Boo at the Zoo Louisville Visitor’s Guide (& Insider Tips for 2023)

As the seasons change and the weather gets cooler, it means it’s time for Boo at the Zoo at the Louisville Zoo!

Boo at the Zoo in Louisville, Kentucky is the best way to experience the zoo as a “living storybook”, where you meet your favorite storybook characters, princesses, and superheroes alongside immersive sets along a 1.3-mile trail. Children 11 can also trick-or-treat at one of 20 booths along the trail – that’s a lot of candy!

And the best part? This is a fun, non-spooky Halloween activity that’s legitimately enjoyable for everyone and all ages. It’s great fun for kids, your mom, and for those who like costumes and Halloween vibes and is too scared to go into haunted houses – like me!

Of course, it’s best to go with a child so you can see the magic and wonder in their eyes – yes, it’s really that fantastical! This along with the Jack O’ Lantern Spectacular are some of the best ways to celebrate fall in Kentucky!

If you’ve never attended the event before – or you’re just hoping to avoid the crowds – you probably have lots of questions. Well, you’re in luck – I worked the event for six years, and I’m here to answer all your questions so you can have a truly spectacular time!

Note: We are in no way affiliated with Boo at the Zoo. We’re just big fans!

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boo at the zoo louisville ky
The year was 2011 and I was playing my favorite character ever – the Mad Hatter!

What makes me aBoo at the Zoo Louisville insider?

Many moons ago when I was only 17 I began working at the Louisville Zoo as an actor for Boo at the Zoo. Every night I saw thousands of children in costume, covered in candy, ready to meet their favorite characters!

In that time I played many roles – from Peter Pan to Handy Manny, to the best character ever – the Mad Hatter. The Mad Hatter was the best to play because I could be wild, silly, obnoxious, and as irreverent as I wanted, well, within reason!

I was there from 4-11pm every night, so I was really able to see how the event ebbed and flowed, the most popular times people came and of course, the quieter times if you wanted to avoid the crowds!

So what do you really need to know about going to Boo at the Zoo? I’ve gotcha covered!

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Here’s everything you need to know about the dates and times of Boo at the Zoo! (Photo Credit: The Louisville Zoo)

How to Attend the Boo at the Zoo in 2023

Boo at the Zoo at the Louisville Zoo has been delighting families and children for over 40 years. Not only is there the trick or treating and the characters, but your party ticket includes all rides, attractions and parking! Now that’s a not-so-scary deal.

Here are all the details for the Boo at the Zoo in 2023:

Dates & Times

Boo at the Zoo is open October 5-8, 12-15, 19-22, and 26-29. That’s every Thursday-Sunday in October!

Thursday – Sunday

  • Hours and admission: The party starts at 5pm, and guests must exit by 10pm. This means you’ll want to get on the loop by about 8:30ish if you want to finish the 1.3 mile trail!


You can buy your tickets online here with no online ticket fees. You must purchase your tickets in advance for Boo at the Zoo since there is a nightly cap, and you’ll need to have your email or a screenshot of the tickets ready on your phone to show as you enter the gate. Purchasing tickets also requires you to choose a half-an-hour arrival window between 5-8:30pm to limit the amount of guests on the loop.

The ticket prices are as follows:

  • $7 for members
  • $13.50 for non-members
  • $11.50 for Meijer Anytime Tickets (must be purchased at Meijer)
  • Children 2 & under are free!

Louisville Zoo Address: 1100 Trevilian Way, Louisville, KY 40213

Tickets support a good cause. By supporting this “FUNdraiser”, your money goes towards animal care programs, botanical gardens, visitor experiences, and conservation education.

Allergy-Friendly Night

On Thursday, October 19th, 2023 is the Allergy-Friendly Night for children who have nut allergies and will feature peanut-free treat booths. There will be additional non-food treats at these booths like stickers, tattoos, pencils and more!

This is a great way to safely bring a child with a food allergy. My nephew will be glad to hear that!

See also
25+ Fall Festivals in Louisville, Ky

boo at the zoo louisville wizard of oz set
You’re off to see the Wizard! (Photo Credit: The Louisville Zoo)

FAQ’s & Insider Tips for Boo at the Zoo Louisville

Going to Boo at the Zoo is a blast. But you know what makes it better? Knowing the best times to go and how to do it right! Below are the tips and tricks to make your visit better and most importantly, more enjoyable!  

