7 Things to Know When Planning a Visit to Wildlights at the Columbus Zoo & Aquarium in Columbus, Ohio

By on 12/17/2017 07:56:00 AM

We have lived in Columbus, Ohio, for a long, long time--and the Columbus Zoo & Aquarium has always been one of our favorite family outings.  While we have visited the Columbus Zoo & Aquarium too many times to count; we had never ventured out to Wildlights at the zoo.  That is, until this year!  The schedule gave us an open, winter Saturday and the weather gave us a beautiful and unseasonably warm evening--and we made the trip to Wildlights at the Columbus Zoo & Aquarium.  It was a wonderful way to kick off the holiday season with the family!  I expect a Wildlights trip will be an annual event for us now!  If you have not gone to Wildlights at the Columbus Zoo & Aquarium, there are a few things that we wanted to share with you before you visit so that you can make the most of your time at the zoo.  What are 7 things you should know when planning a visit to Wildlights at the Columbus Zoo & Aquarium in Columbus, Ohio?

Plan to Arrive Earlier than 5 p.m.  The Columbus Zoo & Aquarium is open during the winter months and many of the exhibits remain open for visitors.  Having said that, visitors will find some favorite exhibits closed for the winter season--so it is important to prepare the kids for that possibility. Our youngest daughter desperately wanted to see the penguins--but, the penguin exhibit was not available.    Luckily, arriving before 5 p.m. helped us have some daylight time to view some of the animals before the lines for entry became long and the park became more crowded.  Additionally, some animals, like the polar bears and the gorillas, are only out for viewing before 5 p.m.

Dress for the Weather.  While this should go without saying--it's still good to remember that Central Ohio weather often has little rhyme nor reason!  A beautiful afternoon can become quite cold once the sun goes down.  Sunshine can turn to rain, sleet or snow in minutes.  Check the local weather forecast before heading out and plan accordingly by dressing in layers or taking along a separate backpack with hats, gloves and scarves for the later evenings!  Visitors can seek a bit of refuge inside some of the indoor displays--but, much of the Wildlights experience is outdoors in the weather of the city.

Plan to Spend Money on "Extra" Activities.  The merry-go-round and the train are all decked out for the holidays--and the kids will likely want to ride them both.  Additional tickets are required for both activities and may be purchased near the rides.  Also, camel rides are open during Wildlights--and my girls will never be too old to want to ride a camel.  A visit to Mrs. Claus' kitchen will probably be a must-do also--and visitors should expect to spend money on sweets while there.

Schedule the Trip with Mealtimes in Mind.  In the hours before Wildlights opened at 5 p.m., most of the small food stands and kiosks around the park were closed.  During the Wildlights display; however, food and snacks and drinks were everywhere--and they can become a bit pricey for larger families!  Zoo visitors can bring in outside food and drink as long as carrying bags are within the new park guidelines.  Since the visit to Wildlights will likely be a cold one--and not really an all-day adventure--I would recommend eating lunch and/or a late dinner outside the park, packing water bottles and some light snacks, and buying cookies and hot chocolate during the trip.

Plan to Spend a Little Time in the Playground.  Although our girls are a little too old for the playground, the Jingle Ball animated light display was really cool.  The holiday music and light display was lively and upbeat and the kids (and parents) in the playground were having so much fun!  It was fun to simply watch them and be a part of the scene for a while!

Expect some Stroller Struggles.    The park gets pretty crowded as the evening goes on and large bulky strollers and wagons face some maneuverability difficulties!  Some of the displays have stroller parking outside the entrances--but, in the dark, it's hard to see those signs!  I always recommend a smaller stroller or even a backpack for little ones to make it easier for your family to enjoy the displays. 

Plan to Slow Down, Relax and Take A Lot of Pictures as You Stroll through Wildlights!  Smile, slow down, relax, and take a little time to actually enjoy the sights and sounds of the light show displays and the zoo atmosphere.  This was truly a wonderful way for our family to kick off the holiday season during the early weeks of the holiday season!  The park will be crowded.  The kids will get cold.  The kids will want pretzels and cotton candy and ice cream and drinks and souveniers and...the tweens and teens will take 10,000 selfies by the Conservation Lake "Watering Hole" Light Show.  Plan to slow down.  Relax.  Smile.  Enjoy the access to 10,000 smiling pictures of the kids with fun lights and holiday decor in the background!

To learn more about the outing featured here:
Visit the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium Website

Wildlights at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium
4850 West Powell Road
Powell, Ohio 43065

Hours 5-9pm Sun-Thurs and 5-10pm Fri-Sat
Event runs nightly except Christmas Eve and Christmas Day through Jan 1, 2018

Disclosure:  This is not a sponsored post--we simply wanted to share some tips with readers. 

About Angela

Angela is a freelance travel writer and lifestyle blogger, blessed with 3 beautiful daughters, 5 moody cats, 1 spoiled dog, and 1 very supportive husband.


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