Halloween Forum banner

1 - 20 of 22 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
48 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
I haven’t seen this started yet, if it has I’ll pull this one down.

What worked this year for you. What did you change or improve? What were the things that you broke your arm patting yourself on the back for?

What didn’t work? What got kicked to try later bin? Weather is always a challenge and this year maybe more than before. Were you up for it? Did your Halloween survive?

Personally this was a huge year of fabrication. Vine arches and styrofoam tombstones. A cohesive theme. DIY LED lighting! Black light flood lights and fluorescent paint. Pallet coffins and skeleton chariot. Flying glow in the dark skeletons. Using the neighbors shrink wrapped boat as a projection screen. I incorporated my house by moving shutters and “foam” boarding over windows. A black light ghost haunted our enclosed front porch. A green bulb went in the light post and an “flickering attic” bulb on the exterior house light. Per request I even tastefully decorated inside this year making little vignettes and displays. There was even time to make my own costume: Kane from Alien complete with plush chest-burster.

...but

I can’t overcome geography and topography. Simply put the sight lines make things in the grave yard hard to see. The diy leds were awesome but were to dim to see from distance. Our dead end street is small and isn’t conducive to TOTs and honestly for safety I don’t encourage it. Also we’re not here on the big night for the same reason. Lastly not one motion prop. All my research in tutorials. Scrounging for wiper motors (I have 5 wired and ready) but I couldn’t get it done.

Next year though, more light. Bigger, physically bigger, displays. Sound and fog!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
897 Posts
I didn't decorate my deck (witch den) this year and I wasn't even going to decorate the yard but a friend called yesterday and said she was coming down to help me set up my cemetery. So there we were setting up tombstones until the kids started showing up. So not all the stones and yard decorations made it out this year but it was still better than last year. I was unsure if I would be decorating again because I haven't been healthy the last couple of years and also the number of kids has decreased the last couple of years. The ones that do come haven't been as excited about Halloween as they have in the past so I can't drum up much interest in wasting the little physical energy I do have with decorating. I really thought I might be done with it after last year. I was even on Facebook last year asking "where are all the kids?" and tons of other people in town were also on FB and saying they didn't get many either. Some houses that usually get about 50 or so only got about 10 kids. We usually get at least 120-140 kids and last year we barely got 90 kids.


Even though I didn't have all my cemetery pieces out I am glad I managed to get some out. The energy from the kids was different this year. The excitement was back. Lots of laughing, happy kids in great costumes. There was a community gathering at the community hall where they had hot dogs, hot chocolate, costume contests and fireworks so we didn't think we would get many door to door kids but we still got 89 kids. It is still way less than we used to get but the whole energy thing was different and I was so glad to see it. It re-energised me and now I can look forward to next year. I am still surprised at the number of kids we got because we have been having lots of bears wandering around and there is a sow with a couple of cubs as well so I thought most kids would be inside at the hall. The forest fires were all around us this summer so there are more bears, cougars etc than usual. The bears are still feeding so they haven't headed to their dens yet. Of course that makes it dangerous for kids to be out TOTing. They also predicted snow for yesterday but it was nice out thank goodness.


I am so grateful to see the Halloween energy is good again. I was sure getting disheartened about it but now I am doing the happy dance. :)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
527 Posts
The vast majority of the wind-proofing worked beautifully, the only problems came with one of our animatronic ghosts in the graveyard, which is effectively a giant sail for the wind. Even though it had an 80lb base, the wind still knocked it over. It would up both staked to the ground, then propped up with a 4' piece of rebar, then tied back to the fence until it literally could not move no matter what you did to it. The 45 feet of new fencing shifted a little, again because it's a giant sail against the wind, but once I connected all of the panels together, it was more or less stable. I already plan on making some modifications to it before I put it away for the season.

