I want (to see a light-up) hippopotamus for Christmas! If you do too, head to the OKC Zoo for Safari Lights to experience all the beautiful lanterns of wild animals and holiday displays.
This is my second time getting to attend the sneak peek of the OKC Zoo’s Safari Lights before it opened to the public! I have enjoyed getting to see Safari Lights grow and incorporate new experiences since it began three years ago. I love getting to go to the Zoo on a regular basis, and Safari Lights is such a special tradition that I look forward to every year. In fact, the lights are so incredible that USA Today named it a finalist for the Best Zoo Lights in the country. My mom and I will be voting to help them win through Nov. 29 and you can, too!
There are lots of NEW things to experience at Safari Lights this year. Here are my 3 favorites:
- There is more of a variety of lights and a lot of new lanterns. There are all new scenes throughout the zoo. Don’t miss the walk through the bamboo forest with all the panda bears — this section is to the right of the entrance, and there haven’t been lights there in past years. In the Children’s Garden, I loved walking through the mystical rainbow reindeer forest.
- There are even more interactive experiences. I was really excited to see all the new things you could actually play with. My favorite was the giant keyboard you can play by jumping on it. I loved getting to play the panda bear push button game. I am excited to take my brothers back to see the giant tree of hanging LED lights that you can walk through. I thought it was so cool that they incorporated a way for kids to actually power up the lights — you can ride a bike to turn a section of lights on in the Children’s Garden. Plus, my favorite light-up swings are back!
- I love the hippo theme this year! At the opening event, I got to meet Gayla Peevey, who sings “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas.” This is the 70th anniversary of her song, which she recorded when she was just 10 years old. She used her fame to help raise money for the OKC Zoo to buy a hippo. I love how her song is included in the plaza light display, designed by the Miranda Family. I was also so surprised to see that the hippo lantern in the panda forest looks like it’s breathing out bubbles! The bubbles are super cool because they are filled with fog and look really magical.
Bonus! I always love to get the s’mores kits at Safari Lights, and this year there are two sections of fire pits, one near Stingray Bay and one in the panda forest.
Safari Lights is open through Jan. 1 from 5:30 to 11 p.m. daily. The drive-thru and walk-thru courses are totally different experiences. When you purchase a drive-thru ticket you get to experience both. Drive-thru tickets are $70 per vehicle (or $60 for Zoo members), and that includes 4 walk-thru tickets as well. Walk-thru tickets only are $16 per person, or $14 for Zoo members.
I hope you enjoy discovering one of OKC’s best light displays at the OKC Zoo this year! Plus, check out even more great lights around the metro! Happy holidays!
Addie is a compassionate and creative 12-year-old 6th grader from OKC who enjoys writing almost as much as she enjoys math and STEM. She plays competitive soccer and basketball and loves to ride horses. She is the daughter of MetroFamily’s managing editor.