Boo at the Zoo
Photograph: Courtesy Julie Larsen Maher

October events calendar for kids in NYC

Our October events calendar for kids will let you in on all of the spooky (and non-spooky) events taking place in NYC

By Danielle Valente, Allie Early and Oliver Strand
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'Tis the season to be spooky, and there's no better way to celebrate all-things creepy and kooky than with our October events calendar for kids! There are plenty of Halloween happenings across the city, and you can't miss 'em. 

RECOMMENDED: Full NYC events calendar for kids

If you're in need of other cool family adventures, try pumpkin picking near NYC, have a marathon with these  scary movies for kids and enjoy a helping of the best apple cider donuts in NYC.  

October kids' events

Boo at the Zoo
Photograph: Courtesy Julie Larsen Maher

1. Boo at the Zoo

News City Life

In a spooky state of mind? You're not alone. Tickets have just gone on sale for the Bronx Zoo's annual Boo at the Zoo festival, and this year's celebration is chillingly wicked—in a good way! Thursday through Sunday from Oct 1 to Nov 1 is your chance to revel in the Halloween fun, from magic shows and pumpkin carving demonstrations to mind reading and trips through the spooky extinct animal graveyard. Each day, animal-themed costumed stilt walkers and Halloween animal puppets will put on a "MASKerade" while the Wildlife Theater will pull out all the stops with performances in Astor Court. 

Six Flags HOLLOWFEST
Photograph: Courtesty Six Flags Great Adventure

2. Six Flags' HALLOWFEST

News City Life

The spooky season is right around the corner, so ghosts and ghouls should prepare accordingly. HALLOWFEST, Six Flags Great Adventure's all-new celebration, will run from Sept 18 through Nov 1, which means there are plenty of opportunities for creepy, kooky and spooky shenanigans. During the day, little monsters can enjoy seasonal scream-worthy attractions: inflatables, a Trick or Treat Trail, a hay bale maze (in one direction) and other fun activities. At night is when things get a little more serious (perhaps a time better suited for the tweens and teens): Creepy fog, eerie lighting and sinister music will transform the family attraction into a real-life horror movie and thrill-seekers can ride their favorite coasters...in the dark! 

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Museum of Ice Cream
Photograph: Time Out/Ali Garber

3. “Trick or Sweet Experience” at the Museum of Ice Cream

Things to do Museum of Ice Cream, Soho

The Museum of Ice Cream will make the Halloween season extra sweet—"No tricks, just treats." Head to the foodie attraction in costume to enjoy a few spooky delights during your visit to the themed wonder land. You'll receive candy, fun prizes and MOIC merch! All ages. 

the amazing maize maze
Photograph: Courtesy Matthew Borowick

4. The Amazing Maize Maze

5 out of 5 stars
Kids Quirky events Queens County Farm Museum, Queens

No autumn would be complete without the Amazing Maize Maze at the Queens County Farm Museum! The American Maze Company builds a labyrinth every year that that stretches over several acres, with the length of the course often stretching two miles! Previous years’ themes have included a violin, a riverboat, a train, a farmscape and the largest living sundial. This year, paths will be larger, timed tickets will be required and employees will monitor guests. You can wander your way through the maze by moonlight on Oct 3 and 24 from
5:30 pm–9:30pm (with staggered times). Ages 3 and up.

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queens county farm museum
Photograph: Courtesy The Queens County Farm Museum/@wedo_production

5. "The Fall Escape"

Things to do Exhibitions Queens County Farm Museum, Queens

Take a walk on the floral side! The Queens County Museum's gorgeous autumn display provides plenty of fun photo ops for you and your little New Yorkers—from the Blooming Enchanted Fall Forest to the life-sized Pumpkin Spice Latte! Be sure to stay for other fun activities like the Amazing Maize Maze, hayrides, pumpkin picking and more. All ages. 

halloween costumes
Photograph: Shutterstock

6. BAMboo!

Things to do Remote, Midtown West

This annual bash is one of Brooklyn's hippest Halloween hangs. This year, it's going virtual. Costumed cuties can participate in a costume contest, let a magician wow them with neat tricks, sit in for stories, boogey at the digital dance party and more. Ages 4–12.

