Our family recently moseyed down a dimly lit trail, cradling warm beverages, surrounded by over 5,000 intricately carved pumpkins at the Minnesota Zoo’s 2nd Annual Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular. The 1/4 mile trail of glowing pumpkins features dizzying details and creatively carved designs. The Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular runs through November 3rd. Tickets are sold online for specific entry times. I suggest purchasing in advance as times will sell out. We arrived about 45 prior to our ticketed time allowing a few minutes to use the restrooms, grab a warm beverage (they come with or without Schnapps, you decide) and play a quick game of pumpkin tic-tac-toe. The zoo’s Central Plaza also has various snacks for purchase, a small straw maze and pumpkin bowling and bean bags.
The queue to the trail may look lengthy, but moves quickly and once to the trailhead people fan out for a more comfortable meander through the display. The 2019 theme is Around the World and features scenes from across the globe, each set to music. The pathways and even trees were decorated with carved creations, no duplicates. The Asian scene featured a pagoda, the English scene a castle and a Leaning Tower of Pisa accompanied the Italian scene.
We spent about 40 minutes on the trail. Along the way each of us pointing out details not to be missed or questioning how carvers were able to put such precise detail on a pumpkin. The Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular runs for 33 nights and carvers will create around 20,000 pumpkins during that time, swapping out wilting designs for fresh illuminated faces throughout the event. The video below from the Travel Channel gives a behind the scenes glimpse into how a similar trail was constructed.
Come prepared to wait and to walk. The Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular is along the zoo’s Northern Trail, which is a 10 minute walk from the main entrance. The pumpkin trail is another 1/4 mile. Wheelchairs/strollers/wagons are a must have if your group includes young ones or those with difficulty walking. We went on a weeknight when crowds were fewer and lines were shorter. Organizers say that on weekends, guests can expect to wait up to 2 hours in line. Yikes. This is probably why they serve those beverages mentioned above. The Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular was a great experience for our family. Our boys loved the displays and the morning after their faces are still lit up.