Rise of the Jack O’Lanterns
Not all Halloween attractions are haunted houses or interactive experiences designed to make you jump out of your shoes. Some aren’t even scary, yet still retain the flavor the holiday. One such attraction is Rise of the Jack O’Lanterns.
This all-ages event is more of an art installation than anything else. A huge, outdoor, pumpkin-themed art installation. Using over 5,000 pumpkins, the Rise is a walkthrough exhibit of remarkable pumpkin carving skill and creative displays. Starting after dark by necessity, a wide walking path guides you through a variety of zones. Each zone has several impressive sculptures using a multitude of pumpkins to create one large image. Some of these sculptures use dozens of pumpkins. Some may have even been over a hundred, all combined to make elaborate designs that I can’t even fathom the hours it would take to carve.
In addition to the multi-pumpkin sculptures, there are a good number of very large individual pumpkins with very detailed carvings, almost paintings, that fill the surface. These include several celebrities, movie scenes, and homages to the exhibit’s location, the Santa Anita Racetrack. These are wisely positioned very close to the walkway, so viewers can really appreciate the details.
The third kind of pumpkin is your typical Jack O’Lantern that everybody has carved. These fill the ground between all of the bigger exhibits and the sheer volume of them is amazing. There are thousands! All of them are different, in shape, facial features, colored lights inside, etc. The variety is a lot of fun, spotting mustaches, eye patches, heart-eyes, and more. To come up with all of the different kinds, some of these pumpkins barely look like faces, but they’re all fun and keep you entertained between bigger displays. There are also hay bales and corn stalks, to round out the fall-themed décor. Although the multi-pumpkin sculptures use foam pumpkins, all of the solo pumpkins are hand-carved from real pumpkins and are replaced every week to keep them fresh.
There are a couple areas where I think there is room for improvement. Although it’s just personal preference, I would have liked some scarier carvings. The intention is to be family-friendly, and it certainly is, so they accomplished their goal. I just like my Halloween attractions to fall on the spooky side. The other thing is an actual problem, although not their fault. The floodlights they use for the line/snack bar area are very tall and bright. They are so tall that they can be seen in the actual exhibit, and when a carved pumpkin is back-lit by a huge floodlight, it really detracts from the cool lighting effects that the organizer worked hard to implement. Luckily, this only happens in a small area of the walkthrough.
Overall, this is a good event for the whole family. Parking is easy, and it really gets you in the mood for the season. Rise of the Jack O’Lanterns is open Fridays through Sundays until 11/1, starting after dark. Tickets and more information can be found here.