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Photograph: Courtesy Jennifer Mitchell

7. The Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze

Things to do Quirky events Van Cortlandt Manor,

Like a well-stocked candy stash, the Great Jack O'Lantern Blaze is an essential part of Halloween in New York. The attraction is set along the beautiful 18th century riverside landscape of Van Cortlandt Manor and boasts a pumpkin promenade like none other: There are over 7,000 hand-carved jack o'lanterns waiting to impress visitors. As you tour the grounds, expect synchronized lighting, spooky music and more dazzling, Instagram-worthy features like the Pumpkin Carousel and the Pumpkin Windmill. What's new in 2020? A pumpkin fire truck and a coven of witches cooking up a spell! New safety measures will be in place in 2020. Read all about them online. Be sure to snag tickets early; the event is likely to sell out. Check out the event's second location on Long Island, opening Oct 2. All ages.

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headless horseman
Photograph: Shutterstock/Benjami

9. Headless Horseman Haunted Hayrides and Haunted Houses: Children's Day

News Transport & Travel

The Headless Horseman and his creepy counterparts are toning it down for the kids this Halloween. (So sweet!) In Ulster Park, New York, the Headless Horseman Haunted Hayrides and Haunted Houses is gearing up for a fright-filled drive-thru experience for adults. However, it's more about smiles than screams during its Children's Day event, which will take place Oct 11 and 24 from 11:30am–3pm. (Rain dates are Oct 11 and Oct 25.) Families can expect to drive through an I Spy-like Halloween game in their vehicles and encounter spooky (but fun!) characters along the way. Then they'll be able to park their cars and enjoy more fall festivities, including a maze, a haunted garden, seasonal tunes and more cool things to do. Like most Halloween events this year, reservations are required ($11.95 tickets are available online) and new safety protocols will be in place.

 

food fair carnival
Photograph: Shutterstock

10. Orange County Drive-Thru Fair Food Festival

News Transport & Travel

Let's be honest: We love a ride on the ferris wheel and a few rounds of Whac-A-Mole, but the real draw of a festival is the food. (Candy apples, anyone?) Since fall activities are making adjustments this year, one New York town wanted to ensure that you got your funnel cake fix. Plan a weekend day trip to the free, socially-distanced Orange County Drive-Thru Fair Food Festival. From Sept 24–27 and Oct 1–4, you and your family can head to the Orange County fairgrounds in Middletown for all the sweets your heart desires. 

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Laurie Berkner
Courtesy: Jaime Thornton + Katie Messer

11. Laurie Berkner's Halloween Party Family Concerts

Things to do Concerts Remote, Midtown West

Laurie Berkner is ready to celebrate the spookiest time of the year! Join the queen of kindie music for a virtual performance of frighteningly fun jams like "Monster Boogie," "The Cat Came Back" and "Choc-o-lot In My Pock-o-lot." A meet-and-greet ad-on package is available for those who are interested! All ages. 

pumpkins scarecrows
Photograph: Shutterstock

12. Pumpkin Path at the New York Botanical Garden

Things to do New York Botanical Garden | Bronx, NY, The Bronx

The New York Botanical Garden is putting an autumn twist on its rustic displays. Beginning Oct 3, visitors can take a gander at gourds of all sizes and eccentric scarecrows adorning the Great Pumpkin Path. Some of the largest pumpkins in the world will arrive on Oct 24, so be on the lookout for the record-breaking sights! All ages.

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hogwarts
Photograph: Shutterstock

13. Halloween at Hogwarts

Things to do Classes and workshops Remote, Midtown West

Ready your wands, witches and muggles: It's time to celebrate a very Harry Potter Halloween! Tiny Broadway will host an interactive storytelling class, "Halloween at Hogwarts," that will focus on charms, potions, divination and transfiguration! Check the supply list to see what you need for the virtual workshop. Ages 5–12. 

