WildLanterns at Woodland Park Zoo is always worth the trip. Make your plans to see this whimsical winter light display now

Winter nights are settling in and that can only mean one thing—light displays are popping up all over Seattle. We know families are excited that Woodland Park Zoo’s WildLanterns will be returning for its 2022 season. We’re excited too. This year’s larger-than-life display will feature new lanterns, plus some that you’ll recognize from year’s past. But one thing is guaranteed—it will knock your kiddo’s socks off.

Get a sneak peek of Tinybeans’ writer, Kathryn Mueller’s experience at WildLanterns at Woodland Park Zoo. Then read on to find out more and make your family’s plans.

WildLanterns—What to Expect This Year

Everyone new favorite light experience—WildLanterns—is returning to Woodland Park Zoo for the 2022 season. If you made the trek last year or the year before (or both!) and loved it, put a return visit on your calendar because you'll see new lanterns alongside your favorite from past years when you visit. Families will be welcomed through four themed zones where they'll encounter lighted animals and plants lining the zoo’s walking paths, at kiddo eye height and towering overhead.

Along the way you'll encounter All About Bugs, where you'll feel smaller than ever among gorgeous and oversized dragonflies, bunnies, and plants before making your way through the glowing Garden Delights. Up next are the big animals. You'll find these fascinating creatures as you take a Walk Among African Animals or go on an Asian Safari. It's where you'll find wow-worthy animals like tigers and orangutans, plus coo-worthy red pandas (a favorite with kids these days). Make Oceania Animal Odyssey your final lantern destination. It's full of Southern Hemisphere faves like cuddly koalas, kangaroos, and colorful parrots.

We suggest families plan about 90 minutes to walk the whole loop with your little adventurers.

Related: Watts Up: Seattle's Best Holiday Light Displays

kids run toward a lighted tree at WildLanterns seattle at woodland park zoo
Kathryn Mueller

Sensory-friendly Experiences at WildLanterns

This year WildLanterns has added three sensory friendly evenings in an effort to make WildLanterns more accessible. Low-sensory experiences, activities, and other resources help to make everyone who heads to the display feel comfortable. On these nights, Zoomazium will transform into Zoomazium NightLights where families can find low lighting, soft nature sounds playing, and sensory toys, like a giant Light Bright, set out to use.

Plan to attend one of these special evenings on November 16, December 13, or January 12. 

Related: 12 Places Where Kids of All Abilities Can Play

Kathryn Mueller

Wild Programs & Experiences

During your visit, make sure to stop by the carousel for an always-fun spin. Riding the carousel at night is a whole new experience as far as your Littles are concerned. Plus, like past years, there will be interactive zones providing delight to lantern enthusiasts of all ages. Head to the middle of the zoo to find these features that are just as engaging as they mechanical lanterns that captivate everyone's attention as you make your way around the zoo.

kids pose in front of a giant insect at Wildanterns seattle at woodland park zoo
Kathryn Mueller

What to Bring

Plan your WildLanterns visit like you do other zoo trips and you’ll have everything you need to keep your wee ones happy. The zoo’s wide paths were made for strollers, so be sure to have yours on hand for just-walkers or sleepy toddlers who need a rest. Outside, rain or shine, is the name of this game, so dress for the weather, with plenty of layers (hats and gloves), rain gear and snuggly stroller blankets to keep kids warm and dry. Don’t forget to throw your trusty umbrella into the mix too. Snacks are allowed and face masks are a must. Last but not least, make sure you’ve got room on your phone for all the cute pics.

Kathryn Mueller

Where to eat

If all this lantern gazing has your crew’s tummies rumbling, families can find plenty of food options at the zoo. 1889 Pizza and the Wild Cup will be open and a couple of pop-up kiosks will have food items for sale too. Plus, like other zoo events, families are welcome to bring their own food and drink to enjoy on-site. 

Good to Know:
1. Timed tickets are required for the event, and they sell out fast, so grab yours while you still can!

2. If early works best for your kids, you’re in luck. Even if you get the earliest ticket time spot, it’s dark enough to enjoy this experience. Plus, by the time you head out, the lanterns will be at their magical best, and you’ll still have the kids home by bedtime. 

3. Families will be welcomed at the West Entrance only, where the experience begins.

Dates: Nov. 11, 2022-Jan. 1, 2023; closed Mondays (except for Dec.19 & 26) and Nov. 25, Dec. 24 & 25
Hours: 4-9 p.m. (last entry at 8:30 p.m.)

Woodland Park Zoo
5500 Phinney Ave. N.
Event details

Your daily dose of joy and connection
Get the Tinybeans app