Out and About: ‘Asian Lantern Festival: Into the Wild’ at the Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens Brightens the Holidays

Asian Lantern Festival: Into the Wild 2023 at Central Florida Zoo

The “Asian Lantern Festival: Into the Wild” has returned to the Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens in Sanford for the holidays, and we were invited to experience this year’s event.

It was our first time at the festival, and I loved that the displays started before we even entered the zoo.

We were greeted by a huge green peacock on the drive into the parking lot, and giant pink flamingos outside the entrance to the zoo.

Asian Lantern Festival: Into the Wild 2023 at Central Florida Zoo

Asian Lantern Festival: Into the Wild 2023 at Central Florida Zoo

From there we encountered a few photo op areas prior to entering the main festival area, including a fun logo with wings, moving birds, and dancing pixies, I think they were.

Asian Lantern Festival: Into the Wild 2023 at Central Florida Zoo

Asian Lantern Festival: Into the Wild 2023 at Central Florida Zoo

Asian Lantern Festival: Into the Wild 2023 at Central Florida Zoo

Then up a short hill, and we were surrounded by huge lighted flowers and firework light clusters in the trees, before descending into the first main display area that featured a wall of flowers, and a life-sized genie in a lamp.

Asian Lantern Festival: Into the Wild 2023 at Central Florida Zoo

Asian Lantern Festival: Into the Wild 2023 at Central Florida Zoo

Asian Lantern Festival: Into the Wild 2023 at Central Florida Zoo

Past that, a side quest took us down a row of Chinese Zodiac lanterns. I’m a goat, apparently. Not a G.O.A.T, just a goat.

Asian Lantern Festival: Into the Wild 2023 at Central Florida Zoo

Back on the main path, we wandered past lantern birds and flowers, down a path with a ceiling of fish lanterns, and flower lantern, and down a well-lit boardwalk when we were mesmerized by a huge Phoenix that was animated with strands of neon. It was so incredibly beautiful! Definitely my favorite display of the evening.

Asian Lantern Festival: Into the Wild 2023 at Central Florida Zoo

Asian Lantern Festival: Into the Wild 2023 at Central Florida Zoo

Asian Lantern Festival: Into the Wild 2023 at Central Florida Zoo

Asian Lantern Festival: Into the Wild 2023 at Central Florida Zoo

Asian Lantern Festival: Into the Wild 2023 at Central Florida Zoo

 

Another well lit boardwalk brought us to a section that was new to the festival this year: dinosaurs. There were lanterns of a variety of the prehistoric animals from a moving pterodactyl to a stegosaurus.

Asian Lantern Festival: Into the Wild 2023 at Central Florida Zoo

Unfortunately this was the area I was wishing I’d worn mosquito repellent because they were swarming and biting.

Just past the dinosaurs, there was another prehistoric right out of the movie “Ice Age” featuring a wooly mammoth, a sabertooth tiger, and other animals on their trek.

Asian Lantern Festival: Into the Wild 2023 at Central Florida Zoo

Asian Lantern Festival: Into the Wild 2023 at Central Florida Zoo

We thought that might be the last display, but just outside the festival area, near the exit, there were some interactive displays.

One looked like a color-changing Decepticon that kept talking about ice cream. Another was a kaleidoscope of lights and mirrors, perfect for selfies, and there was a cannon lantern that had a touch pad trigger that activated a puff of smoke.

Asian Lantern Festival: Into the Wild 2023 at Central Florida Zoo

Asian Lantern Festival: Into the Wild 2023 at Central Florida Zoo

Asian Lantern Festival: Into the Wild 2023 at Central Florida Zoo

All in all, the Asian Lantern Festival was a lot of fun, and very creative. It is something I would definitely do again, and I’ve named it one of our Holiday picks for 2023.

If you want an enjoyable night out, head to the Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens in Sanford before January 14, 2024, which is when the “Asian Lantern Festival: Into the Wild” ends.

Tickets are $22.99 for anyone 3 or older, though there are family packs of four tickets for $71. Hot chocolate upgrades are also available.

Tickets must be reserved online in advance at CentralFLZoo.org, and the Zoo is closed December 24 and 25, 2023.

https://citysurfingorlando.com/2023/11/citysurfing-orlandos-guide-to-2023-holiday-events-in-central-florida/


Disclaimer: CitySurfing Orlando was invited to experience the “Asian Lantern Festival: Into the Wild.” As always, my reviews are honest, and my own.


 

About Michelle Snow

Michelle is the owner and editor of CitySurfing Orlando. She also owns Zengrrl.com, is a freelance writer specializing in travel and entertainment, has authored/co-authored four guidebooks on Orlando and Florida, and is head editor/writer at TheDisneyBlog.com. She's lived in Orlando near Walt Disney World since 1995, and still finds there's so much fun to be had in Central Florida.
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