Hocus Pocus - 1993
Disney/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock

14. Nightmare at the Movies

News Movies

Come for the treats and stay for the screams: This week, Adventureland will debut its Nightmare at the Movies drive-in experience. For $40 per car, the whole family can cash in on the ghoulishly good fun. The package includes a chicken fingers and fries dinner, a $10 Adventureland Arcade card, movie-style popcorn and a choice of beverages, trivia on select evenings and, of course, some of the our favorite scary movies for kids. The series will kick off on Friday Sept 25 with a classic, Hocus Pocus, beginning at 7pm. Feel free to drive by sooner, as gates open at 5pm and festivities like trivia will begin at 6:30pm. Even better news? If you're in search of a spooky date night, leave the kids with a sitter and enjoy the late screening at 10pm (gates open at 8:30pm). First up? Nightmare on Elm Street. The series will continue on Oct 9 with Hotel Transylvania and Friday the 13th, as well as Oct 23 and 30. However, a full schedule has yet to be released, so check back in for the latest updates!

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Stan at Christie's t. rex
Courtesy: CHRISTIE'S IMAGES LTD.

15. See one of the largest T. rex skeletons in the world at Christie's

News Weird & Wonderful

Although the Museum of Natural History is a renowned pitstop for dinosaur enthusiasts, it's getting some fierce competition from Christie's—at least this month. The auction house will offer "one of the largest, most complete and widely studied Tyrannosaurus rex skeletons ever discovered" for roughly $6–$8 million, according to a press release. Stan is named for the scientist who first discovered the dino's remains on Hell Creek Formation in 1987, and it's believed that the former predator is a mere 67 million years old. No big deal! Catch him before he's gone on Oct 21: Here's how to see him. 

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kids books
Courtesy: Shutterstock

17. Hudson River Park Story Hour

Things to do Literary events Remote, Midtown West

Your go-to green space is hosting virtual reading circles on Thursdays at 4pm! The schedule is as follows: 

October 8, Little Elliot, Big City by Mike Curato (ages 4-8)
Craft of the week: Cardboard Tube Elephant

October 15, The Pout-Pout Fish by Deborah Diesen (ages 0-4) 
Craft of the week: Origami Fish

October 22, Don’t Feed the Coos by Jonathan Stutzman (ages 4-8)
Craft of the week: Rocking Birds Paper Plates

October 28, Nerdy Babies: Ocean by Emmy Kastner (ages 0-4)
Craft of the week: Paper Plate Ocean

lefrak center skating
Photograph: Filip Wolak

18. Skate in Prospect Park

News City Life

Searching for a fun end-of-summer activity? Skating has resumed in Prospect Park, so now's the time to show off those moves you've perfected during quarantine. (C'mon, we know you've got 'em!)Families can make the way to the LeFrak Center at Lakeside every day from noon–6pm for a loop around the rink. Admission is $6 and $10 on the weekends; skate rentals are $7. It's the perfect way to spend a long holiday weekend. Plus, the outdoor hub boasts plenty of other cool things to do for families: kayaking, boating and biking, to name a few.

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Brooklyn Book Festival
Photograph: Filip Wolak

19. The 15th Annual Brooklyn Book Festival

News City Life

One of New York City's most popular literary celebrations, the Brooklyn Book Festival, is going remote for the first time. Although it seems like an atypical way to ring in the event's 15th anniversary, the star-studded author lineup and programming, particularly for young readers, is certainly worth celebrating—even from your laptop. The week-long festival is scheduled from Sept 28–Oct 5. Children's Day, which will take place on Oct 3, will include virtual illustration competitions, readings and performances for little bookworms. Among the author attendees are R.L. Stein, Oliver Jeffers and Tami Charles. But families with teens should particularly take note: BKBF is introducing a new program titled Y.A. Out Loud, which is also slated for Oct 3. Attendees can enjoy virtual readings and talks with the most popular young adult authors out there, including Libba Bray, Kacen Callender and Marie Lu.

