The 2016 Jack O'Lantern Spectacular at Roger Williams Park Zoo

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If you are local to New England, surely you’ve been to – or at least heard of the Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular at Roger Williams Park Zoo. It’s an annual tradition for our family to attend as well as thousands of others each year. If you’ve never been, you’re missing out because it’s really something to see. The Jack O’Lantern Spectacular is a nighttime display of 5,000 illuminated jack-o-lanterns all along the zoo’s beautiful Wetlands Trail, with well over 100 of the pumpkins carved into veritable works of art. There’s something magical about so many illuminated jack o’lanterns on display as you walk along the trail. This year The Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular is presented by Citizens Bank and it runs from October 6 – November 6, 2016.

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Last week I had a chance to preview the Jack O’Lantern Spectacular before it opened to the public and not only that, I was able to go behind the scenes and see some of the action. I saw the area where the pumpkins are carved and learned how they store the completed jack o’lanterns in a temperature controlled box truck until they are ready to be put on display.

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One of the interesting things that I learned was that they will go through over 30,000 pumpkins this season alone. Each jack o’lantern that’s on display will need to be replaced 4 to 5 times each – depending on the weather conditions.

These guys were busy carving the pumpkins.

These guys were busy carving the pumpkins.

As in years past, this year the display will have a theme. In the past I remember seeing a 50 states and even an alphabet theme. This year, it’s American Treasures.

2016 Theme: American Treasures

The 2016 presentation titled “American Treasures,” will feature a celebration of our nation’s history and culture through the rich lens of commemorative postage stamps. Since the Postal Service began in the 1850’s, commemorative stamps represent key events, places and cultural icons in thousands of extraordinary works of art. Visitors to the Spectacular will experience these images in special scenery where they are transformed into intricate carvings on illuminated pumpkins.

Elsewhere on the trail will be scenes featuring Humanitarian Heroes, Endangered Species, Science Theater, and Backyard Garden. And of course, Halloween favorites will be back including the dazzling Laughing Tree with its hundreds of illuminated pumpkins and iconic laughing music.

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If you’ve been to the Jack O’Lantern Spectacular in the past, you might remember how crowded it was on the weekends, so Roger Williams Zoo is doing something brand new this year – Weekend timed-entry tickets and they are only sold online! It’s part of an effort to improve the visitor experience on weekends, so they decided to shift to timed ticket entry for Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights. Again, tickets for these nights will only be available for purchase online. Tickets are non-refundable, and cannot be rescheduled.

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Know before you go:
If you purchase a ticket in advance, be aware that it does not provide you express access to the pumpkin trail. On Value Nights (M-Th), those who purchased tickets in advance will enter through Gate 2, skipping the ticket purchase line, and entering the line heading toward the pumpkin trail. Prime Nights (Friday, Saturday & Sunday) will have timed ticket entry through the main admissions plaza.

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Event Prices:

Value Nights (Mon. – Thurs.): $15 adults; $12 children (ages 2-12) – Sold at Zoo Admissions and Online. Enter any time between 5:30 and 10:30pm. The trail closes at 11pm.

Prime Nights (Fri. – Sun.): $18 adults; $15 children (ages 2-12) – Sold Online Only. Timed entry begins from 5:30 – 6:30pm, and ends with the 10:30 – 11:30pm timeslot. The trail closes at midnight.

Timed Entry tickets are non-refundable, and cannot be rescheduled.

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Event times:

Zoo entry Value Nights (Mon. – Thurs.): Enter any time between 5:30 and 10:30pm; trail closes at 11pm.

Zoo entry Prime Nights (Fri. – Sun.): Timed entry begins from 5:30 – 6:30pm, and ends with the 10:30 – 11:30pm timeslot. The trail closes at midnight.

Timed Entry tickets are non-refundable, and cannot be rescheduled.

Please be aware that, while entry to the Zoo begins at 5:30pm, the pumpkin trail will not open until dusk to allow for optimal viewing of the jack-o-lanterns.

