Notice we didn't mention that the animals as the main highlight here. That's because at night the zoo doesn't light up the animal exhibits—to give the poor things a chance to sleep—which means you don't get to see most of the critters. We recommend hitting the zoo during the day, so that you can get the most of your $37 admission ($27 for kids) and actually see the animals. You can stay till the lights go on around 5 p.m.
Although most of the zoo is dark, that's not to say that there aren't things to do. There are shows in the early evening, like one where Dominique the Ice Queen uses blowtorches and chainsaws to carve animals out of 300-pound blocks of ice. You can walk among the few lit-up animal displays, including the polar bear exhibit and the new Elephant Odyssey. Sporty types can scale a rock-climbing wall or jump and do fun flips with the aid of a harness and an inflatable jumping pad ($8 extra).
Overall, we wouldn't recommend coming just for the night-time Jungle Bell offerings, but make a day of it—especially with the kiddies—to see the famous animal inhabitants and perhaps make a few laps around the ice ($6 extra), and you'll leave with holiday cheer.
· San Diego Zoo Elephant Explosion, You Herd It Here [Jaunted]
· Zoo Coverage [Jaunted]
[Photos: Jennifer Kester]