South Reno’s Toll House Pumpkin Patch
Before we began our reviews, we want to give you some backstory. This review was difficult to write, and we struggled over whether we should post it at all. We started this site with the hope of promoting local businesses to families around town. Businesses suitable for families and kids. We were hesitant to post something negative. Especially since we have so few posts at this point and since we’re so new to the blogging community and an organization in Reno, Nevada.
Our husbands helped in that regard. Would we want our close friends to have the same experience? The answer was an easy and emphatic, no. That’s why we finally decided to post this review.
Our goal with Windy Pinwheel is to inform parents around town about opportunities to enjoy time with their kids. It also serves to provide honest opinions from our point(s) of view. We understand that not all may feel the same way or agree with our assessment, but this is our take on the Toll House Pumpkin Patch located in south Reno.
I wanted to like the Toll House Pumpkin Patch. I really did. I wanted to take my son there and have him experience the joy of my favorite season in all of it’s pumpkin and hay glory. Christine had purchased some Dealchicken.com coupons, so we assumed were getting a great deal on some classic honest family fun. Well, you know what they say about assuming…
Problems began immediately when we tried to enter the pumpkin patch. Christine had the voucher information on her iPhone and gingerly handed it over to the attendant. He asked us what it was. She explained they were the vouchers she had purchased online. He asked for the printed copies. Well, we didn’t print copies since we have the electronic version on the phone (trying to stay as “green” as possible and not waste paper). In a surprising spat of rudeness, we were informed that they only accept printed copies, couldn’t write our voucher numbers down, and they didn’t understand what was wrong with us. After all, everyone else printed them out. He looked as us in this moment like we were from a different planet.
Well, I was ready to forfeit my $15 right there and walk away. I’m not interested in staying in a place where the business owners don’t seem to care about my business. However, dragging the kids back to the cars would involve a lot of screaming. So, in the end, I drove home to pick up two printed copies of the vouchers so we would be allowed into the pumpkin patch.
In the interim, Christine dropped another $20 for 22 tickets. Each event in the Toll House Pumpkin Patch costs a certain number of tickets per participant. The bounce houses were four tickets each, the pony ride five, etc. After handing the printed vouchers to the attendant (whom at this point I was visibly annoyed with), I returned to find Christine and the kids inside of a bounce house. In fact, they were literally locked in the bounce house area. To make sure no one sneaks into attractions without paying, each one is locked with a cable lock. This is fine if someone mans the attraction at all times. Not so fine when the attendant walks away and leaves paying patrons locked inside. So, it was back to the ticket booth to get assistance to open the gate and let the kids and Christine out. My son didn’t take that part so well, being only three years-old and all.
Our vouchers included a train ride, and since the kids were excited about this attraction, we piled into the little train car and went for a ride around the property. Toll House has wooden decorations sprinkled throughout the wooded area of the train path (the train is not on tracks but on wheels in a modfied small motorized vehicle) of Halloween characters like Frankenstien’s monster, Snow White’s witch, etc. Alas, the cutouts looked decades old with pealing paint and broken arms. Needless to say, these cutouts did little to impress me; to a child, they wouldn’t care as much as I do about the appearance of these cutouts. There were also lights strung around part of the train course so the experience may be different at night, depending on the lighting, ambiance and what company you’re with.
Little A wanted to ride the ponies, so Christine dropped the last ten tickets (roughly $10) on a pony ride for her and C. A went up to the pony like a pro and couldn’t wait to ride. My son, on the other hand, took one look at the horses and said, “no way.” He refused to leave the gate, so we stood for the duration of the ride, cheering A on. After a five minute ride with the ponies tied to a circular track, the fun was over and A hopped down. We asked if we could get the tickets back because C chose not to ride. After all, he never went near the horse. We were told, “no refunds.” Annoyed and even more frustrated with this place, I took off and headed for the exit. I wanted off this crazy ride of an experience. Christine stayed long enough to hear the attendant say (I’m not joking here. These were his exact words) he was in a “mean mood today so there will be no refunds.” I’m glad I didn’t hear that. I would have lost it. A mean mood with a 3 year old? What; you’ve got to be kidding me!?!
By this time, I wanted to get out of there. There was literally nothing redeeming about this pumpkin patch, at all. The animals in a makeshift petting zoo looked miserable and sad, the hay maze (which was actually a hay pyramid with bounce houses on top of the twenty foot structure) looked dangerous enough to break a bone or quite possibly worse maim someone, the train ride was subpar at best, and for the final kicker, the pumpkins were ridiculously overpriced at $14 a pumpkin for a decent store-sized one. But what irked me the most was the abysmal customer service we received. Together, we spent over $50 at the Toll House Pumpkin Patch. You would like to think that would garner some sort of customer appreciation. We were wrong.
I’m not sure if it was the day we went (a late Tuesday afternoon), or moods were just off, but our entire experience was pretty awful. To be fair however, we left without trying all their attractions. The Toll House Pumpkin Patch also offers carnival rides (they weren’t set up when we went there), the aforementioned hay maze, a makeshift putt putt course (nothing fancy here), and apparently a greased pig competition (where the first person to catch the running greased pig wins cash) on the weekends. However, we didn’t want to give this place anymore of our money and decided to cut our losses.
