Wednesday, July 31, 2013

2013- Day 92 Halls of Doom Relocating?

I'm sure many ghouls are wondering where the Doc has been all these weeks after nearly 3 months since we drew up the plans!
As it has turned out, we are moving after all and actually in about 2 weeks, out of state and to the desert Southwest!
Very sad to see this go, but I am hopeful the "Halls of Doom" will be rebooted at some point in our new spot. Might be awhile though so patience is definitely in order.

In the meantime please continue to browse through the various posts and video. I promise to eventually have that long-awaited crush room tutorial done.

Thanks Ghouls for reading and watching!

Happy Haunting!

Dr Doom

Monday, April 29, 2013

2013- Day 185- "Master...The Plaaaaaaans"

Here it is Ghouls! This year's layout. The theme as mentioned is the Haunted Hotel. Traffic flow is from the right entrance indicated by the arrows. Guests go through a back alley. Lots of thunder and lightning effects. Now this year we have something special planned. Stairs! Just a few, but in order to pull off the illusion of entering through a back storm door and also to effectively merge with a video projection onto the door, we had to put in about 3 steps. This creates some interesting scare options. Now the video projection is extremely effective and will consist of a ghost figure walking down the back stairs of the "hotel" to greet the guests! This is indicated by the yellow lines. the guests go up the steps and open the door. As soon as they get to the door, the ghost disappears, they open the door and enter a space where the flooring is slightly elevated due to the steps (indicated by the hatched area) This isn't too big a space, but will have to be engineered obviously for stability! While in that space there will be ghouls grabbing at their feet, an appearance by a bloodied peppers ghost and perhaps a cameo appearance by our friend from last year, the corpse! After that they enter the main event! A hotel lobby will be really detailed with down lighting, a front desk and a zombie bell hop to greet them and guide them into the "tower of terror" elevator. We basically will move the elevator from last year to occupy the space which was used by the crypt. Several upgrades to the elevator will be made and guests will be in there a little longer. Notice since this is a "service elevator" they will enter and exit through opposite doors. They exit into a "dot maze" which will be completely disorienting and include walls ceiling and floor! Probably 2 actors will be in there with dot suits. We will also re-employ the highly successful drop-panel as shown. Finally when they find the way out, they enter the vortex of course! So that's it! Other details of note are the expanded work space in the center for actors and other ghouls, the control room which is in the same spot as last year and the peppers ghost which is just 180 degrees oriented from last year, but because of the elevated space, we may decide to use a portion of our mud room as a back drop to also include the popular corpse chandelier!!
Stay tuned and thanks for reading!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

2013- Day 201- We're baaaaaaaack!

What! Kmon now Doc,...it's still April! Yes of course it's only April. That's why we are getting started now! Actually there are a couple of practical reasons for starting now. One is my work schedule has gotten a lot busier so I will have to spread things out to be certain it gets done on time. The other is that this may be the last year of the Halls. It's not definite, but very possible. Very likely we will be relocating within the next year or so. My oldest is off to college. She was the original inspiration for this whole thing when she was back in the fifth grade! Anyway if this is in fact the case, we want this year to be the most spooktacular ever, so of course it will take more time.
Believe it or not Ghouls, I am still taking down the crypt from last year! We basically have not had a garage for about 3 years now. While I am doing this I promise to post the long overdue tutorial on the crush wall. I know a bunch of folks have been asking about that.

This year we will have a similar layout for the traffic flow. The theme is basically a haunted hotel. Guests will enter first a dark "back alley" with thunder and lightning overhead. They approach the back entrance of the hotel where they actually have to go up a few steps to the door! A ghost can be seen through the door window as they approach and she is walking down the steps inside. Just before she gets to the door, it opens into a room where there will be a bunch of scares, peppers ghost effect (one last time), etc. Then the guests will have to go down a few steps to the main hotel lobby where they are greeted by the zombie bell hop! He will guide them into the "tower of terror" elevator (based on the disney attraction) The elevator is basically the same concept from last year. We will have them spend a little more time in there and there will be much more actor participation. They will exit the elevator and enter  the "dot maze". This is just a souped up version of the well-known "dot room" which is a room with fluorescent dots. A couple actors are dressed up in dot suits and totally blend in to the surroundings until they move forward! We did this a few years ago and it works very well! Highly recommended. Anyway this is a great transition to the vortex of course which they will finish up with.

