The Oregon Zoo’s annual winter display of more than 1.5
million lights is back and will continue through January 10, 2021 (except
Christmas Day). The 2020 version of ZooLights is offered entirely as a
drive-through event. The new experience was designed with pandemic-related
safety precautions in mind.
(AR Photo/Jody Lim)
(AR Photo/Jody Lim)
(Route map courtesy of the Oregon Zoo)
From The Asian Reporter, V30, #13 (December 7, 2020), page 10.
ZooLights returns as drive-through experience amid global
By Jody Lim
The Asian Reporter
The Oregon Zoo’s annual winter light display is back — with some changes.
After originally planning to hold its typical walk-through event alongside a
new drive-through option available two nights during the week, the worsening
pandemic resulted in ZooLights being offered entirely as a drive-through
From the warmth of one’s car, a winter wonderland of more than 1.5
million brightly colored lights is now on view for holiday-goers.
As a regular ZooLights attendee over the years, the idea of driving
through the zoo grounds in a vehicle was intriguing. I wondered how the
route would be set up in addition to the order in which the one-way path
might take us. Little did I know, we were also treated to a small tour of
areas not typically available to zoo guests.
Light aficionados need to plan in advance to see this year’s light
display, as a limited number of timed tickets are available every 20 minutes
and must be purchased online in advance.
Upon arriving to the zoo, guests should drive up to Parking Lot C (past
the Washington Park MAX station), then follow the signs. You’ll first have
your ticket scanned, pick up any pre-purchased gifts, beverages, and food
(such as elephant ears!), then follow the queue through the main parking lot
to the entrance.
The drive begins near the Insect Garden, which features a colorful
peacock, a 35-foot-long Chinese dragon display, and more, before heading
toward Fantasy Lane, the Seaside Mural, Swimming Penguins, and the
After passing through the Under the Ice display, a mini behind-the-scenes
tour begins. While driving by the many life-size animal silhouettes,
ZooLights participants pass by the back side of the new Polar Passage
exhibit as well as Elephant Lands, including Forest Hall and the Elephant
ZooLighters then drive through the Galactic Tunnel before experiencing
the Glowing Grove and Light Tree Lane, as well as decorated trees and
buildings — and more illuminated animals.
Several "Washed Ashore" art pieces are also visible during ZooLights.
To enhance the light show, the playing of seasonal or other music in your
car is suggested. For Christmas songs, the zoo recommends tuning to 97.1 FM
or 103.3 FM.
ZooLights opens nightly at 5:00pm (except Christmas Day). Ticket slots
are offered every 20 minutes until 9:00pm. Visit
<www.oregonzoo.org/zoolights> to make a reservation. (Tickets are available
up to seven days in advance; early time slots sell out quickly.)
To help ensure a safe experience for everyone, pandemic-related and other
safety measures have been put in place. Some include: 1) All transactions
are cashless (online pre-purchase is required). 2) All vehicle doors,
hatchbacks, and tailgates must remain closed at all times (riding in the
back of a pickup truck is not permitted). 3) Face coverings are required
during check-in and other interactions with ZooLights staff. (Drive-through
guests do not need to wear face coverings while enjoying the lights from
inside their vehicle.) 4) Guests must remain in their vehicle during the
entire tour. 5) Items such as laser pointers and flashlights are prohibited.
6) Loud noises are not permitted, including honking, loud music, and
yelling. 7) Smoking and vaping are prohibited during ZooLights, including
inside your vehicle.
To read the full list of safety precautions and rules,