The Henry Doorly Zoo, Omaha, NE
Omaha Travel Blog› entry 1 of 1 › view all entries
April 14th, 2009 – by: freak0ut
1.) the zoo
2.) "I was going to City A from City B. I passed through Omaha somehow and here is a photo of me in front of a sign on the highway."
3.) "I went on vacation, here is a photo of myself while I was on my way to the airport in Omaha."
However, I am not that person. I saw only the zoo, plus the baseball stadium which was located across the street from the zoo. The rest of my time there I spent in Council Bluffs, Iowa, which was the location of my hotel. Also, I don't want to create the wrong impression here. I'm not some kind of zoo freak.
Moving on to the heart of this entry... The Henry Doorly Zoo is absolutely the best zoo ever. It sucks that a lot of people will end up missing out on it's awesomeness because it's in Omaha. Because let's face it, people don't take vacations to Omaha. Between Tuesday (when I made this plan) and today, when I've mentioned this excursion to anyone, I've gotten mostly strange looks, wrinkled noses and comments like "Nebraska?" Well, those people can suck it.
Anyway, I am going to write a review of the zoo that I will attach to this entry, that I'm hoping more people will see without having to wade through my ramblings and antics here on my blog. Our flight left Milwaukee at 9, which was perfect. Mostly all of the other flights leave between 7:30 and 7:45 am. That often deters me from going places. I stay up very late, and can easily talk myself out of waking at 5 am to walk a mile to the airport.
We got half price admission at the zoo because we have a membership to our local zoo, and the two have a reciprocal agreement. One of the best things was that the schools there obviously did not have spring break this week, so it wasn't crowded at all. There was barely anyone there besides a few moms with small kids and other random adults. The first thing we headed for was the desert dome. This is a HUGE dome, which, in addition to being probably about five stories high, also goes about four stories underground. It seemed to go on for miles, by the end we couldn't wait to find our way out of the maze, it was probably 100˚ inside. In the desert part of the dome, you can find animals in their natural habitat. Underground you are inside a deep, dark cave.
After that we were hungry, so we stopped at the first place we could find and ate hot dogs (the only menu choice) and Coke. The hot dogs were horrible, they were my only complaint about the zoo. But we sat down near the fence and ate amongst about a dozen peacocks. Then we headed inside the aquarium. The aquarium is one that you walk through while fish surround you on all sides. WOW! The sharks and stingrays were incredible. It's nearly impossible to take pictures, which is frustrating since the creatures are so close to you. The flash will bounce off the glass, but the fish are moving so not using the flash makes it all pretty pointless.
One simply fantastic feature in the Omaha zoo is that they have small domes built into a number of exhibits. You can climb right inside them and feel like you are right there with the animals. The first one we discovered was inside the aquarium, in the penguin tank. Only a couple of the animals came close to the glass when we had climbed inside. That was the only animal not to approach us when we were there, however. While some of the animals were not inside their exhibits on this day, I took that mostly as a seasonal thing (though the weather was great while we were there.
There is a petting zoo that is just okay. There were only a couple goats and a chicken walking around. It was funny because it was windy and the wind had blown the gate open. One of the goats walked out, and climbed inside someone's wagon and started digging around inside their bags. It came out with a Ziploc bag of Cheez-Its. The owner of the food/wagon, another lady and myself tried getting the food away, but we were all kinda like "Is a goat like a dog? What should we do!" We didn't want the goat to bite us, but somehow the goat dropped the bag of food, and then just hurried off. Then one of the ladies went running up the hill to a zoo worker yelling "The goat left!" Trinity and I thought that was funny, saying "the goat left" versus "the goat got out.
The best part of the zoo is The Lied Jungle. Holy crap, this place is awesome. It's the equivalent of an eight story building, the biggest indoor rainforest in the entire world. There's a rope bridge which you can opt to to climb over, that you will swear is an actual rope bridge hanging 200 over the top of a rainforest, by the way it sways as you walk. It's next to a waterfall, which makes it somewhat slick, so you have to work a little to get to the other side. (If you prefer to admire the bridge from afar, there is a hallway nearby.) There are waterfalls you can see from either side, plants and trees everywhere. There is a section where this spider monkey was just chilling out on a branch, it was not locked up behind a window or a net or anything.
We ended the day inside the visitor's center (backwards, I know) and the gift shop. Trinity bought a sweatshirt and I bought a magnet. Then we walked across the street to Rosenblatt Stadium, home of the Omaha Royals (the AAA affiliate of the Kansas City Royals) and the College World Series.
We headed back to our hotel, which was on the grounds of the Ameristar Casino. That was good, because it meant there were four restaurants on site. We chose the Prairie Mill Cafe. It was a casual dining place and the staff was very nice. I had the special, which was gourmet grilled cheese (Alterra grilled cheese in the Milwaukee airport is still better), Trinity had a burger, and we shared some cheeseburger egg rolls, because we wanted to try something ridiculous that we'd never tried before.
We went swimming until the pool closed and the water was OMG FREEZING. It was also not very deep, which made it difficult to simply dive in. That and the fact that the walls were paper thin are my only complaints about the hotel itself. I only noticed the walls because I happened to have very loud neighbors, but, coupled with the rate I got at this hotel, and the fact that the shuttle service was pretty quick and easily accessible, I'd be willing to take my chances with having loud people around me. Although,the shuttle driver who picked me up from the airport smelled like he hadn't washed his clothes in a month.
In summary, it was a good trip. And now TravBuddy has an Omaha zoo blog that's longer than one paragraph. That no one will ever read.
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