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‘Pumpkin Nights’ takes traditional Halloween staple to the next level

by Jeff DePaoli

This time of year you’ll find no shortage of pumpkin and jack-o-lantern displays around the country. Among the best, you’ll find Pumpkin Nights.

pumpkin nights
Photos by Jeff DePaoli

As a child, I grew up in New England with the traditional Halloween of the leaves changing color and crunching under your feet with a chill in the air. I’m always impressed when a Halloween event I experience in Southern California can bring me back to those childhood memories. Pumpkin Nights has done that quite successfully.

As you enter the area of the Pomona Fairplex, where Pumpkin Nights resides, you are immediately welcomed by a giant, traditional jack-o-lantern, perfect for a photo op with your family. Just beyond you’ll find some yummy food options with your favorite autumnal treats and even a fire-dancer show. It sets the perfect mood as you get ready to enter the pumpkin trail.

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You’ll journey through a Pumpkin Passage, surrounding you from all around as you make your way to the seven themed pumpkin lands. These lands include Forbidden Pumpkin City, Monster Mash, Great Pumpkin Hall, Maravilla Lane, Pumpkin Pirate Cove, Pumpkin Reef, Enchanted Pumpkin Forest and the festival area Pumpkin Central. Each land is made up of hand-carved real and synthetic pumpkins created by master pumpkin artists.

pumpkin nights

One of my favorite parts about this event that sets it apart from other jack-o-lantern trails is the level of detail and care taken to create truly beautiful areas using more than just the pumpkins. Holiday lights, fog, props, and more help tell the story of each individual land.

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One of my favorite lands would have to be Forbidden Pumpkin City, which is inspired by Asian design and décor, complete with a huge fog-breathing dragon made out of carved pumpkins. The dragon is definitely the focal point of this area, but I especially loved the carved pumpkins floating above, which from a distance looked like traditional Asian lanterns. It wasn’t until I got closer that I realized each of them was a pumpkin with a flickering light inside. It was absolutely beautiful.

pumpkin nights

Another favorite area would have to be Pumpkin Reef, simply because it was such a unique concept. The undersea world was inhabited by jellyfish, coral and other sea creatures made from pumpkins with bubbles and blacklight finishing the underwater effect.

Throughout the trail, there were opportunities to stop and relax, whether you wanted to buy some donuts to enjoy, watch master sculptors create some new jack-o-lanterns, or even take a seat and enjoy a movie. The night I went, they were showing “Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas” in the middle of the trail.

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Of course, these days guests want to make sure they get the perfect pic to share on social media. Pumpkin Nights had several areas throughout the trail that was specifically set up for these photo-ops. These areas were specially lit and had an employee nearby to snap a photo of your group for you. Among these locations were the previously mentioned dragon, a giant octopus made from pumpkins, and more.

pumpkin nights

I would like to note that although this event is geared for family and young kids, I went as an adult with an adult friend and truly enjoyed myself. It took me approximately 90 minutes to get through the trail as I walked at a leisurely pace, but if you have children with you, there is so much to see and do that I could easily see it taking longer, giving you a full night of entertainment.

If this article has you wishing that you could visit Pumpkin Nights but you don’t live in Southern California, you’re in luck. Pumpkin Nights has several locations around the U.S.A. including Texas, Colorado and Utah. Visit PumpkinNights.com for tickets and more info.


Jeff DePaoli is a voiceover artist and producer living in Los Angeles. He can be heard as the voice of Disney Trivia on Alexa as well as the host of “Dizney Coast to Coast,” the ultimate, unofficial Disney fan podcast. In addition, he works as a segment producer for the Halloween and horror convention, Midsummer Scream. @JeffDePaoli

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