Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Pumpkin Prowl 2008

For three years running now I've been transforming the Zoomazium at Woodland Park Zoo here in Seattle into the Boomazium for the zoo's Pumpkin Prowl event. The zoo is such a great Halloween venue, and the Zoomazium is perfect for a haunt. We do a very young-kid friendly event, but that is not a problem as I have a haunt style that works for all ages. I'm not into gore/slasher/in-your-face scares, I prefer a subtler themed approach that is more interactive and integrated with the setting.

My haunting colleague Donovan Allen, who happens to work at the zoo doing exhibit technology, and I have developed a collection of props now that we use that integrate well with the control system Donovan developed for the interactive exhibits in the facility. His Z-Play system controls all the lighting, multi-zone audio, video/multimedia, kiosks, and triggers throughout the whole place. We interface several of the major props into the system to have high level control of the entire event. We debate constantly on control techniques, but that is fodder for a different post.

My newest prop was The Tentacle. This prop just about did me in. It was incredibly fun to develop, but it was a lot of work. And it took until the 3rd day of running until it was stable and functioned correctly all night without intervention.

We chose to put the tentacle in our explorer's tent, primarily as it was the easiest placement first time out-of-the-gate. The tentacle will also get its own posting soon. Video is on the way of it in action as well as a behind-the-scenes view.

The folks at the zoo are great to work with. It is a complicated place and budgets are tight, but everyone seems to rally when it comes down to the event. The staff carves *hundreds* of pumpkins that are displayed all over the zoo. One frustration though is that we can't use fog inside the Zoomazium at the moment. The smoke sensors are way too sensitive, as we discovered last year in the middle of the night during a fog test. We tried to get a firewatch procedure in place this year, but to no avail. Hopefully by next year as I need FOG! My scarecrow just isn't the same without it. We also did a private party this year, for a donor that won a "Halloween party in Boomazium" at the zoo's Jungle Party Auction event. That was great as it was nice to get a little more mileage out of all our hard work in setting this place up. The Pumpkin Prowl event is only 3 days and only 3 hours each of those days. I would love to see this expanded as Pumpkin Prowl has the potential to be "the" family friendly Halloween event in the entire NorthWest.

Here are some Pumpkin Prowl pictures and here are tentacle pictures. As I mentioned, video and another posting will be coming soon to talk more on the tentacle.

Pumpkin Prowl - Halloween 2008

The Tentacle

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