ZooLights Will Bring Back Its Popular Drive-Thru and Walking Tours, With COVID Precautions, Beginning in November

The Oregon Zoo has set aside a dozen evenings during the middle of the week through early January for guests to wind their way through the scenery while inside a vehicle.

After last year’s sell-out success of the drive-thru version of ZooLights, the Oregon Zoo is bringing back the option to tour its 1.5 million twinkling bulbs from the comfort of your car.

This year, the venue has set aside a dozen evenings during the middle of the week through early January for guests to wind their way through the scenery while inside a vehicle. The first drive-thru is scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 23, and available to zoo members only, with the experience opening to the general public the following day.

“Everything’s been adapting to change these past couple of years, and ZooLights is no exception,” guest services manager Ivan Ratcliff stated in a press release. “We’ve put a lot of measures into place to help make this holiday tradition safe, accessible and fun for everyone.”

The walking version is making its much-anticipated return after pandemic restrictions forced the zoo to suspend that tradition in 2020. New safety precautions are in place, however, as COVID remains a concern. That includes timed ticketing and an attendance cap, a requirement that all guests 5 years and older wear masks, and a one-way path marked with plenty of physical distancing reminders. Most indoor areas will remain closed at this time.

One exception to the face covering rule applies to those in the drive-thru (after they’ve finished interacting with ZooLights staff).

Before the display’s official opening, the zoo will host a 21-and-over experience with beer and live music—in years past known as BrewLights. The zoo opted to not use that name, though, this time since it won’t be quite as craft beer-focused as prior festivals.

“If you’ve ever wondered what ZooLights would be like without the kids, this is for you,” Ratcliff added.

To prepare the grounds for the drive-through, the zoo is scheduled to close during regular daytime hours on Tuesdays through Thursdays, beginning Nov. 23 (except during Portland Public Schools’ winter break). The temporary suspension will continue through Feb. 17, typically the venue’s slow season, allowing for the completion of maintenance projects.

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