Tag Archives: oakland zoo

Zoolights! & Willy Wonka

My girlfriend and I took her 6 year old to Zoolights the other night… I’d been reading lots about it and people really seem to love this holiday light display and show. It consistently gets ranked in local editors’ picks for holiday to-do’s and gets 4 stars on Yelp. As someone who’s never even been to the Oakland Zoo (and I hear it’s quite lovely for the small zoo that it is), I was pretty excited to see this show too. And for the most part, I’d say it didn’t disappoint… just check out these lights!

oakland zoo, zoolights entrance

oakland zoo, zoolights

oakland zoo, zoolights, tunnel of light

oakland zoo, zoolights giraffes

From an artistic standpoint, these animal representations are pretty darned impressive. And the kids love ’em! If you have young children, or the maturity of a kindergartner yourself, you should definitely check this out.

Though not free, it’s for a good cause as all proceeds go towards The Oakland Zoo, a non-profit organization that depends on your support. A regional treasure for over 80 years, the Oakland Zoo’s mission is to inspire respect for and stewardship of the natural world while providing a quality visitor experience. The Zoo is open daily 10:00am – 4:00pm. And the Zoolights holiday shows run evenings through January 4th…

5:30pm – 9:00pm (Monday – Thursday)
5:30pm – 9:30pm (Friday – Sunday)

*Note that Zoo animal residents will be nestled all snug in their beds, with visions of fresh fish and steak, dancing in their heads.

And just in case you were worried, you don’t have to feel guilty about indulging in the electric spectacle, because PG&E has collaborated with the Oakland Zoo to make the lighting display extremely energy efficient through the use of LEDs (which use about 1/10th of the electricity of regular xmas lights).

Shown below is the Holiday Light Show Safari that’s set up in the zoo’s meadow. It’s a light show sychronized to a musical/theatrical soundtrack, and if I were to be totally honest (which I am), I would have to say that this was somewhat disappointing, at least for grown-ups. The lights were great, but the medley soundtrack was an awful disjointed mismash of stuff that might appeal to the sensibilities of a 2 year old, but frankly, was just plain bad. It could have been way cooler. Sorry.

Pretty blue tree.

You still with me? I hope so, ’cause we’re just getting to the really cool stuff. Below is the entrance to Candyland, which is where the carnival rides are: merry-go-round-where-you-can-ride-a-tiger, airplane spinny rides, little racecars, and of course, the launching point for the mini-steam train, the Snowball Express.

This is the view of the bay from our train ride… and yes, you have to pay extra for this. But aren’t you used to the whoosh of cash flowing through your hands these days? And remember, it’s for a good cause. This, truly, was my favorite part of the night. Do ride the train, but do dress warm!

oakland zoo train, view from train ride

The ultimate experience was travelling through the tunnel of light… it totally reminded me of that scene in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory…the psychedelic boat trip…

“there’s no earthly way of knowing
which direction we are going
there’s no knowing where we’re rowing
or which way the river’s flowing…”

Watch it here. It’s AWESOME.

tunnel of light, oakland zoolights train

Which reminds me: Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, this Friday night 8pm (doors at 7), at the aptly named Paramount Theatre in Oakland. Part of their wonderful classic movie series… pay five bucks to see a great work of art, in a great work of art, with pre-film entertainment to boot. This is one of the best deals in town. I love the Paramount. More on it during Art Deco Days…

Are you feeling it?

That holiday spirit I mean.

I thought I kicked things off pretty well yesterday, and I’m going to keep the energy flowing… or at least I’m going to try.

I thought it would be fun to document some of the more spectacular holiday light displays around town and decided to start at one of my very favorite places in Oakland, Mountain View Cemetery. Their display is a little kitschy, but that’s kind of what it’s all about isn’t it?

I saw them unpacking the lights and wrapping the trees last weekend when I was there for a jog… young men on step ladders stringing trees, and others placing Santa and his reindeer in their arc around the entrance fountain.

The sign says the “Circle of Lights” display will be up each evening in December from 5 – 9pm. There’s even accompanying holiday music if you tune into the FM station listed. All I can say is I was there at 5:05pm today, and while a few things were lit, the reverential circle was certainly not. Bah humbug. Here are a couple shots, but clearly I’ll have to go back…

holiday lights at mountain view cemetery, oakland holiday lights

holiday lights at mountain view cemetery, gothic church, oakland holiday lights

Keep tuning in for more holiday cheer, unless you’re feeling Scroogey of course… because I’ve got lots of joy to spread around. I’m hoping to make it to:

  • The official city tree lighting ceremony with the Mayor downtown tomorrow (5pm Thursday the 3rd at City Center Plaza)
  • The Zoolights display at the Oakland Zoo (Starts Friday… it sounds pretty cool and I’ve never seen it)
  • The lighted yacht parade on the Oakland/Alameda estuary this Saturday
  • And much much more

Plus I’ve got snowflake how-to’s, cookie recipes, Santacon!!, and who knows what else. Let’s have some fun, eh?

Oh yeah… and Art Murmur is Friday! So I’ll cover some non-holiday stuff too for you Grinchy types.