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San Diego Zoo membership policy

Discussion in 'United States' started by Arizona Docent, 27 Apr 2016.

  1. Arizona Docent

    Arizona Docent Moderator Staff Member

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    I just called the zoo to renew my membership, which expired but which I have had for years. I upgraded last time to Diamond Club which gets a guest in with me and free parking at Safari Park. That category is now discontinued and replaced by slightly higher priced Keepers Club, which I was willing to pay. However when I called to renew I was told you cannot buy a regular membership or a Keepers Club membership unless you live in Southern California. Say What??? They have just lost a longtime supporter due to a policy that as far as I can tell has no rational reason. Because of this I doubt I will ever visit either San Diego park again.
     
  2. TeaLovingDave

    TeaLovingDave Moderator Staff Member

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    You should bring this barmy policy up on their Facebook pages, see if they have *anything* to say for themselves......
     
  3. geomorph

    geomorph Well-Known Member

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    As far as I know there have been zip code restrictions on the lower-priced memberships for years, but perhaps not enforced if older memberships renewed year after year. I would try calling again for a different agent or requesting a renewal by mail or Internet? Currently the Curators Club membership is the cheapest that does not have a zip code restriction, it is $300 a year. Perhaps they have a new stiff policy on this to reach their ambitious fundraising campaign goal?
     
  4. Arizona Docent

    Arizona Docent Moderator Staff Member

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    But what is the reason for it? The ONLY reason I can possibly think of (which may or may not be) is mailing costs. They send out a full color magazine every month and it may cost a bit more to mail out of state. Even if this is the reason, it cannot be that much more and they could simply charge ten bucks extra for out of state members with an explanation that it is to cover postage. Just seems ridiculous.
     
  5. Arizona Docent

    Arizona Docent Moderator Staff Member

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    I am going the more labor intensive route and sending a typed letter to the newspaper (Letters to the Editor). I am also sending a copy to the zoo and the city tourism authority. No guarantee the paper will print it, but if they do and anyone out there happens to see it, I would appreciate letting me know.
     
  6. geomorph

    geomorph Well-Known Member

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    The reason may have something to do with this: perhaps they consider the lower-priced memberships for locals as discounted, knowing that locals are more likely to visit multiple times per year and spend more money on zoo food, thus possibly raising their actual spending in a year above the actual spending of a non-local who is more apt to visit a few times per year?
     
  7. Arizona Docent

    Arizona Docent Moderator Staff Member

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    Well the zoo received my copy of the letter to the editor today and left me a phone message saying the person I spoke with was misinformed and that I am welcome to rejoin at the Keepers Club level. The power of the pen. :D
     
  8. overread

    overread Well-Known Member

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    If mail list posting is a problem then in this day and age a simple "anyone out of state gets an e-newsletter only" would be a fix. Heck the newsletter has to be digital to be sent to the printers and is likely fully produced digitally so a PDF version for download sent to those on the mailing list wouldn't be a problem I would think.

    It does seem like a s trange situation; personally I'd have tried contacting someone higher up in the zoo first and gotten a good long answer from them before going to the newspapers; but I do agree it seems barmy to force people from out of state into a higher price bracket when they are going to be paying a higher cost of travel to get to the zoo in the first place. So instead of rewarding dedication to pay more to visit they are punishing that.
     
  9. azcheetah2

    azcheetah2 Well-Known Member

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    A few years ago I was traveling to San Diego rather frequently, at least 3 times a year, sometimes 4 and had decided I would benefit from a membership. Unfortunately, a couple of months before making this decision, the zoo changed their membership policy to be that if you live within a zip code range, you could get a membership for X amount, but if you live outside of that range, the price was almost double. I don't know of any other zoos that have this policy and it upset a lot of regular visitors who lived outside the zip code range and they complained about it. A lot.

    Well, I really wanted a membership and I didn't think I should have to pay double the amount so I bought a membership and gave my address as the hotel I stay at. When I made my first trip to San Diego after doing this, I went to the membership booth and told them I'd recently moved to San Diego and had bought a membership, but I was having trouble with my roommate, saying I wasn't getting my mail. The gal had no problem with changing my address to an Arizona one to ensure I got my membership stuff and they never asked for proof of a San Diego address. I had that membership for four years and they just kept sending everything to my address in Arizona.

    Yes, this was dishonest and no, I'm not proud of what I did, but I literally missed the chance to do it the right way by a couple of months. Eventually I stopped renewing it because I was no longer going as often and they STILL send me membership offers every few months.

    I have no problem with a zoo offering a small discount to locals, but to charge twice as much is ridiculous.
     
