So I’ve made it a goal of mine to visit at least one new Halloween event, haunted house, or yard haunt each October. This Sunday I was waiting to order food at Porto’s Bakery in Burbank and decided to do a search for Halloween events in the area. There were several results, but I decided to visit a free yard haunt named Boney Island in Sherman Oaks, only a few minutes drive from where I had been scarfing down Cuban food. I was a little nervous on the drive over thinking that maybe I’d be the only one there gawking at someone’s private residence. Boy was I wrong! The streets were filled with people walking to the most obvious Halloween house on the block. The theme at Boney Island is skeletons which is immediately evident from the giant skull and sign that acts as the entrance to the yard haunt. As I entered the yard, I realized this was much more than a haunt with static props, but a full on show with music, lighting, presentation and ingenious special effects. The pictures below and short video will give you a sense of the level of detail used in the creation of Boney Island, truly one of coolest yard haunts I have seen so far.
When I arrived, a light show was just finishing, but the animatronic skeleton host Maestro Maxilla the Great assured guests the next show would start in just six minutes. Perfect! The show began with Maestro narrating a clever script and using his magic to summon the spirits from several large black cauldrons. Green neon water shot into the air from each cauldron in sync to the music like a mini-Bellagio show. An extremely tall treehouse was lit up by jack-o’-lanterns and lights which blinked in sync to the Halloween music.
Several carnival style posters were hung throughout the yard haunt to introduce the different attractions.
In the front window of the home, a skeleton demonstrates his magical skills by levitating another skeleton and passing a ring around his bones.
Although the eyes are closed in this picture, the bushes had faces and were singing along to Grim Grinning Ghosts from Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion.
This spinning vortex illusion had spectators mesmerized. Notice how cool the lighting effects are. Boney Island really made their effects stand out with green, blue, red and yellow lighting effects.
A really cool effect was the footprints and handprints of the skeleton celebrities (like Bing Crossbones and Bone Crawford), just like the ones at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in Hollywood.
The skeleton here is a fortune teller. As children approached, he began talking to them calling them by name. Of course they didn’t see the man standing behind the crowd with the hidden microphone. Then again, neither did I.
There were so many cool details in the Boney Island yard haunt. On the roof was a video projection display of ghostly apparitions. On the other side of the roof three skeletons were flying around on magic carpets. Check out the video below to see more of their special effects up close.
The location in Southern California people refer to as “The Valley” is one of those places where the residents seem to completely immerse themselves in the season and go “all out” in decorating for Halloween. I’ve heard there are a lot of creatives and studio professionals that live here. Makes sense since The Disney Animation Studios, Warner Bros Studios, and even the Jim Henson Creature Shop are located here. Sure it’s hellishly hot during the summer, and traffic is worse than a nightmare all year long, but the lure of living in a neighborhood where people take Halloween this seriously has always attracted me to this area. As I walked away from Boney Island, I wondered how other neighbors might feel about having a spectacle like this right next door every weekend in October. I guess they’ve gotten used to it by now, because Boney Island has been doing their yard haunt since 1997! (Minus a short 3 year hiatus).
Not everyone has the time and money to invest in elaborate yard haunts, but for those that make even the slightest effort, let me tell you, it’s much appreciated. Especially by those of us who love Halloween. If you want to see an awesome documentary on Netflix about neighborhood yard haunts and what possesses people to build them, watch The American Scream.
3 thoughts on “Your Friendly Neighborhood Yard Haunt”
I’ve seen Boney Island on one of those HGTV Home Haunts specials. Wish I could see it in person, it looks amazing. I believe it’s the home of one of the producers(?) of The Simpsons. Thanks for the tip on “American Screams”. I will be watching that.
I had no idea who the homeowner was. A quick search in Google and you are right! It is the home of Rick Polizzi, animation producer on the Simpsons! Keep up the incredible work on Boney Island Rick! The trip out there really made my Halloween!
As one of the crew members and creator of the water show and other effects at Boney Island, thank you for your kind words and review. Every year we try to add a little more or change up a few things. While many of the main favorite features remain the same, please come back this year to see the all new Enchanted Garden….where all of nature celebrates Halloween.