We do lots of things. And I jam as much holiday fun in as we can. Yet I have avoided zoo lights like the plague. We went when Chicken was probably around 1. Almost an hour just to find parking, leading to a hungry and screeching Chicken in the back seat. Freezing cold and rain. So stinking crowded you couldn’t see the lights. I was traumatized and never looked back.
Until this year. Grandpa has a zoo membership and asked if we wanted to go. Chicken and Nugget immediately accepted the invitation and I couldn’t bring myself to be the evil villain who rained on their holiday parade. I mean, that was going to happen at zoo lights anyway, right?
I am now a more experienced mom. I packed my bag full of snacks. We took the Max. I put them in their warmest coats and brought along the hats, scarves, and gloves. We were ready for zoo lights battle. I was feeling pretty good about myself and was ready to kick some butt.
We went on the very last day of zoo lights, so I was ready to deal with all the other zoo lights stragglers. Of which there were essentially none. We disembarked from the Max to find a pretty empty parking lot. There was no line to get in. No line for the zoo train. No line at the bathrooms. No line for food. There were other people, but it was in no way crowded. It didn’t rain and it wasn’t even cold. My preparation turned me into a pack mule as I lugged around the unneeded gear.
It was completely great. We got there before dark and the majority of the animals were out. We got to see several animals close up that we often struggle to find. We could see all the lights, take pictures without a bunch of people we didn’t know in them, and could move about freely as we pleased rather than being pushed along by the masses. We wound up staying about four hours, which prompted us to grab a quick bite at the AfriCafe, which we shared with about three other people. It was fantastic.
I have no idea what the difference was. Was it because it was after Christmas? Because Portland Public Schools was already back in session? Because literally everyone else in Portland had already gone? I have no clue. But we were all thrilled.
Nugget said his favorite part was the giraffes and the zoo lights train. Chicken liked just about everything.
The Good: beautiful lights, a way to mix things up at the zoo, fun holiday tradition
The Not Great: it’s a zoo, which has its own set of ethical dilemmas, it can be waaaaaaaay more crowded than it was today
Would we recommend it? On a day like today- absolutely! On a day like last time- never in a million years. The gamble is yours, my friends!