Credit: JiaYing Grygiel
In a seemingly crowded local holiday light show landscape, there’s a new player in town. It's an indoor display and it’s called Lumaze: Lost in Lights.
Last year’s hot new holiday ticket was Enchant Christmas, held at the baseball stadium. Lumaze debuts this year with an enormous light maze, train ride, live music, indoor playground and Santa visits, all contained indoors at the 100,000-square-foot cruise ship terminal at Seattle's Pier 91.
Maze of lights
The theme of the Lumaze show is “A Fairytale Christmas.” In the light maze, you’ll see festive snowmen, presents, Santa’s sleigh — and a horse-drawn carriage and glittering castle where you’re greeted by actresses dressed as Belle and Cinderella.
Everywhere you look, there are tons of photo ops. The photos don’t even capture how magical it is in person, with twinkling lights, tinsel and ornaments.
The light maze takes up the entire second floor of the building. It was bright and open and fun to explore. When we visited on opening night, it didn’t feel overly crowded.
My 8-year-old’s favorite thing about Lumaze was the scavenger hunt. There are six super-sized presents tucked in the maze, each one staffed by a Santa’s helper who will stamp your card. When you collect all six stamps, you get a prize! (Spoiler: It’s a candy cane.) The scavenger hunt was challenging enough that I had to send my husband to scout out the elusive presents.
My 4-year-old’s favorite was the hopscotch part of the light maze. There are a bunch of plastic discs scattered on the ground, and every time you hop on one, it changes color.
Downstairs on the first floor, you’ll find the train ride, live music stage, Santa, playground, marketplace and food truck area. You can buy food and trinkets, but there’s no extra charge for any of the activities. I felt like Lumaze offered more for little kids than Enchant (where ice skating is the only activity apart from the light maze).
There’s no skating rink at Lumaze. There is, however, a mini train (the “Glowcomotive”) that takes passengers on a two-lap ride. The train is supposed to be for kids 12 and under, but our whole family got on board and the conductor assured me he’s “very lenient.”
The indoor playground was a big hit. My kids loved the gingerbread house-themed play structure with four slides. There are also five light-up seesaws and 10 light-up swings that change colors. My 4-year-old found out the hard way that the swings are meant for gentle swaying, not for going fast or high.
You know about Rody horses, right? There’s a coral of about 50 bouncy unicorns. (Maybe they ran out of reindeer?) There are also kid-sized tables stocked with coloring supplies and a light stick wall. We spent most of our time in the awesome light maze, but I liked that there were other kid activities, too.
There was no wait for Santa when we visited. Unless you have a good flash, though, it’s hard to get a nice picture with the big guy. Santa’s chair is covered with lights, but the room is dark so faces will be underexposed.
The marketplace is hit and miss. We saw holiday-appropriate vendors like fudge and light-up toys, and also booths hawking long-lasting lip color and Renewal Windows by Anderson. (Merry Christmas, honey?)
You do have to watch your step, especially on the first floor which is darker. Lumaze rolled out green turf over the cruise ship terminal’s industrial carpeting, and it’s easy to stumble on the edges of the turf or on one of the many ripples. Some of the edges are taped down, but they were going to need a lot more tape to do the entire building.
Parents should know
Unlike Enchant, Lumaze doesn’t restrict strollers or bags — so helpful for young families! You can take an escalator or elevator to get to the light maze on the second floor. The building processes hordes of cruise ship passengers from April to October, so it’s designed to handle a crowd. There are plenty of restrooms, all clean and tidy with changing tables.
No outside food or drink is allowed. A ring of food trucks offers everything from paninis to mini donuts to Chinese food. We saw people walking around with these cool light-up plastic light bulb drinks — $9 for soda in a glow cup. My kids were enthralled by the novelty, but I probably wouldn’t get them again because the paper straw got mushy fast and it wound up being one more thing for mom to carry.
How to get in and get out without losing your mind
Getting to Lumaze is really confusing. The cruise ship terminal building is located by the Magnolia Bridge. I live in Magnolia, and I had trouble finding it. And we arrived during daylight — good luck finding it in the dark.
The only way to access Pier 91 is westbound up the Magnolia bridge. When you get on the ramp for the bridge, you’ll want to stay in the right lane, and take the right fork for cruise passengers. Look for a bus stop midway across the bridge with a small ramp going down. At the bottom of the ramp, turn right to enter the parking lot ($15).
You’ll need to take a shuttle bus from the parking lot to the end of Pier 91. None of this is marked. We stood in a line of confused Lumaze-goers; no one knew where the actual event was. We waited 15 minutes for a shuttle bus, totally underdressed to stand outside because we figured we'd be going straight from our car to the indoor event.
Update: Lumaze has added some signage to direct you as your arrive at the event.
Hot tip for families: If you have more than one adult, drop off your crew at the building (follow signs for drop-off at the bottom on the ramp), then send one adult to go back and park. Or take a Lyft or Uber to the front entrance. The building is pick-up and drop-off only.
When you’re ready to call it a night, take a shuttle back to the parking lot and — this is very important (and very unclear) — you leave the parking lot through Gate 27. There’s a one-lane, one-way driveway out that takes you back to eastbound down the Magnolia Bridge. I don’t want to even picture the bottleneck on a busy night.
Getting there and getting out logistics were not easy. Lighted signs and big arrows would have been incredibly helpful. Maybe it was just an opening-night hiccup, and I hope they fix it. If they want people to come to Lumaze, people have to be able to find it. Update: Lumaze has added signage to help visitors find their way in and out.
Lumaze holds shows in 10 cities in Denmark, across Canada, and for the first time this year, in the U.S. — Pittsburgh and Seattle are the two state-side stops.
If you go...
Find it: Lumaze takes place inside the Smith Cove Cruise Terminal at Pier 91 at 2001 W. Garfield Way, Seattle. This is the south end of the Interbay area that divides Seattle's Queen Anne and Magnolia neighborhoods.
Tickets: Adult tickets are $19.99 on weekdays, $22.99 on weekends and holidays. Children, seniors, military and first responders pay $14.99 weekdays, $16.99 weekends and holidays. Kids ages 3 and under are free. Families of up to two adults and up to three children can get a family-pack admission for $65.99 on weekdays, $74.99 on weekends and holidays.
Parking: Parking costs $15 and the lot is not adjacent to the building. You'll need to take a free shuttle bus to the cruise terminal. Or arrive by taxi or ride-hailing car to get dropped off at the building.
Age recommendation: All ages.
Plan your visit: We stayed for 3 hours; give yourself at least 2 hours to experience all the activities.