Every year the kids asked if this was a haunted house (that they could go in). Every year I had to say. "Sorry, no". Then I got this idea to make one. We had a narrow strip of yard at the top of the steps that lead to the side of the house where their was a huge covered porch. So, I cam up with this idea of building a tunnel. At the time, I was working on 'Sweating Bullets' (a.k.a. 'Home On The Range') and it inspired me to do a western themed "attraction".
In the hat building, the one off of the 134 freeway) they had these production areas that used to serve as the hub for each show called POD's. At the entrance to these POD's, they would construct these huge monstrousities. It was llike entering a theme park attraction (They don't do any more, of course). Well. I was admiring the technique apllied on one of them and found out that someone form the ARL (Animation Resaerc Library) had made it. I made an appointment to meet with this person to discuss how he fabrictated this, etc. He was a really cool guy and happened to have pictures at his desk (like a brag book that one would have of their children). Anyways, I had told him what I wanted to do and he offered to help me buy creating the frame and doing a rough cut of the styrofoam. Here's what eventually came from that meeting:
Anyways...getting back to the tunnel, after learning how it was done, I made the entrance to the tunnel. The rest I used PVC pipe and plastic sheeting and a good thing, too because every year it rained and everything got wet. One year, I thought it wasn't going to rain and built the tunnel out of paper. I used the the stuff that you put down to protect floors
while doing construction. We crumbled it up then flattened it out again and the texture left from that crumbling looked like boulders-it was great! But alas, it rained just a few days before Halloween and I had to rush to reconstruct the tunnel again.
Before I go on, I got to give credit to my dedicated and true friends that helped every year to construct this thing and help set-up. It usually took a whole day, if not two! Thanks, guys!!!! Also, thanks to my brother in law for helping construct the "full attraction" soundtrack. I used clips from the hammer strikes from "Hi Ho, Hi Ho" (the Seven Dwarf's song) from 'Snow White', wind and crystal chimes from the Matterhorn, and thunder sfx from the Haunted Mansion. I also took area music from Frontierland and layerd thunder sfx over it-it sounded great! I got a lot of compliments on teh sound design. People asked where I got it. They were surprised to hear that it was from (the usually "cheery") Disneyland.
I decide to give it a story. It wasn't just any old rock mine, it was a "rock-candy" mine! At the end, I dresssed up like a prospector (with a big paper mache hat that I had made-I looked like "Yosemite Sam") and built a little mine cart to keep candy in. I also made cardboard standees of barrels of dynamite and a little cardboard detonator that was hooked up to strobe lights and a little thunder sfx box and I would pretend to blow up the mine as the kids left. (I wish I had pictures-I'm sure my friends with digital cameras do. I'll have to bug them about it).
I remember one year, I had so much hooked up and a fuse blew. All the lights went out and everyone cheered-they thought it was part of the show. Meanwhile, I'm running around with a falshlight trying to find the circuit breaker.
Adults would come up and I'd offer them candy. They declined and said that they just came up to see the show (and even applauded one time). One kid actually had the gall to say that they liked it better last year. ("Everyone's a critic.")
Yes, Halloween was great. That was before kids. Now, it's a whole different experience-but just as rewarding if not more so!
I keep thinking that until they turn 13, my kids will think that I'm the coolest dad but after that, I can just hear, "Dad, your not going to put out the Halloween stuff out again this year are you? My friends will see."
Here's a video "Ride-through" of the mine tunnel that I built for 2003:
...and here's the "new and improved" tunnel built the following year (2004):