Very rarely do I rush home to write a review of an event or location but, after visiting the Daytona Pumpkin Fest Days with the family I thought I would let everyone know about our experiences. Since the Daytona Pumpkin Fest Days are actually spread out across three days, you still have time to actually swing by this event! Right off the bat, we were a bit frustrated with the parking situation, as there were multiple events going on near the city island park. Apparently Bethune Cookman College was hosting an event at Jackie Robinson ballpark, and Cinamatique was hosting a movie right next door, so parking was a bit hard to come by. This weekend the ballpark will also be host to a Cancer Society walking event Saturday morning, so parking might be difficult throughout. My suggestion is to find parking at any of the lots along Beach Street and just walk to City Island, you’ll save a lot of frustration.
Once we actually got into the Daytona Pumpkin Fest Days event, the parking frustration melted away and we were left with an amazing family experience! If you recall from my first posting on the Daytona Pumpkin Fest Days, you’ll recall this event is in its infancy, but the promoters are hoping to turn this into an annual family tradition. Seeing as this was opening night of a rather large-scale event, I think it went pretty well. We were a bit disappointed that the turnout was poor, but I’m willing to bet many people couldn’t find parking and just decided not to attend this evening. While no event goes off without a hitch, there was a bit of confusion regarding what time they actually closed and what time the fireworks were to begin. When we were at the gate, we were told that the event shut down at 11, so we decided to hold off on pumpkin carving until after the fireworks. Unfortunately it was too late and we weren’t ale to get our carve on.
With these few hiccups, I can still tell you we had a really great time. The admission is less than a movie ticket, so it wasn’t too bad, with discounted admission available if you brought your own pre carved pumpkin. Children under 2 are free, and everyone else is $10. We got the general feeling from some folks in the crowd that an intermediary price for children say 2-10 would have been greatly appreciated. Again though, with a family four pack of tickets, you also get a bit of a discount so it depends on how you look at things. Even at the $10 a head price tag, we though that the Daytona Pumpkin Fest Days event is a great family value!
I can tell that there was quite a bit of planning that went into the Daytona Pumpkin Fest. Not only did it physically span across City Island, but it wrapped around the courthouse and right up to Jackie Robinson ballpark. Although we didn’t stop to count them, there must have been about 20 or so small houses that were ripe for trick-or-treating! They were smaller playhouses, but it really made for a memorable experience. It was nice to take our little guy out without having to worry about cars or other hazards since the entire area was fenced off and each house had a queue area. They are certainly expecting lots more kiddos Saturday and Sunday! We waked out with enough candy to actually supply our house for our own tick-or-treaters Halloween night!
Right next to one of the riverside bridges, you can actually see the pumpkin carving display. When it’s lit up I’m sure it will look awesome! Towering at least 50 feet into the air with a large Daytona Pumpkin Fest banner, I can’t wait to see it chock full of carved creations. Even though we didn’t get a chance to carve our own pumpkins, had we planned a little better; it would have been a good factor when considering the cost of admission. You are able to carve as many pumpkins as you want without all the mess. We love to do this every year, but between the hassle of getting pumpkin guts all over the house, the carving, the cleanup, then the rotting pumpkins on the doorstep over the next few days, not to mention the initial cost of purchasing the blank canvas for your carving creation; I would much rather do this outdoors at the Daytona Pumpkin Fest Days. Sorry, but you must leave your creations at the festival.
In addition to a few community booths and private vendors, we were pleased to find a small petting zoo, a theatre featuring the Tales of Waterville, and multiple musical acts. There really is something that your entire family can enjoy. The fireworks at the end of the evening were spectacular, but I don’t know if they will go on as planned on Sunday. You may want to checkout the Daytona Pumpkin Fest social media feeds listed below for updates. A handful of the barges used to launch the displays caught on fire after the show, so that’s probably still up in the air. They were spectacular though! They went on for almost 10 minutes and the acoustics from the county courthouse were incredible. It made for a really immersive display. On our way out we stopped to checkout the pig races which were actually pretty cute. It is exactly as it sounds, pigs racing around a track. It was a neat attraction that our little guy seemed to enjoy.
Another great feature of the Daytona Pumpkin Fest Days are the carnival rides. I haven’t really been a carnival ride kinda guy since “The Gravatron Incident of 1994″ so we didn’t participate. We did however checkout the ticket prices and they seemed to be on par for a standard fair or carnival. Tickets were $1 each or 24 tickets for $20. The rides were either 2 of 4 tickets, so you could make them stretch if you needed to. We didn’t see an option for an unlimited ride bracelet, but that would be a great idea for the event next year. Something that I was glad that was missing were the annoying carnival games with huge stuffed animals and con artist operators that shame you into playing.
I have a few considerations though when it comes to the food vendors at the Daytona Pumpkin Fest. As you can expect, just like at many festivals and county fairs, the food can be quite expensive. There were some food vendors connected with the midway amusement company that offered the standard carnival foods along with almost anything deep-fried that you can imagine. There were also a few independent food venders that seemed to have better pricing. If you go in the afternoon, my suggestion is to eat before you head into the Daytona Pumpkin Fest Days. It will save you quite a bit of cash. If you do decide to eat there, be sure to checkout all your food options, as the local vendors seemed to be a better value. For example the carnival folks charge almost $10 for everything from turkey legs to sausage grinders, whereas some of the independent food vendors offered similar fare at more reasonable prices.
The main reason why I’m writing this review in the late evening/early morning is that I wanted to share this opportunity with everyone because I sincerely hope that the Daytona Pumpkin Fest Days will turn into an annual event. There were so many things to do that you could easily spend an entire afternoon or evening strolling around and checking everything out. It was a great family atmosphere, and was an affordable entertainment option for my family. After considering the costs involved in home pumpkin carving, and the fact that there are fireworks as well as trick-or-treating, we thought it was well worth the admission price. Despite a few bumps along the road logistically for the event, I’m already calling it a success and hope to return again to the Daytona Pumpkin Fest next year with our family.
Daytona Pumpkin Fest Days Details:
Event Dates: October 25th 4PM – 11PM
Saturday October 26th 10AM-11PM
Sunday October 27th 10AM-9PM
Admission $10 per person – $3 off at door with carved pumpkin
Family 4 Pack is $32