Lights are returning to Griffith Park this holiday. The DWP Holiday Light Festival winked off in 2009, but the L.A. Zoo is taking up the baton with the first holiday lights display in the 48-year history of the zoo.
For 14 years the Department of Water and Power had mounted lights along a one-mile segment of Crystal Springs Drive in Griffith Park, attracting more than half a million visitors each year. But the DWP event was canceled due to construction and installation of a water line and a parking lot at the zoo, and was never revived.
City Councilman Tom LaBonge said in a news released that he thought L.A. Zoo Lights would become an event people "love and cherish."
Unlike the DWP event, however, L.A. Zoo Lights is not free.
The self-guided walking tour of 60 to 90 minutes takes visitors through parts of the zoo, led by animated LED monkeys. Other animals are animated and rendered in lights. There will be 3-D effects, bullfrogs "made from 3,750 water bottles lighted from within," live reindeer and weekend visits with Santa.
LaBonge, Mayor Eric Garcetti and other officials will be at the zoo Friday for a kickoff ceremony for the display.
The reindeer are the only live animals in Zoo Lights. The other zoo residents will mostly be asleep, and spokeswoman Laura Stegman said care was taken so as not to disturb the animals.
"We worked closely with the animal care staff to develop a route and identify placement of displays, so that the lights are primarily placed in areas separate from the animal exhibits," she said.
"Most animals will be in their evening sleeping quarters during the event and will not be impacted. Those animals that will be near to some amount of light will have seven full hours of darkness starting when the light displays are turned off for the evening."
L.A. Zoo Lights is open from 6 to 10 p.m. nightly with a separate admission of $13 for adults, and $11 for kids 2 to 12.