Pumpkinferno at Discovery Harbour


I had a little celebrating to do this weekend and decided that AMH and I needed a little getaway. I started a new job this week and could not be more excited! My family has decided to spend the next year trying to see as much as we can of our beautiful home province of Ontario and since the province is over a million square kilometres, there is a lot to see! After a quick search we settled on visiting Penetanguishene, a two and a half car ride away from Kitchener. Our destination - Pumpkinferno at Discovery Harbour which is multiple displays of pumpkins carvings and a terror zone.



After a lovely country drive filled with cute towns and spectacular foliage, we checked into our little motel (more on that tomorrow) and drove to Discovery Harbour only 20 minutes away. We easily found the site by using our GPS but we could have found it without as there are signs all over town directing you to Pumpkinferno staff. We were an hour early, the event starts at 7 pm sharp, so we did a little walking around the main entrance and starting lining up at 6:30 when the Pumpkinferno staff, which were easily identified by their bright orange sweaters, asked everyone to start lining up. This turned out great as the line eventually ran the entire walkway and all the way back into the parking lot. My advice - get there early! 


Arriving early meant that we could do a little exploring. This 19th century historic site celebrates the British Navy and Military. The buildings are picturesque, there was even a wedding reception going on, and the ships docked in the harbour are massive. I hear you can actually cruise in the M.S. Georgian Queen, adding that to the bucket list right now! Once the admission stalls opened, we were off to see the incredible pumpkin carvings! 


Starting with the military inspired ones! The soldier and cannon were all aglow while speakers pumped the sounds of firing artillery and drums and fife. 


As a self professed history nerd, this was my favourite display! Discovery Harbour was founded by Sir John Graves Simcoe in 1793 as a site to protect ships, as Penetanguishene Bay is a steep-sided, deep water bay, and for its strategic location to York, now Toronto. When the war of 1812 broke out the site became an active naval dockyard as the British were looking to protect the Great Lakes from American attack (BTW the British/Canadians won the war and you can't tell me otherwise). Let's take a look at a few other carvings...


A mama and baby elephant


Noah's Ark


A skeleton cowboy at the Tied Up Saloon


We found the cowboy's horse


And a giant, scary gargoyle! 


A very popular attraction was the classic horror movie characters with "Monster Mash" playing! That's me with Bride of Frankenstein and AMH with Frankenstein's Monster. Many years ago my husband introduced me to the classic black & white horror films and Frankenstein is a particular favourite. 


And so is Wolfman! I love everything about the classic film from the actors, to the set, the clothing, and even the story. There was a Wolfman remake a few years ago but it didn't quite capture the spirit of the original. Believe it or not but you can probably find the originals in a $5 Wal-Mart bin right now. 


There was a Cars display complete with cars from every era, gas pump and "Life is a Highway" playing. 


Another look at Noah's Ark another path


Another display with sounds, this time of water, loons and the faint sound of something walking in water...


it was probably this moose! 


I was partial to "Village of the Dam'd" as I grew up in a swampy area of Ontario. I loved being surrounded by water, forests, and adorable critters! True story, my school mascot was a swamp rat. 


After touring the pumpkin carvings there is a Terror Zone and while I don't have any pictures of that, I do want to tell you about it. I have always considered myself to be very brave. Not anymore. That Terror Zone was the scariest thing I have ever done...and I didn't even open my eyes, hence no photos! You walk into a building that has some scary animatronics. I saw that part. I thought to myself "yeah I can do this. It's not bad at all". Then we were ushered into mazes in shipping crates and the characters were very real people in costume dressed as witches, scary clowns and zombies. It was at this time that I closed my eyes, buried my head into AMH's back and held onto his hand tight! Every little noise made me scream and he thought I still had my eyes open so when we came to a room filled with zombie hands, he said to me "Don't open your eyes" and I've never been so scared in my life. I was so scared I couldn't even scream anymore! We managed to get out early and with my hands on my knees I took a few (like a lot) deep breathes. I then sat down and had a drink of water before I could walk again. I had the cold sweats and my face was drenched! No one was as surprised as I was at this! I watch The Walking Dead and can recite John Carpenter's Halloween from memory. But turns out I only like scary things when they are not directly in front of me! So my big strong husband led us through and kept his eyes open the whole time. He was startled a few times and said that it was exceptionally well done and probably the scariest thing he has ever seen. So you'll have to take his word for it because I am officially a wimp! If you are planning on visiting, and I recommend you do, at admission you can ask for a blinking pumpkin. This is a symbol for the Terror Zone to take it easy on you. I didn't ask for one and really wish I had. 

We had a fantastic time (ok, except for being scared out of my mind!) and cannot wait to visit again to see the rest of Discovery Harbour and Sainte-Marie among the Hurons, Ontario’s first European community. 

There is still time to see Pumpkinferno at Discovery Harbour, two weeks in fact! You can visit from the 20th to 23rd and 27th to 30th from 7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. each evening. Admission is $8 per person and please bring a donation for the local food bank. There is also a cafe, children's craft area, and maze for little ones. I wouldn't recommend taking children under 12 into the Terror Zone but if you have brave ones, the exact opposite of me, then just know you might end up with a little person sleeping with you that night. 

Thank you to Gary and the team at the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport for hosting our visit. 

1 comment

  1. I love that you're always up for a travel adventure! I want to take a mini-vacay now, too! Looking forward to reading more about where yous stayed. The pumpkin artistry is pretty neat, but I'd be scared, too!

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