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Archive for the ‘Morbid Manor / New Jersey’ Category

Things I’ve learned from Wildwood….

Wednesday, April 27th, 2011 07:53 am GMT -5

A friend of mine (David F.) was telling me once how he got inspired from visiting my house. During the conversation, I realized that the same thing happens to me when I visit places that get the creative juices flowing. But the problem is, once I am away from that stimulus – my motivation wains and soon I am right back to where I was before.

 So, this time, I wrote down the things that were going through my mind while I was working in New Jersey. My hope is that I can reflect back on this post for motivation as I need it. This post may not be of any interest to anyone… so forgive me while I ramble to myself….

 Things I’ve learned in Wildwood:

1) Don’t quit my day job. My day job Affords me the ability to have a decent consistent living that supports what I love. Once I turn it into a job… there’s no more freedom to it. Then I gotta do what everyone else wants me to.  I might “feel” I have been put on this planet to build stuff to entertain people – but that’s my “art”…. business has little to do with art. Business is making sell-able products. I’d rather keep my love for my art than wear myself out on it.
2) Organize. It’s ok to pack rat if the stuff is able to be found easily. If it isn’t…. you might as well throw it away. Eric’s place was PACKED with stuff – but he knew where EVERY item was andit was  arranged so that after only being there a few hours, I could “tell” where something should be because the layout of his tools and supplies was very intuitive. I hope I can do the same.
Seek out others. Others like to help… just like I do… but your gonna have to find them… they don’t work with you. ON that same note:

3) Get a workshop. I need one. (I have already bought a trailer to put all the equipment from my garage into storage. I need a work room. Building robots in the kitchen just doesn’t work.)

4) Get more tool boxes. Sounds simple, but when 1/2 of my tools are in cardboard boxes – I now realize looking for the right tool becomes a inefficient scavenger hunt. Also, Eric has many “normal” sized tool boxes rather than one “I can live inside this thing” tool box many mechanics I know have. I imagine many smaller ones are easier to move too.

5) Start stocking.You need supplies. Nuts, bolts, connectors, resins, bearings, steel, paint, wood… Get it all! It was nice not having to run to Lowes every hour to pick something up. Again, this effects efficiency.

6) Seek out people with simular interests. Don’t waste time with people not into the same thing. You’ll go four times as far with the right entourage. You would be surprised how many people would love to share ideas and work on projects like this… but I’m not going to find them hanging out with people that like “basket weaving”!

 7) Hire some people!  Find some stuff that needs done and hire some guy (or guys) to do it. It’ll be quicker and you gotta start finding people you can count on anyway. I recall the YEAR I spent bending track for my haunted house ride. For real… a year. I could have paid some people to do it for me, and I’d be a year ahead on my project right now… but because I am a control freak… I “had” to do it all myself. It’s time to let go.

8 ) Share the vision.Helpers need to know what to do. Weather they are volunteers or paid workers, they need to know your expectations and what you see as the final product. Eric spent time sharing what he wanted with everyone on a daily basis. He walked his haunted house with people over and over to make sure it was what he wanted and to make sure they understood. Once he was sure the people were on the right track – he had no problem leaving them alone.

9) Don’t be afraid to take it slow. Relax. Wait for inspiration. Don’t force it. I watched two guys start slow and pick up speed – and get a lot done as opposed to hitting the ground running and spinning your wheels for a few hours. Movement doesn’t necessarily mean progress! My stress level wont help get things done any faster… if anything, it will have the opposite effect.

10) There’s more time in the day than you think.As 9:00pm hit – I thought “Oh crap – these guys are still working past my bed time!” But when I stopped paying attention to the clock, I found I was not as tired. Before I knew it, it was 3:00am… and I was not tired. What’s even better… I got up at 7:00 the next day without a problem and did the same thing again! When you love what you are doing, you don’t feel as drained.