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Please note: The Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular is open rain or shine, however, in cases of severe weather or weather-related technical difficulties we might close the event or end admission early. Please check their website, Facebook and Twitter pages for frequent updates.

One more thing to keep in mind: They are doing construction on Elmwood Avenue, so if you are heading to the Jack-O-Lantern from 95 South you might consider taking the Park Avenue exit (Exit 16) as an alternate route to mitigate traffic. When I went the other night, I took exit 17 (the Elmwood Ave exit) and was able to get through, but they are down from two lanes to one, so it did take me an extra few minutes. This is just something to keep in mind.

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Parking at the zoo is free, and I always take a picture of where I parked in the parking lot before I walk away from my car so that I can find my car easily when I am ready to head home for the night. I always recommend doing this to others because that episode of Seinfeld with them walking around the parking garage trying to find their car the whole time always pops in to my mind.

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I am a big lover of all things Halloween and the Jack O’Lantern Spectacular is a great way for families to kick off the Halloween season.

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Disclosure: I was invited to attend a media preview of the Jack O’Lantern Spectacular. All opinions expressed here are strictly my own and were not influenced in any way.

About Taylor Nikaci

84 comments

  1. Skye Gilkeson

    Oh wow. I love how you guys celebrate Halloween over there. We don’t have the same tradition in Australia. I didn’t know the carving was such serious business! So much fun.

  2. Kalyn Cruz

    I’ve never been in this park, it looks fun! I would love to go there with my family they would love it for sure especially my husband.

  3. Stacie @ Divine Lifestyle

    That is the most stunning Jack O Lantern display I’ve ever seen! I’d love to see that with the family.

  4. Veronica

    This is so spooky and creative! I wish we had something like this for Halloween in the place where I live.

  5. Colleen Lanin

    That is absolutely amazing! I can’t even imagine having the skill to carve even the simplest of those pumpkins.

  6. Nikki

    What a fun adventure! My son really wants to go in this place this year!

  7. Jeanette

    Now that is awesome talent! This would be fun to go explore I wish I was closer to it so we could.

  8. Rebecca Bryant

    WOw what a fun time this must have been. Very cool pictures adn I love the Beetlejuice jack-o-lantern.

  9. Olivia Douglass

    This looks like so much fun!!! Thanks for sharing the places to visit!

  10. Catherine S

    This looks like a really neat event to attend. I love the last picture of all the Jack O’Lanterns lit up. They do a similar event at our local zoo.

  11. Reesa Lewandowski

    We have a few of these types of events here in my area and they look amazing! What a fun place to visit for Halloween!

  12. OurFamilyWorld

    This looks so much fun. I’ve never been to a Jack o lantern festival. These are amazing.

  13. tara pittman

    Those are some cool looking pumpkins. This is something that I would love to see.

  14. Kristi

    Wow… that looks like fun. Holy smokes… over 30,000 pumpkins for the event? WOW!

  15. Debra

    This looks amazing, I can’t even believe there could be that many pumpkins! Some people are truly talented!

  16. MarciaF

    What a fun way to celebrate the holiday. I like that they sell advance tickets since crowds aren’t my thing.

  17. Brandy

    Those pumpkins are amazing! I think the Beetlejuice one is my favorite.

  18. Melanie Smith

    Looks like a really fun place! It is the better way to celebrate Halloween. I love it.

  19. Debra

    We went to our first blaze this year. It’s amazing how they are able to make these pumpkin creations – very skilled artists!

  20. Lisa Joy Thompson

    This looks like such an amazing event! The Jack O Lanterns are soooo cool! I bet my kids would love this!

  21. Melissa @ The Staten Island family

    This is definitely a must see attraction to usher in the month of Halloween! Those pumpkins are works of art!

  22. Amber Myers

    Wow, I love all these pumpkins! This looks like a fun place.

  23. Meagan

    This looks so incredible! My best friend would love this!

  24. Kelly Hutchinson

    I find it so interesting how people carve and decorate pumpkins. This would be a lot of fun to see. We do a Boo at the Zoo near our home.

