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Yard Haunts

Hotel California: The Courtyard Experience (2022)

The concept of a haunt experience of some sort themed to The Eagles' song "Hotel California" was an idea that had been floating around in my older brother and I's heads for multiple years. My brother, like me, has also been a home haunter since he was about ten- he's now in his thirties, and has collected much knowledge about the craft of making your own home into a ghoulish delight. After some planning ahead, we decided to combine our efforts and make this idea into a reality.

It was a lot of hard work, but what we built was a detailed, immersive experience that drew in more than 1,000 people. I'm still immensely proud of the work we did on this project, and count it as one of the biggest artistic learning experience I've had.

Final Show Reel
A short reel showcasing highlights of the overall experience of the yard haunt.


Final Show Map
Watercolor portrait which maps out the final show.


Handmade tombstones my brother and I created for the event. The "stone" ones were made from FloraCraft styrofoam. Also seen is concept art for these props; more of my concept art can be seen in the "Conceptual Art" page of this site.

Hotel Room Facade Flat
One of the things I very much wanted to do up to that point which I hadn't done yet was build some sort of a facade or flat. With the help of my brother, we were able to put something together and create the exterior of a hotel room flat, abandoned midway through construction. (Room number: 77, for the song's release year!)

Feast Props
The head was made from a plastic skull, covered in expanding foam and layers of painted saran wrap, all hit with a heat gun to achieve the appearance of it decomposing. The "Pink Champagne on ice" was made with mixing pink pigment paste and epoxy resin.

The Beast
"You can stab it with your steely knives, but you just can't kill the beast!"
I knew from the beginning that we needed to take this lyric literally, an
d integrate a large intimidating beast as the main scare of the haunt. Using the cover of the album "One of These Nights" as inspiration, I got to work on an depiction of what the character should look like, which you can see in the top right- (more of my concept art can be seen in the "Conceptual Art" page of this site).  The final product, (played by me,) terrified visitors to the hotel as it rampaged its way through the night of the show.

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"Pool" Effect
Made with two small Sony blue violet laser modules, fog, thin tubes to spread the fog, black material, and plastic landscape edging borders, we was able to create the illusion of a haunted, supernatural, glowing pool.

Explorer Corpse Prop
The last thing guests would see when leaving the yard haunt was this skeleton of an explorer who came across the abandoned hotel in 1969. After coating this storebought skeleton in about five layers of saran wrap and wood shellac and the powerful ray of a heat gun, we achieved the look of a decomposing skeleton quite well!

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Window Projection
The video to the left is the loop which was projected on a loop onto a sheet inside one of the front windows of the house. It shows the beast wreaking havoc through the interior, flipping over a table, roaring, etc. It ends with a butler readjusting the table- just for the loop to play again!
Below is a short clip which showed what it was like to shoot this video loop.

Aged Props
A number of different store bought items which were aged for the haunt. Methods include diluting black and white paint and spraying it, as well as spray painting on paper towels and smudging.

Early Concept Sketches
Concept sketches from early in the development process. While very rough, they provide some insight into the earliest phase of the design process.

"Happy Birthday, Haunted Mansion!" (2019)
I consider this to be my first official yard haunt. With 2019 marking the 50'th anniversary of the classic Haunted Mansion attraction at Disneyland, I knew right away what the theme needed to be. I got right to work in summer, and the resulting experience I created, (while rather crude to my current standards), was one that seemed to impress and entertain the entire neighborhood.

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Final Show Images
Selection of the best images (and video) that represented the atmosphere and best parts of this haunt. Unfortunately, it was not highly documented- something I've learned to consider much more.

"Bride" Prop
Having some sort of representation of the infamous bride found in the attraction was something I knew we had to have. Not just for her popularity as a character, but also because we had a perfect attic window for her to look out from! Made from a wig display, a cheap costume veil, and two small lights, she eerily peered out onto visitors all night. 

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Final Show Overview
The overhead on the far left was the final layout I drew to represent the layout of all the props and where visitors would travel. This path would evolve as my haunts continued.

"60 Years of Psycho" (2020)
With the Coronavirus Pandemic looming over the entire world at this point in time, making a yard haunt had a few extra challenges involved. But I knew I wanted to do something for the season, and decided to use the pandemic as a good creative challenge.
Alfred Hitchcock's "Psycho" turned 60 that year, and having been a long time fan of the film, I thought it would be fun to bring the Bates Motel to my Santa Ana home for the neighborhood to view safely! Because we could tell Halloween wasn't going to be the same as usual this year, I prepared the yard haunt to be a multi-night display that lasted the week up to Halloween. That way, I wouldn't rely on Halloween night crowds only, and the display could be seen by people over a prolonged amount of time.

Final Show Overview
The overhead on the far left was the final layout I drew to represent the layout of all the props and elements. The driveway was blocked off this time around due to the pandemic- which gave me the chance to actually use my mom's car as a prop representing Marion Crane's sunken car and skeleton!

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No yard haunt of mine is complete without a graveyard. Finding a way to fit one into the theme of a motel was a bit of a challenge- but I decided to have a bit of fun with it. My story was that, due to the pandemic slowing down motel business, Norman Bated got into the cemetery business, and buried his victims here!

Norman Silhouette
Made with carboard and tape- and a lot of measuring.

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Mother in the Window
Of course, Norma had to find her way in somehow. Made with a room divider, a sheet, a plastic skeleton, a Norma Bates costume, a small upward facing battery light, and a thin sheer fabric to obscure the set as a whole.



Phone Number: 949-302-7107

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