Roar and Snore at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park: An Adventure to Remember!


A view of the giraffes from our campground

This past weekend we had one of the most incredible experiences as a family. My husband, the kiddos and myself drove an hour and a half down south but were transported a world away.We spent the night at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park and had the opportunity to experience the Junior Night at the  Roar and Snore Safari. This special night is designed for families with children younger than six. It is an experience like no other and as close to an African Safari as you can get, without having to travel to a different continent.

The Roar and Snore Program began in April of 1994 and is more popular than ever. The Overnight campouts run from February to November and there is a variety from different programs from Junior Night(families with young children) to Adult Adventure Challenge Nights. There is something for everyone!

The Roar & Snore Campground

The fun started from the moment we arrived at the park. We were greeted by the Roar and Snore staff, who checked us in what seemed like a minute. We were then led to a shaded area with other waiting families while the staff took our bags from our and had them delivered to our tents. While we waited we were able to have an animal meet and greet presentation . Once we all had the opportunity to touch the animal ambassadors we made our way into camp.

The kiddos peaking out of the tent.

We made our way to the campground and checked into our tents and prepared for dinner. We had a yummy dinner that was perfect for little hands. Our tasty kiddo-friendly dinner featured hamburgers, hot dogs, mac and cheese and other treats that the kiddos loved. They ate every single thing and that is a rare feat!

The view from outside our tent

After dinner, we  headed back to our tent to prepare for our behind -the-scenes mini walking tour. The kids were beyond excited to head back to the tent because it was our first time camping out as a family. They really had a blast and could have spent the evening  just hanging at the campground enjoying the most amazing views and their super fun tent. We had a Vista tent, which comfortably sleeps a family of four and has a view of the African Plains Exhibit. We brought our own sleeping bags and the tents came with sleeping pads. We headed back to meet with our group after changing into our walking shoes and just in time for a quick and easy craft that the kiddos were able to take along on our “hike”.

The kiddos were able to make their own “binoculars” for our evening “hike”.

We headed for our evening “hike” with our group and were in for quite the treat. We were able to take a behind the scenes look at the Lion House and actually had the a lion roar at us. It was incredible! We also had an animal interaction with an armadillo. My kiddos were officially in heaven between the lion roar and being able to touch a real life armadillo.

My son getting up close and personal with an armadillo

There is nothing quite like the feeling of having the park all to yourself!

Our mini walk also included a private viewing of the elephant exhibit. It was such a cool experience to be able to walk around the park without any crowds. The walk also was  just the right amount of time and length for the little ones. My kiddos loved every single minute of it! We headed back to camp for some s’more making and drum time.

Drumming away before bedtime.

Families gathered around the fire to make some s’mores and then a fun drumming session. Everyone participated and there were smiles all around. It really was an incredible experience. Bedtime is a little early at the Junior Roar and Snore to make sure and accommodate tired little feet. It was a beautiful night and an even more amazing sunrise. There is nothing quite like being awaken to the sound of lions and tigers roaring. Honestly, it was one of the most amazing experiences of my entire life.

Our delicious breakfast spread

Wake up time is at 6:15,but we had been up for at least half an hour listening to the sounds of the animals. We packed our belongings and headed for breakfast that also included great kid friendly fare. We went on a morning walk before the park opened to the public and had the opportunity for another animal interaction before heading home. Our experience concluded right around 9:30am.

My daughter meeting one of the animal ambassadors

We had a beyond incredible time and as I shared with my husband on the ride home, we made memories that will last a lifetime. The kiddos have not stopped talking about our experience and in reality neither have we. It was such a special experience and it was so nice to be able to be around other families with young children and not have to worry about inconveniencing anyone. One of the fathers in the group  and I chatted  and discussed how nice it was to have age appropriate activities for the kiddos and also be around other parents that “get it”! It really made for a great time.

I also have to add that there were three families in our group that had experienced a safari in Kenya and shared that it was hard to pick a favorite between the Roar and Snore and an African Safari, it truly is that kind of experience.

There are different types of Roar and Snore experiences. We took part of the Junior experience, but you can also experience Family Night and Adult-Only Nights. There are also special experiences for Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. You can select from one of three types of tents. Premium, Vista and Classic. The camp is home to 46 tents. There are showers and restrooms all within very close proximity of the tents. The Roar and Snore experience includes dinner, snacks and breakfast.


It truly is an experience like no other and I can’t recommend it enough. There are still dates left this year. To find out more about this incredible experience head here.

Disclosure: There was no compensation received for this post. A complimentary stay was provided for review purposes.