The only thing I'd say didn't work, and it was minor, is that we actually got rain in October for the first time since we moved up here. Most of my props are not protected against moisture because it's never been necessary. The one day that we got solid rain, it caused some damage to our tombstones which were not Drylok'd and it tripped a breaker on one side. Otherwise, everything else weathered the storm. I am retiring my final Blucky because the sun has finally caused the plastic to crumble. one leg fell off earlier in the month, which ended up in the mouth of a skeleton dog, and one hand fell off and is barely holding on. Otherwise, everything has been replaced by Pose-n-stays, we only kept the Blucky because it was a disposable skeleton for hanging up in the background. Now it's getting disposed.

Otherwise, it all worked. There were a couple of props I had to continually repair until I figured out how to make the connections work on the motors. One of them I only perfected on Halloween, but now it's bulletproof and ran like a champ all night. I already have big plans for next year and my wife and I walked around, since there wasn't a lot of ToTs anyhow, figuring out priorities. It ought to be fun.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
48 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
Mariem that’s great about the good parts. Sorry to hear about your health and I can certainly understand that lack of desire. I guess growing up staring across the harbor at the infamous Salem MA, Halloween is literally in my blood. I’ve worked haunted houses there and other related attractions. For me it’s all for me. Now with children of my own, it’s 50/50. But they love it and are involved.
Best wishes on your healthy and please stay away from the “lions and bears Oh my!” (Puns completely intentional)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
87 Posts
At Stych, I am curious why your DIY LED's didn't work? Do you have any pics/ videos of your display? This is my first year with DIY LED's as well. I put (4) 1 watt orange LED's in Tiki Torches, and you could see those down the whole block. I will post pics/ videos as I get a chance.

As far as displays, it was mostly a con. My main centerpieces were computer controlled, and I was fighting with that all night. Since that was the main piece, I did't have any time to rig the animatronics and some of the other set pieces failed as well. I keep telling myself that this year I am going to have everything set up hours before the big night; alas for whatever reason, its always a mad rush at the end with something usually not working.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
48 Posts
Discussion Starter #6
Well “didn’t work” is subjective. They worked perfectly well but the visibility of my yard is hampered by a fence and elevation. When standing on my lawn it was everything I wanted and more! The green spots were awesome. I converted 3 candle skulls from battery to 12v AC. I made witch/swamp lanterns with flickering yellow and they were mint. But Ambient street lighting from neighbors and being back lit by the moon just wreaked havoc. 5833923A-14A0-4426-BEB3-6DABF5EFF799.jpg 5833923A-14A0-4426-BEB3-6DABF5EFF799.jpg
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
16 Posts
We added a path through the front yard and it was a huge success. We want to expand it next year and add some arches and a spring bridge. This year we built or assembled more of own props and under estimated the learning curve/ creation time. So everything we got done worked....it was just half of what we had planned.

We added a lot more LED lights and two more fog machines...which kept tripping the circuit breakers so we ended up running extension cords through the house. We need to get an electrician to add another breaker box to the house or get a generator!

I took the week off of work this year which helped a lot with set up, last minute supply runs and clean up. We also started putting a lot more out earlier as the weather allowed. It was a lot more fun to enjoy more of the display through out the month rather than just one day although the wind did some easily repairable damage to a couple of props and we had to touch up the paint on a few because of the rain.

Overall our biggest and best Halloween so far.....
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
363 Posts
I have decided that a body armature made from spiderhill propworks' joints and pvc is going to be far superior to ANY premade body form. No more buying premade forms.


My Spirit Halloween prop trees have just about lived out their life expectancy. They have fallen over so many time when the wind comes along, smashing the joints, that I am not entirely sure I can put them back up next year without some serious overhauling. And from here on out we will not put them out without somehow anchoring them.

o.jpg
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
5,612 Posts
What worked:

REMOTES!

OH MY GOD DO I LOVE REMOTES! We upgraded about half the pumpkins to remote controlled lighting. Bought last year, but didn't arrive till after halloween. It was a gamble as listed battery life is fairly low on the lights. They not only lasted both nights, but did so in freezing temps. Previous year's had a 30 minute or more setup/teardown just lighting the 100+ pumpkins. Also had remote controlled candles that fooled a lot of people thinking they were real.