It costs absolutely nothing to treat your customers with respect! I could have forgiven so much else that was wrong with this pumpkin patch had we received that. However, the terrible service merely exemplified and augmented the Toll House Pumpkin Patch’s other flaws. It is my recommendation that you skip this attraction and spend some quality family time at Apple Hill (view our write up about it here), where not only will you have a more enjoyable time, but you will be treated leaps and bounds better than Toll House Pumpkin Patch would treat a patron on its best day. Upon leaving, the ticket booth attendant yelled out to make sure we mention Toll House Pumpkin Patch to our friends. Don’t worry, we will.
I will offer this disclaimer in addition to our disclaimer above, I am very used to pumpkin patches held at farms that have a more harvest festival feeling versus the Toll House Pumpkin Patch which has more of a carnival atmostphere. So, perhaps my expectations were set up for failure from the beginning. These fall harvest festivals that we visited at Apple Hill and northern Virginia include a large pumpkin patch, live music, canned and baked goods for sale, corn mazes, slides to ride on with a burlap sack, livestock and demonstrations with them such as how to milk a cow, etc. Cox Family Farms is a good example of a place we visited while living in Virginia/Washington, DC metropolitan area.
When I saw the email come through on October 1st for the Toll House Pumpkin Patch, I immediately jumped at the chance to buy two vouchers which gave us, what I thought was enough entertainment for four people. I figured this would work for my family or for Lauren and I to take the kids.
Our daughter, A, loves pumpkins in the sense that she would have her own pumpkin patch on our front porch if we let her, so immediately when we arrived, she grabbed a Radio Flyer wagon and started loading up. She was excited to see the animals and my son was beyond thrilled that there was a train; or as he would call it a “choo-choo.” When we first walked up, there was no one to be found to “check in” with and I had no idea what to do exactly. So, we finally found someone, who we later discovered was the owner and, as Lauren explained above, he was not willing to take the vouchers via my iPhone app. I called my husband who printed them and Lauren generously offered to drive to our house and get the vouchers. In the meantime I knew the kids needed to get involved in one of the activities. Otherwise we would wind up with an entire wagon full of pumpkins and a heart broken child who would learn that we can’t take that many home with us (we didn’t know how much each pumpkin cost just yet).
I walked the kids over to the bounce house area and had to choose which one I would pay a total of 12 tickets for (keep in mind, I paid $20 for 22 tickets, so you can see how much one bounce house cost for three kids), the kids saw one that they liked and ran in. Unfortunately, the one they chose was a very old set of bounce houses and the kids quickly discovered there was no way to get to the top of the slide as dilapidated as the climbing aparatus was on this bounce house in particular. Regardless, the toddlers they are, they were determined. They always love a bounce house; even if it is in poor condition. Just about when the kids were done with this particular area, we saw Lauren return to the pumpkin patch. It was time for the train!
The boys were very excited and told us to “hop on”. In the mean time, we heard the owner telling the train operator that we had a “special deal” and were paid up for the train. Regardless of the frustration I had built up, I was determined to have the kids enjoy themselves. So we climbed in and started our ride. On a positive note, the train ride goes for quite some time around the property. We rode over a small creek and through a tree lined area. I can see how it can be lit up at night. It just might be really nice, but with toddlers I would be very unlikely to be there at dusk or further, at dark.
After the train ride, we walked to the back of the property and talked about all of the animals, made animal sounds with our kids and said hello to the cows. The kids chased some chickens and we discovered an area of dump trucks, ride on cars and plastic teeter totters. The boys immediately ran for the dump trucks.
While they were having fun we knew we still had ten tickets and four pumpkins to pick out. That is when Lauren and I walked with A & C to ride the ponies. A loves horses and rides them on her own already, so I knew this wasn’t going to be the most exciting for her, but she loves animals and she was excited to show her skills. She sat right up in the saddle like a pro and the operator started off being really nice. He complimented her confidence and walked the horse around the circle. Because C decided he wasn’t really interested in the horse afterall, we did ask if we could have the five tickets back and were told he could go to the hay “maze” instead, which I then said that we did not want the children playing in that area and was told “there are no refunds, I am feeling mean today.” By this point, I was ready to go home. I was incredibly disappointed in my experience. We picked out our pumpkins and headed out (as big of pumpkins as our deal would allow us, and they weren’t very big at all). I was so frustrated with the customer service we were given. Further, I was shocked and amazed that, as we were leaving, we were told to “tell our friends and come back soon.”
I feel that, for me, my most important reason for sharing this story, is that I consider my role with this site as being a voice for parents who want to give their children memorable, yet affordable experiences and with this particular experience I would not recommend any of my friends spend their money on it.
Have you visited the Toll House Pumpkin Patch? What was your experience like? We want to hear about it. Please leave us a comment and let’s have a discussion about it.