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You won’t get to see the animals, but there’s reason to visit the Philadelphia Zoo after dark this season. The nation’s oldest zoo grounds have been transformed into a giant light show.
Called LumiNature, the attraction features lit-up sculptures, plantlife decked out in fluxing LED finery, a 21-foot snake bridge, selfie spots, a giant polar bear at the center of a laser show, a changing musical soundtrack and live performers dressed up like they’re on Broadway.
Best part: the display is great for both kids and adults.
It’s pretty trippy — there’s a point where you’ll hear disco-fied Beatles mixed with frog sounds while watching loops of color whiz by — but certainly family-friendly at the same time.
As you walk through the 12 different sections, which are woven into the zoo’s regular pathways and landscapes, there’s also plenty of concessions available.
Depending on how often you stop for a spiked hot chocolate, or pick up pretzels or curly fries, the trip through could take you 30 minutes, or you could spend an hour and a half exploring the colorful grounds.
Orchestrated by Kentucky-based production company Oak Island Creative in partnership with KB Associates, an NYC lighting design firm whose principal, Ken Billington, has won Tony Awards, the installation cost $3.5 million.
The lightly presented theme is environmental stewardship, so it fits right in with the zoo’s mission.
You’ll notice it most prominently when you get to the “Northern Lights” section, where a 35-foot polar bear doubles as a projection screen in the the middle of a lake.
Made out of used car hoods, and titled “Long View,” the polar bear sculpture was initially created for Burning Man last year.
Then there’s the hundred or so flashing penguins at the end, who offer a musical pitch to embrace harmony like their species does (see above).
Open now until Jan. 5, the after-hours show kicks off at 4:30 p.m. Wednesdays through Fridays.
Timed admission happens every half hour through 8:30 p.m., so you won’t find yourself crowded in with too many people at once. Advance tickets are highly recommended: $19 for kids and $24 for adults.
Scroll down for more photos that show what to expect when you go.