Hawaii Mom Blog: Visit Phoenix: Phoenix Zoo - ZooLights

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January 6, 2015

Visit Phoenix: Phoenix Zoo - ZooLights

Since we were traveling during the holidays to Phoenix, we knew we couldn't pass up a visit to Phoenix Zoo's ZooLights - one of the largest holiday zoo lights shows in the United States!

Highlights of Our Hosted Visit
With over 3.8 million lights and hundreds of delightful displays, Phoenix Zoo is transformed into a colorful wonderland for the holidays.

We entered at the start of the ZooLights - 5:30pm, and even at dusk, the lights are so pretty, but once darkness falls, the lights are even more magical.
Orange and pink trees.
So many light displays!
A canopy of lights!
A rhino.
A giant spider web...be on the lookout for the spider nearby!

We saw penguins, monkeys, giraffes, a Komodo dragon, and more - all in lights!

Komodo dragon
Cute penguins
Giraffes
My kids loved pointing out the different things they'd see - "A cactus!"  "A turtle!"  "A unicorn!"

The lights twinkled and glowed, and some were even animated (like the bees buzzing around a hive).
Buzzing bees

Tall trees were beautifully decorated, and my favorites were the trees decorated to look like apple trees.
Beautiful trees
Love the apple trees!
I absolutely loved the Music in Motion display.  A 24-foot sphere and floating light towers on the lake, along with several decorated trees, are synchronized to music to create such an awesome show (you can see a short video here on Hawaii Mom Blog's Instagram, or a slightly longer video on Hawaii Mom Blog's YouTube channel).

The Music in Motion display

There was also a very cool tree made out of recycled milk jugs which was also synchronized to the music.
Tree made out of milk jugs

In addition to the lights, there are numerous activities kids can participate in (some for a fee), such as the Stingray Bay Touch Tank, Carousel, and Camel Rides.

A camel ride!

My kids were excited to ride the camel.  It was a short ride, but a memorable experience for them!

We also saw Jengo the Talking Giraffe who chatted with a lot of the guests.

Jengo the Talking Giraffe
Animal viewing was very limited, but we didn't mind, because we went to see the lights, and they were simply spectacular.

Dining
Several eateries were open around the zoo, offering hot chocolate, hot dogs, popcorn, and more.

Our Experience Visiting with a Special-Needs Child
My oldest son has an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), and although I know kids on the spectrum all behave and react differently in various environments, I always try to share our personal experience when visiting attractions.

It didn't take us very long to see all of the lights.  We were there for about 90 minutes, which was very manageable for my son.  My son enjoyed pointing out all the different animals in lights, and he especially enjoyed the camel ride, which fortunately had no line to wait in.

Because of the large number of attendees and the music playing throughout the zoo, at times he did seem to get overstimulated, but there were a few places that seemed to be less noisy than others, such as the trail on the right upon entering (towards the elephants), which also had some benches.  The grassy area near the tree made out of recycled milk jugs was also a nice and not-too-noisy spot to take a break and watch the Music in Motion show.

Several benches and other seating areas could be found throughout the zoo for rest or snack breaks, and there were a few areas that we could've taken cover under if it had started to rain (my son has sensitivity issues with rain), such as near the cafes or Arizona Trail.

Outside food is allowed, which is especially helpful for those on a GFCF or other special diet.

Final Thoughts
Phoenix Zoo's ZooLights was a fabulous place to take the kids.

It was definitely a highlight of our trip - not only because of the millions of lights on display, but also because of the activities offered.

Be sure to get there early - the event starts at 5:30pm, but we got to the lot around 5pm to be sure to snag a parking spot (the lot filled up really quickly).  At 5:30pm the bridge to the entrance was completely packed as hundreds of people awaited entry (the zoo advises another alternative is to arrive around 7:30pm-8:00pm after the first wave of visitors).

ZooLights continues through January 11, so if you're in the area don't miss out on the dazzling displays!


Phoenix Zoo - ZooLights
455 North Galvin Parkway
Phoenix, AZ 85008
(602) 286-3800

Click here for ZooLights admission prices and hours. Free Parking.

Thank you to the Phoenix Zoo for hosting our admission to ZooLights.  

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