About

This November, the Virginia Zoo will welcome 29 new animals – the inflatable kind – in this exciting exhibition.

During the day, visitors can look up at a trio of towering 30-foot-tall giraffes and stare into the open mouth of a 5-foot-tall crocodile.

At night, guests will journey on Zoo grounds by car for the first-ever Zoo drive-thru. Watch the inflatable animal sculptures come to life with light in a spectacular visual experience and hear their compelling conservation audio story in this magical display.

giant inflatable animals

Ticketing and Event Schedule

inflatable rhino art

Daytime Walk-Thru 

Early bird? Come during the day and walk Zoo grounds to get an up-close view of these giants that range from Asia, Africa, and across the world. Learn interesting ways to save their counterparts in the wild.
Time 10 am to 4 pm
Cost Included with General Admission. Zoo Members FREE. Advance registration required.

inflatable animals

Nighttime Drive-Thru

Night Owl? Gather your flock and journey on Zoo grounds from the comfort of your own car. Watch the inflatable animal sculptures come to life with light in a spectacular visual experience and hear their compelling conservation audio story in this magical display.
Time & Cost
Nighttime Weekday (Sun–Thurs), 5 – 8 pm: Members: $35 per vehicle, Non-members: $45 per vehicle
Nighttime Weekend (Fri–Sat), 5 – 9 pm: Members: $40 per vehicle, Non-members: $50 per vehicle

ZooLumination FAQs

Ticketing

Do I need to print my tickets? 

No, tickets can be scanned by a mobile device.  You can either have a physical ticket to scan or save the PDF attachment to your phone (we recommend doing that before you arrive). 

Do I need to reserve tickets? 

Yes. All tickets must be purchased online in advance as no tickets will be sold at the door.  

Can I make changes to my tickets? 

ZooLumination tickets are nonrefundable and nontransferable. Please confirm your selection before purchasing tickets.  If you are no longer able to attend the event, we recommend sharing your tickets with a friend or family member 

I can’t find my tickets, what do I do? 

Call the Zoo from 10 am – 4 pm to request to have your tickets resent.  757-441-2374 x0. 

Can I apply my ZooLumination tickets towards the cost of a Virginia Zoo membership? 

No. Nighttime ZooLumination tickets are not eligible for an upgrade to a membership. 

Are there any discounts to ZooLumination? 

Virginia Zoo Members will receive discounted admission to the event when they purchase tickets through their online linked member account.  The discount saves $10 off a ticket. 

Do members get in free for ZooLumination? 

No. Members will receive discounted admission to the event when they purchase tickets through their online linked member account.  The discount saves $10 off a ticket. Members can also purchase tickets to a Members-only Preview Event on November 17. There is limited capacity, so act fast! 

I purchased a daytime, general admission ticket.  Can I use it for ZooLumination instead? 

No. A separate event ticket reservation is required for ZooLumination.

Can I stay at the Zoo for ZooLumination if I reserved a daytime ticket for the same day? 

No. Daytime guests will be required to leave the Zoo at 4 pm. A separate event ticket reservation specifically for the nighttime drive-thru ZooLumination experience will be needed to re-enter in your vehicle. 

Arriving at ZooLumination

Do I need to print my tickets?

No, tickets can be scanned by a mobile device.  You can either have a physical ticket to scan or save the PDF attachment to your phone (we recommend doing that before you arrive).

What happens if I am late arriving to the Zoo? 

Please plan to arrive at the Zoo within 15 minutes of your chosen arrival time.  But know that if you have a ticket purchased for that day, you will still be able to drive-thru the event.  The parking lot closes at 8:45 pm Sunday – Thursday and 10:45 pm Friday & Saturday.  Anyone that is waiting in the queue by that time will be allowed to drive into the event.

Can I come early? 

Please plan to arrive to the Zoo within 15 minutes of your chosen arrival time.  The staggered arrival times have been chosen to help with the flow and if you arrive early, your ticket may not scan.

ZooLumination Experience at Night

How do I access the audio tour? 

The link for the audio tour will be emailed out to everyone with an Evening Drive-Thru reservation the day before. Signs will also be posted on the route with a QR code that directs you to the audio tour.

Is food or drink available for purchase? 

Yes. Select food will be available for sale in the Zoo’s parking lot during the nighttime experience.

Can I bring my own food and drink? 

Absolutely! But all items, including trash, need to remain inside your vehicle.

Will the Gift Shop be open? 

Select merchandise will be for sale in the Zoo’s parking lot during nighttime drive-thru experience.

What forms of payment are accepted for on-site snacks or merchandise? 

