This is the first year we braved the cold rainy weather to go to the Oregon Zoo for their annual ZooLights. We went Friday, December 7th. When we arrived it was already dark and we were greeted by this amazing purple and green lit tree in the parking lot. My kids were excited as we exited the van. We quickly got our tickets and shuffled through the gate. I took some pictures of the zoo lights sign as we entered. Then we saw some spectacular light displays, some that seemed to be moving across the landscapes and others that blinked into different poses and positions.
Other firsts for us were riding the Thrill Ride simulator and the zoo train. For the Thrill Ride we got to pick out our movie simulation and we all agreed upon the Prehistoric Underwater one. We waited our turn under a covered area behind the ticket booth and I took some more pictures. We were handed 3D glasses and entered the simulator ride. The glasses were too big for my youngest daughter and so I held her in my lap so she could see the screen while holding her glasses on her face. My boys especially loved the simulator and would love to do another ride again someday. The simulator is hydraulically operated and it twists and turns to the movie so you feel like you are in a submarine.
We parked our stroller under a nice covered area just for that purpose. It was so nice of the zoo to provide these covered places so that the strollers and wagons wouldn't get soaked while we were riding the train. While we waited in line Teela hugged a person in a tiger suit. The steam train was all decked out in lights too and it's steam rose like an iridescent blue cloud from the smoke stack. The zoo train was very pleasant and even though the metal seats were cold we enjoyed seeing all the zoo lights all along the train ride. It was definitely a unique view of the lights and some of the lights that we saw can only be viewed from the train.
I was in awe at just how many lights there actually were and we didn't even seen all of them. We stopped and saw some hula hoopers that were also lit up for the event do their performance. I took a few more pictures and the kids were getting cold and hungry. We decided to go even though I would have loved to stay longer to see more and we totally missed the concert lawn lights which I heard from others were spectacular. I also heard that we missed out on some free fudge from the gift shop because we didn't bring an old string of Christmas lights. Maybe we can see more and get some fudge next year if they are still honoring the promotion. At some point we would also love to see the new baby elephant that was born recently too.
We had a lot of fun and we are glad we could go this year. We loved seeing all the magnificent lights and sights while we were there. We can't wait to go back next year to experience more.
2012 Oregon Zoo Lights Facts
What: "More than a million LED lights transform the Oregon Zoo into a luminous winter wonderland filled with moving sculptures, forests of lighted trees and animal silhouettes."
Admission: ZooLights admission is included in memberships at the Plus level and higher. Train and Thrill Ride simulator is extra, but can be purchased at a discount through member packages. If you buy one of the packages with the train at the admission counter instead of getting them after you enter you can skip the hassle of multiple lines for the train. You can also take advantage of some nice specials the zoo is offering for ZooLights.
Dates: November 23rd-December 31st, There will be no ZooLights Dec. 24 or Dec. 25.
Times: Sunday-Thursday hours: ZooLights gates are open from 5-8 p.m. Guests may stay on grounds until 9 p.m. Friday-Saturday hours: ZooLights gates are open from 5-8:30 p.m. Guests may stay on grounds until 9:30 p.m. Train will begin running around 5:15 p.m.
Preparation: Bundle up and check the weather forecast and temperature before going so you know how to dress. You might want to pack extra warm clothing just in case, especially if you are planning on staying long. The food stations and restaurants at the zoo do cost extra so you might want to pack food and drink for the trip. Take a stroller or wagon for small children and extra baggage. Come a little early to get a good parking spot.
Oregon ZooLights Link Up:
DISCLOSURE/DISCLAIMER: Since I am in the Cascadia Connect group of bloggers I became aware of this event and was given free tickets for my family to go as well as free tickets for the zoo train and simulator ride. Thanks to the zoo and others involved for this opportunity. My thoughts are mine and my family's own opinion and have not been altered by anyone else. I did not receive any other compensation for doing this promotion.