Frequently Asked Questions About Birthday Parties

Q: How soon do I need to make a reservation?
A: We recommended reserving your party at least one month in advance. Spring and summer are our busiest seasons, and usually require more than one month notice. However, we may be able to accommodate your party on shorter notice. Just ask!

Q: Do you do parties in winter?
A: YES! We do parties year-round. Fall and winter are wonderful times for a Zoo party or just a visit. The Zoo is less crowded, parking is easier, and most aspects of the party are held indoors.

Q: If I have to cancel my party, can I get a refund?
A: If you cancel your party with at least 4 weeks advance notice, you can receive a full refund. If you cancel your party with at least 2 weeks advance notice, you can receive a refund minus a $50 fee. There are no refunds given after the 2 week deadline.

Q: Can I visit the party area before I book a party?
A: Yes. You can arrange to visit the party area Monday-Friday 10 a.m.- 4 p.m. Please call (218) 730-4500 ext. 217, to set up a date and time.

Q: What is the maximum number of guests?
• Safari Café – up to 24 guests
• Pavilion – up to 64 guests
*The number of guests includes all adults and children over age 2. Our maximum number is based on the size of our party area, and our desire to maintain the quality of our program for all of your guests.
Your party package includes admission for 15 non-member guests. If you are a member, you and those included in your membership do not count toward your 15-guest limit. If any of your party guests are members, they won’t count toward your 15-guest limit either, if they show their membership card when they check in.
Any additional admissions will be charged at $7.50, regardless of age. Ages 2 and younger are free.

Q: Is parking for me or my guests included?
A: Yes! Parking is always free in the Zoo parking lots. Keep in mind that during spring and summer, parking lots can be filled but street parking may be available. Please allow plenty of time to find parking and walk to your meeting location.

Q: Where should my guests meet?
A: All parties meet on the main level of the Lake Superior Zoo Building near the Tiger’s Paw gift shop. You will check in at the gift shop with guest services and staff will provide directions to the party space.

Q: What time can we arrive?
A: Arrival time is set for 15 minutes prior to the start of your party. Ex: if your birthday party is scheduled for 2:00pm, you will have access to the party space at 1:45pm. The birthday space will not be available until then. We want your party to be a wonderful experience and our staff may still be using this time to set up. If you need it, you can purchase additional time at $50 per 30 minutes.

Q: Can parents drop off their children for my party and where?
A: You must designate an adult from your party to meet children who are being dropped off at the Tiger’s Paw Gift Shop. The Zoo is a large and busy place, and children should never be left unattended.
**Zoo staff is not responsible for children dropped off for your party.

Q: Where should parents meet to pick up their children?
A: Parents who are picking up your party guests must wait at the Tiger’s Paw Gift Shop. You will determine the time of pickup, and will accompany your party guests back to the Tiger’s Paw Gift Shop to meet their parents.
**Parents who have not paid admission will not be allowed onto grounds to come and get their children from you.

Q: What is the required parent: child ratio?
A: We require one adult for every child 3 years and under, attending our parties. For children 4 and up, there is a required 1:8 adult to child ratio.

Q: Are there restrooms close by?
A: There are public restrooms on the upper and lower level of the main Zoo building and in the Primate Conservation Center. If your party is in the Pavilion, there are restrooms located within that building.

Q: Are there baby changing stations available?
A: Yes. Changing stations are available in the restrooms.

Q: Is the party area child-proof?
A: The party area is designed for children’s programs; however it is not completely free of hazards. Live animal enclosures, hard surfaces, and small items are present in the area. For this reason, we require a 1:1 adult to child ratio for children 3 years and under. It is also expected that parents or caregivers will closely supervise their children.

Q: Who leads the party?
A: Primarily, you are in charge of your own party. However, animal presentation add-ons are led by our zoo keepers or educators. Our staff has a great deal of experience working with children of all ages and abilities.

