Zoo News is Good News: 5 Pro Tips for a Luminous ZooLights Experience

By Oregon Zoo Staff

Jocelyn Twigg

Five year old Jocelyn Twig enjoying Zoolights at the Oregon Zoo. © Oregon Zoo / photo by Michael Durham.

ZooLights is back! The Oregon Zoo’s walk-through winter wonderland of more than 1.6 million colored lights runs through Jan. 7 and it’s more popular than ever. Zoo guest services manager Ivan Ratcliff offers the following tips to save money, avoid lines and get the most enjoyment out of your ZooLights experience.

  1. Start your festivities early in the season.

“Most ZooLights visitors come on weekends and the weeks when school’s out,” Ratcliff said. “But if you come on weeknights early in the season, you can avoid the crowds and save money.” During this year’s Value Nights — Monday through Thursday, through Dec. 14 — ZooLights visitors get a $5 discount on admission.

  1. Ride MAX to the zoo.

Can’t make it on a Value Night, but still want to save five bucks? Ride MAX. On non-Value Nights, the zoo offers a $5 admission discount for visitors who take TriMet (proof of ridership required).

  1. Show up fashionably late … unless you’re driving.

“The big rush at ZooLights is usually from 4 to 6 p.m.,” Ratcliff said. “If you come after that, you can avoid some of the crowds. This strategy only works if you’re taking MAX though. If you’re driving, I recommend getting here by 4 p.m. or sooner.”

  1. Buy your tickets online.

“You can buy your admission tickets in advance and bypass the line at the front gate,” Ratcliff said. “That way, you spend more time enjoying the lights and less time in line.”

  1. It’s not all about the train.

“A lot of people focus on the train, but really that’s just one part of the ZooLights experience,” Ratcliff said. “Around 90 percent of the lights are along the walking paths. I recommend scheduling your ride online before you visit — then you can stroll around the grounds and enjoy the lights until your appointed train time.”

For more information, visit oregonzoo.org/zoolights.