“Mom, I want to come with you to the Acreage of Fun” my almost-four-year-old daughter said to me at breakfast. Notice she didn’t say the Spooktacular Acreage of Fun. I may have deliberately omitted a few minor details in my enthusiastic dialogues of the past month or so. My kids are keen for Halloween – at least, for the parts they like, which are basically the costumes and the candy. Anything with spooky, haunted, scary or fear in the title, and it’s game over.
“Really?” I asked, excited by the prospect of having a travel partner for the trek out to Spruce Grove. “Yes” she replied confidently. I turned to her twin sister and said “How about you?” She shook her head and declared “Nope. I’ll stay home with daddy.”
I spent much of the 45 minute drive out to the acreage trying to prepare my daughter for what she would see. I told her it was just like Candy Cane Lane, but instead of Christmas decorations there would be Halloween decorations. I said some of the things were silly, and some were maybe a little scary, but that they were all just balloons and toys. I told her it was set up by a nice group of realtors (Century 21 Leading) who like to help people and use the Acreage of Fun to collect money and toys to give to people who don’t have enough for Christmas. She was totally on board.
We arrived and were directed to park by volunteers. She spotted groups of kids in costume and declared that next year she would be coming in her Halloween costume. She pointed out flying ghosts being shone onto the side of the house by a spotlight. She suggested we should do this every year for Halloween. “This is going great!” I thought to myself.
We crossed the road onto the property – and the honeymoon was over.
She spotted witches, monsters, vampires, and other spooky creatures and immediately octopused herself onto me. I carried her through the Halloween Cat entrance arch and fished in my pocked for some cash to drop in the donation pumpkin. It took some convincing, but I managed to get her into the inflatable garden. (Thanks to the bright minds who put friendly creatures like the Paw Patrol, Minions and Mickey Mouse near the start!)
We did a quick lap of the amazing Halloween garden (seriously, I had no idea there were so many options for inflatable pumpkins and ghosts.), and my daughter declared it was time to go home. It was a busy night, and there were dozens of other kids walking around and posing for pictures, completely unfazed.
Truth be told, the garden is fairly tame and there were fewer sound-making animatronics than I expected. (Which was perfect for us, as I knew they were the part my daughter would like the least) Kids who love all things Halloween will adore the Spooktacular Acreage of Fun. Kids like mine, who don’t like things that are even marginally scary, may not.
We opted to skip the garage portion of the display – a space dedicated to smaller and somewhat scarier Halloween decor. As we walked out, one of the volunteers asked my daughter if she wanted a cookie – a shortbread witches finger with an almond fingernail.
As we got back in the car, my daughter, who had spent the previous 10 minutes in my arms asking if it was time to go yet, declared that was “so fun”. “Want to know what my favourite was?” she asked. I guessed the cookie, but she shook her head and with a big grin said “No. Spiderman!”
We arrived home, and my husband asked “how was it?”. Cool as a cucumber, my now-fearless little E looked at him and said “Next year, I’m going to wear my Halloween costume!”
(p.s. Please excuse the picture quality – I was trying to one-hand my iPhone while holding 31 lbs of awesome in my other arm.)
Spooktacular Acreage of Fun – Info and Tips:
When: October 17 to 20 and October 24 to 31, 2019
Time: 6 pm – 9 pm
Address: 54020 Range Road 275 Spruce Grove (Take the Yellowhead to Range Road 274. Drive North to Twp Rd 540. Follow that road West. Shortly after it curves to the North again you will arrive at the acreage.) There is ample parking, and the road is controlled by volunteers.
Cost: Free – but please bring a monetary donation or a new, unwrapped toy for the Stony Plain Kinsmen Christmas Hamper program
Amenities: There are porta-potties on site. Strollers are welcome and can pass easily through the inflatables garden.