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Discussion Starter #1
Super excited that it's only 145 days away from Halloween! This year, for our fourth Party Haunt at this residence, we are doing a clown/carnival theme. We've had a few planning sessions, began prop building and and started the build a bit early to ensure we can add the all fine touches.

We normally have ZERO tot's in our neighborhood on 10/31 but since I built a small shack in the front yard last year we had a few folks stop by to look inside. They were all surprised to discovered the shack connect to a maze in the whole back yard! I don't expect any additional foot traffic this year but we'll be open on Halloween and the main party event will be the weekend after Halloween (Nov 2nd).

Stay tuned for more build and prop updates!

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Typical Ghoul Next Door
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Ohhh. Careful, circus/carnival theme is addictive. Once you start, you'll be FLOODED with ideas and it will be hard to narrow it all down to stuff you can get done for the year. :D
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Area 1 is the entrance to the party. This is normally the side yard and have enough room for at least one large room or a few smaller rooms and hallways. This will set the tone for the event and I usually like one "wow" factor here. As people move slowing through this part of the maze, it usually takes about eight to ten minutes to proceed through this part.


Entrance Hallway:
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Here is a concept image of the entrance hallway. The guest will see at least one oddity (Fiji Mermaid) as they walk down the hallway. I may have a display of the cyclops skull as well. The more static props, the better, but that will depend on availability this year. There will be photos on the walls of carney's, sideshow workers, and of course clowns. I should have a few newspaper clippings to for those that want to read and learn more of the backstory. The music here will be tense but happy and energetic.




Talking Skull Greeter Room:
I really want a talking skull this year. Waiting for the Monsterguts parts to be available. If it gets too late in the season, I'll have to create a new idea for this small room. The atmospheric music here will be less energetic and replaced with a feeling of worry.

Clown Room:
Here is my first attempt at my clown animatronic for 2019. The Idea is that the neck will grow and shrink. I will have four clown animatronics to 'greet' the guests as they arrive. The room will have 'disco' lights - no mirror ball - but the red, blue, and green rotating lights like shown here. This is where the music shifts and things become a bit darker, both in mood and lighting. A lot of warped clown laughter mixed with the moving lights and moving props should trigger a tense / alert feeling in the guests.

Vortex:
I'm looking for a good moonflower light to use with fog to give a spinning vortex feel to this longer hallway. It would be perfect to have a clown hide in the shadow and suddenly step out. My guests (and the teenagers) love areas like this where they can become part of the event and startle each other.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
My fiji-mermaid - A bit larger than Barnum's. It's a corpsed mermaid skeleton from Oriental Trading. I don't think I'll keep the full wig. I need to see it in the proper light. It may look great glowing in blacklight. Otherwise, I'll chop up the wig and put a lot less hair on the skull. If I'm feeling silly - she may get a seashell bra.

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Discussion Starter #5
Area 2 will be the activity area. This is where the guest realize that the event is really big and they've just started their journey through the mazes. As the midpoint to the event, we place activities here to keep people coming back to this area throughout the night. The key activity is the bar. ;) Most guest will not travel back through Area 1.

Raised Walkway:
By this point, the guests are on a walkway which is about 2 feet off the ground. I'll be reusing the parts from the swamp a few years ago. I like this idea as it seperates those joining the party and those already at the party. Being raised up allows them to see the whole crowd as well as see the other backdrops and understand the layout in front of them. Their first view will be of the bar, and when they are forced to turn, they will see the entrance to the FunHouse.

Funhouse entrance: After walking through a faced of a clowns mouth they have a choice to turn left and enter the funhouse or turn right and go into the midway.

Midway:
This is the lawn area. I will run a cable overhead and at the midpoint attach red and white cloths that will stretch out over the lawn giving a tent-ish feel. There will be pop music here with ambient sounds of a midway, carnival rides, etc.

Midway - Bar - Nothing fancy - just a window to get your adult beverages from. Last year it was a pumpkin bar - lots of pumpkins. Not sure if we'll continue this tradition this year or not.

Midway - Rotton Candy Booth
Midway - Dead Ringer - Ring Toss
Midway - Popcorn Booth - need a fun title for this one.
Midway - one more game booth that I haven't picked out yet.

Here is the beginning build of the funhouse entrance.
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Orgarob...this is gonna b fan~freaking~tastic!!! Love love love carnevil themes (we did ours a few years back...nothing this extravagant though) so much fun.

