Every year, the Denver Zoo put up tons of Christmas lights and stays open late for visitors who follow lit paths through the zoo looking at the array of lights. This zoo event is called Zoo Lights. The 2011 Denver Zoo Lights event runs from December 9th through January 1st, 2012. Denver Zoo Lights 2011 hours are 5:00 p.m. until 9:00 p.m. Regular winter zoo hours are in effect for the days before the lights which are from 10:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. However, the admissions gate closes at 4:00 p.m. so you have to already be in the zoo by 4:00.
For Denver Zoo members, there is a special Zoo Lights preview weekend November 25 – 27 with hours from 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. The member’s preview weekend includes a Santa Claus in attendance each night, fire dancers and ice carving.
Denver Zoo Christmas Lights 2011
The 2011 Denver Zoo Lights offering includes over 150 animal lighting displays. Many of these animal lights are “animated.” The animation is created by having a full lighting display of the animals in several positions, but only illuminating one part of the display at a time. The effect is seeing an empty spider web, then an insect approaching, getting caught in the web and finally, the spider moving toward it’s prey.
Other animated lighting displays include a fish shooting water at a dragon fly, a wolf chasing a deer, prancing gazelles, elephants spraying water, and a fox playing with his mother by running through a log.
The zoo puts up some special concession treats during Zoo Lights as well. There is hot cocoa, hot apple cider, caramel apples and kettle corn. Standard zoo treats like cotton candy and sodas are also on sale. This year, if you buy a 2011 Denver Zoo Lights souvenir hot chocolate cup or hot cider cut, you get unlimited refills during the entire run of zoo lights.
2011 Denver Zoo Lights Tickets
Tickets for Zoo Lights are $9 for adults (age 12 to 64), $5 for children (age 3 to 11) and $7 for seniors (65+). Zoo members, however, get a two dollar zoo lights discount on their purchases, making tickets $7, $3 and $5 respectively.
Denver Zoo Lights coupons are not available, however, there are a couple of ways to get discounted Zoo Lights tickets. First, bring a canned food donation and get $1 off of admission. Also, you can get a discount on admission for groups of 10 or larger. However, you need to purchase your tickets in advance to get the group tickets rate.
If you are hoping for a Denver Zoo free day during zoo lights, sorry, but that isn’t going to happen. All the 2011 Denver Zoo free days have passed for this year.
The lines for buying zoo lights tickets can get long, especially if you go close to Christmas or on certain weekend nights. The special smart parenting tip is to skip those long lines by buying your tickets in advance, which you can do on the Denver Zoo website. Print out your tickets and bring them to the zoo, then skip the line near the front where people are buying tickets and head straight to the gates. A ticket taker will scan your printed barcode.
You do not have to exchange your online ticket print outs for admission tickets at the ticket sales booths.
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Zoo Lights Tips
- Buy your tickets online. Skipping the buying lines means less waiting and more seeing.
- It gets cold after the sun goes down. Come prepared for a chilly night and possible winds, even if the daytime was sunny and warm. Gloves are a must and hats will be appreciated on many nights.
- There are bathrooms by the entrance, but also in the Giraffe House. Don’t count on using the bathrooms back by the monkeys, the trail usually ends before you get there.
- In years past, the Zoo has had the train and carrousel rides open during zoo lights. The train ride is not long, so don’t wait in a huge line. The carrousel holds more people than it looks like, so the line moves quickly.
Come dressed warmly and with some snacks and hot drinks and you’ll have a great time at zoo lights with the whole family.