Original post by Chris Tingom, December 2013; 2019 update by Kim.
Zoolights at the Phoenix Zoo is an event I have been going to as long as I can remember – with family when I was little, and with friends when I was older. Now it’s time to take this tradition to a new level and bring my kids! The crowds can still be crazy, but it’s such a fun experience.
This year they introduced a brand new attraction – The Wildlife Lantern Safari. The Chinese lantern festival usually refers to the “spring lantern festival” that culminates at the end of the Chinese New Year. Lanterns originated in the Western Han Dynasty and are ancient Chinese traditional crafts. A “lantern festival” is known as the conduit toward peace, forgiveness and/or reconciliation. It symbolically carries people’s expectations for a better life and prosperity in the coming year. At the Phoenix Zoo, they have put these peace vibes into animals. With technology increasing these lanterns have a gorgeous unique and intriguing look to them for all ages to enjoy!
We attended the members only opening night to look at the new lantern animals. The event started at 5:30 and I had forgotten that they close the park and re-open it for ZooLights so we had to wait in line for about a half hour which is tough with two year olds! Also, my own personal pet peeve of people pushing past those of us waiting in line to get to the entrance faster, or the adults who don’t seem to want kids around and complain when a kid runs in front of them, or sneaks in to see something in front of them. Part of big events that drives this MoM crazy. Usually why I pick the least busy nights to attend events!
We did the lantern loop first, knowing that we may not make it around the whole zoo. There are elephants, giraffes, a bear, tortoises, lions, tigers, rhino, snake, gila monster, mandrills, zebras, leopards, hippos, and a monkey village that is 18 feet tall! They are amazing and gorgeous up close. A handful of them even moved. My kids said the elephant waved with its ears!
The polar slide looked like a lot of fun! I decided that it was a little too tall for two year olds. But next year I am definitely getting the $5 unlimited slide pass. I would recommend this especially for older kids who probably have a lot of energy to burn off and can stay up later.
We walked around the Lakeside Lagoon and looked at lights for a bit. The kids loved dancing in the sparkly lights. I don’t know if they understood the concept of the moving lights, like the cheetah that was running along the walkway, but they loved running wit the lights. Around the lake where thousands of lights and the light show with the music was as amazing as ever. We stayed for one Music In Motion show.
Photos with Santa available are November 24 – December 23rd 5:30 – 10:30pm. Located at the leapin lagoon, many packages available and members receive a 10% discount.
Zoolights runs Nov. 27, 2019 through Jan. 19, 2020. Members, any night ticket: $17.95. General, any night ticket: $19.95. Children 2 and under free! Online discount: $ 1/ticket. Group tickets available for groups of 50 or more available by applying online.
Polar Slide: $3 Member, $4 General, $5 unlimited.
Add the Polar Express pass for $6 for a showing of Polar Express in 4D and unlimited rides on the polar slide.
Camel rides: $ 5 member, 6 general.
Endadgered Species Carousel: $2 Member, $3 General.
455 North Galvin Parkway
Phoenix, AZ 85008
Click here to view a video from Zoolights 2014.
More information about the Phoenix Zoo can be found here.
More family friendly ideas this month: Holiday Light Shows in Phoenix and 7 Fun Christmas Events in Phoenix.