11) Settle for attainable goals.I need to forget the “whole thing running perfectly the first day I open” plan (al-la haunted mansion). Get something going and build on it. Speaking of the Haunted Mansion…

12) Have triggered props. If I have my entire ride using the volume compressed air that two Disney attractions would use all the time, I will have a LOT of wasted energy and a LOT of unnecessary wear and tear on my animatronics. Triggered props also have the benefit of operating individually of everything else. Eric had props in his place that he simply plugged in and connected air… and they ran! In my situation, I’d have to roll out a control system to use just one robot. Not that the big system doesn’t have a place in my ride – I just can’t ONLY have that. Plus, with the “one computer” system… if the computer crashes, the entire ride is down. On a one by one system, if one controller dies…. only one prop is down.

 Well, that’s it. There was one thing I learned on the way BACK from New Jersey: Driving  “tired”  is far far far worse than driving drunk. The previous night we were up till 4:00am, and I thought (feeling a little homesick) that I could just power through the sleep and drive home. Big mistake. I didn’t get in an accident or anything… but I sure hope I will never do that again!

 Now that it’s all over with – I don’t know why I have such a fear of leaving York. I had a fantastic time and got to know some people that made my life a bit richer. I learned some things that will same me money and aggravation, and more importantly of all – I did something that made me feel like part of a winning team. I’d do it all again if I had the chance.

 Thanks for listening to the rantings of a madman…


 Stay Spooky,


End of the Journey

Sunday, April 24th, 2011 06:25 pm GMT -5


 I am back home… I’ve actually been home for a few hours.

My head is spinning…I have learned so very much in such a little time – I feel it will take me days to process this all.

 I can say that I learned more about myself and what I need to do in the future more than I learned any top-secret animatronic secrets. I found that pushing my comfort envelope can be rewarding and confidence building.

 This weekend I got to reuite with a long time friend, make some new aquaintances and bring a little piece of myself to a team of professionals that I admire.

 I wont / can’t go into the personal epifanies I had, as they wouldn’t mean much to anyone other than me. What I will share with you is I feel like this weekend I took a big stem towards breaking the chains that have held me still for a very long time. Most of you already know I have a HUGE problem getting myself to even cross the river to Lancaster – so when I told everyone I was going to New Jersey few believed me.

 Well – I did it! Thanks to Pete Rondeau! (Yes, THE Pete Rondeau – not the red-neck NASCAR guy! The cool one!)

 Pete owns his own company: HauntBots

 I got to see, tour and even WORK IN the headquarters of Creative Design and Engineering! This place has more coolness per inch than anyplace I have ever been. It’s an overwhelming mix of outstanding organization and chaos all at the same time.

 The place is run by Eric Princz… who, like the workshop, has a mix of  personality traits I rarley see all in one spot.

 The first thing I noticed about the place (and continued to appreciate throughout my entire visit.) Is how Eric has the place organized. I took the picture (below) of Eric’s nuts to inspire me to get my nuts on order too! Here’s a picture of both of our nuts… see if you can tell who’s is who’s….

 Shortly after we arrived, we loaded up a truck wthi finished props and headed out to the haunted house located on the Wildwood Boardwalk….

 When we arrived, I saw an unassuming business that looked like it not even close to being a haunted house…

 Inside the place was quite different… it was like a bee hive with people going every direction… wood being sawed, things being painted, lights being wired…. and everything being double checked.

 Eric said I could post pictures of the inside – but I still feel that my pictures don’t do it justice, and as I said before – you must go see this for yourself. Besides, the place still isn’t finished… in just the few days I was there, the crew re-worked an entire scene that Eric wasn’t happy with. So who knows – a week from today – more could change!

 I didn’t take a picture of any of the construction team with the exception of Lauren… the painter. Not because she’s a cute girl, but because… well – hell, make something up. Truth be told – she’s a cute girl.

 Once Eric made sure his team was on track, it was time to go back to the shop. It was close to 10pm by then – so we didn’t have long to work. WRONG! We were up the first night till 1:30(?) and every night after that till after 3:00 am!

