Eight bright spots you can't miss at L.A. Zoo Lights

The L.A. Zoo has made its yearly transformation into a dazzling spectacle of color for the annual L.A. Zoo Lights event. We’ve put together a guide to some of the bright spots (figurative and literal) that AAA members won’t want to miss.

One bright spot right off the bat: AAA members get special $10 admission on the zoo's AAA night, Dec. 14, when they buy online with promo code 17AAAZL, or show their AAA membership card at the zoo's front gate. If members can't make that night, they can still get $2 off adult tickets and $1 off kids' tickets for any other night through Jan. 7 when they buy online with promo code 17AAAZL, or at the front gate.

Get lost in a laser forest

This isn't your grandfather's light display. Right at the entrance, visitors can enter a grove of green lasers. It's surprisingly hard to make heads or tails of things when they're covered in specks of green light, so keep an eye out for excited little ones running to and fro. Once you've got your bearings, check out how the lights interact with the surrounding foliage.

Boogie under disco balls

The zoo has treats for your ears as well as your eyes. About midway into the park, enjoy the “Deck the Halls with Disco Balls” area. Dozens of disco balls hanging from bright purple trees turn the walkway into an enormous dance floor, accompanied by seasonally appropriate tunes.

See reindeer in SoCal

That’s right, real live reindeer are visiting the zoo for the holidays. Unless you’re planning on visiting the Arctic Circle this year, this is your best chance to check out Santa’s hooved helpers. Count the tips on their antlers, check out their surprisingly furry noses, and decide which one looks the most like Rudolph.

Be your favorite (shadow) animal

If you can cast a shadow, you can get a picture of yourself as any animal. Lights and fabric sheets set up near the reindeer present a fun photo op: Just stand in front of the color-changing lights and take whatever form you like. Your shadow—be it an octopus, an eagle, a deer, or an awkwardly posed human—will be cast larger than life onto the fabric

See what's lurking in the LAIR

People aren't the only ones awake at night. Most of the zoo's animals aren't on display during L.A. Zoo Lights, but a big exception is the LAIR, short for "Living Amphibians, Invertebrates, and Reptiles." Many of its inhabitants remain on display, including aquatic turtles, Gila monsters, venomous snakes, and more. Plus, there's a hidden light display in the exhibit's outdoor midway area.

Catch a musical light show

Lights, water, action! Right outside the LAIR's exit is the Lightscapes: Wild Holiday light show, an impressive display of soaring water illuminated by lasers and stage lights, all synchronized to fast-paced music, almost like a dance crew routine with water jets. From the main thoroughfare, it's somewhat hidden from view, but it shouldn't be missed.

Travel the new Twinkle Tunnel

In true Hollywood fashion, the zoo's red carpet grand finale has gotten a head-to-toe makeover. The Twinkle Tunnel itself has been redone with far more lights, creating a truly immersive experience. Visitors emerge to discover enormous stained glass versions of a condor, elephant, rhino, and more that are perfect for holiday selfies with the family.

Chill with a flamingo

Looking for a friend to kick back with? This psychedelic flamingo, across from the reindeer enclosure, is a perfect break from the noise and action of the other attractions. Little kids are mesmerized by the slowly swirling lights inside the flamingo's body, and older kids can grab a selfie.

Save with AAA night at the L.A. Zoo

AAA members get special $10 admission on the zoo's AAA night, Dec. 14, when they buy online with promo code 17AAAZL, or show their AAA membership card at the zoo's front gate. Members can also get $2 off adult tickets and $1 off kids' tickets for any other night through Jan. 7 when they buy online with promo code 17AAAZL, or at the front gate.