Bright lights, big savings: 2-for-1 deals for ZooLights

December 1, 2014 - 12:45pm

Visitors can receive discount just by mentioning one of three zoo sponsors

The Oregon Zoo is looking to make people's holidays a lot brighter without making their wallets a lot lighter.

ZooLights, a winter wonderland of more than 1.5 million brilliant colored lights, runs now through Jan. 4 at the zoo. Visitors to the annual display — presented this year by Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Oregon and the Oregon College Savings Plan — can enjoy big savings this week and next just by asking for the deal at the gate and mentioning one of the sponsors. The Zoolights admission deal is valid Monday through Thursday after 4 p.m., now through Dec. 11 (except for Dec. 10, when ZooLights is closed to the public).

More special offers

  • Thursday, Dec. 4, Regence will be handing out plush giraffes to the first 250 visitors with Regence Health ID cards, beginning at 5:30 p.m. in the zoo's Cascade Grill. Any remaining plush giraffes will be donated to the KGW Great Toy Drive. 
  • Thursday, Dec. 11, the Oregon College Savings Plan will be onsite with games and prizes for ZooLights visitors.
  • During regular daytime hours on Dec. 9 — 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. — visitors can see the zoo for the reduced price of $4 per person thanks to the popular Second Tuesday admission-discount program, sponsored by the Walmart Foundation. Visitors who enter the zoo before 4 p.m. are welcome to stay for ZooLights. As always, children 2 and younger are admitted free.

This year's display features the much-anticipated return of the ZooLights train ride on an all-new route through the zoo. The zoo's trains were temporarily taken out of service in 2013, as crews began laying track for a new rail route designed to provide unique views of animals — as well as improved looks at ZooLights. To make up for the loss, last year's ZooLights set about creating a more immersive experience, with a continuous loop around the zoo featuring a spectacular new 100-foot-long, rainbow tunnel of light. Train tickets are sold separately.

This year's ZooLights aims to encompass the best of both worlds: an all-new train ride on an elevated trestle through areas that haven't been lighted before, as well as an immersive stroll around the zoo similar to last year's. Visitors should also be on the lookout for some winged wonders: six fantastical butterfly silhouettes have been placed around the zoo — part of a scavenger hunt that can win sharp-eyed visitors a prize at the Zoo Store.

In keeping with the zoo's commitment to sustainability, more than a million of this year's lights will be highly efficient LEDs. Since 2000, the zoo has been upgrading its holiday display with an eye to the future — gradually switching from conventional incandescent lights to LEDs, which use a fraction of the energy and last far longer.

ZooLights hours are 5-8 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and 5-8:30 p.m. Friday through Saturday. Grounds stay open an hour after gates close. ZooLights will be closed Dec. 10, 24 and 25. Admission is $10 for adults, $9 for seniors, $7 for youths, and free for children 2 and under. Zoo members may attend for free. Train tickets are $4 per person, $3.50 for members and free for children 2 and under.