Kiddieland is like a small area of the park with about six rides designed for younger kids. We started taking our son here when he was 2 and it was a lot of fun until he was around 6. (We haven't been to the zoo at Applegate park which is right next to Kiddieland).
The rides are carnival style rides that run in a circle. There's also a small train that goes out into the park and back. The tickets are .50 each and each ride takes one ticket except the train which takes two. This is very affordable for a little bit of afternoon fun.
Note: Kiddieland is only open on Sundays from 1pm - 4pm.
We take the kids around the entire zoo twice and that only takes about an hour. The zoo is very kid friendly is fenced off well so the kids would have a hard time getting into any trouble. We would visit more often if we lived in Merced, but its about a 50 mile drive for us. The train and other rides behind the zoo were closed when we visited here.
You should have another activity planned if you are coming for a day trip from any distance.
For a local attraction, Applegate park and Zoo is cool. I wouldn't go out of my way to visit it. On the weekends the park features a Kiddieland, equipped with a train ride, carosel and mini roller coaster. Watch the clock because Kiddieland is only open from 1-4pm. The zoo is home to a few interesting creatures including racoons and a cougar. The goats love to be feed so buy your goat food at the enterance gate.
My kids enjoy visiting the zoo. We always, always feed the goats when we go. It's the highlight of the visit. (Buy the goat feed for 25c. a cup at the entrance). The zoo has a couple of bears, some monkeys, a mountain lion, swans, peacocks, bobcats and more. Great, very inexpensive way to spend an hour or two in the afternoon.
What a beautiful little zoo I had a good time injoying the gardens and talking to the zookeepers my kids had a blast feeding the goats and turkey the zookeeper told us if we made swan,turkey and peacock sounds that they would talk back it worked!! so much FUN my kids got peacock feathers from the zookeeper for being kind to the animals. We went about 11:00AM during the week we had to wait on nothing as there were not many people there the zookeeper told us that this was the best time to go as the weekends are busy but on the weekends there is a kiddie land open at 12:00 in the park I will have to try it out.