History & Tourism

Fall Road Trip: Experience Wildlights At The Columbus Zoo

16 Nov , 2022  

By 1812Blockhouse, Columbus Zoo & Aquarium

This year, we have added a handful of Fall Road Trip ideas to our usual staple of Summer Road Trips. Each has provided Richland Countians with an easy day trip idea that features something unique and different.

This is our last Fall Road Trip suggestion for 2022.

As always, we remind our readers that Richland County itself is full of interesting things to see and do. Find out more on the Destination Mansfield website.

The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is transforming into a winter wonderland with millions of LED lights and holiday magic for everyone! One of Central Ohio’s most cherished family-friendly traditions, Wildlights, efficiently powered by AEP Ohio, will be open for guests on Friday, November 18 through Sunday, January 1, 2023. Columbus Zoo members are invited to enjoy early access for Member Night on Thursday, November 17, 2022, while a Sensory-Friendly Light Stroll is available on Tuesday, November 15 to offer a modified experienced for guests who might prefer a less stimulating environment with reduced sounds and visual stimulation.

Now in its 34th year, Wildlights is offering more holiday cheer than ever before. Guests can look forward to these Wildlights attractions and more:

  • NEW! “Sounds of the Season,” featuring choirs, bands and musical groups from local schools and organizations on select nights
  • NEW! “12 Days of Wildlights” train ride, themed to our own rendition of the 12 Days of Christmas
  • NEW! “Jolliest Holiday” craft beer celebration, which offers guests ages 21+ the opportunity to sample more than 40 craft beers, ciders, and seltzers at locations throughout the park.
  • “Sparkling Spruce,” presented by Diamond Cellar: a giant animated holiday tree with a dazzling display of light and sound
  • Jingle Jam, presented by Nationwide: features six seasonal tunes and 36 spheres of light illuminating the Shores Play Park
  • Holiday Magic Animated Light Display: a spectacular display of light set to festive songs to bring out the holiday spirit in everyone
  • The Rudolph 4D Experience: a visually-brilliant experience featuring the same stop motion animation as the beloved television classic that has charmed audiences for generations
  • S’mores Experience, where guests can roast a giant marshmallow while taking in the sights and sounds of Wildlights
  • Reindeer Corral, where reindeer can visit with guests while they prep for their big journey
  • 1914 Mangels/Ilions Carousel, where guests of all ages can feel like a kid while taking a spin
  • Santa Experience, where families can schedule time to visit with the jolly ol’ elf himself. Guests will have the opportunity to talk with Santa and then get a photo near him. There is no cost to see Santa, though photos of the experience are available for purchase. Walk-ins are welcome, but it is recommended that reservations are made online by visiting the Wildlights listing on our website’s calendar page and checking out the Santa tab.

Please note that an additional fee applies to some activities. The full Wildlights calendar can be found here.

Animal Viewing

Guests are encouraged to arrive before 4 p.m. to view some animals like the gorillas and bonobos, who like to go to sleep early. Other animals may be able to be seen outdoors, while others can be found in their indoor habitats, including:

  • Sea lions (Adventure Cove)
  • Jack Hanna’s Animal Encounters Village (Adventure Cove)
  • Naomi Coyle Dempsey Quest for Enlightenment Interpretive Center (Asia Quest)
  • Pachyderm Building (Asia Quest) – restricted hours
  • Discovery Reef (Shores & Aquarium)
  • Manatee Coast (Shores & Aquarium)
  • Reptile Building (Shores & Aquarium)

Know Before You Go

  • Regular Zoo hours are 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. daily. Wildlights activities take place Sunday through Thursday from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., and on Friday and Saturday from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.
  • Large crowds are expected for Wildlights, so plan to arrive early.
  • The Zoo will be closed Thanksgiving Day (November 24) and Christmas Day (December 25), as well as for Wildlights on Christmas Eve (December 24).
  • Wildlights is included with Zoo admission. Regular admission rates apply to all guests, and admission is free for Columbus Zoo and Aquarium Members.

For additional updates about the Columbus Zoo, events, and more, be sure to follow the Zoo’s social media accounts on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok, and visit it online at ColumbusZoo.org.

Image by Angelica Vaihel from Pixabay

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