Rise of the Jack O'Lanterns Opens on Long Island
Woosh went the wind, out went the lights, and Rise of the Jack O'Laterns returned to our sights. After a 2-year hiatus, the must-see Halloween event is back. With the world's largest pumpkin trail and more than 5,000 hand-carved pumpkins, our family couldn't wait to experience the spooktacular event again. Here is everything you need to know about Rise of the Jack O'Lanterns and some pro tips for your visit.
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Before arriving to Rise of the Jack O'Lanterns, you'll need to purchase a ticket online; tickets are not sold at the door. Entrance timing is every 15 minutes starting at 6:30pm, with the last admission at 9:30pm. With a 2-year-old and 5-year-old in tow, we opted for an earlier entrance of 7:30pm. The sun had completely set at this time, allowing the trail lights to really set the mood.
The new location is at USDAN Summer Camp for the Arts in Wheatley Heights. From our house in Nassau, the ride was about 20 minutes. We found the parking situation to be better at this location than it was at the event's former home, Old Westbury Gardens. Upon arrival, there was plenty of staff to guide us to our spot. We also didn't wait in an excruciatingly long line to park. There are two lots, lot A and B. It's important to remember which one you are in for when you exit the trail. We parked in an unpaved lot with gravel, but there was also a paved lot.
Hot tip: If you aren't printing out your tickets, save them as a PDF or screenshot them on your phone. My phone had no service at the event, and I'm glad I did this beforehand to save myself a headache.
The trail itself is both easier and harder than in previous years. It goes around in a circle, making it simple to follow. It is also completely paved, so strollers and wheelchairs can access the entire trail easily. That being said, similar to the Bronx Zoo, there are a lot of hills. Those with mobility issues may have a hard time, so know what your family is capable of. Still, my kids walked mostly the whole thing. In fact, they chased each other for part of it.
Favorite Disney characters are sprinkled throughout the trail.
The displays are fantastic, and each display now has music pumped around it. The music correlates with the display, and we were really digging this new feature. My littles had to stop and have a dance party a couple of times. There are multi-pumpkin carvings of live-action movie characters, from mobsters to monsters, and of course animated favorites like Maui, Elsa, and Simba. My daughter's favorites were actually the pumpkins they had on stakes between each of the larger displays. There were so many with different fun faces, and she would excitingly point to the ones that caught her eye.
Join the skeleton audience and watch the fun Halloween videos under the gazebo.
About three-quarters of the way through the trail, there is a large gazebo with a screen playing different Halloween videos. Some bony guests started watching and never left. I thought we were going to join them because my son was glued to the videos. It was his favorite part, and we stayed for the whole thing. There are various clips, from 30 seconds to a few minutes long. Some are made specifically for the event, and others are cartoons and videos, like Mickey Mouse's "The Haunted House," a clip from The Simpson's "Treehouse of Horror," and my personal favorite, Dan Bull's Minecraft-inspired rap, "I've Got A Bone to Pick With You." The entire video show ran for about 30 minutes.
How Long Does Rise of the Jack O'Lanterns Last?
Well, that depends if you stay for the whole video montage or not. If you just walk the path at a leisurely stroll, it's about 45 minutes. From your car door, through the trail, and back again, it's about a mile.
Along the trail, you’ll see this mighty dinosaur.
Know Before You Go
- Tickets are $25 for children 3-17 and $35 for adults 18+. Discounts of 20% off are sometimes offered for certain time slots. Tickets can be purchased here. Ages 2 and under are free.
- The walk is handicap accessible, but the steep hills may be tough for those with mobility issues. All trail paths are paved.
- The event is rain or shine.
- There is no merchandise for purchase at the event, but you can bring your light-up necklaces and glow sticks. There are no food or drinks sold at the event, either.
- Save your tickets to your phone in advance. There is limited cell service at the event.
- The event runs most weeks Wednesday through Sunday. The last day is Sunday, November 6th.
Photos by the author