Photograph: Courtsey Shutterstock

20. Pumpkin picking

Things to do

Just like Humpty Dumpty, it's time to have a great fall: That means cozy sweaters, mugs of warm cider and the best pumpkin picking NY has to offer. Make a day of it. The awesome pumpkin picking NYC families love might also include farmstand treats and a hayride, some live music and a petting zoo, maybe a corn maze. Remember to wear sturdy shoes and expect the kids to get muddy. We won't make any promises, but we bet they'll sleep all the way home.

 

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Photograph: Courtesy Shutterstock

22. Corn mazes

Things to do Festivals

The days are getting shorter, the weather is getting cooler and pumpkins are on the brain. If you find yourself asking Google where to find a "corn maze near me," you've stumbled upon a mighty fine list (if we do say so ourselves). We round up New York's best farms and orchards that are indugling in the best fall activities for kids, including long, windy labyrinths, apple pickingpumpkin picking, petting zoos and even apple and corn cannons! Neat right? 

 

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apples
Photograph: Shutterstock

23. Apple picking

Things to do

Nothing is sweeter in autumn than the taste of a crispy apple. We round up the best apple picking NY families love to explore, so you might want to grab an empty basket and plan a few day trips from NYC. It's time to summon the harvest season, one Granny Smith at a time.

 

fall farm
Photograph: Courtesy Shutterstock

24. Farm visits

Attractions Farms

Want to take advantage of the harvest season? We'll tell you where to find a farm NY families enjoy spending the day. From the North Fork of Long Island to a neighboring town in New Jersey, our go-to rustic attractions are home to many a fall festival, apple picking, corn mazes and plenty of other fall fun. (Yes, there's ample opportunity to score an apple cider doughnut, so worry not.) If you're in need of a family day trip, why not take a break from the city and revel in nature's goodness? Pick a few good car sing alongs and make your way to the farm. See you there!

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Jurassic Quest
Courtesy: Jurassic Quest + Jose Charo Photography

25. Jurassic Quest

News Events & Festivals

Calling all paleontologists: A dino-mite drive-thru experience has just debuted right outside New York City. If you loved the Bronx Zoo's Dinosaur Safari and have been known to frequent AMNH's "T. Rex: The Ultimate Predator" you'll want to snag tickets to Jurassic Quest ($49 per vehicle). From now until Oct 18, the event will operate at both the Point Lookout Town Beach on Long Island and MetLife Stadium in New Jersey. 

Photograph: Courtesy of Michael Seto

26. Morningside Lights

Things to do Remote, Midtown West

This twilight parade of handmade paper lanterns, which is going digital for its ninth anniversary, is a gorgeous welcome to fall. Every year, more than 50 creatures and shapes are created by members of the community. From Sept 17–19, at home lantern kits will be distributed at a socially-distanced pick-up location outside of Miller Theatre at Columbia University. This year's theme is inspired by the Langston Hughes poem "Harlem Night Song." A few weeks later, the lanterns are in a glowing procession that starts in Morningside Park and winds its way up to Columbia. On Oct 26 at 7pm, you can watch the parade video online and see the creations come to life. However, Morningside Lights is magical even if you're just a spectator. All ages.

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american dream
Courtesy American Dream

27. American Dream reopens

News City Life

American Dream, the Meadowlands' 3-million-square-foot shopping and entertainment hub, is preparing to welcome back visitors on Oct 1, and its endless entertainment options make it the perfect destination for a family day trip. Upon return to the family attraction, guests will be required to wear face masks, practice social distancing and make reservations. Features will operate at a reduced capacity. (Visitors can access all health-related information and RSVP for a visit on the mall's website.)

