Entertaining rides offer unusual ways to tour Wildlife World Zoo, Aquarium, and Safari Park

By Joanna Dodder Nellans

Remember those fanciful dreams you had when you were a kid, like owning your own zoo?

Mickey Ollson drew a map of his future zoo at age 12. Then, as an adult, he actually made his childhood dream come true.

Mickey was already breeding birds and guinea pigs while growing up in west Phoenix. Although he grew up to become a schoolteacher, he was so involved in his animal ventures, that friends told him he should quit his job and open a zoo. He took their advice and opened the Wildlife World Zoo in the West Valley.

By the time of his passing in January 2022, Mickey had expanded the zoo to more than 100 acres in Litchfield Park and claimed the title of most non-native animal species in Arizona, with more than 600 species and 6,000 animals. His family now carries on his dream.

This is a great time of year to visit, Wildlife World Zoo President Kristy Hayden noted, but even during the hot summers, there are thousands of trees, flood irrigation, and air-conditioned rooms to help keep zoo animals cool.

“We really are a little oasis,” she said.

The Wildlife World Zoo, Aquarium, and Safari Park are so expansive that you might wonder whether you can see it all in a day trip. While that might be tricky, we have some tips on how to see as much as possible without wearing yourself out.

Just last September, the zoo added ADA-compliant scooter rentals that can carry two adults or one adult and two children around the zoo.

All kinds of other fun rides are available to see the zoo in comfort. Hop on the African Safari train to view endangered antelope, gazelle, and ostriches, or the Safari Tram ride to see even more. The Log Flume floats around the primate islands and aquatic animals. The Sky Ride flies high above the park.

And during your lunch break, you can watch the sharks swim around if you dine indoors at Dillon’s KC BBQ. Or you can hang out on Dillon’s patio to see the flamingos and gators.

Visitors also have opportunities to get up close and personal with zoo residents by hand-feeding stingrays, giraffes, and lory parrots. The sea lion and Wildlife Encounters educational shows are popular, too.

“We try to make everything immersive,” Kristy said, “because we feel that’s what truly inspires people to conserve wildlife.”

Learn more at https://www.wildlifeworld.com.