  25. Michelle Gwynn Jones

    Wow what a great event. The work that goes into it is incredible. Replacing the pumpkins – Yikes. I love carving pumpkins, but I only do each one once.

  26. Amanda Goodenough

    This looks so cool! My sister in law lives right by Rodger Williams Park and goes all the time!

  27. Amy Jones

    Carving pumpkins is one of my favourite things! I really liked this idea, it looks so fun

  28. Amy Desrosiers

    I actually cannot wait to go too! I need to remember to take a pic of where I parked though because I m pretty bad at that!

  29. Jennifer

    Wow! I love the Beetlejuice pumpkin. It is very detailed and captures the character’s image perfectly! Thirty thousand pumpkins is a lot! I can’t believe they go through so many of them. I know my children would love this event!

  30. Liz Mays

    Oh how cool is this! It would be so nice to visit and see all of the cool Jack-o-Lanterns! It’s amazing that they produce so many.

  31. Pam Wattenbarger

    That looks like such an awesome event. I have always loved Halloween, especially the cool decorations like this.

  32. Seattle Travel Blogger

    This looks like some kind of quirky fun.
    It definitely looks different, but perfect for the season.

  33. Theresa

    If I lived closer, this is an event that would be a must visit for me. I love all things Halloween and this looks like good fun for the whole family!

  34. Alicia

    This looks like such a fun family event! I love that they have themes each year. I’d love to have seen that 50 states one!

  35. Elizabeth O.

    I think it’s awesome to go here with the kids. They really work hard for their displays and it looks amazing. I can only imagine what it looks like up close. It’s difficult not to be at awe with these carvings!

  36. Ann Bacciaglia

    The Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular at Roger Williams Park Zoo looks amazing. I would love to see these in person.

  37. Elizabeth Lampman

    These pumpkins are beautiful artwork. I wish we lived near Roger Williams Park Zoo. I would love to see the artists at work.

  38. gingermommyrants

    It is amazing what someone can do with a pumpkin. The Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular at Roger Williams Park Zoo would be amazing to go to.

  39. Kathy

    That is really neat! I love to see all the artwork with pumpkins. There is such amazing talent out there!

  40. April Mims

    This sounds like a really cool event! We don’t have anything like that in my area but we do have lots of regular pumpkin patches.

  41. ricci

    What an awesome event!! I love Halloween and anything pumpkins, how awesome that you got to go behind the scenes!!!

  42. Claudia Krusch

    That looks like such a great event. I’ve always loved Halloween, especially the Jack-O-Lanterns!!

  43. Kim

    What a fun festival! I love the look of the pumpkins. So intricate! Takes a lot of talent.

  44. Reesa Lewandowski

    I love seeing all of the creative ideas for jackolanterns! You must have had a blast!

  45. Dawn McAlexander

    I bet that is creepy to walk through at night. It took a lot of talent to create all of those jack-o-lanterns.

  46. Amanda

    I love the theming!! They did a great job with those pumpkins

  47. Heather

    That is so cool!!! I love Hallowern and would love to see this in person. Your pics are great!

  48. Cindy Ingalls

    This is incredible. I wish there was something like the Jack O’Lantern Spectacular near me. I would love to see all of those amazing carved pumpkins lit up at night.

  49. Cindy Ingalls

    This is incredible. I wish there was something like the Jack O’Lantern Spectacular near me. I would love to see all of those amazing carved pumpkins lit up at night.

  50. Meagan

    Those are some pretty impressive pumpkins! Wish my zoo did a celebration like this!

  51. Janell Poulette

    This is seriously awesome! I wished i lived near so I could experience this place. Very talented people carving those pumpkins! Love the Beetlejuice one!

  52. Taylor Mobley

    How fun is this! You know me, I love anything halloween or pumpkin or spooky!!! I love the look of those pumpkins!!!

  53. Amanda Love

    It’s great that you have a place like this to go and just have fun with the kids. I think the Jack O Lanterns are amazing and they’re definitely worth seeing!

  54. Holly

    This looks like it was so much fun. I wish there was something like this for me to take my boys to.