 

DreamWorks Water Park American Dream
Courtesy: American Dream

28. DreamWorks Water Park

News Transport & Travel

Soon you can hang 10 alongside Shrek and plummet down slides with the Madagascar penguins. DreamWorks Water Park, the largest attraction of its kind in North America, is set to open on Oct 1. Initially, it was supposed to debut this spring after a fall 2019 delay, but only managed to host a sneak preview for select guests. Now, the general public will be able to take advantage of American Dream's record-breaking spot in a few weeks. And those records come in spades: The world’s tallest indoor drop slide with a 50-foot freefall, the world's largest lazy river at 1.5 acres, the world’s tallest and longest hydromagnetic water coaster, to name a few. If all of those numbers sound too intimidating, worry not: The park caters to swimmers of all abilities and offers something for everyone, including the Kung Fu Panda Temple of Awesomeness Play Structure, the Soakin Safari and King Julien’s Pineapple Jam Swim-up Bar. 

 

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Photograph: Courtesy Joshua Bright

29. Wave Hill's Family Art Project

Things to do Classes and workshops Wave Hill, The Bronx

Every weekend, Wave Hill hosts an art workshop class catered to toddlers and families. Using the seasons, holidays and—of course— Riverdale's gorgeous grounds as a muse, the morning workshop tackles a variety of DIY projects. From painting and planting to coloring and sculpting, this offering is perfect for the creative kiddos in your crew. On Saturdays, arrive before noon to score free access to the venue. All ages. 

the dynamite shop
Courtesy: The Dynamite Shop

30. Dynamite Shop Weekend Workshops

Things to do Classes and workshops Remote, Midtown West

The Dynamite Shop is helping families improve their culinary chops, right from the comfort of their own kitchen. Online weekend workshops cover a wide variety and range from $40–$50 per family. The schedule is as follows: 

  • Saturday, Sept 12 from 2–30pm: Fresh pasta 
  • Saturday, Sept 19 from 2–4pm: Sushi and Edamame
  • Saturday, Sept 26 from 2–30pm: Monkey Bread Brunch 
  • Saturday, Oct 3 from 2–3:30pm: Ultimate Cupcake Challenge 
  • Saturday, Oct 10 from 2–4pm: Chinese hand-pulled noodles
  • Saturday, Oct 17 from 2–3:30pm: Free-form pies 
  • Saturday, Oct 24 from 2–4pm: Dumplings from Scratch
  • Saturday, Oct 31 from noon–1:30pm: Caramel apples with all the toppings
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The Morgan Library & Museum
Photograph: Graham Haber

31. Morgan Explorers

Things to do Classes and workshops Remote, Midtown West

Bring the best of The Morgan right to your living room. During this 45-minute virtual family program, young patrons will be guided through crafts, explore museum objects and learn more about the attraction's library and temporary exhibits. Ages 3 and up. 

Classic Harbor Line
Photograph: Courtesy Classic Harbor Line/Dennis Cahlo

32. Classic Harbor Line Statue and Sightseeing Cruise

Things to do Walks and tours Chelsea Piers, Chelsea

Take in NYC's gorgeous views from a new vantage point—right on the water! This weekend's Statue and Sightseeing Cruise will provide photo-worthy views of your favorite family attractions, so make sure your camera roll is ready! The cruise leaves from Pier 62 at Chelsea Piers. All ages. 

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Kayaking brooklyn bridge park
Photograph: Courtesy Etienne Frossard

33. Free kayaking at Brooklyn Bridge Park

News City Life

Anxious to start paddling? We can't blame you. There are a few things to note before venturing to the boathouse on Pier 4. For one, registration is open and kayaking will resume Wednesdays from 4–8pm and Saturdays from 10am–4pm from Aug 15–Oct 15, according to the park's website. Walk-ins will be accommodated if there is room. All participants must wear a face mask and attendees under 18 must have a guardian present. Park-goers must sign a waiver before hitting the water.

