traveling the pnw

Zoo Light’s at the Oregon Zoo

This was our first Zoo Light’s experience and we weren’t sure our children would enjoy the show because these days it is hard to know what they will like, but according to the Zoo, there is over one-million LED lights displayed, and as soon as we set foot in the parking lot we were immediately mesmerized by the wonderland the Zoo had become , and of course our children loved every moment at the Zoo. We arrived after 5 PM, so it was already dark and very cold outside but not raining yet. As soon as we pulled up the first thing both my son and daughter noticed was the big blue tree in the parking lot and I think that’s what caught their interest and made them want to venture inside the gated paradise.

Now, as parents of older children ( D is 10 and M is 13) it can be extremely difficult to keep them engaged in what we are doing and it seems that if mom or dad like something then it can’t be “cool” enough for them to enjoy it.  I had to have a plan

The Oregon Zoo was cold and I wasn’t sure when or if it would start to rain, I wanted to get through the light show quickly.


My best bet, let the kids lead the way.

And so it began…

M got a map and she started planning the route with her brother. It was about here that it started sprinkling and we got a little worried that we would soon be drenched. I could hear them arguing a bit about which path to take and there was some talk about the concert path. We headed towards the concert path but then the kids made a beeline away from it and started talking about the train ride. We boarded the train, the metal seats were freezing cold and I had on thin work slacks since I had just gotten off work, needless to say I should have brought a blanket.











After the train ride it stopped raining so we figured we might be safe but we should try to get through as much as possible in case it started pouring. We were one of the first people in line for the train but it filled up quickly and people kept coming until there were no more seats. The train ride was fantastic, you could see all of the lights while on the train plus there were lights that you could only see while on the train. We managed to get some photos but it was difficult since the train was moving.

After the train ride the kids wanted to walk around. We did get lost, it was dark when we first arrived and it quickly got darker as we were there. If you will be there after dark I would suggest bringing a small flashlight or have an app one your phone to make it easier to navigate the zoo. I have never been good with maps and that did not help the situation any but luckily the kids figured out where we needed to go using the Zoo map provided to us at check in.

The Zoo had animal characters and my 10 year old son loved hugging them all but sadly I was only able to  capture two before my phone died on me. There was an adorable lion, tiger, a bear and the guys pictured above. These days my son is more interested in video games and talking on the phone then being outside enjoying himself , so I was overjoyed that he liked Zoo Lights at the Oregon Zoo. M wanted to ride the Thrill ride, the best way to describe it is a 3D motion ride, you go inside, the door shuts and it feels like you are in the game. The kids chose “Skate Race” and the show was on. If you suffer from motion sickness then you probably want to skip this ride.  Overall the ride was pretty awesome, I would ride it again given the chance.

Here are some additional pictures inside the Zoo. These are taken during our walk and not on the train.

Some helpful information for those thinking about going

If you will be visiting Zoo Lights then you want to make sure you do it before December 31st. The hours of operation are Sun-Thur 5-8PM, the grounds stay open until 9:00 pm  for guests.

Fri-Sat 5-8:30, the grounds stay open until 9:00 pm for guests

Train begins at 5:15

There are no Zoo lights on Dec 24th and the Zoo is closed on the 25th in observance of the holiday.

You can visit the Zoo page for more information or check admission rates here 

Find more information on Oregon Zoo Rose Tu’s baby go here , the zoo says mom and baby are doing great! 



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