Weekend Highlights

Published November 28, 2012
At Home & Living

A Parent’s Review:  Zoolights at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium

by Kelly Rogers Flynt
seattle child article photo
seattle child article photo
Photos courtesy of Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium.

With more than a half million shining lights, Zoolights at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium is truly a sight to behold.  A holiday tradition for 25 years, this event shows no signs of slowing down.  An evening stroll to view the lights is a great way to spend some family time together during this busy season.

Kids have the opportunity to add to the lights with the purchase of light sabers, lighted wands and glowing headbands.  If your little one gets tired of walking, he or she can take a ride on a camel or the carousel for an extra fee.  The line for the camel can be a little long and slow.  Luckily it is right across from a concession stand with plenty of goodies and hot chocolate to enjoy while you wait. 

If you forgot your camera, the zoo is happy to snap a photo of your little one atop the camel for a small fee.  While the ride is short, my 8-year old was still happy to wait for her turn.  With the Zoolights sparkling in her eyes, she said, “when I woke up this morning, I had no idea I would get to ride a camel today.”  So yeah, I’d say it was worth the wait, too.  If camels and carousels are still too slow for your taste, the zoo has just opened a new zip line course, ZOOM, that’s sure to bring a thrill.  ZOOM is also open during Zoolights.

The light show is quite spectacular.  My kids especially enjoyed the exhibits with animals lit in sequence to make it appear as if they are moving.  Because there is a slight delay between each sequence, you can’t rush through without risking missing a treat.  The only thing that my kids seemed to tire of was the frequent parental request for them to stop for photos.  So pace yourselves parents, every corner brings a new photo opportunity, and it may be too much to try and get them all.  My daughter was particularly happy that they used all the colors of lights.  Her favorite light display was a green and purple tree.

If it turns drizzly, the aquarium offers a special treat for visitors as well; a scuba-diving Santa is there to swim with the sharks (Tuesday and Wednesday evenings only).  The show is quite entertaining, but little ones in strollers will need to be fairly close to the front to be able to see well.  Additionally, some of the animals are still on exhibit during Zoolights and some of those areas provide a respite from the weather as well.  If you haven’t already met the zoo’s two new tiger cubs, Dumai and Berani, they are a must see.  Tigers don’t stay little for long, so be sure to make your way over to the Asian Forest Sanctuary to see these guys.

Zoolights has something for everyone, and possibly more than you can do in one visit unless you plan carefully.  The light show itself is enough reason for a visit.  The extras are great, but can easily turn your night out into an expensive outing.  As always, you can bring your own food into the zoo, and that’s one great way to save a little. 

Regardless of whether you go just to see the lights or to do it all, Zoolights is bound to be one of the highlights of your holiday season.

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If You Go...

Where:  Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, 5400 N. Pearl St., Tacoma.

When:  Now through Jan. 1 (closed Dec. 24), 5 - 9 p.m.

Cost:  Tickets purchased online or at Fred Meyer are $7.25; tickets at the Zoo’s gate are $8.50, members get tickets for $4.25, children ages 2 and younger are free.  Value passes are available for day admission plus Zoolights.

Contact: 253-591-5337; www.pdza.org.