Hurricane lanterns. Yes, oldschool oil fire lanterns. I actually felt safer with these than my torches, and the more intimate lighting was nice.

Scented candles in the pumpkins. 6 spread around the yard were enough to get noticeable comments. I don't think I'd use this scent again, but it's time to find the right one.

What didn't work:

In an effort to prevent damage to my newly sodded lawn, I moved my entrance from years past. This confused a LOT of people.

Despite my best efforts, the path was not clear enough and people wandered.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,177 Posts
Haven't had the party yet but so far weather really b0rked the entire season for me. Too hot, rain, promised rain, all made it not as good as it could have been. Not much I can do about that except move, which I would love to do.

My new props of course will need upgrades.

A few strings of lights have started burning out. I am going to have to replace them before next year and try to anticipate when others will probably go. Also some of my blacklights are getting tired and I need to put fresh ones out next year.

I need to make myself do really deep cleaning and maintenance of props this winter. The glow stuff is getting filthy and not glowing as well. We live on a major highway and stuff get grinky. I need to undress, clean and redress the ghost. Not only is she grimy some of the vinyl lace trim is falling off.

Death's scythe is WAY too floppy. I think I need to get some aluminium sheet and cut it for that.

I figured out a better way to do the timer candles and a way to actually waterproof them.

This year has been bad. It's hard to come up with positives.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
674 Posts
Best year yet for lighting, IMO. Orange main lighting, purple off-area guide lights, green highlight, with glowing purple windows. Cemetery in blue, with green highlight and red windows. Smokehouse as exit-tunnel and a final push through the trees worked out great. Scorched scarecrow an excellent feature

Otherwise, kind of a nightmare! I do all this with my parents, and my Dad got the flu and shingles the weekend before. So Mom and I were out scrambling, working very long hours to get set up. We're pretty exhausted, with sore feet and stiff legs. Oh, and it poured down rain so we were soaked, freezing, out in the weather all day, and then several things stopped working. I never seem to have good luck keeping a fog machine going, but the wet really didn't help. My axworthy bat managed to tangle itself on one of the wheels.

But I tried to stop and enjoy the little moments as much as possible, and I think that really helped.

Solar lights are wonderful, when they get enough of a charge to last.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
45 Posts
Overall, 2018 was a good year and a lot of fun for our haunted yard.

PROS: Uplighting and improved fogger made a huge difference this year. I bummed some Chauvet EZ Wedges from work for green and purple and orange uplighting on selected animatronics and then used LED flashlights as mini pin spots on smaller props and tombstones. My Untimely Death animatronic wasn't functioning 100% correctly (mouth wasn't moving) so I turned her sound off and uplit her in purple and she got more attention than ever before! We finally "bit the bullet" and just cut the sound wire on our malfunctioning ground fogger and it functioned perfectly - first time since we got it three years ago. And for once, the wind wasn't so ridiculous that all of our fog actually stayed in our yard vs. our neighbor's yard.

I also focused my themes more this year, with a cemetery on one half of the yard and a haunted playground/carnival on the other half and that made things more visually coherent and gave the yard more impact overall. Weather was also perfect for the night.

