SPRINGVILLE Last year, videos of a decked-out home covered in Christmas lights that were synchronized to music made the rounds on the Internet and news outlets throughout the nation.
Pete Widtfeldt thought the home was nothing short of obnoxious but it did give the Springville man an idea.
"I started to research the technology that guy used, and the more I read, the more I thought, 'You know, there's a lot more potential here than creating the world's most annoying Christmas dis-
play,"' Widtfeldt said.
Using the idea as his template, Widtfeldt has created a Halloween display at his Springville home, taking the concept of synchronizing automated displays with music and creating what he calls a "drive-by haunted house."
Based on the original script of the Haunted Mansion ride at Disneyland, Widtfeldt has re-created the experience in his front yard. Drivers can park their cars in front of his home and tune the radio to 106.7 FM, then listen as a 10-minute narrative unfolds, while automated displays involving lights and moving parts bring the story to life.
"We've all been on the Haunted Mansion ride when we were kids, so this is kind of cool and nostalgic," Widtfeldt said. "It's kind of a different take, but if you think about it, the Haunted Mansion ride itself is basically a drive-by haunted house."
Widtfeldt estimates the entire project cost him about $1,500, which was less than he expected because he shopped carefully and found the decorations and machinery on the cheap.
Ironically, it was the little things that started to drive the cost up.
"What eats you up is you buy all that animatronic stuff and start putting it together, then you realize that you need 500 extension cords and a ton of lights," Widtfeldt said.
By carefully placing the moving parts and using veils and lights in creative ways, Widtfeldt said the goal was to create the illusion of movement as the story unfolds.
He said his wife was a little leery of the project at first but warmed up to the idea as it took shape.
"She struggled through it, but I think she sees it as a net positive," Widtfeldt said. "As long as the stuff comes off the house without leaving holes, at least."
Widtfeldt estimates he sees around 20 cars per night at his home.
One of his concerns in making the display was to make it low key so as not to annoy neighbors, and he said he feels successful in that respect and has had no complaints."A lot of people have Halloween displays, and I get a lot of people coming up and saying, 'You have the scariest house on the block,"' Widtfeldt said. "So I ask them if they stopped to listen, and they say, 'Listen?'"
The free drive-by haunted house is at 498 E. 1050 North in Springville. It runs Monday-Saturday on a 10-minute loop, from 7:30 p.m. to 10:30.