Q: Which allergens are present in the party area?
A: The Zoo is not a peanut free or nut free area. Nuts are an important part of the diet of many of our Zoo animals. Some of the animals that live in our exhibits may have nuts in their habitat as part of their diet or as a special treat. We also have other visitors and school groups that bring in their own lunches that may contain nuts.

Q: Do I provide my own plates, napkins, and utensils?
A: Bringing your own tableware is perfectly fine. However, we do offer compostable plates, cups, napkins and silverware for a small fee of $20 per party.

Q: Can I bring in food to serve a meal to my guests?
A: Yes, food may be brought in. However, there may not be refrigerator or freezer space available and no actual cooking may be done. There may be very limited access to electrical outlets. Also, keep in mind that the zoo does not provide serving dishes or utensils.

Q: Can I bring in birthday cake, cupcakes or ice cream?
A: Yes. You are allowed to bring in cake, cupcakes, cookies or ice cream for your celebration. We do not have refrigerator/freezer space in the Safari Café, but we do in the kitchenette in the Pavilion.

Q: Do you have beverages available?
A: Yes. Coffee, punch and ice water can be purchased with your party package.

Q: I have a lot of gifts to bring, is there a loading/unloading zone near the party area?
A: By prior arrangement, we can meet you 30 minutes before your party time to allow you to load/unload your items. You are not allowed to park here, so you will have to move your car immediately after unloading. It is also advised that you bring a wagon or a cart to transport your party items. Extra prep or party time is available for an additional charge.

Q: Can I hold my party in any other areas of the Zoo?
A: The Birthday Party programs are only available in the Safari Café or Pavilion. You are welcome to design your own birthday experience and take advantage of our beautiful animal exhibits, fun attractions and guest amenities. Most eating areas at the Zoo are only available on a first come-first served basis.

Q: Can I add train tickets to my party package?
A: Yea, if the activity is available that day. At any time, it is simple to add on any other tickets, activities or amenities.

Q: Do you offer party bags or treats?
A: Yes! We can put together a fun little reusable party bag filled with goodies and toys. We can also provide small bags of popcorn and cotton candy. These can both be added on to your party at any time for a small fee.

Q: Are parties canceled because of weather?
A: A birthday party would only be cancelled if Zoo grounds are closed. In this unlikely event, you would be notified immediately and would receive a full refund for your party. In all other cases, remind your guests to dress for the weather!

Q: How will I be notified about confirmation of my party?
A: We prefer to send an email confirmation. If you would like an information packet by mail, please let us know. If you do not receive confirmation within 2 business days, please call (218)730-4500 ext. 217

Q: How can I pay for my party?
A: You may pay by cash, check or credit card, either in-person or over the phone (credit card.)

Q: Can I bring in decorations?
A: We want your party to be an outstanding experience for you and your guests, and decorations play a big part of that. The zoo will happily decorate the area for your party in a fun, colorful way. Unfortunately, we have to insist that you do not bring in balloons, confetti or piñatas. These items are not safe for our zoo animal family. If you have some special decorations that you would like to use, please contact our birthday party coordinator. Just keep in mind that the use of tape, pins, tacks, staples and ladders are strictly prohibited. Table top or free standing decorations are preferred.

Q: Can I keep the decorations?
A: The decorations put out, hung and set on any surfaces are property of the zoo. There will be a sign specifically designed for the birthday boy/girl. Our guest services staff member will let you know what decorations are yours to keep. Please inform your birthday coordinator if you would like any of the other decorations, a charge of $50 will be added to your party total.

Q: Can I choose which add-on animal presentation I want for my party?
A: During the summer, we cannot guarantee specific animals for our birthday party encounters. There are certain animals that should not be handled when it is hot outside. We will take requests for animals that you DO NOT want at your presentation (ex: snakes or bugs). Animal presentations should be booked at least one month in advance to ensure having an animal docent available for your party.

Q: What if I have other questions?
A: Please don’t hesitate to call our birthday party coordinator at (218)730-4500 extension 217 or email birthdays@lszoo.org!!