Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Fall Fun: Green Meadows Farm Trail of Jack O' Lanterns and Ooky Spooky Haunted House

Green Meadows Farm is always a fun place to visit with little ones during the fall months during the daytime. This year, for the first time ever, they offered an opportunity to visit the farm at night for their Trail of Jack O' Lanterns and Oooky Spooky Haunted House.

Admission to the Trail of Jack O' Lanterns is $10/person ages 3 and up. While my daughter really enjoyed this event I think that price is pretty steep for what they offered. I bought our tickets on Groupon and using a discount code paid $8 total for tickets for both me and my daughter. i thought that was a very fair price for the event. Also, all the advertisements I saw said the pumpkin patch would not be available during this event but when we entered the farm we were offered the option of buying tickets to visit the pumpkin patch and take home a pumpkin at $3/pumpkin extra.
Parking at Green Meadows Farm is free. The information said to arrive between 7:30 and 8:30 for the event. I strongly recommend arriving early or closer to 8:30 because we arrived at about 7:45 and the line to get in was enormous. We waited about 20 minutes in line to get our stickers to experience the Trail of Jack O' Lanterns. You can rent a wagon or buy a pumpkin ticket at the little store next to the admission booth immediately after you get your sticker. The line to do these things was fairly short but I opted to skip both for the time being. The entire farm is not open for the event so it is definitely walkable for ages 3 and up. The part that is open is dirt paths so it is very stroller friendly. Parts of the path are pretty dark so a stroller or wagon might be a good idea if you have little ones.

When we entered the farm we were directed to the left. Calling it a trail of jack o' lanterns is a bit misleading because the jack o' lanterns are pretty spread out with other lighted displays between them. As you walk along the trail you will find plenty of carved jack o' lanterns as well as special lighting effects. My four year old's favorite thing was the areas where they had tons and tons of small lights raining down from the sky on you. Unfortunately it was too hard to take any pictures or video of this effect on my phone and I didn't have my camera but my daughter spent lots of time dancing around in these lights.

In addition to the jack o' lanterns and sea of lights you will find several different Halloween displays along the path. Some were lights in the trees in the shape of Halloween objects, some were actual displays like a graveyard and a large spider web. Areas between the displays are a little dark but there are employees to direct you along the right path. I found all the displays to be very kid friendly or easily skipped if you think for some reason it is something that will scare your child.

At the end of the trail you enter the Oooky Spooky Haunted House. Again, we ran into a huge line to enter this. The wait was probably about 20 minutes. I talked my daughter into coming back later and going to visit the pumpkin patch for the time being instead. This ended up being a very smart idea. Should you decide to visit the haunted house first you can reenter the farm without waiting in line if you'd like to visit the pumpkin patch or walk the jack o' lantern trail again as long as it is not close to closing time.
Although I only bought one pumpkin ticket both my daughter and I were allowed into the pumpkin patch. You hand your ticket to the employee before entering the patch. I have no idea how they monitor that you only take one pumpkin out/ticket and assume it is just an honor system because there was a different employee taking tickets by the time we left.
The pumpkin patch at night is a whole different experience than the daytime and lots of fun. If you have been to Green Meadows during the day you know the "patch" is really just a huge mound of pumpkins. The kids were having lots of fun climbing on the pumpkins and searching for the perfect one. It is pretty dark in the area so the only way to check to see if you found the perfect pumpkin is to bring it off the mound and over to the lighted area. The employee in the patch was warning everyone to check over their pumpkin before they left with it because apparently squirrels like to snack on the pumpkins and it is very hard to see their bite marks in the darkness by the pumpkin mound.

I let my daughter play on the pumpkins for a little while and she rejected many before she found the perfect one way up at the top of the pumpkin mound. She rolled it off the mound and we checked it over before exiting the pumpkin patch and walking back towards the haunted house. The pumpkins aren't that big so I didn't really see any reason to bring it out to the car vs carry it through the haunted house with us.

When we got over to the haunted house the line to get in was very short and we waited less than five minutes. This was at about 8:45. At that time they were asking everyone to make sure they had already walked through the pumpkin trail since it was getting close to closing time.
You are led through the haunted house in small groups by a guide. The haunted house isn't supposed to be very scary but many young children were frightened by it. There were some continuous loud noises inside that really frightened them. My daughter, on the other hand, just thought it was funny. She especially enjoyed the rooms with the spider webs and bubbles in them. I would enter with caution though if you have a sensitive or easily frightened child. The entire "house" is very small and takes about five minutes to walk through.
Overall, we had a great time and really enjoyed visiting Green Meadows at night and walking the Trail of Jack O' Lanterns. The entire trail will take the average person between 10-20 minutes to walk depending on how often you stop and how long you spend looking at the various displays. I thought it was well worth the $8 but would've been very disappointed if I'd spent $20. The $3 pumpkin fee was definitely worth it for the fun of watching my daughter experience the pumpkin mound at night and picking out a pumpkin in the dark.
If you go I definitely recommend showing up early to avoid the long line to get in. Once we got to the trail of jack o' lanterns it was not crowded at all but we spent more time waiting in line to get in than we did walking the trail. If you wait in a long line to get in chances are good you will have to wait in that long line again to get into the haunted house. Going to the pumpkin patch until a lot of the crowd left ended up being a really good idea for us.
Keep in mind that it is dark on the trail so strollers or wagons for small children are also a good idea. Although we went without I had to keep reminding my daughter not to run and I ended up firmly holding her hand after she came way too close to falling over yet another root. A lot of the kids also had glow sticks or necklaces and my daughter was very disappointed we hadn't brought any. Bringing something that glows may help with lighting the path a little bit or at the very least help you keep better track of small children not in a wagon or stroller.

Green Meadows Trail of Jack O' Lanterns and Oooky Spooky Haunted House were definitely fun evening activities to do with a four year old but I definitely recommend looking on groupon or elsewhere for discounted admission because for what it offers the full price is a little steep.

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