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Jolene goes to the LA Zoo Lights

While I do not celebrate Christmas, I still find myself engaging in seasonal, ~festive activities such as this one. Last year, a good friend of mine wanted to do something festive for the holidays but our schedules didn't work out. This year, I knew I had to make her a priority this season, and oblige her holiday-themed craving.

We settled on visiting the LA Zoo Lights, an after-hours event that skips out on the animals but brings plenty of sparkling lights and holiday cheer. The crowds weren't as terrible as some reviews had made them out to be, but then again we did go on a Thursday night.

If I'm being honest, I didn't have high expectations. I made the mistake of perusing Yelp reviews and giving myself the impression of a crowded, underwhelming waste of time. I also read that on occasion, young adults are known to go overboard on the alcoholic beverages available during the event, generally ruining the night for everyone else.

Once we arrived, I was put off only slightly by the traffic and congestion getting into the parking lot. Some quick thinking and a stroke of luck got us a decent parking space (yay free parking!) and we started our venture into the chilly evening air.

Upon entering, I was already struck by the festive atmosphere and the cleverly placed lights that transformed a familiar zoo into a new, light-filled spectacle. While the LA Zoo can't compete with infamously themed places like Disneyland, I thought they did a good job creating a new vibe and giving the zoo a face lift at night.

Everything felt mildly chaotic without a map, and without much knowledge of what was available. I'd read about the instagram-worthy "twinkle tunnel" but had no idea where it was or how to get there. Despite my uneasiness, we decided to take it easy and explore at our own pace without rushing to try to see anything.

We ended up taking all the right paths - we were engulfed in green specks of light, mesmerized by hanging light displays and even walked through a "disco," blasting Glass Heart and adorned with plenty of disco balls.

There were plenty of creative plays on traditional lights - glowing animals, screen projections and animal-themed displays filled the space. It was easy to feel like we were strolling through an enchanted forest.

Eventually we did stumble upon the twinkle tunnel, and it was quite impressive! I imagined it would be longer, and photos were not as easy to attain as I'd hoped, but I still enjoyed passing through it.

Overall, it was a fun evening, and a creative way to celebrate the season without celebrating any particular holiday. We were there for less than 2 hours - drinks and snacks were limited and not very festive, and the animals were not on display, with the exception of a couple reptile houses. We did enjoy the additional limited entertainment including a brief water/light show and some light dancers.

I believe the LA Zoo Lights gave us our festive fix, but I can fully understand how some guests may find it lacking. Hopefully in the coming years the event will continue to evolve and offer more to guests, in oder to compete with other holiday offerings.

Have you visited the LA Zoo Lights?

Until next time,

Happy wandering!

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