ZooLights FAQ

When is the ZooLights member preview?

ZooLights member preview night is Wednesday, Nov. 27 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Members can bring additional guests to preview night by purchasing additional tickets at the gate. All Oregon Zoo members enjoy free admission to ZooLights.

What's new for ZooLights 2013?

ZooLights is bigger than ever this year, with an immersive, continuous loop drawing visitors through the zoo to discover new features like the tunnels of light near the Africa Rainforest.

Why isn't the train running this year?

The zoo railway is temporarily out of service as construction crews lay tracks for a new route designed to provide better views of animals and ZooLights. The trains are expected to be running in time for ZooLights 2014.

When is ZooLights?

2013 ZooLights will run from Friday, Nov. 29 to Sunday, Jan. 5. There will be no ZooLights Dec. 24 or Dec. 25.

How much does it cost?

Here's what a ZooLights night out might cost for a family of four (2 adults over 12, 2 youth), not including any discounts or promotions:

Admission (2 adults, 2 children)




4 hot chocolates


2 elephant ears


4 pairs of ZooLights glasses




Can I use my zoo membership to see ZooLights?

Yes, ZooLights admission is included in all zoo memberships. Learn more about becoming a member.

ZooLights tickets vs. regular zoo tickets – what's the difference?

ZooLights tickets are valid after 4 p.m. To enter the zoo earlier, a regular admission ticket must be purchased. Daytime visitors to the zoo are welcome to stay for ZooLights in the evening. However, there is no re-entry to the zoo after 4 p.m.

What time do the lights come on?

The lights start coming on at 4 p.m., and are fully lit between 5 and 5:30 p.m.

What dinner and treat options are available?

The Cascade Grill, Grill-to-Go, Black Rhino, BearWalk Café and AfriCafe are open most nights, as are carts along the ZooLights path featuring hot chocolate, popcorn, and the zoo's signature treat -- elephant ears. See the menu.

Will the animals be out during ZooLights?

Some animals, including mountain goats, sea otters, sea lions, leopards, tigers, penguins, polar bears, bats and some primates, can be seen during ZooLights. Most other animals will not be viewable.

What's the least-busy time to visits ZooLights?

The least-busy nights to visit are Monday – Thursday during the first two weeks of ZooLights (Dec. 2 through Dec. 12).

What is the parking situation?

Parking is $4 per vehicle. If the main lot is full, shuttle buses run from overflow parking lots; follow signs on Highway 26 to access the lots. The main parking lot fills up early on busy evenings and we encourage visitors to ride MAX to the zoo. MAX trains load and unload at the Washington Park station 260 feet below the surface and accessed by elevator. For many visitors, especially children, the MAX ride is a fun beginning and end to their ZooLights visit. Visitors who ride MAX to the zoo receive a $1.50 discount off each ZooLights admission. The transit discount is doubled to $3.00 per person during the busiest weeks, December 20 – January 5.

I want to perform at ZooLights. How do I sign up?

Fill out a performance form and email it to our office. We will be in touch!

Are wheelchairs available?

Strollers, wheelchairs and electric scooters are available for rent through the Zoo Store in the entry plaza. Learn more about accessibility at the zoo.

What are the ZooLights special offers?

Find out here.

Will ZooLights close for inclement weather?

If the decision is made to close the zoo, an announcement will be made to local news outlets and on our website.

ZooLights reviews

Here are reviews and advice from some of our favorite local bloggers.

Tree, Root and Twig –  "Visiting Portland's 'ZooLights' at the Oregon Zoo"

Daddy Forever – "Six ZooLights Tips for 2013"

What's 4 Dinner, Mama?  – "Portland ZooLights - Best Year Ever!"

Perspectives from a Hard Boiled Egg –  "Let's Bundle Up & Go to the Zoo"

The Quirky Momma – "ZooLights - Portland, OR 2013"

A Cloth Life - "ZooLights at the Oregon Zoo!"

Mommy Travels - "ZooLights at the Oregon Zoo"

Willamette Valley Wonder Woman - "ZooLights Adventure"

PDX Kids Calendar (multiple reviews)

Today's Mama - "Light Up Your Holiday: Portland ZooLights are Back!"

Check out these 2012 reviews for more tips on how to make the most of your ZooLights visit. NOTE: these reviews may include train information not applicable to 2013 ZooLights.

PDX Kids Calendar
Urban Bliss Life
Frugal Spots
Say It, Don't Spray It
Unionvale Homeschool
Over Thirty Mommy
Coupon $avvy in Cowlitz County
Cute and Peculiar
Eccentric Eclectic Woman
Connected 2 Christ
Emily's Frugal Tips
Dazzling Daily Deals