Well - I must say this was the best year we've had, even though I didn't add a whole lot of new stuff to the haunt I was able to change it up enough to keep it interesting.I had to run around and plug everything in, light the tikis and start the animated props and foggers.
We had been working on setting up the witch shop the week of the 20th and pretty much had that all setup by the week of Halloween. I had also setup the fence that weekend. The weekend prior to the 31st I setup the grave makers, tiki torches and giant spider web. Turing the week of I took several nights to setup lighting and test run some electrical layouts to make sure everything got plugged in. Halloween eve I carved my pumpkin and set out the partial toe pincher, not-so-deep, and thunder obelisk, which I also got all wired up and ready to go. I got up at 6am on the 31st and wired up the ambient sound receiver and continued to set stuff up throughout the day. By 4pm I was actually finished with the setup - everything had been positioned, tested and was ready to go. For the first time ever I had time to sit and eat my Halloween pizza (a tradition my mom started when we were kids) and also applied some skull makeup, another first.
Changes include not using the jug-o-lanterns. This was a big change since I've used them from the beginning, but I decided that I wanted to "darken" the theme and they were also a LOT of work to keep up, and I wanted to try to minimize stuff that needed tending to. I also repositioned the partial toe pincher and grave grabber. We only had one pumpkin this year and that also reduced the work load and
We had one huge help this year, who was Kaley, a 15 year old friend of ours from church. She dressed up as a witch and stood behind the witch table to hand out candy all night, which gave me the freedom to maintain the haunt, socialize and get pictures. I'll say though, that I didn't feel as stressed to get good pictures and video as I usually do. I picked up the cameras a few times and shot a few things, but decided not to worry too much about it and spend more time enjoying the evening instead. That and the reduced maintenance needs really lowered the stress levels for the whole night and I had a really good time.
New additions included a buried not-so-deep, a pair of pvc erected bluckies, several partial ground breaking coffins, new grave markers and some limited use of krough's '06 graveyard soundtrack. Changes include not using the jug-o-lanterns. This was a big change since I've used them from the beginning, but I decided that I wanted to "darken" the theme and they were also a LOT of work to keep up, and I wanted to try to minimize stuff that needed tending to. I also repositioned the partial toe pincher and grave grabber. We only had one pumpkin this year and that also reduced the work load prior to and during the haunt.
Malfunctions were limited to only two things during the evening... one was the continuous fogger for the 2nd year in a row. I had repaired it earlier this spring and it managed to make it to about 8:30 and by then the majority of our tots had come through. Also, the surround receiver I was using to play the ambient sound track wound randomly stop playing and read "protect" - which would require a full "reboot" which became too much of a hassle to bother with.
The weather was perfect, in the low to mid 70s during he day and slowly tapering off to the upper 50s / low 60s when we called it a night. Traffic was actually more tame than usual, and there were many more trucks pulling hay-ride trailers than I'd ever seen. We had a total of 267 treat bags handed out. This was better than previous years but a bit short of the 300 mark I was hoping for. Kids and folks alike were all very impressed by the haunt and I received lots of compliments from many of them. We only had one truly terrified guest, though maybe a dozen or more rather timid ones. We even had several folks ask if they could bring friends out to see it Saturday evening, which worked out since we had planned to keep it going for some friends of ours who were coming by to check it out saturday as well.
So... in summary - best haunt so far.. least stress, earliest setup completion, most tots, least failures and for the first time, a teenage helper who stayed the whole night to help.