The Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular, presented by Citizens Bank, returns to Roger Williams Park Zoo. Shows run nightly October 1 through November 1. Guests will be amazed by a breathtaking display of 5,000 illuminated pumpkins. Admission: 6 – 10pm, trail closes at 11pm. Hours are extended one hour on Saturdays. This highly anticipated annual fall tradition features a breathtaking display of 5,000 illuminated jack-o-lanterns, with over 125 of them artistically carved and displayed in scenes to play out the annual theme.
We went to this event a few years ago and loved it. They sure come up with some amazing designs and there are so many unique pumpkins to look at on the rails you and your kids definitely won’t get bored at all. There is eery music playing and since it’s dark and you’re in the woods it makes for a lot of spooky fun.
Situated on the Zoo’s picturesque wetlands trail, the event has won praise from across the nation for its amazing artistry and appeal as a unique, family-friendly autumn destination. Over 100,000 people have come in each of the past five years to enjoy the nighttime show, and last year’s Spectacular saw the second highest attendance of over 125,000 visitors.
Tickets: Mon through Thurs $14 adults, $12 seniors and $11 ages 3 – 12; Fri – Sun $16 adults, $14 seniors and $13 ages 3-12; free for toddlers two and under.
New this year, guests will be able to purchase tickets for the Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular online at rwpzoo.org/jols-tickets. Those who use this new feature will be directed by signs in the parking lot to enter the Zoo through Gate 2, which is to the right of the main admissions plaza. This separate entrance will allow online ticket holders to skip the ticket purchase line, and head directly to the pumpkin trail line. Tickets for the Weekend Harvest Buffet and group tickets must still be purchased at the Zoo.
“With thousands of awe-inspiring pumpkins illuminating the night, this iconic fall event is fun for people of all ages and is not to be missed,” said Barbara Cottam, RI Market Executive, Citizens Bank. “Citizens Bank is delighted once again to be the presenting sponsor of this favorite fall attraction.”
The 2015 presentation, titled “The People’s Choice,” will feature subjects the public especially loved throughout the past 27 years of shows. Scenes filled with intricate pumpkin art will recall the “Phantom of the Opera,” the Golden Age of Hollywood, and other cultural and historic highlights. Charles Darwin’s trip to the Galapagos Islands will be represented, complete with “active” volcanoes, and the 50th anniversary of “The Sound of Music” will be celebrated.
New this year will be the addition of light and image projections to enhance the scenery along the trail. Show standards will return, such as childhood favorites and Halloween scenes, as will the show’s dazzling grand finale, the Laughing Tree. There, hundreds of glowing jack-o-lanterns on the ground and high up in the trees surround carved giants (well over 1,000 pounds) arrayed in the forefront that are enhanced with spooky fog and the iconic musical theme punctuated by a catchy beat and laughter.
Crews from Passion for Pumpkins, the show creators, will spend several weeks leading up to the event creating the magical display. Then, they will work nearly around the clock throughout the 32-night run to keep the show fresh for visitors.
2015 Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular details:
The Show will run rain or shine from October 1st through November 1st with admission from 6pm to 10pm, with the trail closing at 11pm. The event will be extended one hour on Saturdays.
The Spectacular is an important fundraiser for Roger Williams Park Zoo. Proceeds from the event will help to support the Zoo’s animal care, environmental education and conservation efforts both locally and around the globe, as well as Zoo improvements.
Tickets prices on Monday – Thursday are $14 adults, $12 seniors (62+) and $11 for children ages 3 – 12; and from Friday – Sunday tickets are $16 adults, $14 seniors and $13 children ages 3 through 12; children two and under are admitted for free.
The popular Weekend Harvest Buffet will be available Friday – Sunday nights at $25 for adults and $13 for children ages 3 – 12. Meal tickets will be purchased in addition to Spectacular admission tickets and will include express entry to the pumpkin trail. Buffet tickets will be sold at Gate 2 (follow signs in the parking lot) as patrons arrive for the show.
Groups of 25 or more may call (401) 467-0150 for advance reservations and group rates. For more information about group attendance at the Spectacular, visit the Zoo’s website, call (401) 785-3510, or write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Roger Williams Park Zoo is conveniently located in Providence, RI at exit 16 off Interstate I-95 north and exit 17 off I-95 south, about 1 hour from Boston and 90 minutes from Hartford.
Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular founder and history:
The Spectacular was founded many years ago by John Reckner, an Oxford, Mass. resident who recently retired from his postal carrier career. Inspired by a Vermont farm he had seen lined with glowing jack-o-lanterns, Reckner organized the first Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular in Oxford in 1988. The jack-o-lanterns featured in this first event were carved by local residents and displayed for only one evening on a hillside behind a local school. About 300 spectators attended. Today, Mr. Reckner, his family, and their crew of jack-o-lantern artists now known as Passion for Pumpkins, continue to bring the Spectacular to life.
Visitors at the 2014 Spectacular called it “autumnal bliss!” and “a fabulous night of gorgeous artistry.” The show has been selected by the U.S. Library of Congress as a national “local legacy,” and was featured in Martha Stewart Living, on the Travel Channel, The Today Show, The Early Show, USA Today and CNN. The Associated Press hailed the show as “extraordinary”, abc.com named it one of the top 11 “Spookiest Destinations” and the American Bus Association Spectacular dubbed the Spectacular a “2013 top 100 event”.