‘Tis the season for holiday fun, and Jungle Bells at the San Diego Zoo proudly supported by California Coast Credit Union and Wild Holidays at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park offer memory-making holiday experiences for the entire family. Both events will treat guests to views of amazing wildlife, twinkling lights, entertaining live performances, holiday music and more. While visiting the parks, guests can also pick up one-of-a-kind, wild and wonderfulgifts for everyone on their shopping list. Every purchase from a Zoo or Safari Park gift shop helps San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance take another step in achieving its mission of saving animals and plants worldwide, and creating a world where all life thrives.
Jungle Bells at the San Diego Zoo
Jungle Bells proudly supported by California Coast Credit Union will treat guests to a wonderland of lights, entertainment, holiday music and, of course, views of some remarkable wildlife—including reptiles, lemurs, baboons, reindeer and more.
Visitors to Jungle Bells won’t want to miss “Aurora,” an exciting visual and sound experience that weaves 3D projections, music and light into a spectacular performance. Friendly mythical wind, water and ice sprites share their stories, as well as the power of nature contained within their mystical orbs. As the performance comes to a dramatic and beautiful conclusion, the Aurora Borealis appears—the only time it has been seen in San Diego! “Aurora” takes place twice nightly (except Dec. 24) at Hua Mei Plaza, at 6:30 p.m. and at 7:40 p.m.
In addition to “Aurora,” Jungle Bells is full of exciting experiences, including Dr. Zoolittle’s animal-themed version of “’Twas the Night Before Christmas,” the Northern Frontier Holiday Forest aglow with specially decorated and lighted trees, and the toog tree on Front Street, which doesn’t just light up, it appears to come to life, “dancing” to sounds of the season. Guests can visit Santa at Gingerbread Landing, see some of Santa’s elves as they keep things hopping with their energetic trampoline performance at the “Toy Shop Hop,” enjoy a jazzy carol session and strolling musicians, join in the Reindeer Games on the main plaza and meet larger-than-life friendly Zoo characters like Dr. Harry Lion, Churchill Polar Bear, Sydney Koala and their friends.
Jungle Bells is not just about holiday sights and sounds, but also delicious holiday smells and tastes from seasonal treats like hot chocolate and cookies, and other culinary delights offered at the Zoo’s restaurants and food stands.
Located just outside the Zoo exit, the beloved Balboa Park Miniature Train will be running during Jungle Bells. Train tickets are $3 for ages 1 and older; children younger than age 1 are free. Ages 5 and younger must ride with a paying adult.
Those looking for something extra special to do during Jungle Bells can enjoy a 90-minute Inside Look Twilight Tour, available for a limited time only. This evening tour features a special look at animals that are just waking up as the sun goes down. Reservations are required. For prices, times and more information, visit sandiegozoo.org.
The San Diego Zoo is once again welcoming California Coast Credit Union as the presenting sponsor for Jungle Bells 2021. With over 24 branches in Southern California, California Coast is the longest serving financial institution in San Diego County. It is also San Diego’s oldest financial institution (almost as old as the Zoo), having been founded in 1929 by teachers.
Jungle Bells is scheduled Dec. 10, 2021 through Jan. 2, 2022. The San Diego Zoo is open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. during this event, except for Dec. 24 when the Zoo closes at 5 p.m. Jungle Bells activities are free with Zoo admission or membership. Parking is free. Visit sandiegozoo.org/junglebells.
Wild Holidays at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park
Guests can see the Safari Parkin a whole new light at Wild Holidays, on select dates Nov. 26, 2021 through Jan. 2, 2022. During Wild Holidays, visitors can walk the pathways on a holiday expedition and travel through places that glow and twinkle with holiday cheer. Fanciful characters, musical entertainment, storytelling and culinary treats round out the evening of holiday festivities. And a visit to the Safari Park would not be complete without a trek aboard the Africa Tram to see remarkable wildlife, including rhinos, giraffes, African crowned cranes and wildebeest.
Safari Park visitors will enjoy Safari Park Radio 197.2 playing holiday hits throughout Safari Base Camp, with the DJ presenting “Did you Know?” segments and trivia games— and they will laugh with animated Robert the Zebraduring the daytime hours, and dance along to Wild Holidays’ musical entertainment. The Safari Park’s adventure and explorer extraordinaire, Safari Parker, will read an original holiday story, “Twas the Night before Wild Holidays,” at the Village Playground—and guests can also take a photo with the jolly ol’ elf himself, Santa Claus, in his whimsical home at the Village Marketplace; sip and savor culinary delights at the Safari Park’s food stands; and shop for the perfect holiday gifts at the Safari Park’s retail locations.
Plan ahead and make the visit extra special by participating in one of the Safari Park’s upgraded experiences, including the Flightline Safari. Secure and comfortable in a harness, participants will experience breathtaking views of the Safari Park as they soar as high as 130 feet above the ground, traveling two-thirds of a mile, with a spectacular view of cape buffalo, giant eland and other wildlife in the expansive savanna habitats below. Or, guests can pack up their “trunk” for a Roar & Snore sleepover adventure at the Safari Park. All sleepovers include camp activities, an after-hours look at the wild lives of our wildlife, guided walks, a campfire program, dinner, an evening snack and breakfast the following morning. Choose from several age-appropriate sleepover categories with their own themes, including the new Supreme Roar and Snore experience. For prices, times and more information, visit sdzsafaripark.org.
Wild Holidays at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park will take place weekends and select dates Nov. 26, 2021 through Jan. 2, 2022. During Wild Holidays, the Safari Park will be open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., with holiday festivities from 4 to 8 p.m. Wild Holidays activities are free with Safari Park admission or membership. Vehicle parking is free for members at Wildlife Protector and above levels. Visit sdzsafaripark.org/wildholidays.
Holiday Gift Guide
Those looking for the perfect holiday gift for that special someone may be surprised to discover that San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance offers a wide variety of great, unique gifts to please just about anyone! And by giving a gift from San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance, you’re also giving back, by supporting wildlife conservation. This holiday season, shop with a purpose. And if you can’t visit the San Diego Zoo or Safari Park to pick up these one-of-a-kind items, you can shop online at shopzoo.com. For local San Diego County customers, buy on shopzoo.com Dec. 16 through Dec. 23 and pick up from us. Select “local pickup” during checkout, and you will receive a notification email with instructions once your order is ready.
Jungle Bells at San Diego Zoo: Dec. 10–23 and 25–31, 2021; and Jan. 1–2, 2022.
Wild Holidays at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park: Nov. 26–28; Dec. 4–5, 11–12, 18–19, 20–23, and 26-31, 2021; and Jan.1–2, 2022.