Review: Illumination AZ
By Meg Brunson
Illumination: Symphony of Light debuted in North Phoenix on November 15, 2017. We were hosted for an exclusive preview night the day before, and we are excited to share some details about Arizona's largest holiday drive-thru light show with you!
Illumination opens nightly at 6 pm, however cars lined up before that. There were staff out checking cars in while they waited, which made the line move steadily and quickly once the gates opened. The light show is comprised of over a MILLION lights - all syncronized to music that you tune into via your car's radio. Upon entering the attraction we turned off our headlights and drove slowly through the light display, following a path that allowed us to explore the attraction from all angles. It was festive and magical for our family. The kids had moments when they were completely entranced with the beauty illuminating around them, and moments of overwhelming excitement.
There is something about lights synchronized to music that is so amazing to experience, and the scale of this project is unbelievable. Over 250 of Santa's best elves assembled the light show and over 80% of the work completed was by Phoenix-based businesses (you know we love supporting local!). A prominant display within the light show is their "Coexist" sign, showing their support for religious freedom, acceptance, and equality. There are some Christmas-focused elements (christmas trees, ornaments, Santa), but also many winter/holiday themed displays (snowmen, candy, snowflakes) so that everyone can enjoy the season at Illumination.
After driving through the entire light display, you can turn your headlights back on and locate a parking spot near the exit. Illimination: Symphony of Light is MORE than just the largest drive through holiday light spectacular in Arizona - they also provide a festive Holiday Boulevard to explore! Holiday Boulevard is 100 yards of fun including bounce houses, photos with Santa, consessions, and even more light displays!
"Winter Jumperland" is the first place we checked out - this is where the inflatables are housed. The play zone is on the west end of the Holiday Boulevard and included three inflatables for the 4 and under crowd, and three inflatables for the over-4 crowd. The littles are permitted on the larger inflatables with parent permission, but older children are not permitted on the inflatables meant for the little ones. We always love to see some separation like this, keeping our little ones from being trampled by the big ones! The area was well-lit, considering the darkness expected after 6 pm, and the kids had a blast! There is an added cost to access Winter Jumperland, and the way it's structured is that you pay for one use, and then once you leave you cannot return... so, if we were to do this over again, we'd likely start at the bathrooms, see the other sights, and end the visit here.
There are plenty of opportunities for selfies and photos throughout Holiday Boulevard. We took a family photo with Santa and the kids had a caricature drawn (see those pictures on our Facebook Page - those opportunities did have a fee attached, but they were worth it!) Then, there were opportunities for selfies at an official step-and-repeat (that background you see on the right with my kids in front of it!), plus a 20-foot walk-through beautifully lit ornament, a 3-foot giant lit sphere tree, an enormous illuminated snowman, and with a "real-life" snowman walking around the event as well.
There are a variety of concessions available for purchase, from popcorn and hot dogs, to local food trucks and cupcakes! You can also purchase a variety of fun light-up toys, which are extra fun since it's dark outside!
There is a craft tent where you can choose from a couple different holiday crafts (small supply fees are charged). And they had a great booth sponsored by local non-profit, Youth For Troops. At the Youth For Troops tent, the kids were encouraged to decorate flat-rate shipping boxes which will be filled with holiday goodies to send overseas to the troops. What a great, simple, and fun way to get our kids involved with doing something sweet to support the troops during the holidays!
The whole family enjoyed every moment of driving through the Illumination: Symphony of Light display, and spending time exploring Holiday Boulevard. The kids also fell asleep on the car ride home - then easily went to bed and had a great night sleep - which was an added bonus!
Illumination is located off of I-17 just north of Jomax Road - the address if you want to GPS it is: 27701 N Black Canyon Highway in Phoenix. You can enjoy the attraction nightly from now through January 14, 2018. Tickets are sold per vehicle - up to 8 people per vehicle are admitted for $29.50 when you purchase online, or $32 at the gate - PLUS, a portion of all ticket proceeds benefit Phoenix Children's Hospital. I love when admission prices are reasonable, the family makes amazing memories, and we can walk away feeling good that we also helped others (between a portion of the ticket sales going to PCH and the boxes we decorated with Youth For Troops!). To purchase your tickets - and learn more about the attraction, visit: IlluminationAZ.com
© 2017 Meg Brunson
Meg is a mommy blogger, Facebook marketer, and much more. She is a mom to four daughters who live in Peoria, AZ and is the local Editor of KidsOutAndAbout Phoenix - helping parents and caregivers find free and affordable things to do with kids, out and about in Arizona. As a former Facebook employee, Meg remains a Facebook addict and handles KidsOutAndAbout.com's Social Media Marketing in addition to running a digital marketing agency at EIEIOMarketing.com.