ZooLights is back! Here’s how to make the most of it.

ZooLights is back! Here’s how to make the most of it.

ZooLights — the Oregon Zoo’s walk-through winter wonderland of more than 1.5 million colored lights — is back, and it’s more popular than ever. Zoo guest services manager Ivan Ratcliff offers these five tips to save money and get the most enjoyment out of your ZooLights experience.

Buy your tickets online.

“The best way to save time and money is to pre-purchase your ZooLights tickets online,” Ratcliff said. “You’ll save $2 per ticket and be able to skip the lines at the front gate.”

Ride MAX to the zoo.

“MAX is a great way to get to the zoo,” Ratcliff said. “The Washington Park stop lets you off just in front of the zoo entrance. I highly recommend using this option whenever possible.” For additional information, Ratcliff recommends the website gettingtozoolights.com.

Start your festivities early in the season.

“Most ZooLights visitors come on weekends and on 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 — see schedule at oregonzoo.org/zoolights — ZooLights visitors get a $5 discount on admission.

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 and allowing an extra 30 minutes for traffic and parking.”

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.”

For more info, visit oregonzoo.org