Zoo Lights Offering New Drive-Thru Option


Photo: Oregon Zoo

A Northwest holiday tradition is back! ZooLights, presented by U.S. Bank, opens Nov. 23 at the Oregon Zoo, showcasing a winter wonderland of more than 1.5 million brightly colored lights.

And this year, there’s a new way to illuminate the season: On Tuesday and Wednesday evenings, visitors can explore the ZooLights magic with a new drive-through experience.

“Everything’s been a little different in 2020, and ZooLights is no exception,” zoo events manager Nikki Simmons said. “We’re trying out some new things to help make this holiday tradition safe, accessible and fun for everyone.”

Simmons noted that the drive-through option may better accommodate people with different physical abilities, and may be a more comfortable choice for some during the COVID-19 pandemic.

To help ensure a safe experience for all, the following measures will be in place during this year’s ZooLights:

• Timed ticketing/limited attendance: All guests, including members, must reserve their ZooLights tickets in advance via the zoo website. Tickets are only available up to 10 days in advance of the visit date. (Due to capacity restrictions, all walk-through visitors — even infants — need to be counted. Infants are free with a paid adult admission, but must have a ticket.)

• Masks/face coverings: Face masks are required for all walk-through guests 5 years and older. (Individuals who have a medical condition that makes it hard to breathe, or a disability that prevents them from wearing a mask, can request an accommodation.) Drive-through guests do not need to wear masks while enjoying the lights from inside their vehicle. Masks are required, however, during check-in and other interactions with ZooLights staff.

• Reduced contact: Guests follow a one-way, open-air path; physical distancing reminders are placed throughout the zoo. Most indoor areas will remain closed, and all transactions are cashless.

ZooLights is a special event and is not included with regular daytime admission. To prepare grounds for the drive-through experience, the zoo will remain closed during regular daytime hours on Tuesdays through Thursdays beginning on Tuesday, Nov. 24 (except during Portland Public Schools’ winter break). This temporary daytime schedule will continue through Feb. 18, allowing the zoo to conduct maintenance work during some of its lightest attended days of the year.

For more information on ZooLights, visit oregonzoo.org/zoolights.