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'Illumination' drive-thru holiday light show expands to Tempe's Diablo Stadium

Posted: 3:58 PM, Oct 25, 2018
Updated: 2018-10-26 01:58:27Z

"Illumination, Symphony of Light," the mile-long drive-thru holiday light show that literally had cars lined up along the frontage road of the Interstate 17 when it debuted last year in North Phoenix, is expanding to meet demand.

The second show will open on Nov. 16 in the parking lot of Tempe's Diablo Stadium, the Spring Training home of the Los Angeles Angels. The Phoenix show, still located off I-17 near Jomax Road, will open on Nov. 14.

"Adding the second location was one of those steps to alleviate the traffic and enhance the experience," said Simon Kreisberger, who created the show with Yakir Urman. Though, he was quick to note, that the two shows will each have their own unique elements.

More than 63,000 vehicles made their way through the display during the inaugural year. He estimated that close to 400,000 people saw the display. 

"The second reason [we opened another location] was because there was so much we wanted to accomplish in one show and we couldn't," he said.

"We have to expand our stage," he said.


Because of the demand last year, which resulted in some people waiting hours to get through the display, the creators have made some changes to scheduling and ticketing.

Tickets will now be sold in 30-minute increments versus an hour, said Urman. Tickets sold at Costco and via online sites like Groupon will be sold as vouchers that will be redeemed using a code through the Illumination website .

They have also reduced the number of vehicles that will be allowed in per hour. 

Both shows will have more than 1.5 million RBG LED lights, tunnels and lighted figurines all synchronized to different holiday tunes and spread out on a mile-long curving track.

Below are some of the signature elements each show will have, according to Kreisberger .

Tempe show:

  • Santa's Portal: A 500-foot lighted tunnel
  • An animated singing snowman visible from the Interstate 10 freeway
  • Drive-thru hot chocolate and kettle corn stations

North Phoenix show:

  • New this year: A 100-foot Nativity scene
  • New this year: Santa's Arctic Adventure: A 360-foot long inflatable obstacle course.
  • New this year: A 230-foot long digital LED screen to replace the projection screens.
  • Holiday Boulevard: This year, the Holiday Boulevard will be open to the public regardless if you go through the show or not. Parking and admission to the Boulevard will be free though some activities such as photos with Santa, and food and drink will have a fee.

Admission is $29 per vehicle when bought online or $35 at the gate, plus taxes and processing fees. Buses and limos are $59 when bought online or $65 at the gate. Tickets can be bought online .

The hours are 6 p.m. - 10 p.m. on weekdays and 6 p.m. - 11 p.m. on weekends.


While the 2018 holiday season has not even started, Kreisberger and his team are already thinking about 2019.

"There will be a third location next year," he said. "We just don't know where yet."

He said there is no more room to expand the North Phoenix show so he plans to relocate it somewhere else, either in North Phoenix or in the West Valley, possibly Avondale, Glendale, or Peoria.

"We want to make sure there is enough space in each location," he said.

If that happens, he said he would like to open the third show in the eastern part of the Valley, possibly Mesa or Gilbert, but not too close to the soon-to-be-christened Tempe location.

Illumination Symphony of Light
North Phoenix: Interstate 17 and Jomax Road
Tempe: 2200 W Alameda Dr, Tempe, AZ 85282
Admission: $29-35 per vehicle, $59-$65 per bus/limo

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