“Spectacular’ barely began to describe it.
On Monday evening, we had the opportunity to visit LA Zoo Lights.
Since its opening in 2014, L.A. Zoo Lights has made USA Today’s list of “Ten Best Zoo Lights” shows in the nation twice–both in 2015 and 2016. (They’re nominated again this year! )And Monday evening was sold out, with the crowd waiting to get in. The doors would open to magic at 6 pm.The first thing we saw, as we entered, was this Christmas tree radiating lights to an uptempo version of “Sleigh Ride”–and later, to “Jingle Bells”.
Throughout the Los Angeles Zoo, “Zoo Lights” would be celebrating the season with fourteen different displays. These would point up the Zoo’s residents and conservation efforts.“Monkey Business” was the second display to welcome visitors. Throughout the International Marketplace shopping plaza, these illuminated mischief-makers seemed to swing across their wires, through the magic of technology.Doing justice to all fourteen of the displays we saw, at L.A. Zoo Lights, would be impossible with mere photographs. (We also don’t want to ruin the “surprise” element of what you’ll see!) But we’ll list several of the highlights of our visit. You get to choose your own favorites, as L.A. Zoo Lights runs from now through January 7th.Of course, our first priority? Seeing the reindeer, for the Zoo’s annual “Reindeer Romp”!Four reindeer–Elvis, Hazelnut, Cinnamon and Tinsel–were now in residence.
“Can they fly?” a small visitor asked a Zoo staff member.
“Not until they’re around Santa, with his magic. Then they can fly,” she assured the child.
Elvis, the staffer said, is a male, six months old, and the “girls” tended to “boss him around a bit.”. Female reindeer, she explained, keep their antlers in the winter, while males lose theirs in autumn. Since the three female reindeer would push him away from the food dish, Elvis, who is still growing, was separated from them.We laughed out loud at these “Electric Elephants”. Not only did they appear to be wearing the classic “ugly Christmas sweaters” at one point, thanks to the lighting–they also appeared to host an electric-train track, complete with train!“Feliz Navidad, Feliz Navidad,” we hummed along, while walking through the “Deck the Halls with Disco Balls” display. We desperately wanted to dance–and a couple of young Zoogoers were doing exactly that!We wanted to stay on Santa’s “nice” list, so did not take pictures in The Lair. (Flash photography isn’t a favorite of the snakes, spiders, Komodo dragons and such.)
Our favorite resident, though, was a turtle who put on a show for his adoring public! He moved and thrust his head out to look at the funny animals looking in at him.A standout favorite, for the evening, was the “Lightscapes Water Show”.
Pictures won’t do this justice. Neither will telling you that this combined the effects of a fireworks show with water and laser light.The light and water seemed to be emanating from the fast-paced Christmas music, and the rainbow “sparkles” and light changes were enough to dazzle the most jaded L.A. audience member.
Viewers oohed, aahed, gasped–and applauded and whooped at the show’s conclusion.
(And if the date you have in mind is this Saturday, December 23rd, you may need to prioritize. According to the Zoo’s website, Saturday evening’s 6 pm show is sold out, but there are still tickets available for 8 pm.)Of course, we weren’t going to miss seeing the “Tom Mankiewicz Conservation Carousel”, which is a favorite every day of the year. The animals each represent a member of an endangered species. Keeping in mind that we are dignified adults…
The evening was moving by too quickly. We’ll give you two warnings before you go to L.A. Zoo Lights.
The first: dress warmly (layers work really well), and wear gloves. You will feel the cold snap we’ve been having. However, all the photo opps and incredible displays are likely to take your mind off having cold hands!
We didn’t have a long wait, but we did hear a loudspeaker warning that the last opportunity for people to line up and see this would be at 9:45.
The “Twinkle Tunnel” is a 100-foot tunnel, with thousands of colored lights.
During our November interview with Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association (GLAZA) Marketing and Communications Manager Emily Marrin, Emily said the tunnel has been the site of several marriage proposals.While we didn’t see anyone pop the question during our visit, we certainly saw a lot of smiling faces for selfies!And this year, in addition to its other new features, L.A. Zoo Lights has an all-new Grand Finale. But, even after that, there’s more to see.
And be sure to say “hi” to Tinsel, Cinnamon, Elvis and Hazelnut for us.