WILLIAMS, Ariz. — It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas at Bearizona.
With the early dark skies, visitors have already gotten a sneak peek at the thousands of Christmas lights that encapsulate the park’s annual Wild Wonderland.
In its fourth year, Wild Wonderland returns to Bearizona Nov. 30 where visitors can see the park transformed into a Christmas playground.
Visitors will be allowed to enter the park in the evening and stroll among beautifully lit pine trees that are synchronized to traditional Christmas music. Guests can view a few of the animals, drink cocoa and listen to a story with Mrs. Claus.
This year’s event is a little different than last year.
“Wild Wonderland will only be on Friday, Saturday and Sunday,” said Bearizona spokesperson Kari St. Clair.
The family friendly event takes place after normal operating hours at the Fort Bearizona walk-through area of the park and gift shop.
Wild Wonderland is an evening event, with a light show, animal meet and greet and story time.
“Gates open at 5 p.m. and close at 7:30 p.m., and the event will end at 8 p.m.,” St. Clair said.
St. Clair said most of the walk-through portion of the park will be open, with some of the animals in their den for the night.
“Wild Wonderland has limited animal viewing, but each night a couple animals will open some Christmas enrichment,” she said.
St. Clair said Bearizona has several locations set up for photo opportunities. She said the synchronized portion winds through the forest and has lights that dance in time with the music. The light show begins every 30 minutes.
Visitors to the park can warm up in the mine shaft-themed gift shop and Canyonlands restaurant. Warm drinks and cookies will be available while the children attend story time. Mrs. Claus reads a story twice each night of the event — at 6 p.m. and 7 p.m.
Many of Bearizona’s program animals will be available for viewing in an open house format. People may see a few of the park’s larger animals in the walk-through and employees have some of the animals in the gift shop.
Bearizona has added an outdoor fire for roasting s’mores and warming up. Participants can also purchase Christmas treats and beverages in the gift shop and restaurant.
For those wanting to see more of Bearizona’s animals, St. Clair said the park is open all winter. She said the animals have been active with the recent warm weather.
“Bears in the wild hibernate due to a lack of food,” she said. “Since our bears get fed daily, most of them stay quite active during the winter months.”
St. Clair said during heavy snow, the bears will take shelter, but most enjoy playing in fresh snow.
St. Clair said visitors can attend Bearizona during regular hours and then purchase tickets for Wild Wonderland in the evening.
Wild Wonderland is open Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights Nov. 30 through Dec. 30.
Gates open for Wild Wonderland at 5 p.m. The light show begins at 5:30 p.m. and runs every half-hour until 7:30 p.m., and the program animals meet and greets will be from 5:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Admission to the event is a separate charge from regular park admission. Tickets can be purchased at www.bearizona.com with a special discount code of bzwild18.
Bearizona is located at 1500 E Route 66 in Williams. Regular park hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. every day.