L.A. Zoo Lights 2016 Review – More Lights and More Nights of Dazzling Magic

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Perhaps you visited Zoo Lights in the past or you are just hearing about it now, either way it’s an event the whole family will enjoy.  This year L.A. Zoo Lights is promising to have “more lights and more nights of dazzling magic for its third spectacular year as it kicks off a “ZooLAbration” of the Los Angeles Zoo’s 50th Anniversary.”  The exhibit opened on Friday, November 18, 2016, and remains open for seven weeks through Sunday, January 8, 2017, under the stars at the L.A. Zoo. While I don’t know what it looked like last year, this year I was very impressed with their showing, and equally impressed with the number of guest that attended the event.  

Photo taken by Maria Densley

I had been warned that it may be crowded and that we should plan to arrive early. The LA Zoo has never seemed crowded on any day that I have visited in the past, and parking has always been pretty easy in their large parking lot, so to me crowds meant that I would just have to park in the back edges of the parking lot and it might be a bit of a line to get in.  When I arrived around 630pm (doors opened at 6pm) the parking lot was full, there was a sign that said tickets were sold out, and there was a line that stretched longer than any Disneyland ride line I had been in.  While it did probably take 15-20 min to find parking, I was more worried about that line never seemed to get any shorter.  Once we finally found a spot to park we headed to the back of the line.  I was glad to see that unlike the 30-60 min line waits at Disneyland, the line to get in the LA Zoo moved very quickly and I was in line no longer than 10 min.

Reggie snoozing – Photo taken by Maria Densley

Once we entered we were dazzled with the lights, which just got better as we went further into the zoo.  We first stopped by to see Reggie’s habitat lit up with a variety of colors. (Reggie slept throughout the event).  As we walked it was incredible to see all the different types of lights and how they were able to use lights to reflect off different surfaces.  One of my favorite attractions was the musical Frogs made from water bottles who changed colors. While I understand that most of the animals at the Zoo are asleep once the sun sets, I would have liked to see some of the nocturnal animals with their habitats lighted up.  We did get to see a number of the creepy crawlers though which was great!! Also, we got to see the real reindeer family comprised of two adults and two adorable babies which is perfect for the Holiday season!

Musical color changing frogs – Photo taken by Maria Densley

When you go to LA Zoo Lights be prepared for “thousands of LED lights, giant illuminated snowflakes, a “red-carpet” 50th Anniversary party celebrating the Zoo’s Golden Year, a disco ball forest, glittering twinkle tunnels, stunning 3-D animated projections, and much more.”

Photo Credit: Jamie Pham

L.A. ZOO LIGHTS sets a magical nighttime wonderland aglow with thousands of festive lights to ZooLAbrate the Zoo’s 50th Anniversary; open nightly (except Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day) from Friday, November 18, 2016, through Sunday, January 8, 2017 Photo Credit: Jamie Pham

L.A. Zoo Lights 2016 presents a discounted all-ages $9 Early Bird admission available online only for November 18 to 23 and November 28 to December 1, a new unlimited-visits Season Pass, exclusive HOLIDAY HAPPY HOURS for ages 21-and-up on December 8 and 15 and a FAMILY NEW YEAR’S EVE for all ages.

Photo Credit: Jamie Pham

It’s an easy night out with friends and family!  It will take you about 60 – 90 min to walk through the areas they have open. Go early and stay till the end and enjoy the snacks and drinks they have available, as well as the live music, and a ride on the Tom Mankiewicz Conservation Carousel!

Get your tickets today before they sell out!  Tickets can be purchased on the LA Zoolights website.

Water and Light Magic Photo taken by: Jamie Pham

More about the L.A. Zoo Lights and the L.A.Zoo and Botanical Gardens

Established by the private, non-profit Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association (GLAZA) as a festive annual tradition, LA Zoo Lights 2016/17 celebrates not only the Zoo’s 50th anniversary but also its important role as an international leader in the preservation of endangered species, a conservation center for the care and study of wildlife and a special place for people of all ages in the world’s entertainment capital.

