Wildlife Prairie Park

Wildlife Prairie Park, Hanna City: Hours, Address, Wildlife Prairie Park Reviews: 4/5

Wildlife Prairie Park
09:00 - 16:30
09:00 - 16:30
09:00 - 16:30
09:00 - 16:30
09:00 - 16:30
09:00 - 16:30
09:00 - 16:30
09:00 - 16:30
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137 reviews
Very good

Chicago75 contributions
Not quite the gem it is made out to be
Let me preface this review by saying that it pains me to write it.

I'm not somebody who read a few good reviews, ran out expecting a cross between Disneyland and the San Diego Zoo, and have come back disappointed by my own ridiculous expectations.

No, I had been to the Wildlife State Park about 5-6 times before my recent visit. Back in the early 90's, my parents would take my sister and I every August as our "family vacation"; we didn't have much money, so traveling away from hometown Chicago was a big deal. I have loved animals for a long time, particularly wolves, and the Wildlife Park gave us a chance to see our 4 legged friends in more natural, less crowded surroundings than a zoo. Plus, the trip in the car was part of the fun.

As I've become older, my appreciation of animals and nature, in general, has led me to numerous zoos throughout the country, as well as several of our wonderful national parks. It would be highly unfair to end up comparing a modest not for profit park in the middle of Illinois to some of the our country's (and planet's) treasures, so that does not factor into my review. However, I feel with having experienced more, I can look at Wildlife Prairie Park objectively without nostalgia clouding my judgment.

Visiting the park today, I noticed not much has changed. In fact, it felt like a time warp from 15 years ago. That has a certain amount of appeal, as I was glad to see the same species in the same exhibits they have been since I first came to the Park when I was about 12. However, things like the setup of the Visitor Center right down to the fencing for most of the exhibits seem untouched. The only upgrades seems to have been (surprise) to the gift shops and the remodeling of a small building exhibit into a snack stand.

The highlight of the Prairie Park also has been(and remains) the animals; namely the impressive expanse of the bison/deer yard and the gray wolf area next to the Visitor Center. Black bears, cougars, foxes, and bobcats also can be found in wonderfully natural and sizable (for captivity) exhibits. However, the trail loop to see all these animals can be done in about an hour, maybe 2 if you really take your time, especially at the Pioneer Farmstead area.

As for that area, it is your typical combination of petting zoo/colonial era history lesson. Quaint charm is what this area used to have, but is what it now lacks. The goat feed has been limited to 1 filling per day so that the Park is not left with fat goats(to parapharse a sign). While this makes sense for the sake of the animals, much of the fun of a petting zoo is feeding the animals. Not surprisingly, no feed was left for the day by the time I got there.

There is a colonial-style house that you used to be able to peek your head into; it was completely closed off. The general feeling was of a place that felt dead, save for the group of young males who must have been part of a clean-up crew who were smoking and singing as we passed. To top off my feeling of one of general unease and malaise, even the miniature horses(who are typically the gentlest of souls) even seemed angry and aggressive when I petted them!

Even the charming old train ride, which usually would be the final event our family would enjoy at the Park in the days of old, seems to have suffered. The train ride consists of 2 separate loops which feature animals exhibits; years ago, you would lean forward in anticipation to see if you could catch the sight of a wolf in one of the exhibits. These days, a goat and deer are featured. Nothing against either of these fine animals, but catching a glimpse of a deer licking itself is not terribly awe-inspiring.

This review isn't meant to trash the Wildlife Park; rather, it's more of a realization that it's a place that I just cannot justify visiting anymore. Granted, it's entrace fee is cheap(about $6 per adult), but a 340 mile round trip journey from Chicago just to see a few wolves/bears/bison for a couple hours and finding half the walking trails poorly managed just is not worth the time, long drive, or money spent on gas. Overall, I will (barely) give a recommendation since animals are always great to watch and I have fond memories of this place, but you must go with little to no expectations.
Written 11 September 2009
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

Illinois2,199 contributions
Really a neat park.
My 14 year old daughter and I stopped here on our little spring break getaway. For some reason, I was under the impression it was a drive-through wildlife park. It's not--you have to get out and walk which is normally fine, but it was on the chilly side when we visited. However, shortly into our visit we decided it was worth it. Lots of neat animals-we especially enjoyed the badgers and the mountain lions and I couldn't pull her away from the wolves. March is probably not the best time to visit-no sign of the elk and the bison were way off in the distance. However, no crowds! Seeing how we thoroughly enjoyed our visit, I would hazard a guess that families with younger kids would absolutely love it. There were some playgrounds among the trails and a petting zoo, which we of course skipped, and a visit in high season would also offer the option of visiting the gift shop, restaurant, the train, and shows, none of which were open during our off-season mid-week visit. We also drove back to where the lodging was (and saw 2 deer) and concluded that it would be a great place to stay for families that aren't really picky-definitely not luxurious but unique rooms in a fabulous setting.
Written 27 March 2009
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

New Lenox, IL268 contributions
Fun place with Grandkids
We stayed August 5th & 6th in a caboose at Wildlife Prairie State Park. We took our 4 & 5 year old Grandsons. They were thrilled with the caboose. We enojoyed the park and all that it had to offer the boys. Viewing buffalo, elk and deer. There are also black bear, wolves, otters, Bald Eagles, Owls and other wildlife native to IL. The train ride is also fun.

There are hiking trails, fishing and kiddy parks. They have a 50 foot slide. The boys enjoyed it. We ran into a 32 year old who said he comes to the park every time he visits his family in Peoria. He always does the slide, but says it isn't as slick as when he was six.

Very relaxing quiet place to go! Staff is very helpful. We took breakfast food. The accomodations have microwave, coffee pot and a small refrigerator. Lunch is available. Dinner you must leave the park but it is only about 10 minutes to some excellent restaurants.

I am sure we will return with and without kids! Any questions feel free to contact me.
Written 11 August 2008
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

113 contributions
Ditto to the earlier review
And don't miss the raptor demonstration. Quite informative.
The snack bar serves a good veggie burger too, or you can eat a bison while watching them.
Written 25 June 2008
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

Merrillville, IN479 contributions
Wildlife Prairie Park
Wildlife Prairie Park is the best attraction in Peoria. The many bison are the star attraction of the park, but there are many other animals worth viewing. I saw deer, elk, and wolves, too I was there for feeding time for the animals. They also have a pretty butterfly garden. There is a train ride on which you can ride around the park and some trails to explore. This is one of the closest places to the Chicago area to view Bison. Peoria overall is a nice town to visit.
Written 24 February 2007
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

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