Review: The Roger Williams Park Zoo Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular, Providence, RI (4.5 stars)

Last year, the team from Events INSIDER went on a 10-day Halloween blitz! In October 2013, I visited 28 attractions to bring you reviews and information on everything Halloween in New England. We went indoors and outdoors as far north as New Hampshire, as far south as Rhode Island, and as far west as Connecticut. Don’t forget to visit, where we list more creative October events than anyplace else!

The Roger Williams Park Zoo Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular is not spooky and is safe for small kids. It’s an outdoor carnival (well, some vendors) with a long walk through the zoo and along a lake, lit by 5,000 pumpkins. Actually, they say they use 20,000 pumpkins throughout the season. One of those two numbers is correct. Although you won’t see any animals (those exhibits are closed), it’s a fantastically beautiful walk under the night stars.

Time after time I have visited a Halloween attraction with beautiful displays that I’ve been unable to stop and admire, because of people behind me on the pathway. At the Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular, the walkway is wide. So there’s no rush to get through and you can go at your own pace and enjoy the sights, taking deep breaths. We must have shot more than a hundred photos. Music plays and there’s a carnival atmosphere with good mood lighting.

Although most pumpkins are carved, in amateur or professional style, some have been painted and are lit from inside. Throughout they have dioramas celebrating for example the US Southwest, the US Midwest, and all 50 states. I have to confess that I found many of the painted pumpkins and dioramas cheesy. Do we really need tribute pumpkins to the Indy 500 and Family Guy? These pop culture rather than deep cultural choices to represent each region were part of an over-the-top patriotism that was a bit much for me.

The path also includes two patriotic dioramas with heavy Christian songs. The creators apparently forgot that not all Americans are Christians, and that if you want a patriotic display that religion is not patriotism. But in such large quantity and with such beautiful forest and lake views, it’s impossible not to find even the cheesy displays heartwarming. Some pumpkins are set on benches, or on podiums, or even on posts in the water. The settings are basic – there are no pumpkins belching pumpkin seeds or a big pumpkin trying to eat a smaller pumpkin. But the end display features hundreds of pumpkins towering over you in a tree, which is as impressive as anything we have seen, even at Haunted Overload. Don’t expect to be scared, but this Halloween location deserves a 4.5 star rating.

This review was from Events INSIDER’s 2013 10-day Halloween blitz, where we visited 28 attractions across New England. Visit, where you’ll find more fun Halloween and October events than anywhere else!