Two exciting South Jersey holiday lighting experience announcements… both from the same ingenious and festive holiday display local family!
First, Glow drive-thru holiday light experience (and more!) is being set up in Washington Township, at the almost 20 acre “TD Bank” property at Cross Keys Rd. and Black Horse Pike (across from Sam’s Club)
The Uszaki family behind the Glow holiday light experience are also well known in South Jersey for their former synchronized Deptford Dazzling Lights display (Facebook)… and that home holiday experience is being featured this season on ABC Television’s the Great Christmas Light Fight TV show on December 12th!
And so that there is no confusion… the Deptford Dazzling Lights home display which was enjoyed by 10s of thousands over the last few years, will not take place in 2023 at the home. Instead the family and team have grown the effort into Glow Washington Township… which opens on Black Friday Nov 24.
The full Glow Washington Township experience will feature the signature holiday lighting drive-thru experience, a winter carnival with rides and food options, food trucks, and Santa’s Workshop!
Glow will also be collecting toys for charity!
Glow is a ticketed event – there are two exciting features which both require admission tickets (Glow Drive-Thru and Dazzling District). Please review the Glow website for latest on tickets, pricing and programs
This article features a lot of commentary on what to expect when Glow Washington Township opens on Black Friday November 24th, but with pre-opening photos to give a sense of the work that went into Glow!
I wanted to save the “full experience” for the guests… or maybe I’ll be back ahead of the opening for a live stream or more
On Wednesday Nov 8th the Glow website goes live with all of the details and pricing!
Glow Washington Township – Amazing Holiday Experience
The Glow website goes live on Wednesday Nov 8th and will have details on the full multi-faceted experience… but I spent some time over the weekend talking to one of the lead folks in charge of Glow, mastermind Dan Uszaki.
And after those conversations, honestly like a snowman in spring, my brain was melting trying to comprehend how in one year Dan and his team custom-created the amount of amazing light displays, computerized light synchronizations, holiday carnival experiences and more… all while Dan still has a full time job!.
I mean, when you first hear the story that a former home display guy upgrades to a larger drive-thru experience you would likely set your own expectations to… it should be a little bit better.
Well that would be like comparing a snowball to an avalanche. And his former display at his home was amazing!
Coming out of the gate, Glow Washington Township is already likely the largest and most technically advanced holiday lighting experience in the Delaware Valley.
Plus, Glow will offer a variety of family holiday experiences starting with the signature drive-thru light display, to the holiday carnival village featuring rides and delicious food, and yes even Santa we will be setting up shop inside Santa’s workshop (the former TD Bank)!
To give an idea of the size and scope of this exciting Glow holiday experience…
The drive-thru path is 3/4 of a mile long, and is expected to take 18 minutes to experience.
Along the way there are almost 1,200 custom created holiday props in a variety of themes, so there’s something for everyone. TWELVE HUNDRED!
The drive path includes two lanes of fully enclosed tunnels…. 250 feet of tunnel effects to be exact!
And the props range from exciting colorful displays situated alongside your car, to the tunnel experiences, to massive displays such as a 45 foot tall snowman with top hat!
Looking at the photo of the snowman it’s hard to get perspective of how big it is until you look at the second photo and realize that those adult people are standing inside of just the snowman’s hat! It’s massive and only at Glow.
And don’t get me started with the giant guitar! Amazing.
Of course it’s not enough for Dan and the team to just put lights on the displays.
If you visited Dan’s prior display at his home you realize that everything he does with lights, is computer controlled.. and that plan did not change with this Cross Keys holiday experience. In fact, it magnified!
At Glow Washington Township every single light is individually computer controlled, both within the props and also the large matrix displays.
To make all that technology innovation happen, Glow Washington Township has 15 times the computing power of his former home display… just to control the individually addressable pixel lights.
This is when things really start getting mind boggling for me, when I start thinking about the effort it has taken the team to put this together.
All of these 1200 displays were custom designed by Dan and built with help from his team of paid employees.
Not only did they come up with the ideas but they had to design the graphics, and then actually manufacture the props.
To make this possible, Dan purchased a large $25,000 CNC machine which is used to take his digitally created graphic designs and perfectly cut them out of the signage material.
Of course the graphics then need to be added, and every pixel light had to be individually placed, programmed separately to turn on and off, synchronized to music.
Dan pointed out that the snowman alone has 45,000 pixel lights, and his staff had to individually place each light, and zip-tie them in place. All that work just for one prop, and he has almost 1200!
Glow Washington Township – Safety First
So just like the Phillies putting Schwarber in the lead spot to get people excited with his Schwarber-bomb home-runs, I started this article with a lot of details and facts on the amazing Glow display to get you excited about how awesome the experience will be.
So it’s a good time to share that Dan is not just focused on the holiday displays… safety and managing the crowds is just as important to him as the holiday display itself. He has thought of every aspect.
Some folks are reading this commentary and excited for this new holiday experience, but then also may be thinking “what about the crowds? What about the traffic? What if cars backup?”. (Guys, I read all the 42Freeway Facebook comments, ha!)
Well Dan recognizes these are legit concerns, so he is spending significant money in design and staffing to make sure everything flows smoothly.
First off, just from a drive-thru flow aspect Dan designed a 10 lane starting queue area for the cars, where the shorter rows of cars waiting for their turn, will not create one long line backing up and impacting local roadways.
Cars waiting their turn in the 10 lanes will be entertained during their several minutes wait, as there will be a large digital matrix holiday display, and festive lighted props in the immediate area to entertain family and friends while waiting in their car.
As space becomes available in the drive-thru experience, staff will direct a row of cars to move forward.
