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Walkthrough or animatronic

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Hello! Hope y’all had a good Halloween. I did a pirate theme this year. My 13 year old is the one in charge, this is just my account. Well he needs some help here’s what he says: Hello! Avast ye I am searching for some help! I don’t know if I’m wanting to do a walkthrough with a painted fake door and a window with shutters with a pirate opening them or… a animatronic! I never have made a animatronic and don’t know what I can use as a mask for the animatronic. I can’t use a Halloween mask because the mouth can’t move like a real mouth would. Also what scenes should I do in a walkthrough or just throughout our yard? Alright this is me now (the adult) so what do you think thanks for all the help I appreciate it so much! ;)
 

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Do both! 😄
I'd go with the walkthrough. Then it gives you a place to put the animatronic later. The head is tricky for animatronics, especially if you want to get fancy (eye movements, 3 axis head movement, speaking). For the mouth, I've cut mask jaws in the past to allow them to move but covering up the cuts can be challenging. Using facial hair (e.g. beard) makes it easy if it fits your character. There's also masks with moveable jaws. Good luck with the build!
 

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I can tell you that we have been doing a pirate themed walk through for years now and we don't have fancy animatronic skills or toys. Yes we want to add them, but the walk through we do transports people to the Disneyland feel and nostalgia and has a much greater effect than simply doing animatronics would. You get more bang for your buck with staging, thought, and a plan then you will by trying to be to fancy to soon. I 1000% support the comment above regarding adding in the animatronics later and not focusing on that first as it's not the primary element. You want to weave a story and a feel first. Go fancy to improve that later once you have mastered the art of giving people those good vibes and nostalgic feelings that leave people in aww. Then you will know where working on adding animatronics and the like will actually add value to your display and not simply be just another animatronic that you look at but provides little value to the overall feel of the environment of the display.

For reference, this is my walkthrough that we did this year. Black Water Cove 2021 Sorry the video isn't the greatest but it might give an idea as to what I'm talking about when it comes to feel value, story line, and building up that feeling you want your visitors to have as the come. We had somewhere around 3600 people come through our display this year.

-K
 

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I'd like to add a quick comment to that. We used a My Music Media Server attached to about 5-7 Alexa echo dots (for the internal audio) throughout our display and a hefty receiver / speaker system attached to a computer to run the front of house audio for the mast display and a cheapo projector on our mast. These little things add a massive amount of atmosphere because they bombard your audio senses appropriately. I'd recommend low cost and creative ways to work on sensory input of the visitor long before worrying about detailed animatronic movement etc. Notice: We have very little actual movement in our display, and never had someone come out of there saying it wasn't amazing.

Play on the psychology of how we think before trying to up it a notch and involve very expensive solutions to problems that don't really exist. We want to add more and I would like to move into animatronic building over time, but it's clearly not necessary to have an off the hook display that people remember for years and look forward to year after year. Simple thing's like having pirate themed music pulls at peoples triggers. Things like the entry to our display having the banjo from the Disney ride pulls on peoples memories.... Having songs like Yo Ho playing pull on peoples expectations.

-K
 
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