Shadrack's Christmas Wonderland is a holiday light display that has several locations around the country.
In western Pennsylvania, Shadrack's makes the Butler County Fairgrounds its home and is one of the most popular Christmas experiences in the greater Pittsburgh region.
A Choreographed Light Display Near Pittsburgh
The light display at Shadrack's Christmas Wonderland has two distinct sections.
The first half of the park is a choreographed light show that syncs up to music you can listen to on the radio in your car. The light show cycles through about eight or ten songs ranging from holiday classics, to more religious based themes, and modern renditions of favorites by the likes of Trans-Siberian Orchestra.
We did not know what to expect when going into this one, and have to say that the light show was well done and synced up to the songs perfectly. The lights are a bit sparse at times, but overall are an enjoyable display you don't see all too often.
The second half of the park is a light display that depicts popular nursery rhymes and fairy tales like Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Rapunzel, Little Red Riding Hood, and more.
This display is not choreographed to the music and felt a fairly out of place for us (mostly because we did not go with any kids who would appreciate it more). For the money we would've much more preferred if the entire course was choreographed lights as this knocked the quality and value down quite a bit.
After driving through the light show, you also have the option to visit a small indoor Christmas village, but we found it to be quite depressing (this is an understatement, I don't even want to share photos) and would recommend skipping it unless you are looking to get a photo with Santa and are unable to do so elsewhere during the holiday season.
Overall, the drive through Shadrack's Christmas Wonderland took just under 30 minutes for us at a pace of 3-5 mph on a quiet weekday night. We were pleasantly surprised by the light display; however, if we had to factor in a line any longer than 30 minutes (with multi-hour waits being common on weekends) we would reconsider our recommendation for this one in a heartbeat.
Since your enjoyment of this light display is directly proportional to how long you have to wait to get in, we have a few tips to help you out!
Tips for Visiting Shadrack's Christmas Wonderland
Shadrack's Christmas Wonderland is one of the more popular Christmas attractions in the region, and with the popularity comes the crowds- meaning long waits are to be expected.
On peak days before Christmas (weekends more so than on a weeknight), the entry into Shadrack's Christmas Wonderland is often hours long. A friend of ours said they waited almost three hours to get in, and as a result hated the experience entirely. Sadly, we have heard this one more than once from those who endured the multi-hour wait.
To be quite honest, if we had a wait like this we probably would be saying the same thing.
As such, there are a few options for those who want to avoid this issue.
First, as is the case with most attractions that open at dusk, get in early. We recommend arriving at least 15-30 minutes prior to the dusk opening in order to minimize your wait as entry is regulated at the speed the cars travel through (which is only a few miles an hour). We have not seen any hard information on this one, but we suspect that if you are backed up to the entrance of the fairgrounds you're looking at up to a two-hour wait.
There are also little to no opportunities to bail if you change your mind, and we've read that only a few porta potties are available near the ticket counter (but we did not notice them when we visited).
An alternative option is to go on a weeknight, which we expect would still be quite busy in the days leading up to Christmas but significantly quieter than on weekends. For those who can hold out until after Christmas; however, you can show up to Shadrack's Christmas Wonderland on a weeknight shortly after opening and drive right in (this is what we did).
Next, we also recommend loading up your car with friends and family as the $25 price tag is based on carload and is independent of the number of people you have (larger commercial vehicles are charged extra, however). So bringing a group will save cost on a per person basis!
One final thing to keep in mind when visiting Shadrack's is that the choreographed light and music show is timed on a roughly 30 minute loop. When we left we started to hear the same songs that we heard when we arrived.
We did not get to see the entire choreography in the light display as half of the show is not choreographed, but those who are in the queue waiting (where you can see the lights from a distance) may hear the same song several times over if you tune into the station while waiting. If you have an excessively long wait in the hours, this could become quite repetitive.
Overall, Shadrack's Christmas Wonderland is a fun light display outside of Pittsburgh. We enjoyed it quite a bit but may be a bit biased because we had no wait when we arrived. As noted above, any sort of wait longer than 30 minutes would detract from the experience completely, and is something that should be planned for prior to visiting.
Shadrack's Christmas Wonderland is located at the Butler County Fairgrounds at 1127 New Castle Road, Prospect, PA and is open from mid-November to early-January.
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