  55. Kelly Reci

    I love those scary and fun pumpkins! Different faces are more fun.

  56. Ana De Jesus

    I knew that people were obsessed with pumpkins but I had no idea how many people would get through. That is amazing!

  57. Rachel Mouton

    This looks like so much fun! These Jack-O-Lanterns look amazing!

  58. victoria

    That was an amazing place! looks like I want to go there

  59. Terri Steffes

    I am awe-struck. I want to see this in person! I am going to put it on my retirement list when Bob and I can travel wherever and whenever we want. Too cool..

  60. Rosey

    I have never been to anything like it! That looks like a wonderful way to spend some time though!

  61. Jennifer

    This is so cool! I can’t believe how many pumpkins they have on display – that’s crazy! I also like how they have the display set up to run after Halloween. There are always so many events going on around Halloween, that sometimes I miss things that I’d like to go to. November 6th allows plenty of time!

  62. Ora Lee Gurr

    I’d love to visit the pumpkin spectacular Jack O’Lantern fest. Thanks for sharing such fantastic pictures of the event.

  63. Cecile

    This looks like so much fun! We have a similar event at our zoo and we love to attend.

  64. Sylvia Kalungi

    Wow double wow, Robin you have outdone yourself with this share. Beautiful I wish I could see this with my children.

  65. karen

    I adore this time of the year and want to get into more fall activities soon! I like to wait until the leaves are changing before I am doing pumpkin things, but this one looks so cool!

  66. Jill Conyers (@jillconyers)

    Seriously. Pumpkin carving is now an art form. I’ve seen some amazing designs.

  67. Kita Bryant

    All of those carved pumpkins are truly amazing. I can see why you would make it a tradition!

  68. Louise Bishop

    Oh my goodness, this looks like it was so much fun! I don’t live close enough to go but I wish I did!

  69. Amanda

    Oh wow, this looks like so much fun! It’s amazing what people can do with a pumpkin lol.

  70. Tabitha Shakespeare

    This is such a cool place! I love how as it gets dark all of the pumpkins light up and look super spooky!

  71. Lisa Favre

    These Jack-o-Lanterns are absolutely impressive! This is an art that I know I’ll never be able to quite do myself, but I love seeing other works!

  72. Crystal

    Halloween is my favorite holiday. I love carving pumpkins but mine don’t look nearly that good. Looks like a great time!

  73. Kiwi

    What an amazing experience! Wow so many pumpkins I love the detailed artistic ones that is really interesting!

  74. Kristie

    I love Halloween and I love this post! I wish I could be better at carving but it’s not in me! Lol. This would be a great place to visit and take in all the creativity.

  75. Alissa Apel

    Carving pumpkins is a pain. Travis usually does that. I’m the one that paints on them.

  76. Terra Heck

    Wow, that’s a lot of jack-o-lanterns! That would be a fun place to go and see all the pumpkins lit up.

  77. Shannon Graham

    That is a whole lotta pumpkins! I would be in heaven here!

  78. Heather

    I can’t even get my act together to do one! This looks so cool. I can’t believe how many pumpkins they use, that is crazy!

  79. Rachel The Everyday Mom Life

    This looks like a really fun event. I wish we had something similiar around here. Those pumpkins are true art.

  80. Megan mccoig

    This looks like so much fun. They’ve gone to town with the pumpkins and I love that!!

  81. Fatima

    Your post brought back so many memories of when I’d visit Rhode Island in the fall, and my cousins and I would stop by Roger Williams Park Zoo.

  82. Lisa Rios

    My goodness, I haven’t seen anything like that before & I am loving this right away. The event should be quiet amazing to attend and I am sure this could be a great way to celebrate Halloween with lots of fun!

  83. Amanda

    What an awesome event! I love carving pumpkins but I am not that good at it. I love the tree full of pumpkins!

  84. Angela @marathonsandmotivation.com

    Wow! This looks absolutely incredible! I love all the different Jack-o-lanterns and the tree is amazing!!

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