We accept American Express, VISA, MasterCard, and Discover credit cards and cash.

Will there be restrooms available? 

There will be restrooms available in the Zoo’s parking lot during the nighttime experience.

Can I get out of my vehicle? 

No, we ask that you stay inside your vehicle throughout the entire drive-thru experience.

Can we drive through in a convertible with the top down? 

Sure! For your safety while on zoo grounds, doors must be in place and closed, at all times. All persons must be seated in the vehicle if the top is down.

Can we ride in the bed of a pickup truck? 

No.

Can I carpool into ZooLumination?

We encourage friends to come together, however, there is no parking on grounds so arrangements must be made prior to arriving at the Zoo.

What types of vehicles are allowed inside? 

Personal use vehicles are allowed to drive thru the Zoo.  Cars, SUVs, pick-up trucks and minivans and cargo or passenger vans are all ok. Prohibited vehicles include:

  • Campers
  • RVs
  • Motor Coaches
  • Minibuses
  • School buses
  • Limousines
  • Oversized or Lifted Trucks (height above 6.5')

Do you drive-thru in your own car? Can we rent a shuttle or golf -cart? 

Guests must travel through the Virginia Zoo in the comfort of their own vehicle. We do not have rental cars or shuttles.

How long will it take to drive the route?

The route is a 0.67-mile loop through the Zoo. We are anticipating it to be at least a 20-minute drive, however, that will depend on driver and car flow/speed.

Will live animals be visible? 

Exhibits will not be accessible at night.

Can I smoke in my vehicle? 

Smoking of any kind is not allowed on zoo grounds.

Can I bring alcohol? 

No.

Can I have my pet in my car? 

Many of our animals are rare and endangered species that have to be quarantined from native species and pets for their protection, so we cannot allow pets to accompany guests into the Zoo.

Can I touch the inflatables? 

No. You must remain inside your vehicle at all times.

Can I take photos and/or videos of ZooLumination? 

Yes, we insist! However, please be mindful of the flow of traffic, do not exit your vehicle, and we ask that you do not use a flash. Tag @virginiazoo and use #zoolumination to see your photos and videos shared on social media!

What if there is bad weather? 

ZooLumination is rain or shine and all tickets are non-refundable and non-transferable (unless there is a Zoo closure). In the case of extreme inclement weather and/or event cancellation, the Zoo will send out an email to all the event ticketholders for that day, notifying of the cancellation. Event cancellations will also be posted on the Zoo’s Facebook page.

Zoolumination Experience During the Day

Is there a special price for this?

Zoolumination during the day is included with general admission tickets and is free for members.

How do I get the audio tour? 

The audio tour is only accessible during the nighttime experience.

Can I touch the inflatables? 

Please don’t touch the inflatables, but we do highly encourage photos or selfies and if you see a staff member or volunteer nearby, we’d be happy to take a photo of you with the animals!

Can I take photos and/or videos of ZooLumination? 

Yes, we insist!  However, please be mindful of other guests and pathway traffic. Tag @virginiazoo and use #zoolumination to see your photos and videos shared on social media!

I purchased a daytime, general admission ticket.  Can I use it for ZooLumination instead? 

The daytime Zoolumination experience is included with regular admission. However, a separate event ticket reservation is required for ZooLumination at night.

What if there is bad weather? 

The Zoo is open and ZooLumination is rain or shine and all tickets are non-refundable and non-transferable (unless there is a Zoo closure). In the case of extreme inclement weather and/or event cancellation, the Zoo will send out an email to all the event ticketholders for that day, notifying of the cancellation. Event cancellations will also be posted on the Zoo’s Facebook page.

More Details

people with giant inflatables

PLAN YOUR HOLIDAY GET TOGETHERS

The Virginia Zoo offers space to safely gather and room to spread your wings. Consider having your company’s holiday party surrounded by the wildest bunch in town! Daytime rentals are available with food and beverage options. Or purchase tickets for your co-workers or teams to let them roam the Zoo or drive-thru at night.

giant inflatable tomato frog

BOOK A ZOOLU BIRTHDAY PARTY

Enhance your child’s birthday party with the sights of ZooLumination! All birthday parties November 19 thru January 9 will include access to see this exhibition.

giant inflatable bees

GET INVOLVED

In its debut year, Zoolumination is expected to amaze more than 120,000 daytime and drive-thru visitors. This experience is what the entire region of Hampton Roads will be talking about! Invest in the success of this educational and highly visible experience. Interested in how you or your organization can sponsor this event? Visit this site, and click “Zoolumination”!