Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium and Spanaway Park come alive this week with the glow of thousands of holiday lights, fashioned into elaborate displays of animals, landmarks and scenes of the season.
Fantasy Lights opens Thursday; Zoolights opens Friday. Both run through Jan. 2.
Here are the details on the popular displays.
What: A two-mile drive along Spanaway Lake, featuring more than 300 displays using thousands of lights spaced around the park. The 16th annual event is sponsored by Pierce County Parks and Recreation. You’ll see “bears flying kites, snowboys kicking field goals, penguins sliding down an igloo, Santa sailing a ship, frogs jumping on lily pads, reindeer leaping over your car,” and a Wonderland Train Station, according to the Fantasy Lights website. As you drive, you can set your radio to 93.7 FM for holiday music performed by a local high school.
Where: Spanaway Park, 15602 Pacific Ave. S.
When: 5:30 to 9 p.m. nightly, including Christmas and New Year’s Eve.
Admission at the gate: $13 per passenger vehicle; $28 per mini-bus (16 to 24 people); $45 per bus
Discount admissions: $10 admission per passenger vehicle available at Lakewood Community Center, Sprinker Recreation Center and Garfield Book Co. at Pacific Lutheran University.
Be prepared for long lines: Waits can be an hour on busy Friday and Saturday nights, according to the website. The display is less busy Sunday through Thursday.
What: More than half a million holiday lights fashioned into displays you view while walking through the zoo. They include the popular “Flame Tree,” miniature Narrows bridges with traffic moving across them, ice-skating puffins, a preying eagle and tiger cubs, according to the zoo website. Visitors can buy hot chocolate to sip while they trek through the zoo, get warm while viewing the shark exhibit in the South Pacific Aquarium, ride a camel or take a whirl on the carousel.
Where: Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, 5400 N. Pearl St., Tacoma
When: 5 to 9 p.m. nightly, Friday through Jan. 2 (closed Christmas Eve)
Admission: $7.50 plus tax at the gate; $6.50 by advance purchase at the zoo website and participating Bartell Drugs.
Help out the environment: The zoo is continuing its holiday lights recycling program to raise money and help the environment by keeping used strings out of the landfill. You can donate by bringing used strands to the zoo and dropping them off in marked bins. Remove all packaging, twist-ties, rubber bands and decorations before you bring them. Several other drop-off sites are listed on the zoo website.