Powell, just slightly north of the city of Columbus, is home to the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium. Covering an area of 234 hectares, the park offers everything that appeals to the common friend of animal parks, as well as amusement park enthusiasts, golf veterans and water park fetishists. In other words, the park offers something for everyone, but the individual components are more interesting for one or the other group of people. The experience can further be spiced up by a bunch of up-charge attractions.
The really promising water park Zoombezi Bay and the golf club Safari Golf have their own gate and are therefore a topic on their own. In this report, we concentrate on the actual animal park, as well as the amusement park Jungle Jack’s Landing. Since the zoological garden opened its doors in 1929, we start with the older amusement park, which startet in 1886 as the trolley park Wyandot Lake.
In the 1940s, a showman bought the grounds to use it as a winter storage. A short time later, the theme park Gooding Zoo Park opened. In 1956 the roller coaster Jet Flyer premiered, which still can be experienced today as the Sea Dragon. After the death of the showman in 1983, the park fell into the hands of the city of Columbus, who then leased the park to Funtime Inc. (then operator of Geauga Lake, Darien Lake and Lake Compounce). Renamed to Wyandot Lake, the park was taken over by Premier Parks in 1995. From 1999 the park belonged to Six Flags. When Six Flags stumbled right after the turn of the millennium, the park was sold to the nearby Columbus Zoo for $ 2 million in 2006. The zoo expanded vigorously and pumped $ 45 million into the former amusement and water park.
However, since the zoo wanted to open the amusement park area sometime in the spring – but not for the local Spring-Break –, I could not visit this area of the park. The park itself was quite busy and the weather was without any doubt just fine. Regarding the water park, I can still understand it somehow, but in case of the quite manageable-looking amusement park not really. The first drop of the roller coaster Sea Dragon looks quite delicious – what a bummer.
The animal park itself ressembles a mixture of Tierpark Hagenbeck (the old zoo of Hamburg) and the Erlebnis-Zoo Hannover. The enclosures are big and well designed. Unfortunately, you couldn’t find any animals. Many enclosures weren’t used at the time of our visit or simply closed for renovations. The zoo expands rapidly, but the offer is not.
Incidentally, the zoo is known for the first gorilla birth in captivity in 1956, which was also the start of a very successful breeding program. The gorilla lady Colo died at the age of 60, which made her the then oldest gorilla in human care.
The zoo director Jack Hanna, who ran the park between 1978 and 1992, was also well known. He was important for the current orientation of the Zoological Garden and ensured the dismantling of the show cages. As an animal expert in numerous television programs, he became known nationwide (he is also the reason why the amusement park section is called Jungle Jack’s Landing).
The park is divided into North America, Polar Frontier, Asia Quest, Shores and Aquarium, Voyage to Australia and The Islands, Heart of Africa and Congo Expedition. Every themed area look gergeous. You should definately have a look at the bear enclosure, the bat enclosure, and the steppe of Africa. However, the aquarium also included in the park name is less worth visiting, as it lacks a bit of content and therefore lags quite far behind a local Sea Life Centers, as well as the great tropical aquarium of the Tierpark Hagenbeck.
The zoo and amusement park Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is a very recommendable zoo with small deductions in the B-note. For the entry price of $ 22 you just get the minimal basics, whereas the Zoo-It-All Experience Package with visits to all the side attractions and the theme park for $ 10 more would certainly have left a fairly round overall impression. In addition, the many empty enclosures clouded the impression a little bit. Nevertheless, a visit in conjunction with the adjacent water park and the theme park is highly recommended; I really would not be averse to this combo and will probably come back sometime.