The bright parts
Vivid Sydney is an annual explosion of colour that creates a buzz of excitement once the sun goes down. For families, the Taronga Precinct is a fantastic option to get in on the action without getting stuck in the infamous Vivid crowds. If you’re lucky enough to catch the 5.45pm ferry from Circular Quay to Taronga Zoo, you will even get to see the city light up from the water at 6pm, and what a view!
The beautiful heritage entrance to Taronga, which celebrated its 100th birthday last year, is drenched in a dazzling multimedia display (on loop). Catch it from the start to hear about the importance of wildlife conservation and get a taste of whats to come once you enter the zoo.
The Taronga Precinct venue is exceptionally pram friendly. A signed route consisting of ramps and paved paths leads you through the entire experience. We enjoyed the limited crowds which meant our little ones could get a good look at each feature.
The Port Jackson shark, which you can walk straight through, was a particularly beautiful feature and a favourite of my 10 month olds. There was plenty to see and do, including a photo opportunity space with some beautiful gorilla lights, an interactive chameleon and lots of surprise exhibits in the trees. Plus, each ticketed entry receives a light up wrist band which changes colour depending on what you’re viewing. Big hit with the toddler!
We loved that under 4’s were free, you can see the other ticket prices here. Taronga precinct is a hub of colour and has the wow factor for people of all ages, not to mention the spectacular city views across the water.
The dull parts
There is strictly no entry from the lower zoo gate. A shuttle bus runs from the ferry terminal to the main entrance. Limited pram space is available, and, although staff were incredibly helpful there was still a wait.
As you would expect near the water, its cold. But be warned, it’s REALLY cold! Windproof jackets, beanies, thick socks and warm blankets for the bubs are a must. We saw many families at Vivid Sydney with adult jumpers wrapped around their little ones. Meanwhile, the parents shivered in the chilly night air. Bring your winter packing game for this one!
For families with children who no longer use a stroller, consider bringing it along. Even if your child ends up walking the whole time, you can put your winter warmers in it. The walk is reasonably long, partially uphill and quite dark in parts. Plus with the late night and commuting we were very glad to be able to put our 3 under 3 in strollers for the trip home.
The commute involves a few moving parts. We caught the train, the ferry and then the shuttle bus. While this was all part of the adventure it is advisable to leave plenty of time for travel there and back. Your bed will have to wait on Vivid night.
Food, drink and facilities
Kiosks are open throughout the zoo. They were serving hot drinks sandwiches, muffins and various other munchies. The food outlet at the entry/exit was serving hot pies and other food that would be filling enough for dinner. Alternatively, Circular Quay and surrounds is a hive of dining, drinking and snacking. Many venues are open late to accommodate the Vivid crowds. Toilet facilities are available at the zoo and at the train station as well as various public restrooms around Circular Quay.
Vivid Sydney, Taronga Precinct, was a great experience for our young family. We found that the limited tickets were well worth the entry fee, which goes towards animal conservation projects around the world. If your little ones are high flyers then grab a blue pass before they are all gone. With blue passes, a ride on the Sky Safari cable car will be included in your entry. Overall, if you are willing to brave the cold, it is a great option for families. Especially those with an animal enthusiast or mini zookeeper, as you can catch a glimpse of some real animals in their enclosures along the way! Happy light chasing!
How to get to Vivid Sydney – Taronga Precinct
From Parramatta station, travel to Circular Quay by train then catch the ferry to Taronga. A free shuttle bus is running from the ferry wharf to the entrance. Free parking is available at various stations after 6pm (we chose to use Granville Station)