  10. zoomaniac

    zoomaniac Well-Known Member

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    I'm on vacation in California at the moment with my family and was visiting San Diego Zoo yesterday. I also have some complaints/annoyments that are going in the directions as @ArizonaDocent's goes:

    Since a few years, you are no longer able to buy the regular 1-day-admission without all that (unnecessary) stuff like bus tour and aerial safari. You must buy the one day package for 50 US-Dollars, which makes San Diego Zoo one of the most expensive zoo in the USA (If not the most expensive in fact). Also, there are no 1-day-family-tickets and therefore no discounts for that.
    To be fair, I have to mention that you can get coupon-savings in some hotels (5 USD per person). But a visit for a family of 4 won't be cheap either then. And although San Diego Zoo has much more animals and species, Fresno Zoo charges only 10 USDollars for adults - even with its brand new African Savanna!

    Another point: I bought a soft drink at one of San Diego Zoos food stands. I got a souvenir cup (for further refills for 99 cents plus tax), without asking me if I wanted so. I did not saw any other official 1-way-cups, so I have the impression, that you must buy a (more expensive) souvenir cups - no matter if you want only one coke or more. Another way to draw the money from the pockets of the visitors?

    I also bought the two books about the history of the zoo. First, I want to buy only one of them but was told that this is not possible. If you want one of those books, you must buy both.

    Also disappointing: You can only purchase the currant/actual Zoonooz-magazine. 10 years ago, they had also older ones in their shops.

    Still, my family and I had a wonderful day in San Diego Zoo. But my impression is that San Diego Zoo want to profit from it's international reputation as much as they can, what is leading in a kind of rip-off towards tourists from out of town/county.
     
  11. NigeW

    NigeW Well-Known Member

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    I echo that post 100%.

    I visited last week, and although I can't question value for money as the experience of visiting was superb, it was noticeable when visiting back to back with LA that either San Diego is priced at the very top end of what the market will stand or that LA is quite remarkable value for money at $20 entry.

    As for the extras - the bus tour and cable car - I used neither. I'd much rather walk around a zoo than sit on a bus, and the queue for the cable car meant it was much quicker to walk the length of the zoo. Its really not that far. That said I'd have liked to have seen the view from up there.

    I asked for a paper cup for my drink, got nowhere, and to be honest it seemed far too hard to persevere. I took the souvenir one, struggled to stash the empty vessel and sure enough when I went to get it for my dollar refill it was gone. Bought another, and chucked it in the bin in the hotel car park.

    I'm not complaining as such; entry to San Diego if we had such a thing in the UK would be a lot more than $50, but if you're a local and regular visitor I can imagine their Disneyesque skill at extracting every penny from their visitors must jar.
     
  12. Arizona Docent

    Arizona Docent Moderator Staff Member

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    Yes the San Diego Zoo is expensive, but it is also crowded with visitors (usually). If they lowered the admission fee, it would be packed to the point of being unenjoyable. This is already the case at Los Angeles Zoo on weekends during nice weather. If people are willing to pay and you have very high attendance, why would you lower the cost? As for the beverages, that is a ripoff so I just take my own water bottle and refill it as needed. When I buy lunch, they will fill it behind the counter with water for free.

    As for my membership, they actually let me rejoin at the discontinued Diamond Club level (cheaper than what I was going to do). As long as I renew on time in the future and do not let it lapse again I can stay there.
     
  13. Shellheart

    Shellheart Well-Known Member

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    ^What docent said. Things are so expensive in Southern California that if San Diego were any cheaper it'd be waaaay too crowded,besides if you look at all the other main tourist attractions in the area (not counting the L.A. Zoo,as I don't find that to be anywhere near a "main attraction", the San Diego Zoo is actually rather cheap. Another thing is that it is considered one of the best zoos in the world,normally in the top 3 on rankings list,so the price is well worth it,and many people who visit are locals who can just buy a pass.

    As for the souvenir cups,are you sure you bought an actual souvenir cup? The reason I ask is that even the "normal",non-souvenir cups are actually made of plastic,there's no paper cups. The reason is they want to reduce waste as much as possible,if you enter the premises with a straw they'll actually make you throw it out or drink your beverage outside (or at least,that's what happened at the Safari Park...) I personally don't mind,as both a passholder for L.A. and San Diego,I heavily value San Diego's extra measures to keep things clean,as on certain days L.A. has a lot of garbage scattered around,which ends up in animal exhibits unfortunately.
     
  14. Mr Wrinkly

    Mr Wrinkly Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    A couple of points that I think have not been mentioned:

    There is no seniors' admission price. Boo!

    Their 3 in 1 pass is very good. You get unlimited admission for one week to the zoo, the park and the aquarium for $165. A couple of years ago when I was there for a week, I had 4 admissions and saved quite a bit with the pass.
     
  15. MRJ

    MRJ Well-Known Member

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    When I visited SD Zoo 12 months ago I pre-purchased a ticket at my hotel. Not only was this sold to me at a discount I did not have to line up to buy a ticket at the gate, I just walked in. On top of that I used the hotel's free shuttle to take me there.