My first haunted house was inspired by Pirates of the Caribbean. Specifically the scene where Elizabeth first finds out about the curse while aboard the Black Pearl. Richard got that part of the movie to loop in a certain section of the haunt.
My first animated prop was to be a coffin, where a dead pirate would peak out while it was opening and closing.
Unfortunately, I tried to make it out of cardboard boxes and paper maché. Needless to say, it didn’t last. I wonder what the garbage man was thinking the day I put it out to get collected. The pirate was bought at a garage sale for about $3. I fastened him into the back of the coffin so he could stand upright. The door was placed on the floor and was attached to the bottom of the coffin by a small makeshift hinge. I door was operated by a small motor like the kind you see in the Christmas reindeer that move their heads back and forth. It worked!! The entire night!! I was so happy.
The captain was the easier one to do, I set up a cheap blucky on a stand using 3/4″ PVC, and atop his neck was a 4th quality Bucky head. I left the mouth open just to give him that look of “I’ll get you”. I then outfitted him with torn clothes from the Salvation Army, and the coat was something I sewed up a couple years ago, so I also distressed that up as well.
The wheel was a little more complicated. I had priced some ship’s wheels in Tarpon Springs and they were going for about $300-400. So I decided that no one was going to get that close to him in the first place, and second, I was going to have a strobe light on him as well, so it didn’t need to be authentic. So I bought two large hula hoops and some 1/2″ PVC, and with some black duct tape and cheap black flat paint, I made a ship’s wheel.
The first mate was also bought at a garage sale for about $5. He came with stand already and I thought it would be great to have him lunging for the TOT’s as they entered the Pirate Room. So I wanted him to be leaning forward a bit and to have his right arm up in the air with his sword like if he was ready to swing. The problem came with putting his arm up so it would stay up. I used quite a bit of duct tape and wire to hold up his arm.
I always lay out the haunt on paper first to see where everything is going to be placed, where my secret passages are going to be, how many actors are needed as opposed to props, etc. Here is my Pirate Haunt walkthrough map.
At the end of the haunt was pirate chest I bought at Party City. I made a shelf which would sit about 3 inches from the top so I wouldn’t need to fill the entire chest with treasure. Then I bought a bunch of plastic coins from eBay and got my Gasparilla beads and some other garage sale finds and put them in! This one prop ended up becoming the photo op prop!
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