The Ultimate Guide to Happy Hollow Park & Zoo San Jose

Happy Hollow Park & Zoo is a San Jose institution that has been around for years. It offers family-friendly entertainment at a reasonable price. Read on for all the info on Happy Hollow Park & Zoo in San Jose.

happy hollow san jose

Happy Hollow Zoo in San Jose is almost exclusively an attraction for families with kids from infants to maybe 8 years old. It solely focuses on younger kids with a small zoo area and slow rides.

Happy Hollow History

Happy Hollow Park & Zoo has a rich history dating back to the early 1960s. The park was originally established as a fairy-tale-themed amusement park in San Jose, California. It opened its doors to the public on March 20, 1961, and quickly became a popular destination for families and children.

In its early years, Happy Hollow featured whimsical and enchanting attractions, including characters from popular fairy tales and nursery rhymes. The park was designed to offer a charming and entertaining experience for young visitors, with colorful rides and play areas.

In 1971, the San Jose Zoo, which was located adjacent to Happy Hollow Park, faced financial challenges and closed its doors. Seeing an opportunity to expand and enhance the park’s offerings, the city of San Jose decided to integrate the zoo into Happy Hollow. This merger took place in 1977, and the site was officially renamed “Happy Hollow Park & Zoo.”

Happy Hollow Layout

Happy Hollow Park & Zoo in San Jose is neat and clean.  It has benches and chairs, picnic areas, garbage cans, small play areas, fun activities, and great signs in case you get lost or need the restrooms. The Western side of Happy Hollow is where you will find all of the rides as well as a whacky playhouse.

List of rides at Happy Hollow Zoo

  1. Puppet Castle Theater: A charming puppet show theater where children can enjoy live performances featuring beloved characters and engaging stories.
  2. Danny the Dragon: An exciting, slow-moving dragon-themed ride that takes visitors on a whimsical journey through a colorful and magical world.
  3. Pacific Fruit Express Roller Coaster: A gentle roller coaster designed with kids in mind, providing a thrilling yet safe experience for young riders.
  4. Granny Bugs: A classic carousel with adorable bug-shaped seats that spin around, bringing smiles to both kids and parents.
  5. Frog Hopper: A mini-drop tower ride that gives children the feeling of bouncing like a frog in a safe and entertaining environment.
  6. Redwood Lookout: A multi-level play structure with climbing elements, slides, and tunnels, offering kids a chance to burn off some energy while having fun.

My kid’s favorite ride was the dragon flyers. It is basically a gyro-copter where you can sit with your child and pedal to increase the higher or stop to decrease the height.

Other popular rides include the frog jumper which can seat one adult in the middle. It’s a kid’s version of a drop ride, going a few feet in the air and slowly coming back down. They also have a car and swing ride that is great for smaller kids.

happy hollow san jose

For those older kids, there is a small rollercoaster and kids have to be 56″ to ride.

The zoo portion is on the Eastern part of Happy Hollow, with many of the animals having been rescued. Signs explain their significance in the wild and their role in their native habitats. You can get really close to the crocodile and leopard (within a safe distance). They also have black and white lemurs, as well as red pandas, which are both very rare to see.

Happy Hollow Zoo animals Photo by Zetong Li on Unsplash

The zoo’s exhibits are designed to provide enriching environments for the animals, promoting their well-being and allowing visitors to observe them in naturalistic settings. In addition to the animal exhibits, Happy Hollow Zoo offers interactive experiences and educational programs, making it an excellent destination for families and children to learn about wildlife and conservation.

The zoo often hosts special events and activities throughout the year, enhancing the overall visitor experience.

Happy Hollow Food Options

The onsite restaurant is called The Picnic Basket. The food options are pretty standard and include pizza, hotdogs, burgers, fries, salads, and wraps. You can also pack a picnic and eat it right outside the park or go to a fast food place down the street.

Happy Hollow Entertainment Options

Kids will love the Puppet Castle Theater a delightful puppet show theater where live performances featuring beloved characters and engaging stories are staged to captivate children and their families.

The Crooked Meadow stage features seasonal shows and performances.

Happy Hollow Characters

Kids at Happy Hollow will also enjoy weekend encounters with Danny the Dragon – Happy Hollow’s mascot, as well as meet and greets with Captain Conservation and Petal the Fairy. 

Happy Hollow Birthday Parties

The zoo offers a range of party packages, making it a stress-free and enjoyable celebration for everyone involved.

The birthday party packages start at $350 at Happy Hollow Zoo and typically include admission to the park for each guest, which means the party attendees can explore the animal exhibits and enjoy the amusement rides during the celebration. The zoo provides a designated party area equipped with tables and seating, where guests can gather, socialize, and enjoy the festivities.

The package often includes a delicious meal for each guest, with a selection of kid-friendly options to cater to varying tastes. The zoo staff takes care of the food preparation and service, leaving the parents free to focus on making the birthday child’s special day truly memorable.

In addition to food and admission, some packages may include additional perks like party decorations, party favors, and even a special visit from a zoo mascot or character to surprise and delight the birthday group!

Happy Hollow Park & Zoo San Jose FAQ’s

What is the cost of Happy Hollow Zoo San Jose tickets?

It costs $10 for parking (all day) and $17 for the entry fee (2 years and up). If you live close by and plan on visiting often, it makes sense to get the membership which starts at $55 (which includes unlimited visits). The price of admission does include a petting zoo and all the rides.

Are you allowed to bring your own food/snacks to Happy Hollow?

Guests can bring in snacks and homemade lunches but food from outside restaurants is not allowed.

Does the daily parking fee cover in and out privileges?

Yes, the parking fee is good for the entire day on which it is purchased.

What are Happy Hollow Park & Zoo San Jose Hours?

For summer 2023, Happy Hollow will be open Wednesdays through Sundays.

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