So that's a quick overview! Much more ahead, and thanks again Ghouls for reading and following!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

2013- Day 359- Final notes

There's no question we took it to another level this year! The amount of detailing was unprecedented. Of course we had the extra year to work with but everything seemed to flow very well despite the complexity of this year's build. The entrance door was huge as we noted earlier. The drop panel was a great scare and will be used again. Overall very little damage to the haunt. A couple of pictures were knocked off in the entrance hall. The elevator was a smash hit! I recommend the moving panel as it creates the most realistic sense of motion. The ghost worked better than I thought but we had the technical problem with the light on the back panel going out. It was perhaps a little too much to have people see the ghost as they were exiting the elevator before going into the crypt. The concept of changing sets for people going into and then out of the elevator through the same door was a little awkward but we did make it work, sort of. The crypt and crush wall were tremendous! The wall held up much better than I thought. Interestingly, many people did not even see the corpse because for some reason they were looking elsewhere!
And now some thoughts going forward for 2013:
1) The drop panel is a definite keeper. We will re-employ it somewhere else
2) The elevator will be rebuilt in a slightly different way
3) More will be done with video projection. The snake effect was very interesting, somewhat effective, but again the problem was that it had to be very brief because it was a floor projection where people were walking into it.
4) We're going for the peppers ghost 1 more time! We have to abandon the moving ghost because we just don't have the space for it.
5) The crush wall worked great, but I think we are going to rest the crypt theme for next year.

That's it Ghouls for 2012. Thank you all for reading and following. Stay tuned for the "Halls of Doom" 2013. The next build will be the most ambitious yet!

Monday, November 5, 2012

2013- Day 360- More from the "Halls" 2012

Entry door details

Daytime view of the newly created haunt entry door
One of the great things we came up with this year was an actual entry door to the haunt. Rather than just a barrier of cut up black sheeting, we built a foam door with 2x2 back frame that could be hinged on one of those garden archway structures. We've had that sitting in the yard forever and have used it for the entrance but never actually put a door in it. Adding a colorful animated prop on the front with some spooky mood lighting and a motion activated sound device really gave this a superb professional quality to it. The younger kids had something to look at while waiting in line. It was really like waiting for a Disney ride! This is definitely our permanent door as I do not think we can improve on it. We added a ghoulish looking hand prop as the door handle and would ask which guest was brave enough to open the door!
The "Halls of Doom" are officially open!

Putting it all together!

The aftermath: checking for any failures and damage after the show

Behind the scenes: the control room hours before the Halls open!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

2013-Day 364- An amazing show!

Welcome back Ghouls the day after! I can't even begin to describe the spooktacularness of the haunt this year! I'm just going to present the movie and you be the judge. We had many actors and helpers who did a tremendous job. Special thanks to Dave and John in the Mansion hallway who did a phenomenal acting job. John was the first ghoul you see popping out of the drop panel.  Dave was 'The Count' who gathered the guests and led them into the elevator, unsuspectingly. Steve was the ghoul who was in the elevator already as the guests entered. Dave H was our videographer and 'crypt keeper'. Maddie was our ghost who you get a brief glimpse of exiting the elevator. About an hour before the show I was testing the elevator pulley and it broke, so we had to have 2 guys raise and lower it manually (Thanks Max and Mike) My son Ben and I were 'behind the curtain' as it were. Ben was the crush wall operator. Everyone helped to make this a spectacular show. Thank you all! I will post more images etc over the next few days. And then.....we plan for the Halls of Doom 2013...I mean what else Ghouls!

This is the plan of the haunt. Guests enter the mansion hallway, enter the elevator, go down to  the crypt level, exit the elevator and see the ghost apparition, then enter the crypt and exit out through the end hallway where we had prop heads hanging and actors jumping out. Finally the vortex! Use this map as a reference for the video!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

2012- Day Zero- Halloween is a definite GO!

Well congratulations Ghouls! We survived Frankenstorm with not too much more than an inconvenience. I can't believe it's actually going to happen. After 2 years of preparing this build, no question this is the most spooktacular ever! I promise to have pictures and video over the next couple of days. It's just too crazy right now getting things done at the last minute, but I have tested extensively and had plenty of time for that. It's going to go very smoothly. Believe it or not I am actually going to need a ghoul helper in the control room! Never had that happen before. We also have an actual entrance door to the haunt with light and sound while the guests wait to go in! Today's schedule calls for taking some tarps off of the vortex, connecting the end of the haunt to the vortex, putting up some more webs, obviously cleaning up, putting the night crawlers on the corpse (don't forget we have some high schoolers who think they're real tough and nothing can scare them!), more testing and a couple of run throughs before the guests arrive. Much more to come. Stay tuned and Happy Haunting to Ghouls everywhere!