we weren’t on the same bus.
The Wilds Tip: Reserve your spot way in advance!
From looking at the map, it looked like The Wilds was just a little south of Zanesville, Ohio. So we stopped and lingered there for lunch before our tours. Then I put the address into my GPS and found out that it was 40 minutes away! I thought it was maybe 10 minutes away. We were late! The website says to arrive 30 minutes before your tour and if you aren’t checked in 10 minutes before, they could give your seat away! Panic! I was so worried that we would miss the first bus and that only one of us would get to go on the tour. SHHHH We may have done a little tiny speeding lol.
The Wilds Tip: Do a GPS check before you leave!
We pulled into The Wilds parking lot at 1:13 to get in line for the parking booth. The man at the booth was taking his time talking to the lady in the car in front of us. I got out of my car in a panic and told him we had a 1:15 tour and if we could hurry a bit that would be awesome. He didn’t seem to show any concern – “1:15 you say?”- “Yes!” -“OK”. He continued to talk to the lady. I was like, Really? We almost made it and this guy is going to make us miss it! It costs $40 a person! Finally, they got through and since we had prepaid our $6 parking fee he ushered us on and told us to wait for the shuttle. Wait? There’s a shuttle! Oh no!
The Wilds Tip: Pay your parking ahead of time if you want to save some time. Tell the parking person your tour time (our guy radioed in that we were here). Don’t get mad at the parking person if you are late, it is your fault lol.
So once you park your car in the parking lot you walk over to the shuttle bus pick-up area and wait. As we parked, we saw one shuttle bus leaving, so we had to wait for the next one. It was already 1:15. I felt we had lost. Now, there was no way we would get to the check-in place and get on the 1:15 tour. However, a thought crossed my mind… maybe the parking guy didn’t seem concerned because there wasn’t anything to be concerned about. Hmmm.
The Wilds Tip: Arrive early enough that you have time to get through the parking line, park your car and catch the shuttle up to check in without feeling stressed out!
We finally got up to the check-in place at about 1:23. We explained the situation. She said “No problem! I’ll just put you both on the 1:30 tour. You can catch the bus just over there.” Relief. On the bus, there were other people who said they were scheduled for the 1:45 tour and just got on this bus early. So, what we learned is that although they seem really strict on their website, they are actually really laid-back, relaxed, and cool once you arrive. In other words, they try to accommodate you the best they can. It appears that they have extra seats on all of the tours for extenuating circumstances.
The Wilds Tip: Don’t stress, try to be on time, but if something goes wrong, know they will try to work with you.
Finally, we were headed off. The first of the tour feels a lot like entering Jurassic Park. You go through a lot of double strong, extra tall gates while they ominously talk to you about how you will be perfectly safe inside lol. But truth be told, that was the end of anything remotely scary. In fact, the animals were mostly so far away from the bus I could barely see them. There were a couple of close-up animals, but it really just depends on where they decide to be during your tour. They could be sitting in the middle of the road or be way out to pasture.
The Wilds Tip: Bring binoculars and a zoom lens camera to see the animals and take some great shots. Or book The Wildside Tour instead of the Regular Safari Tour if you want to be able to get up close to the animals. These are the shots I was able to get with my phone. There were a lot more that were too far away for my phone to capture. You can click on a photo to see it enlarged.
We made two stops along the 2+ hour tour. Both stops have bathrooms. The first stop allows you to take a stroll down to the lake and go inside a birdhouse. A second stop is a place where you walk around and see the animals in giant fenced areas. This is not your typical zoo. The fenced areas are huge, so the animals have plenty of space. Again binoculars and a zoom lens would have been useful here. But even if I had, had those things the animals were mostly sleeping in the shade. It was the middle of the day and it was super hot.
The Wilds Tip: Visit The Wilds when the weather is cool (not too cold or too hot), such as in the early mornings to see more animal activity.
Thanks for visiting!
Besides all of these tips and tricks we wished we would have known before our day trip, we still had a great time and saw a lot of amazing animals. Our tour guide was very knowledgeable and told a lot of interesting stories about the animals and their behaviors. It’s great that we can experience an open safari right here in Ohio! I hope you enjoyed The Wilds: Tips and Tricks! To read about another and very different drive-thru safari in Port Clinton, Ohio click here.