Family, Little Mister

Safari, So Good.

Growing up an only child, all of my childhood vacation memories are of me and my parents. California to visit my grandparents, Wildwood, New Jersey the same week every August until I was 18 and, a trip to Six Flags in New Jersey. Not to do the amusement park (I would have been riding those rides solo) but instead, for the drive through safari.

I have vivid memories of this safari; namely, sitting in the backseat of the car, thighs stuck to the leather bench seat in the summer heat, little monkeys sitting on the hood of our car as we drove 5 mph through the park, and – the pièce de résistance: a giraffe walking up to our car, bending its long neck down to the passenger window, and my mom rolling down her window and feeding him a piece of gum. (For the record – my parents have no recollection of this happening so perhaps I’m making this up?)

But what I do remember from the Safari was that I thought it was pretty cool.

So when it came time to think of a birthday present this year for our Little Mister, the Safari felt like the perfect gift! 1. He loves animals 2. It was an experience, and would not be another toy in our playroom and 3. We could make a weekend out of it and have an adventure!

Our adventure started with a traffic-filled drive to the middle-of-nowhere New Jersey to a Hampton Inn in the Township of Cranbury. (Can someone please explain these Townships to me? What the heck is a ‘Township’?)

Little Mister is not an experienced hotel visitor so he thought who he was rolling his suitcase up to the front desk. Since we’re still in a pandemic and I have an unvaccinated child, once we got into the room we stayed there: bringing in take out and watching movies on TV.

The next morning we arrived at the gates to the Safari after meticulously reviewing all of the animals we would see, the order we would see them, and how many exactly there were. And let me tell you: it didn’t disappoint. I don’t know who was more excited to see animals…me or the Little Mister. I just couldn’t not believe I was looking at an elephant a few feet away – not caged like a zoo – and I was in New Jersey.

We often had to stop so animals could cross the road in front of our car because they have the right of way (of course). And we were in New Jersey! (Did I mention that we were in New Jersey?)

Our Little Mister could not contain himself. Here were some of his most favorite animals, right in front of him! Lions! Elephants! Giraffes! (My favorite) Tigers! Bears! Rhinos! And a whole lot of gazelle/oryx/eland that literally all look alike. Not to mention about 4 million geese. He was so excited about seeing the geese, I felt we would have driven around a few ponds in Connecticut and has the same effect at the safari that was 3 hours away.

But seriously, this Safari is practically in our backyard (closer than Africa! Cheaper than Disney!).

I highly recommend it! Especially if you take your kids overnight to the lap of luxury also knows as the Hampton Inn.

Here are some highlights:

Little Mister, “I though the elephants would be bigger.” Elephant: “Shut up, kid, I’m shading myself with this parasol.”
This guy, missing his brother who moved to Vegas years ago…
The bears looked a little…sad. Like someone took away all of their salmon. Or freedom. Or whatever.
These guys were literally in the rood. At once point something spooked one of them and he started running toward our car. All I could imagine were those horns going right into the passenger door.
My favorite animal. Nothing comes close to being as cool as the pattern on their bodies.
Okapi? Oryx family? What the heck are these?
This guys was all like, “Imagonna pace like this until I figure a way out and then I’m going to eat the shit out of this safari.”

And perhaps my favorite, the chillin’ kangaroo. I imagine he was saying, “‘Sup?” as we drove by.

All this for $9.99/person? Talk about the bargain of the century! If you haven’t been, and you have an animal lover at home, GO. It’s totally worth it!

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