What’s the best day of the week to go?

The best days to avoid the crowds are Thursday and Sunday, since both are school nights.

Fridays and Saturdays, as you imagine, are busier since kids are out of school and families are looking to get out of the house!

Also, the closer to Halloween, the more crowded the event becomes.

Since they have timed tickets it shouldn’t get as crazy busy as in years past, but still Thursday and Sunday are your best bet.

What’s the best time to go to avoid crowds?

The best time to avoid big crowds is at the end of the evening. You’ll be able to pick a time slot when you purchase your tickets, and the later you choose, the fewer crowds there will be. The busiest party time is between 5-6:30pm.

8:30pm is the latest time slot you can choose, and remember you need to be off the loop by 10pm, so you probably don’t want to get started on the loop any later than 8:30-ish if you want to take your time.

What all does my ticket include?

I’m glad you asked, because it includes a lot!

Besides the trick-or-treating at the 20 booths along the trail for those 11 and under, you also get with your ticket:

  • Getting to meet all kinds of fun characters like the Mad Hatter, Buzz Lightyear, and Captain Hook. There is even an Encanto area this year to meet the members of the Madrigal family!
  • Rides on the Spooktacular Carousel (Decorated for Halloween!)
  • A walk on the Headless Horseman Trail (Sounds eerie…)
  • Admission to the Not-So Itsy Bitsy Spider House (Eek!)
  • Free parking in the Zoo parking lot.

Can I wear a costume?


Everyone is encouraged to dress up in their best Halloween costumes. Some of my best memories from working the event are of the super creative costumes that not only the kids wore, but entire families! Maybe you’ll be a group of pirates? Superheroes? A bunch of bananas? Get creative!

The only stipulation is that adults cannot wear costumes with masks that cover their entire face.

Is there anything I should bring?

The one thing you don’t want to forget is your trick-or-treat bag for the kids! If you do forget them, they have reusable bags in the gift shop for $2. You will need these to trick or treat.

Other than that, strollers are permitted so you can bring along whatever you need to be comfortable, like snacks or drinks, or umbrellas and ponchos if it’s raining. Check out this list of what’s allowed in the zoo.

Is there food?

Yes, there is food on site. There are plenty of burgers, fries, popcorn, and all the usual zoo fare, and even some Halloween treats!

For adults 21+, there is also ice cold beer, wine, and frozen drinks as well. Fun for all ages!

Will I see animals?

Maybe. Boo at the Zoo is meant to be a Halloween celebration with candy and characters, and while you may catch glimpses of animals, many will be gently tucked into bed by the time the sun starts going down.

boo at the zoo louisville ky girl on carousel_
Don’t forget to take a ride on the Spooktacular Carousel – it’s included in your ticket price! (Photo Credit: The Louisville Zoo)

How long does it take to walk theBoo at the Zoo trail?

Be sure to take plenty of time on the trail and really enjoy the experience! While you could speed through the 1.3 mile trail, you’ll want to take plenty of pictures with the characters and see all the cool decorations. You’ll also want to be sure to check out the other experiences like the spooktacular carousel, the headless horseman trail, and the spider house.

I’d say the average family takes about 1-1.5 hours to complete the trail, and remember you can only go through it once, so take your time!

What happens if it rains?

The event goes on rain or shine. This means you may need to prepare for the elements.

If it’s cold? Dress in layers. Raining? Bring an umbrella or rain jacket. As the Norwegians say, There’s no bad weather, only bad clothes! Also rain just probably means less people there, so embrace it!

Is the trail wheelchair accessible?

Yes, the trail is accessible for guests in wheelchairs. It’s nice and wide, though it can be a little hilly in areas.

You’ll find accessible parking (with valid permit) near the front of the Zoo. You can also rent strollers, wagons and wheelchairs (limited number) at the event.

Are you ready to have a magical, not-spooky time at Boo at the Zoo? What questions do you have about visiting or making the most of the event? Drop us a comment below!

Looking for more fall fun? Take a look at some of these other posts:

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  1. Hi! I’m an adult without kids but don’t like the scarier/gorier Halloween events—so I’m wondering, if some friends and I go to Boo at the Zoo without kids, will we be out-of-place? Thanks!

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