Winter is upon us, and a trip to the Kansas City Zoo doesn't quite top our list of weekend destinations. But the zoo is open year-round, and right now it's a holding zone for Santa's reindeer. Jungle Bells, the zoo's seasonal extravaganza, offers fun for kids, cheesy adults and even grumpy twentysomethings willing to surrender their keen sense of irony for the sake of seasonally appropriate silliness. Go all-out-elf making toys at Rudolph's Holiday Workshop and take a photo with the most famous reindeer of all. Or hitch a ride on a hayrack or holiday train. But, please, wear a sweater. The Sprint Imax Theatre shows Santa vs. the Snowman, and the lobby is a holiday hotbed from 10 to 11 a.m. with free baked goods, face painting and live entertainment. The festivities last from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. every weekend through January 2 (except Christmas and New Year's Day), at 6700 Zoo Drive in Swope Park. Admission is $3 to $5. Call 816-513-5700.-- Sarah Smarsh
Wag the Tiger
Since rending the Chiefs asunder, the wild dogs of inexplicable failure have sunk their teeth into the ankles of University of Missouri-Columbia men's basketball, hence the Tigers' surprisingly bad early season record. We rejoiced when the Tigers regained a modicum of pride in their December 11 mauling of the University of Montana Grizzlies. But going up against indomitable, No. 1-ranked Illinois Wednesday in St. Louis in the annual, cross-conference Braggin' Rights game, does pride even matter? Our best hope is that, away from the mojo surrounding the fall of the house of Laurie, our Mizzou underdogs will provide us with a decent show on our favorite sports-bar TV, tuned to ESPN2 at 7 p.m. Call 800-228-7297 for ticket information. -- Jason Harper
Union Station sleighs us.
Train yards aren't usually places of yuletide magic, unless an encounter with a hobo or a motorman produces one's own, personal Christmas miracle. This year, though, the tracks at the West Yards at Union Station (30 West Pershing) are clear for an extended Santa layover. The Kansas City Southern Holiday Express, a six-car freight train with a smiling engine, a gingerbread boxcar and Santa's own flatcar with reindeer and sleigh, arrives Sunday at noon.
Music is provided by the Dickens Carolers and the Salvation Army band. Visitors can explore the miniature villages and elf workshops on the train, which Santa lights with the flip of a switch at 5:30 p.m. He also takes gift requests from kids and immature adults until 9 p.m. The event is free; call 816-460-2020 for information. --Christopher Sebela