Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Zoo Christmas Lights Galore

This is a comparison between the Cincinnati Zoo's Festival Of Lights and the Columbus Zoo's Wildlights. When Christmas time came around Dayton, Ohio, I found both of these zoo lights online. The trouble was- which one to go to? Luckily we knew we were going to be living here long enough to try out both, so we did. You can see a more Detailed Post On Cincinnati Zoo Festival Of Lights and a more Detailed Post On Columbus Zoo Wildlights.


1. First of all, both are incredibly impressive. Go to either and you will not be disappointed! We had a blast at both and saw more Christmas lights in a night than we ever thought we would in our whole lives!

2. You can see animals at both zoos. It's really cool seeing exotic animals and Christmas lights at the same time.

3. Both offer hot food and drinks to help with that chill in the December night air!

4. Both have trains that you can ride around in to see the beautiful lights!

5. Both have entertaining things for you to do beyond Christmas lights and animals.


1. The Ambiance: You will not hear "Christmas" mentioned at all at the Columbus Zoo. Everything is "Holidays," but though they did that to embrace multiculturalism, there were no actual signs of other cultures besides pop culture. If you prefer that then this might be the better choice for you, however, it was to the extent that it felt forced to me (and almost offensive in itself.) The light show focuses more on international harmony and the Polar Express movie. At the Cincinnati Zoo you hear the traditional Christmas music that you expect to hear this time of the year (I especially loved when they had a light show to Carol of the Bells on the lake!)

2. The Lake Light Shows: Both have gorgeous light shows on the lake. Both are set to music or sound bites. They're perfect for pictures and videos. The Cincinnati Zoo's light show is a bit smaller, but continuous. You could walk around the entire lake to a light show, which was enjoyable. At the Columbus Zoo they put on the light show once every half hour, but it is a bigger light show.

3. Warmth: At the Cincinnati Zoo you can get some warmth in the elephant house, the reptile house, and when meeting Santa. In the Columbus Zoo I recommend visiting the aquarium- it is deliciously warm after the winter night! 

4. Entertainment: The Columbus Zoo has some cool extra things to do and see while you're out. They have a carousel and a giant snow globe you can go in! There are schools that come and sing at the zoo. The entertainment at the Cincinnati Zoo isn't quite as big with puppet shows and meeting Santa.

5. Size: The Columbus Zoo is bigger at 580 acres (I'm not sure, but I'm betting that includes the water park...) while the Cincinnati Zoo is 65 acres. (According to Google- just type "size of ______.") I could not find the number of lights used this year for either zoo, however in 2012 the Columbus Zoo used 3 million lights and the Cincinnati Zoo used 2 million lights. (After one night in either place you'll be good on lights for the rest of the year, so trying to do both in the same year would be a bit much.) I don't know if the number of lights has changed or not. Honestly, both zoos are huge and beautiful and there's so very many Christmas lights you won't really notice the Difference.


Firstly I'd like to stress again that both are incredible- you won't be disappointed. 

I personally prefer the Cincinnati Zoo Festival of Lights. Things I liked better at the Columbus Zoo were that they had really awesome animals formed by Christmas lights that were incredible. (The Cincinnati Zoo also has them, but the animals at the Columbus Zoo really stuck out to me more.)
The aquarium was pretty with the lights on the ceiling (plus it was so toasty-warm!)
I think the Columbus Zoo lights is a little more friendly towards kids, but it was also more crowded than the Cincinnati Zoo. Not to mention, the Columbus Zoo was cheaper. I did feel a little uncomfortable with how much the Columbus Zoo was cutting out Christmas- I understand that it's a religious holiday, however a lot of people celebrate it even if they aren't in that religion.  And instead of including other cultures, they just mentioned that they existed and instead focused on pop culture Christmas movies.

I really loved the lake show at the Cincinnati Zoo- it was beautiful and I loved that you didn't have to run to the lake to catch it or miss it. (It was irritating to leave one part of the Columbus Zoo to run to the lake to see the show.) We saw more animals at the Cincinnati Zoo since the polar bears were all asleep at the Columbus Zoo.
I also fell in love with the tunnel of lights- that was so cool to walk under!
Plus I really liked that giant nutcracker rhino.

Though the Columbus Zoo lights are larger, somehow the Cincinnati one felt bigger. We couldn't get through all the lights in one night, while we were able to at the Columbus Zoo.

Overall, they're both a blast. Hopefully this has helped you pick the one that is better for you, but if you can, definitely hit both!

If you want to see more pictures and read more details about each zoo Christmas lights you can- here is the Cincinnati Zoo and here is the Columbus Zoo
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