Longtime L.A. residents may remember the DWP Holiday Light Festival, a free event held each year in Griffith Park. It had become somewhat of a holiday tradition for our family before it closed down in 2009, never to return.
The Los Angeles Zoo is hoping to create a new holiday tradition for families with its LA Zoo Lights display. The self-guided walking tour takes visitors through 18 different display locations throughout the zoo. Although zoo residents are not on display (they’re sleeping safely), you can see live reindeer and visit with Santa (at least, on weekends).
To know me is to know I am not a fan of crowds. And in spite of the timed ticket entry procedure, this event was packed. Like sardine-style packed. That said, the light displays were easy enough for kids of all heights to see, crowds or no. I did hear a few complaints about bad smells, but this is a zoo, after all.
The light displays are fun and whimsical, though not as over-the-top as I might have expected (and hoped for). We had to be especially mindful when moving from one display area to the next, as there isn’t much additional lighting to lead the way. More than once, I had to look around to check and make sure we were all together.
In total, we spent about an hour walking the route. There are plenty of extra activities if you have the inclination and patience, including pictures with Santa (for an additional fee), lots of eats and treats – even a couple of gift stores were open. Just be ready to wait in line.
- LA Zoo Lights website
- Admission for this program is separate from daytime general Zoo admission
- Advanced tickets are highly recommended and can be purchased online; limited tickets are available at the box office
- No live animals, other than reindeer, will be on display during event times
- Free parking
- Entry is on a timed-ticket basis; arrive at or after your assigned entry time, not before
- Except for reindeer, no zoo animals are on display
- The walking path is stroller- and wheelchair-friendly
- Refreshments & restrooms are available at several points along the route
- Gift shops are open near the main entrance
- Bring your own glow-in-the-dark accessories for added fun
- This is a nighttime activity, so don’t forget to bring a jacket, hat & gloves!
- Event runs rain or shine, no refunds
Note: We attended LA Zoo Lights at our own expense. I was not compensated in any way to share my honest opinions with your here.