Over the weekend, we took in World of Illumination’s new Glendale location drive-through light show. I love how the holiday season brings so many fun events to the valley! We attended this event twice last year (both their previous North Phoenix location, as well as their Tempe location) and it was a hit.
The concept is an immersive light show experience, synchronized to music, and it can be enjoyed without having the leave the comfort of your vehicle. It is a good alternative to Glendale Glitters or Zoolights if you want to avoid walking through crowds of people, especially if you have small children or elderly relatives with mobility issues. That’s not to say there isn’t a fair amount of patience required, as it is usually very busy, especially on the weekends. Be prepared to wait in long lines of vehicles to get into the event, sometimes up to 30 minutes.
Tickets are available for purchase at the gate, but it is recommended to buy them online so you are guaranteed to get in because they only allow so many cars in for each hourly time slot. There is a discount on tickets purchased online, $32.99 on weekends and $22.99 for Monday through Thursday evenings, plus tax and a small processing fee, compared to the $40 entry at the gate.
For extra savings, there is currently a Groupon valid for Monday through Thursday drives which is a flat fee of $25. This can be combined with their “Twice through Tuesdays” for the maximum bang for your buck, allowing you to drive through two times at one low cost on Tuesday evenings! But even at full price, this event is a good value if you are a large family because you are not paying per person, but one flat fee for your entire vehicle.
As you enter the event, employees will be waiting to scan your mobile ticket, direct you to which entrance line you will be waiting in, and they offer hot cocoa and kettle corn for a small fee. You will be instructed to tune into their AM radio station and turn your headlights off (please remember to do this for the sake of the other patrons!). Then you simply follow the line of cars as it weaves up and down the aisles of the exhibit.
People will often load up in the back of their trucks with sleeping bags, or stand out the top of their sunroofs to take in the lights from all angles. Keep in mind this location has no speakers with the music piping through, so you will need to turn the speakers in your vehicle up pretty loud to hear the music in the back of a truck. It takes about 15 minutes to drive completely through.
We did prefer last year’s North Phoenix location for several reasons. Firstly the event was off of I-17 between Norterra and Anthem and was surrounded by the dark night of the desert, so the lights of the event “popped” more without the distraction of the city lights all around that they have with their Westgate exhibit. This year’s Glendale location also seemed to be a scaled-back version of what we saw last year, with fewer lights. Also missing was the included “Christmas Village” event.
Last year in North Phoenix, immediately following the drive-through portion of the event, you had the option to park your vehicle and walk around the village they set up, which featured additional light displays, food trucks with treats and hot cocoa, several obstacle courses for kids and toddlers, and Santa was available for photos! It made it a full evening event for one low cost and I was really sad to see that part go.
I think the highlight of the event for us all was the new addition of a 36 foot tall animated snowman that actually shoots “snow” out of his hat at timed intervals! It briefly made us feel as though we were in a winter wonderland!
If you want to make it a whole evening activity, you can go across the street into Westgate where they have Santa available for photos at select hours of the day, an outdoor ice skating rink ($16 for skate rental and 75 minutes of free skating, $13 for young children), and free horse drawn carriage rides every Friday and Saturday evening.
World of Illumination runs nightly from through Jan. 5 in Glendale at 6797 N. 93rd Ave from 6-10pm (11pm on weekends). Their second location is at Tempe Diablo Stadium, 2200 W. Alameda Drive. Tickets can be purchased at www.worldofillumination.com.