Photo Credit: Jamie Pham

Returning this year are “VIP Experiences,” including two exclusive HOLIDAY HAPPY HOURs for the 21-and-up crowd on Thursday, December 8 with an “Ugly Sweater” theme, and Thursday, December 15 with a “60s-Style Cocktail Party” theme, as well as a FAMILY NEW YEAR’S EVE for all ages. The two HOLIDAY HAPPY HOUR evenings feature “skip-the-line” express entry to L.A. Zoo Lights at 6 pm with a private lounge from 6:30 to 8:30 pm including hors d’oeuvres, beer, wine and hot and cold specialty cocktails. Tickets for HOLIDAY HAPPY HOUR are $75 per person. FAMILY NEW YEAR’S EVE on Saturday, December 31, 6 pm, provides an opportunity to celebrate the coming of 2017 in style with “skip-the-line” express entry to L.A. Zoo Lights, dinner buffet, soft drinks, complimentary champagne for adults, sparkling apple cider for kids, dessert, a ride on the conservation carousel, games, DJ dance party, cash bar and live broadcast of New York’s Times Square ball drop at 9 pm, after which guests are welcome to experience L.A. Zoo Lights until closing. FAMILY NEW YEAR’S EVE tickets are $69 for adults and $45 for children, or $64 (adults) and $40 (children) for GLAZA members. Tickets for all three “VIP Experiences” have limited availability, so early purchase is strongly suggested.

Photo taken by Maria Densley

Sponsors of L.A. Zoo Lights include Service Systems Associates, 99 Cents Only Stores, Lyft, metroPCS, and Paramount.

The landmark Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens, drawing 1.75 million visitors each year, is home to a diverse collection of 1,100 animals representing 250 different species, many of which are rare or endangered, as well as a botanical collection comprising over 800 different plant species with approximately 7,000 individual plants. Accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), whose members meet rigorous professional standards for animal welfare, the Zoo has achieved renown as an international leader in the preservation of endangered species and a conservation center for the care and study of wildlife. The L.A. Zoo’s lush grounds on 113 acres feature Rainforest of the Americas, an extraordinary collection of endangered and exotic mammals, reptiles, fish and amphibians living in spaces that exemplify their natural habitat in the rainforest biosphere; Chimpanzees of Mahale Mountains, home to one of the largest troops of chimpanzees in the United States; Red Ape Rain Forest, where visitors can walk among orangutans; the LAIR (Living Amphibians, Invertebrates, and Reptiles); Elephants of Asia; Campo Gorilla Reserve; and one of the largest flocks of flamingos in any zoo in the world. Among other highlights are an extraordinary, hands-on Hippo Encounter; the Winnick Family Children’s Zoo and Muriel’s Ranch animal contact area; the Tom Mankiewicz Conservation Carousel; a variety of daily opportunities to learn more about animals, including close-up visits, special feedings and intriguing talks; and much more. The private, non-profit Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association (GLAZA), which has supported the Zoo in partnership with the City of Los Angeles for more than five decades and provides funding for and operates seven essential Zoo departments, has 60,000 member households representing more than 240,000 adults and children. As evidence of the Zoo’s popularity, GLAZA attracts one of the largest membership bases of any cultural organization in Los Angeles.

Photo taken by Maria Densley

Admission to L.A. Zoo Lights is $9 with online purchase for all ages and times during the Early-Bird admission period from November 18 to 23 and November 28 to December 1. Thereafter, admission prices vary and start at $14 for adults and $11 for children ages 2 to 12. GLAZA members enjoy ticket discounts of up to 33%. Children under age 2 are free. This year’s new unlimited-access L.A. Zoo Lights Season Pass, with express entry privileges nightly, is $49 for adults and $44 for children ages 2 to 12 (Holiday Happy Hour and Family New Year’s Eve benefits require a separate ticket). Tickets for HOLIDAY HAPPY HOUR are $75 per person (ages 21 and up). FAMILY NEW YEAR’S EVE tickets are $69 for adults and $45 for children ages 2 to 12, or $64 (adults) and $40 (children) for GLAZA members. All L.A. Zoo Lights events and evenings take place on a “rain-or-shine” basis, with no rain checks issued. Visit LAZoolights.org for details and to purchase tickets.

The Los Angeles Zoo is located in Griffith Park at the junction of the Ventura (134) and Golden State (5) freeways. Free parking is available. 5333 Zoo Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90027, (323) 644-4200. For additional information about L.A. Zoo Lights, call 866-949-8007; call center hours are 8 am to 8 pm, seven days a week. For tickets and more, visit  the LA Zoolights online

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