CONS

Never got around to fixing my jumping spider and I had some regulars say that they missed her. Multiple colds and work travel kept me from even attempting to do anything with the bridge prop that I bought from Spirit last year, so it will have to wait until 2019 to debut. Didn't have thorough enough fencing on the playground side of the yard so some overexcited kids and grownups ran into the yard. I had a great selfie station for people with my haunted bride and skelly horse, but they wanted more pictures with the merry go round and pumpkin ghoul - human nature, I guess.Despite great weather, our neighborhood seemed to peter out around 7:30 pm which seemed really early to me. Still, we had a greaat time and I can't wait for next year. halloween20181.jpg
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
48 Posts
Discussion Starter #14
As I sit here in more dreary November rain, it also occurs to me Guns and Roses nailed that one, as I sit and read all these wonderful posts that I’m not alone! Wingednazgul im reading yours with near tears in my eyes because it’s like reading my own mind! Two summers ago we started a renovation. As I was wsetting up decorations the electricians were installing interior electrical to satisfy current code. I mentioned that a few boxes outside would certainly be helpful. Since they were working on the interior of exterior walls I now have all the power I need...so I dropped down from 110 extension cords everywhere to one 12v transformer and low voltage lighting. Go Figure! At least Christmas will be bright! As far as prop building and the learning curve I nearly laughed my coffee out of my mouth. So many plans I had. So little time. And we too will be planning a walk through path to allow better viewing.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
48 Posts
Discussion Starter #15
SpookyB. Scary playground sounds awful, and I mean that in a delightfully macabre way! And a selfie station is an awesome way to incorporate your patrons into your haunt. Bravo!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
45 Posts
Thanks, Stych! I had the merry-go-round with the clowns, the see-saw kids, a couple of zombie babies, and a Jack/Reaper character behind one of the zombie children. I put a tiny party hat on my vulture and then party flags off of my lightpost and, voila - playground! halloween20182.jpg
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3 Posts
"... But Ambient street lighting from neighbors and being back lit by the moon just wreaked havoc."

Next year, Halloween night's Thursday moon is a waxing crescent (barely visible), but 2020 gives us a Halloween FULL MOON, on a Saturday!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
649 Posts
If I were you I would hammer some 4 foot rebar into the ground (if it is on ground and not your driveway), then send it up the inside of the trunk piece. 2 or 3 pieces around the inside of the perimeter, a foot into the ground and three feet high, should do the trick. You could additionally fill the insides of the roots with concrete.

Don't mess around with ropes, cables or half measures for something that top heavy.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
869 Posts
WHAT WORKED:

Our little haunt is themed. The haunted graveyard is front and center. People enjoy reading the tombstones with funny epitaphs.

We started creating mausoleum facades for our staircase and they were very popular. It helps to realize no one knows what you wanted to finish or what didn't go right. They're just having fun with whatever you put out. So, in our case, we didn't have the whole line of mausoleums that will one day completely hide the staircase, but we had two of them, and they went out with filler in between them. Everyone loved seeing them, and are eager to return next year to see the rest of them take their place in the line.

frontyard.jpg

We have animated props. We made a cauldron creep that lived under the entry to our house and he was a big hit.

Our pirate skeleton rocking in his chair at the top of the stairs is a kid favorite. His hook is tied to fishing line and as he rocks it waves about. He's remotely controlled, so when we see kids walking up the stairs, we stop him rocking and he talks to the kids.He only has three sayings, but his jaw moves and his eyes light up. The kids never seem to mind his limited conversational abilities.

pirate.jpg

New Lighting. We added 5 10 watt RGB LED spot lights and they really livened up the display. Three Gemmy lights gave motion to otherwise static displays.

Sound Effects. We had a soundtrack full of creepy sounds, voices, and music. It actually drew in a few people who heard it from the housing development next to us. (Pretty good since they fenced off any access to our road except at the fire lane at the end of the block.)

Somewhere to get warm on a cold night. We had a fire pit set up on our gravel driveway next to the entry walkway. This was really popular with both adults and kids. It is something we will definitely do again next year.

firepit01.jpg

WHAT DIDN'T WORK:

Panicking over what wasn't finished, wasn't working, or just missed the mark in our minds. We could see every mistake, every missing tombstone broken by squirrels or clumsy humans, every chip, every mismatched paint job, and everything that went wrong clear as day. Those folks visiting us Halloween night didn't see a one. We even had a tombstone popper that refused to pop up on Halloween night. He was fine right up until the big night, but he seemed to have died of stage fright opening night. No one commented about him just staring at them from the side never moving.

Not enough extension cords.The extras we ordered didn't arrive until the day after Halloween. :( But we made do with what we had and most of the lights were pretty close to where we wanted them to be.

And that's it. We had fun. The people who visited us had fun. That was really the only goal, so we succeeded even if we know where all the things that went wrong skeletons are buried. We can't wait for spring to arrive so we can get out and start it all over again. :)
 
1 - 20 of 22 Posts
Top