greenfield village halloween walk

10.2014 jack o'lantern

My dad’s loathing of crowds is notorious in our family. One of my favorite grievances from childhood, which I dwell on with regular morbid enjoyment to punish him, is the memory of taking a boat ferry to Mackinac Island on a lovely summer day…only to be confronted with an island full of tourists. My dad struggled gamely for a few minutes, we bought ice cream cones, I was enjoying a butter pecan in a waffle cone, and then bam. The huge influx of humanity evaporated his patience and just like that, I was being told to THROW AWAY THE WAFFLE CONE so we could get back on the ferry to the mainland.

As I get older, my attitude toward crowds is very similar. I still can’t imagine throwing away a perfectly good ice cream cone to escape them, but I find that large crowds really detract from my enjoyment of anything, and unfortunately, we experienced that this past weekend.

We are taking Miss L to Disney over Halloween weekend as a surprise, and although I know she’ll love it, I was starting to feel a little sad that she wouldn’t get the traditional Midwest trick or treating experience – the cold air, the fallen leaves, a sky full of stars, the crushing bummer of having to wear a coat over your costume. So I bought tix to the Halloween Walk at Greenfield Village.

10.2014 greenfield village

Greenfield Village is pretty awesome, but in my mind I always confuse it with Crossroads Village, which we frequented as children, and which is a little more rough-hewn, so to speak, than Greenfield Village. I was imagining more dusty tracks and rough edges and maybe a chill coming over the fields, a more genuine experience.


  • The Halloween walk is a mile of hand-carved jack o’lanterns winding through a really amazing historic village.
  • They had a great old film reel of ghostly cartoons, all in black and white.
  • Parking wasn’t much of a problem.
  • The staff was decked out in amazing costumes.


  • The crowds.
  • There were exceptionally long lines for the 10 treat stations and the treats were sub-par. If I’d known we were standing in line for a Twizzler, or a mini-Snickers bar, or a Halloween-themed postcard, of all things, I’d have bought a bag of treats ahead of time and doled them out to Miss L myself.
  • The crowds.
  • The crowds.
  • The crowds.

It was PROHIBITIVELY crowded and by the end of it (a winding mile walk is a lot for little six year old legs) we’d lost her mask and been dangerously close to being trampled several times. There was a vague promise on the website of the ‘Headless Horseman galloping out of the fields’ but this was just shtick as he merely stood near a fence and bantered with the crowds.

10.2014 headless horseman

Miss L was polite about the experience, but non-committal about wanting to do it again, and by the end of the night, we were both very happy to take our donuts home and get under a blanket on the couch. She was tuckered out from the crowds and the walking; I was a little bummed out about the crowds and the overall slick, unenthusiastic nature of the proceedings. I love autumn and I love Halloween, and I feel like people are so desperate for an authentic, historic, mystical, autumnal experience that they will stand in long lines for mass produced entertainment, crowded hayrides and pumpkin patches entirely devoid of sincerity, to achieve it. Go walk in the woods, for Pete’s sake, or visit a real farm, or just spend an afternoon raking.

The whole crowd experience, and Miss L’s lack of enthusiasm about it, and my own perilously squeezed patience with the masses, has made me more than a little apprehensive about Disney this coming weekend…We shall see.

10.2014 pumpkin tree


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