Behind the scenes at Phoenix ZooLights

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(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
You'll find Fran across from the giraffes, which is not far from another new element: a giant cupcake. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) You'll find Fran across from the giraffes, which is not far from another new element: a giant cupcake. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
That dinosaur is Fran and she's this year's "big wow." (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) That dinosaur is Fran and she's this year's "big wow." (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Literally, they have upwards of five thousand cords running throughout the zoo. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Literally, they have upwards of five thousand cords running throughout the zoo. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
(3TV/CBS 5) -

For 26 years, ZooLights has been a holiday staple and a family tradition for thousands of families, but long before the lights go on, a hardworking crew goes to work. And that work starts in July.

Between then and opening night, hundreds of hours are spent stringing millions of lights and connecting thousands of electric cords. Literally, they have upward of 5,000 cords running throughout the zoo.

[RELATED: Phoenix Zoo lights up the holiday season with ZooLights]

Before those cords are laid, the work starts in the ZooLights warehouse.

Supervisor Justin Davis gave us a tour and said this is where they store the hundreds of light creatures during the year, along with the nearly 200 bins of light strands, cords and bulbs. Inside that warehouse, we saw creations made for next year but we promised to keep those a secret.

The reason those are there, he said, is because it takes so long to create new animals.

"If we're doing a 3D like the new dinosaur we're going to see later today," said Davis. "That one took about six months."

That dinosaur is Fran and she's this year's "big wow."

"We try to have our one big wow and then a lot of littler things around that, and like I said, this year the dinosaur is the big wow," said Davis.

You'll find Fran across from the giraffes, which is not far from another new element: a giant cupcake.

"We started our candy land a couple years back and this is the newest part of it," said Davis. "It's 8 feet tall, maybe a little bit bigger, very, very bright pink."

Davis and his crew will work around the clock through January when this year's show will start to come down. That's OK because they've already got something bigger and better in the works for next year.

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