This is a picture of where I did a lot of the work taken from the loft above the work areas…

 The suits of armor you see are what I spent most of my time on… but I also helped with a chandelier and some dolls. But the suits of armor were all me! They had to be torn apart and reinforced from the inside, fitted with conduit and wiring and put back together by riveting them. It was like playing with sharp tin cans for two days in a row… and I managed to not get anything other than a few scratches!

 Well, after a few days – my time came to an end. A quick inspection fo my work by Eric and we were good to go…

 He said I did a good job on the props… but the proof will be if I get asked back again…  What was our finish time????….

 this is AM…. yes… so tired.

 Before we called it a night – I asked what was going on for the next day. Eric and Pete both said they wanted to spend easter with their families… which is cool, because the haunt is scheduled to be inspected next Friday – and there’s a TON more to do. This guys could have easily told their families they were just too busy… to be honest, I probably would have….

 So it was very refreshing to see business people put family first. Good stuff!

 Rather than sleep – I jumped behind the wheel of my SUV and hit the highway to home… as I too wanted to spend some time with the wife and boy before the work week started again. Note to self – driving 3 hours after working till 4:00 am is a HUGE mistake. It was honestly the most difficulty driving I have every had. Even worst than driving drunk. (Not that I ever did!)

On the way home, I got to reflect on my awesome weekend and all the new things I am going to do to get this project on track and moving with some momentum.

 Before I got home – One more cool thing….

 It was a nice end to a weekend like I’ve never had.

Thanks to Eric and Pete for their hospitality over the past few days. It was a trip of great meaning to me!

 Happy Easter Everyone!

Breakin’ the Law!

Saturday, April 23rd, 2011 12:48 pm GMT -5


Last night we were up working on the haunted house till way past 3am.
I was BEAT! Anyhow… a highlight was us delivering plywood and siding to the construction guys.
Apparently, you are supposed to park in the street and then hand carry anything you use to the businesses on the boardwalk.
Well, that would have take all night! So we talked Pete into driving up on the boardwalk.
It saved sooooo much time!
The funny thing was the cops showed up just as Pete was getting in his truck to pull away.
Pete is still in jail for possession of marijuana.
Just kidding! The cops didn’t say a word… and we just worked into the night.
Have a great weekend all!

Day One in Wildwood New Jersey

Friday, April 22nd, 2011 08:39 am GMT -5

So… we got a late start yesterday because of a trafic jam and some running around that had to be done… Today will be my first full day in Wildwood. I am hoping to be more useful today than yesterday!

 That being said – we were still productive I guess. .. we were in Eric’s work shop till 1:00 am… I think… I don’t remember, I was kinda tired.

 I never got to help someone with THEIR projects before, so this is a unique feeling for me. It’s awkward to want to help do something but knowing that everyone has different taste… it feels … I don’t know how to explain it. I guess I am writing this more for myself than for my readers. I am hoping to remember how others feel when they ask to help me…

 I don’t think there’s a magic answer.. it takes years sometimes for people to know what each other are thinking, so I don’t expcet there to be a magic pill here or at my house… it’s just a curious feeling I never had before.

 So, I won’t be sharing ant pictures from inside the haunt. I don’t think it’s appropriate and if you wanna see it – get your ass down here when they are open. (If I can get now here.. anyone can!)

 Here’s two pictures from inside the haunt of Eric and Pete… but this is all you’re getting!

 One more thing that I figured out… I am glad I don’t do this for a living… at least not for other people. One of the things Eric said last night about the “art” of what he does sounded very much like my personal feeling about me turning my photography hobby into a job. (That didn’t turn out so well….)

 I remember a time I was asked at my “real” job to build robots for a halloween display.. I was SO thrilled! Then the president of the company asked me to have my robot say “Our ghosts are spooky, but our prices are not!” and I almost instantly shut down the project.

 It’s difficult to express your art when someone else is paying you to build what THEY want to see… the customer seldom worries about your vision of the project.

 Again, this is more for me that everyone else… but feel free to use this if it helps you!

 Have a great weekend everyone!