 

PS ART
Photograph: Courtesy The Metropolitan Museum of Art/P.S. 193 Alfred J. Kennedy Queens/Alexandra Budnick

34. "P.S. Art" Exhibition at The Met

Museums Special interest The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Central Park

NYC's youngest are showing off their creative chops. The 13th annual "P.S. Art" exhibition at the Met showcases artwork from 122 students ranging from prekindergarten through 12th grade in public schools and District 75 schools throughout the five boroughs. Catch all the work in a variety of media! "Now, more than ever, we are committed to investing in education and supporting school communities," Max Hollein, director of The Met, said in a statement. Though the Museum had to close for over five months, realizing the presentation of 'P.S. Art' soon after our reopening demonstrates the importance of this artistic program. I'm looking forward to celebrating the tremendous accomplishments of these very talented students." All ages.

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Storyland exhibit
Courtesy: Minnesota Children's Museum + David Kern

35. "Storyland: A Trip Through Childhood Favorites"

Museums Special interest Liberty Science Center,

What's better than getting lost in a good story? Liberty Science Center's new exhibit focuses on children's favorites—If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Numeroff and Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin, Jr., to name a few—while allowing little bookworms to enjoy imagination and dramatic play along the way. All ages. 

DC Super Hero
Courtesy: The Children's Museum + Jennifer Dummett

36. "DC Super Heroes: Discover Your Superpowers"

Museums Special interest Liberty Science Center,

Consider it your favorite comic books come to life: "DC Super Heroes: Discover Your Superpowers" lets kids connect with their favorite vigilantes like Batman and Wonder Woman as they learn about safety along the way. Young visitors can solve puzzles in Gotham, see if trouble is brewing thanks to the Crisis Scanner, wander through Museum of Ancient History's laser maze and much more. All ages. 

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spineless at new york aquarium
Photograph: Courtesy Julie Larsen Maher

37. "Spineless" at the New York Aquarium

Things to do Exhibitions New York Aquarium | Brooklyn, NY, Brooklyn

Now that New York Aquarium has reopened to the public, we're finally able to check out "Spineless," in person the newest exhibit hall at the aquarium. No internet or live cams required! The exhibit features octopuses, jellies, Spider Crabs and other invertebrates. (Get it?) All ages.

Photograph: Courtesy Craig Chesek

38. "The Nature of Color"

Museums Natural history American Museum of Natural History, Upper West Side

What is color? How does it work? Why do diamonds look they way they do? Do some colors really make us sad? These and other heavy questions are addressed by "The Nature of Color," a new exhibition opening at the American Museum of Natural History. The family-friendly show features interactive exhibits that invite kids to play and experiment with the science of colors by way of an immersive color-changing room that responds to movement, a light lab, an interactive game show and more. All ages. 

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Photograph: Courtesy Museum of the City of New York

39. "City/Game Basketball in New York"

Museums Sport Museum of the City of New York, East Harlem

If your kids love to shoot hoops, you won't want to miss "City/Game Basketball in New York," a new exhibit that explores the game as a whole and those in NYC who play it. Learn more about the game's MVPs, history and impact in our neighborhoods. All ages. 

Photograph: Courtesy Evan Joseph Images

40. Empire State Building's Reimagined Observatory Experience

Things to do Empire State Building | Manhattan, NY, Midtown West

NOTE: The Empire State Building's Observatory Experience will reopen on July 20 as part of NYC's Phase 4 reopening plans. Visits will be limited and on a reservation basis. Initial capacity will be reduced by more than 80 percent to only 500 guests in the Observatories’ 70,000 square foot space at a time—kind of like having NYC to yourself! Snag tickets at esbny.com

NYC's most popular Instagram landmark underwent a renovation that is practically as breathtaking as its views of Manhattan. The $165 million reimagined Observatory Experience at the Empire State Building allows visitors to learn about all aspects of the iconic building: from the moment it was built to its place in pop culture today. Galleries focus on the construction, opening day and everything in between. Catch 70+ screens depicting the building's place in the NYC skyline, see if your favorite celebrity has made a visit and, of course, get a taste of King Kong! Giant ape fingers pierce the wall of a 1930s-themed office. Yikes! All ages. 

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