I joked with Dan that the technique seems like it’s been taken right from Disney World and theme parks, where those pre-show areas of a ride (say the Aerosmith rock’n’roll coaster) actually has multiple queue lines to entertain people ahead of bringing them on to a ride.
And then the next big thing is both common sense but yet amazing to me.
Glow has contracted with the Washington Township Police Department to have onsite personel, paying for police officers to be both along the Cross Keys Rd entrance managing any potential traffic concerns, as well as having officers walking the holiday carnival area… and interacting with the community!
It is expected there will be five police officers on site at all times, all paid for by Glow.
Additionally the property features parking for about 240 cars, but just to play it safe Dan recommends that you carpool and travel together in larger groups.
It makes economic sense for you also… the pricing for the drive-thru experience is based on “a carload” whether it’s just the driver or a minivan with seven people… so it makes sense to load up with family and friends before you head out to Glow!
Glow Washington Township – The Experience
Well I covered a lot of the details in the long intro but let me just go back over some of the other aspects beyond the drive-thru experience.
So as mentioned the drive-thru path is about 3/4 of a mile long and it winds through much of the 19.5 acres. It features almost 1,200 custom designed props, all of which are outfitted with computer controlled individually addressable lights.
The second part of the experience is a holiday carnival Dazzling District which includes a village set up where local craft businesses can set up shop at Glow. (You can reach out to Dan at his email Dan@visitglow.com, If you’re interested in operating one of the village shops )
Glow Washington Township will also feature a holiday carnival experience, with several rides and carnival food… as well as a rotating food truck schedule.
One of the signature fun rides will be the Ferris Wheel, of course!
Dan says he’s working with the team to add his holiday flair to the rides, one of which should be very popular is the trackless train.
The train will be a three to five minute holiday ride and feature its own distinctive light show, offering 60 to 75 holiday props… all synchronized to music! Adults will also be able to ride along with their kids.
The holiday carnival experience will offer four food carts offering caramel apples, specialty hot chocolates, chicken fingers, funnel cakes and more.
And as mentioned a food truck area will also be on site, rotating the options weekly.
The Washington Township Police Department will also be on site at times with their ice cream truck, offering free ice cream to the community!
On site games will include you ring the bell game, which will be themed as a candy cane pole.
Dan also has an idea for an aspect of the property that he says could qualify for the Guinness Book of World Records, but he’s still working those details out… we’ll have to wait and see!
Santa’s Workshop is taking over the former TD Bank building at the corner. Glow Washington Township will operate seven days a week from Black Friday through early January.
Up until Christmas Eve Santa, will be on site every day. There will be other guest characters for photo opportunities, and after Christmas Eve those characters will take the forefront photo role.
That being said Dan promises a variety of different photo opportunities. Many instagrammable moments!
There will be a professional photographer on site taking photos for a reasonable fee but Dan wants the experience to be available to everyone, so you’re absolutely fine with having your child sit with Santa and taking your own photos with your smartphone camera.
The counters at Santa’s workshop are expected to be utilized for hot chocolate and other fun sales items.
Glow is also collecting toys for charity and we’ll be utilizing the former banks office space to put a Christmas tree and collect those toys.
As mentioned the Glow website goes live on November 8th and that is when you’ll be able to buy tickets.
From Dan regarding his team:
Great achievement always requires great sacrifice. The light show and the Glow Village cannot be done by one person, it literally takes a village of committed people with the same genuine nature to serving kids, families and the traditions of holidays. First and foremost, my wife, Kimberly Uszaki will always be my biggest supporter and ultimate fan of my Christmas lights. She is my rock and the reason why I am able to pursue all of my insane passions. I love her more than Christmas itself, which is quite an impossible feat. Billy Frostick is my best friend and an absolute genius. He takes all of my creative inspiration and helps bring it to life with minimal effort. I can wholeheartedly say, that this show would not happen without the help of several other people including Hope Scully, a long-time, faithful fan of my residential display, Wayne Hammond, a Rowan computer engineering student who took a risk on a startup venture, Lyle Kaighn, a man who created countless hours of time in a busy schedule to assist in our pre-production, Dianna Whittaker, our house. expert on “Snowtorius BIG,” and Matthew Michielli, a family member who dropped everything to ensure that nothing was more important than this show happening in the 2023 season. There are a number of other individuals that just wanted to help, provide time and resources, and never wanted a piece of the limelight. They know who they are, they don’t want the recognition, and for that, I am eternally grateful.Dan Uszaki – Glow!
The Great Christmas Light Fight – Deptford Dazzling Lights
And of course the other big news is the Deptford Dazzling Lights display will be featured on ABC Televisions Great Christmas Light Fight on December 12th At 10:00 PM
Last October, celebrity host Carter Oosterhouse was the on site when they filmed the scene at Deptford Dazzling Lights. Dan, his family and friends did an amazing job keeping this quiet from everybody over the last year… so that come this December everyone could be surprised to see their favorite local South Jersey holiday experience on national television!
Homeowner Dan lives only a few blocks away from me and last year I did make it over near the end of the filming… although I didn’t catch any of the stars or the actual production moments.
But it was exciting to see the production crews out front of the house, and I had a chance to spend some time talking to one of the camera crew members about his experience being a part of the show. A huge amount of travel across the county, squeezed into a very short window of time!
So yes, just to recap they filmed this show one year in advance and while we will be watching the Deptford episode this year, for 2023 there will be no holiday display at the Deptford Dazzling Lights Home.
And for 2023 if you want an amazing festive holiday lighting experience and more, head on over to Glow in Washington Township
Starting this Wednesday you can get more details at the Glow website and purchase tickets in advance: VisitGlow.com
Links and Location
Glow – Washington Township
Berlin Cross Keys Road, at the Black Horse Pike
Washington Township, NJ