The Zoo's entrance recently received a new face lift and made it's public debut on April 9, 2016. Because of tremendous growth and record breaking attendance in recent years, the Zoo’s Entry Village was a top priority for renovation in order to enhance the guest experience. It was designed for the day when Nashville Zoo welcomes more than a million visitors each year, which is right around the corner!
Zoo President Rick Schwartz’s vision of an authentic African village came to life through many meetings and detailed architectural renderings. The unique and complicated design (be sure to check out the curvature of the roofs) made it difficult to find a company willing to take on the job. In fact, only one company in the city (Solomon Builders) was willing to take on the expansive project.
The ticketing building will have six ticket windows, one being handicap accessible. The new ticketing building is intended to handle larger crowds at a faster pace with its wireless ticketing. In 2016, you will be able to purchase a Backstage Pass at the ticket booths; the Backstage Pass will take guests behind the scenes and feature animals and supporting operations not seen by the public. Backstage Pass tours will cost $30 per person + admission.
Across from ticketing is the membership building which includes new features for the Zoo. Members will be able to process orders, renew, and talk to a team prepared to answer questions regarding your membership. This building will also feature restrooms, a large family restroom and two nursing stations to accommodate the families that visit us.
Safety comes first, so a first aid station will be permanently located in the membership building. A security office fully equipped with cameras and a weather cam to track inclement weather will also be located in the Zoo’s main entrance.
The third building will be home to rentals and a gift shop. Guests will have the ability to rent strollers and wheelchairs at the upgraded rental building. The gift shop will be three to four times larger (around 4500 sq. ft.) than our current gift shop. A bigger gift shop means a bigger gift selection and will feature local and global artisan products.
Once guests purchase tickets and enter the Zoo, they will be taken along a boardwalk over a water feature. The Conservation Walk will highlight Nashville Zoo’s participation and conservation efforts across the world. Guests will then be greeted by our returning hyacinth macaws. However, this won’t be the first animal guests encounter in Entry Village – there’s a surprise animal exhibit in the mens’ restroom!
Nashville Zoo and Mayor Megan Barry are hosting a grand opening event on April 9 between 10:30 a.m. and noon. The celebration will include live music, giveaways and snacks and a ribbon cutting ceremony will take place at 11 a.m. The event is free and open to the public. If visitors plan on exploring the Zoo afterwards, Zoo admission tickets must be purchased.