I love your mermaid (my votes for less hair ;) ) and your idea of using a maze as a way to usher your guests into the party and how your your music and lighting intensity changes along the way...I may have to try and borrow that someday ;) looking forward to seeing more :)
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Area 3 - Dance Hall

There are dancing areas in Carnival's, right? Whatever. We've had a dance area for the past four years and can't stop now. This is normally one of biggest WOW factors for new guests as it is unexpected. We have a few neighbors that come by late after the younger kids have left the party only to hang out in this area. It's conveniently close to the adult bar. ;)

We normally have four small lasers and a sound activated dj light as well as a fog machine on a timer. We may change out the lasers or even add another DJ light if there is time / budget available.

There are four speakers and a subwolfer in this small space and they are powered by a Pyle 300W Amp that I hook up over bluetooth to my phone.

The only items I may add is a large clown attached to the ceiling staring down at people or have his legs straddling a doorway so you walk under it.

Here are pictures from previous builds
dance07.JPG dance08.JPG IMG_6579.JPG
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Area 4 - It's now been about 30 mins and the guests are lost and can't find their way to the house to get the food or use the bathroom. As the designer, that's when I feel I've won.

There is usually one room in this area. We did two last year and the second was very small. and we made the room so creepy no one hung out there. No exciting ideas currently for the second room.

The main room will be the fortune teller. We may fly a friend out to read palms or do tarot. I called a local entertainment company to get a cost and they were about $500 a night. Plane ticket is cheaper. Plus the bonus of seeing the friend.

The room is 12x16 feet and I want the illusion of walking into a gypsy wagon and steeping into a large room. I may split it to have a waiting room outside the wagon. I could build a small raised deck and cut some outside carpet for the floor then have dark purple and white sheets on the walls which would glow in blacklight. Rather simple area, but the static props will make or break this room. I have a moving portrait that may work in this room.


Concept images
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Discussion Starter #9
Area 5 is the chill room - this is normally on the deck and next to the house so we make this one for people who don't like the in-your-face lights and sounds of the dance room. This year it will be the FUNcinerator. The idea is that the clowns are killing people and this is where they dump their victims into the fire. Not sure why the carnival has a mobile incinerator either, but I'm going with this.

We normally don't have an exit to the maze as this is for a private party and not TOTs - however, if we open to the public this year, we may have people existing through the funcinerator.

This room is on the opposite side of the deck from the adult bar, so it's the perfect place for a kids bar.

Besides body bags and bones on the floor - not many ideas yet on props for this room.


After hearing about the five areas you are probably wondering - just how big is this event? Below is a photo taken from my bedroom window on the second floor from last years event. Area 1 is out of camera to the left on the side of the house. Area 2 is the green grass area on the left. You can see the adult bar on the deck but it opens to the grass area. There is a solo panel in the back left where the funhouse will be this year. Area 3, the dance hall, is the big structure in the center of the photo. Area 4 is under the tree in the back right and area 5 is the right side of the photo - you can see the kids bar on the deck. Each area will have a tarp roof. You can see that I make some supports to slant it so rain doesn't collect. Each room has its own ambient sound run off small Pyle amps that play off a USB stick.

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Discussion Starter #10
WOOOO! So excited! My fright props box came today! This will be for an automated drop panel. I built two drop panels last week using this StillBeast Studios video as a guide. Though my panel frames are made with 2x3s not 2x2s. I tried using 1x3s for guide rails for the first frame, but now I have all the screw tips exposed and it will tear actors up. The second frame I used 2x2 for the guide rails and it's much better.

One panel will be manually operated, probably in Area 1. The second I hope to have hooked up to all this fun tech. It will be located in a long hallway in the FunHouse in Area 2. As a guest approaches, a motion sensor will trigger the sequence on the picoboo controller: 1) The panel will drop using a quick release valve on the 18" pneumatic cylinder; 2) A strobe light will turn on behind the wall showing a static clown prop; 3) an evil high pitched clown laugh will play through the speaker; 4) the panel will raise slowly up. 5) prop is reset to be triggered again.

Fingers crossed that I can pull this off.

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This all sounds amazing!!! I would be blown away by just one of these projects!
Please be sure to take lots of pics. I can't wait to see the progress and actual party pics.
 

