It’s hard to believe a week has already elapsed since Halloween. But between Disney buying Lucasfilm, a Transformers ride announced at Universal Orlando, our Haunted Mansion short film becoming hugely popular, and our United States President getting re-elected, it’s sure been a busy week. So it’s taken this long for me to assemble our final look at the most exciting of all Halloween events in Orlando: my own home haunt.
Though I frequent the big theme park Halloween events like Halloween Horror Nights, Howl-O-Scream, and Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, it’s always the time spent entertaining trick-or-treaters at my house on Halloween night that entertains me the most. It’s my chance to play designer for a day, pulling all our spooky props from storage and assembling them across our front lawn and driveway, with a unique new twist each year.
This year, I created an all-new 5 zone soundtrack, added a few new life-sized creatures, and successfully scared almost every trick-or-treater that approached our front door with a new pop-up zombie. It was all a huge success, with more than 100 people coming and going throughout the night (a big number for this neighborhood), some returning multiple times to take in all the decorations. And this time, I captured it all via what I am calling our Trick-or-Treater Cam.
In the video and photos below, witness a sampling of the many screams I caused on Halloween night 2012, along with a full tour of all our decorations.
Video: Halloween 2012 at Ricky’s House / Inside the Magic HQ
In my mind, the proper way to approach our house on Halloween was from the left side, first passing by two of our returning inflatables, a Haunted Mansion-like organ with ballroom dancers and a giant stack of Jack-O-Lanterns. I added some new catchy music to accompany this zone.
Just beyond the inflatables was a new take on our yard tree, this year dripping with blood (lights) and sounding like it just rose up from bubbling fires of Hell. One of my favorite simple props, Tree Face, also returned for yet another year of subtle terror.
The front yard featured a small cemetery setup, similar to last year’s. I had bigger plans for this area but extremely gusty winds during the day prevented me from setting it all up here.
The right side of the house was home to our annual graveyard, growing year-by-year. I opted to not set up the Evil Entity figure that was new last year, as I try to keep the display fresh. He’ll likely return next year. But I did move around a few props and added some new tombstones. One of the largest new props this year is a full size headless horseman, standing guard near the front door. Sound effects in this area included crow caws, wolf howls, owl hoots, and a variety of disembodied voices exclaiming things “You shouldn’t have buried me. I’m not dead,” and “Didn’t the other kids warn you not to come here?”
A large number of Jack-O-Lanterns were once again spread across the whole house, this year lighting up in sync with a variety of maniacal laughs played loud enough to set the mood for what was otherwise a rather dull and drab neighborhood. I personally provided most of the Halloween ambiance for the whole street, which trick-or-treaters young and old definitely appreciated.
The left side of the house became zombie central, improving upon last year’s meager theme. I replaced the small toy projector I used last year with a much brighter, high-power projector, producing a far better effect of zombie silhouettes stumbling across our garage, coupled with the sounds of snarls and growls coming from within. The remote-controlled zombie returned, which I made move just as people began walking up the driveway, always producing a few laughs. And the Teddy Bear Girl from “The Walking Dead” freely roaming around the driveway was a big hit as well, seemingly following trick-or-treaters around, looking for a snack.
For those visitors who survived all of the above, our front door area offered the biggest scare of the night. Lit in an ominous green light with skeletons of all shapes and sizes hovering throughout, the entrance area featured our fifth soundtrack, unintelligible whispers bouncing around the confined area. As is tradition, our one real pumpkin amidst the many fake ones was prominently displayed here, featuring my carving of Sparky from “Frankenweenie.” (My wife Michelle normally also carves a pumpkin but this year she cut her hand while scooping out the gourds’ innards and unfortunately couldn’t continue. She’s fine now.) Early in the evening, one young trick-or-treater holding a plush Sparky dog excitedly exclaimed “FRANKENWEENIE!” when he saw the pumpkin – a great little Halloween moment.
Beyond the pumpkins sat a single tombstone, somewhat oddly out of place in this area, but importantly hiding a surprising fright behind. As visitors stepped up into the entrance area and placed their weight on one of our welcome mats, a pop-up zombie would be triggered, suddenly jumping up from behind the tombstone, and scaring nearly every person who showed up. It was quite enjoyable to watch from within the comfort of our house and far less exhausting than standing still in costume outside the front door like I did last year.
Most of the scares resulted in quick startles, lots of screams, a few expletives from some older visitors, and only one kid immediately busting out crying. Fortunately, we reward all our trick-or-treaters for braving the horrors with full size candies, this year offering a choice of Crunch bars, Starburst packages, or bags of Skittles. The tears and looks of terror disappear quickly when they see the treats that follow. And most kids love it, some sticking around to trigger the scare multiple times, laughing wildly between each one. I’m happy to be helping to create a new generation of Halloween fans.
Halloween 2012 was one of the best years yet, with loads of trick-or-treaters, parents, friends, and other family members coming out to see our house, the only one in our neighborhood to really “go all out” for the holiday. I’m happy to be the one to have “that one house” that kids of all ages look forward to seeing each year and everyone is always amazed by the fact that all our decorations are put out only during Halloween day, disappearing by the end of the night. But it’s all in an effort to surprise and amaze on my favorite day of the year. Plans for next year have already begun.
More photos from Halloween 2012 at Inside the Magic HQ: