Wild Lights At The Detroit Zoo – Event Review
Starting mid- November, The Detroit Zoo comes alive at night with the twinkling of over five million lights. It’s dubbed “Wild Lights at the Detroit Zoo” and it runs weekends and select nights from 530 – 9 pm through December 31st. Tickets are $8 in advance and $10 at the gate PLUS a $6 parking fee (both members and non-members pay the same prices). It is STRONGLY recommended that you purchase your tickets in advance because the event sells out most nights. It is also advised that if you have your tickets you should avoid arriving early… normally we suggest the opposite but in this case there are HUGE crowds of people trying to purchase tickets at the gate and things get very congested and backed up for a good hour. The “loop” around the zoo is said to take about an hour and a half if you include the 4D movie experience. (This year is the Polar Express but we are unsure if it will be the same every year).
This was our first visit to Wild Lights even though we are long time visitors of the zoo itself. Our motto is always to arrive early to beat the crowds but little did we know that was a mistake for this particular event. The line of cars to get into the zoo was so long that it had stopped traffic in the streets outside. Once we got in we barely managed to get a parking spot way at the very top of the parking garage and when we got to the main gate we were greeted by a huge mob. It wasn’t a terrible wait, however, we noticed as we were leaving that there were NO lines at all just a short while later.
Once inside, things were less hectic and the crowds thinned out as we moved along. You are directed down a specific path and not allowed to roam free throughout the park. The light displays were stunning and somewhat themed by the area you were walking through. You can not, however, see the majority of the animals… the trails avoid most of the enclosures or they are blocked from view.
The carousel was open as was the 4D Theater which was playing a condensed version of the Polar Express (not included in the ticket price). We skipped both of these attractions and continued through the trails. There were many concession stands open along the way including the Arctic Café where people could get holiday-themed snacks like hot cocoa and such. There were also warming stations every so often with space heaters or small bonfires to thaw you out on the colder nights. The full loop took us roughly an hour to complete. We did not dally in one place for too long and kept walking for the most part.
Overall we had a great time! Next year we will have learned our lesson and will arrive after the mad rush for the gate opening. The displays were incredible and it was a fun night out with the family. We will definitely be attending this again next year!