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Not much progress the past few weeks - I've been busy job hunting. However, today I think I got the automated drop panel working. I used the Fright Props kit with a picoboo controller. My first time using that controller and it is great! I highly recommend it to anyone automating props. The first few tests were slightly successful, but I didn't realize I was missing a connection from the cylinder to the drop panel - so it kept slamming down and hitting the top of the cylinder which is not good. I put a shelf for the panel to hit at the bottom of the wall so that it would no longer slam into the cylinder.

Next will be to build the room, paint the wall and panel , add the strobe light and clown mask behind the panel and setup the picoboo to play a laugh track when triggered. Nothing to it.

 

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Discussion Starter #14
It's beginning to feel like Halloween build time!

After an overnight visit to the Cary House in Placerville, CA (which I am convinced is haunted), I had the bug to build a bit. I have some of the raised walkway completed today along with hallway for the automated drop panel. The goal is to have all walls up by the end of the month.

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I sent out the Halloween Amazon wish list and got a bite by one of my friends who purchased some special blacklights, multi-colored glow in the dark tape, and this crazy mask among other fun goodies.

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Area 2 will be the activity area. This is where the guest realize that the event is really big and they've just started their journey through the mazes. As the midpoint to the event, we place activities here to keep people coming back to this area throughout the night. The key activity is the bar. ;) Most guest will not travel back through Area 1.

Raised Walkway:
By this point, the guests are on a walkway which is about 2 feet off the ground. I'll be reusing the parts from the swamp a few years ago. I like this idea as it seperates those joining the party and those already at the party. Being raised up allows them to see the whole crowd as well as see the other backdrops and understand the layout in front of them. Their first view will be of the bar, and when they are forced to turn, they will see the entrance to the FunHouse.

Funhouse entrance: After walking through a faced of a clowns mouth they have a choice to turn left and enter the funhouse or turn right and go into the midway.

Midway:
This is the lawn area. I will run a cable overhead and at the midpoint attach red and white cloths that will stretch out over the lawn giving a tent-ish feel. There will be pop music here with ambient sounds of a midway, carnival rides, etc.

Midway - Bar - Nothing fancy - just a window to get your adult beverages from. Last year it was a pumpkin bar - lots of pumpkins. Not sure if we'll continue this tradition this year or not.

Midway - Rotton Candy Booth
Midway - Dead Ringer - Ring Toss
Midway - Popcorn Booth - need a fun title for this one.
Midway - one more game booth that I haven't picked out yet.

Here is the beginning build of the funhouse entrance.
View attachment 712781 View attachment 712782
Children of the Popcorn Booth?
"Flesh Popcorn" instead of "fresh popcorn"?
Man witty titles for popcorn is hard.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
A lot of progress as the fortune teller room takes shape. I used the deck from my 2017 swamp for the raised platform which is to be the traveling Gypsy tent. The flats were from the 2018 surgery room from the Asylum party. A quick paint job and 4m tarp for the roof. Final touches will happen in September.

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Some progress on the Big Top room. I used a mix of flats from last years haunt and painted a base coat white. Added the red stripes and tried to make it look a bit messy. Added the roof trusses. Black tarp for the roof to keep the majority of the rain out. Next is to dirty and bloody the walls and add the cloth ceiling decorations.

Other features of this room will be: Cerberus prop from Spirit as the 'lion tamer' prop; a swing with half a body for a trapeze act gong wrong and maybe a charred body for a fire eater act gone wrong.

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Discussion Starter #19
So far behind schedule, but no stress. I still have 52 days till Halloween. I'm hoping to have all the tarp, electrical and sound done by the 22nd. Final lighting by the 29th. That should give me a few weekends to walk around and enjoy it before its time to take it all down again.

Clown room, with manual drop panel, is built, but needs painting.
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I build the rest of the walkway and completed the three ramps. I have most of the frames up, but missing the roof on the dance hall and all the frames for the deck maze. I was making good progress this weekend until my miter saw jammed and kicked the small piece of 4x4 across the yard. It was so bad, it tore the miter saw fence support clean off. Appreciating that I still have all my fingers!

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I was no longer motivated for woodworking after the saw mishap so I moved on prop building.

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Friends came by and dropped off some gargoyles they found at a yard sale - SUPER COOL! I have no idea what I'm going to do with them.....yet.

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Discussion Starter #20
After a week off due to work and traveling for a wedding, we're back at it this weekend. During the week I've been working on the Clown animatronics. I love how the rocking clown's head moves around on its own!


 
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