Asian Lantern Festival: Into the Wild

Central Florida Zoo, Sanford, FL

We may have found a New Year’s tradition to continue enjoying the season of lights after the holidays: The Asian Lantern Festival! Our local zoo is running this after hours event from November 20th – January 12th 2020 from 6pm to 10pm nightly.

We weren’t sure what to expect, and were surprised to find giant illuminated ‘lanterns’ which are sculpted wire forms covered with a silk material. They are each lit from inside with many standard sized light bulbs attached to the interior of the wire forms. They were both much bigger and brighter than we had anticipated. We were expecting a large christmas light display, but this was something we had never seen before.

We entered the exhibit throuh a walkway flanked by whimsical crescent moons and stars which looked a lot like bananas. They tower over my 6’3″ husband as you can see in the photo below.

As we followed the winding path, we discovered large scale lanterns representing some of the animals that make their home at the zoo. Music also accomapnies visitors and changes upon entering the different event areas.

Some of the lantern animal exhibits included life sized giraffes and an oversized animated alligator whose jaws open and close. We tried to get a peek at the resident animals but they were mostly sheltering down for the night. We glimpsed a few behind or boarding the festival exhibits, such as the donkey behind the giraffes. Overall, the zoo animal enclosures were dark and most animals were unable to be seen.

The chinese dragon was the largest lantern by far, which seemed to be near as long as a football field. It’s hard to tell the scale from the photo but those are some pine trees on the left bottom corner of the screen on the last two humps of the dragon.

There were food vendors and drink stations, and a small arts and crafts tent. The event was very well manned with numerous volunteers guiding you at every turn, including parking attendants. The event was very popular and slightly crowded even on a Wednesday night after Christmas, I would think a weekend would be extremely crowded. The cost was $50 for 4 tickets or around $18.60 each. It was a magical mesmerizing evening and I plan to go again next year; an unexpected opportunity to carry a little luminary magic into the new year.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge

Spent a weekend with giraffes!We recently spent a weekend at the Animal Kingdom Lodge. Giraffes, Zebras and a multitude of other african animals roamed free right outside our balcony. Who else but Disney could offer such a magical place? We drifted off to dreamland each night with the splendor of these majestic creatures right outside our window. What a beautiful adventure.

IMG_5133Of course a Disney lodge would have a perfectly paired Disney moment as a focal feature in the suite.

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IMG_5149This 5th floor villa was nicely equipped. I could stay for a while that’s for sure!

IMG_5173All the kids (young and old) played with the drums and other african musical instruments in the Zawadi Marketplace (that’s fancy talk for gift shop).

IMG_0013_2There were endless sights to be seen. Around every corner your eyes had a new wonder to behold.

IMG_5150My favorite was the animals outside our window. In the morning, the fog rolled in and I had my morning coffee on the balcony with these fellas.

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IMG_5201There are many options for meals at the resort. We opted for a buffet breakfast, Mickey themed of course.

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IMG_5369They also had a great game room by the pool. No one is bored at this resort, that’s for sure.

IMG_5385We nicknamed these guys Hans and Frans.

IMG_5396Bunkbeds!

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IMG_1367Can’t wait to make a return trip : )