Monday, November 9, 2009

Enterprises of Great Pitch and Moment

Having dinner with my family provides such insight into the world of American business. Many people like to separate business and life. This is understandable, when most people are dying (no pun intended) to get off work and spend time doing other activities. I see it differently. To me, my passion and business are one in the same. Business is business no matter what form it takes, consider:

•Family Business- the raising and care of the family unit.
•House Business- taking care of debt and assets, repairs and waste.
•Friends Business- taking care to meet and socialize with friends.

True, as we grow older these 'businesses' become more and more complicated--but here the line becomes drawn for the majority workers. So many Americans see work as a means to get money. But that's not enough. They are more than happy to spend time with friends and family, than to check their customer satisfaction.

My philosophy of business is that it needs to be closer to the human existence more now than ever. Too often we see dishonesty and tomorrow, our manager team begins with the Heart and Mind of the business. The first draft of the company's vision is:

"To create the premier Halloween dark attraction, that is relevant to the local community and cultural traditions, which brings people, friends and families together to ignite their imaginations and wonderment. We are a responsible high performing business."

Somewhat unusual for a Halloween Haunt, but we're looking for more. We're looking to change the way people see Haunted Attractions and Halloween.

As we continue to look for a singularity of purpose, the manager members do not want to settle for the bloody, death and mayhem themes (although in America, that is a part of Halloween) but for true scares and also something less sinister.

For my part, I would love to see Halloween return to the Golden Age, when it was more of family and friends connection. Finding this job, is a blessing. I'm not just working for a paycheck, but a way of life. A better way.

Can all American businesses do the same way? I don't have that answer. But I do know that creating a deeper emotional connection to the work at hand is becoming more important in the marketplace.

To the American worker: a solid, good working environment starts with you. It begins with integrity and trust. Be purposeful everyday and you'll find that happiness and balance. Napolean Hill once said, "No person can succeed in a line of endeavor which one does not like". I have found that my favorite holiday, with my love of human interaction makes for a solid business idea.

Have you given thought to how your business fits into your life?

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone 3G S

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Halloween Dominion Day 1

Last night concluded Halloween Dominion's 2009 Haunt--Dia de los Muertos. This officially ended our home haunt, and begins our venture into the business world. In 1988, as young kids, my brother and I were completely bored on Halloween. As I turned to him I said, "we should do a Halloween Party next year". In 1989, that became a reality with the help my of family. Every year since then, it grew from a few decorations to the Haunt that we just wrapped.
Halloween 20 years ago has drastically changed. From the decline of Trick o' Treating to the rise of the Halloween Haunt Industry. How and where will out new company fit in this unique holiday? That's what forming the company in the next few weeks will determine. The questions we hope to answer are the same questions every company must ask:

•What is our purpose?
•What is our vision?
•Who are our customers?

I also realize how much I need to change my perspective on this Halloween Haunt. After 20 years, our 'Halloween Party' returns to being a party and our Haunt now becomes a full business. I can't help but to feel a sense of loss and excitement all at the same time. WCH will take you on our journey as I turn my passion into a business. I never believed in luck, and with our talented team I have no doubt we will be successful.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone 3G S

2009 WCH Pumpkin

Happy Halloween Everyone!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Another Shot From Calle Olvera!

My Day in Olvera Street, Downtown L.A.

Dia de los Muertos is a wonderful Mexican holiday. There is no better place to see the traditional sights and sounds than historic Olvera Street in Downtown L.A. Olvera Street is the oldest street in downtown Los Angeles, named after Augstin Olvera in 1877.

Calle Olvera has been preparing for Dia de los Muertos for the last couple of weeks (maybe to go along side with Halloween, although the locals will remind you that it is not like Halloween at all!) with decorations, flowers, and a procession that travels down the street nightly.

The most visible aspect of this day are the calaverdas, or skulls. They take every form you can think of from sugar skulls to ceramics to paper masks. The idea is to make death less frightening and more welcoming. Dia de los Muertos is a festival of remembrance of loved ones, the enjoyment of life and the reminder that life and death are not as separate as we think they are. Skeletons are usually depicted enjoying everyday life, such as eating drinking and celebrating. A favorite (especially for my wife and myself) is the popular marriage scene.

There is plenty to eat and drink, and the environment is always fun. While in Downtown, especially in late October and November, make sure to stop by one afternoon to witness the Dia de los Muertos celebrations! Parking is only $8.00 across the street, and Olvera is located close to 101 Freeway. I recommend bringing cash for the local merchants, and make sure to buy yourself a sugar skull or two!

Olvera Street continues to be a center for not only Mexican heritage, but Hispanics from all over Latin America. This is the best place to experience Dia in Southern California! Many local celebrations occur in front of the Old Plaza Church.

Here, children from the local schools color their calaverda masks and enjoy hitting a skeleton pinata!

Happy Halloween and Dia de los Muertos! Have a safe holiday this weekend!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Dia de los Muertos begins!

Halloween Dominion's Dia de los Muertos kicked off the season! Here's
shots of Nelson & Sean in their best calaverdas!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Exclusive Sneak Peek! DIA DE LOS MUERTOS!

The entrance to a mysterious Spanish mission on the old California
coast. The season grows colder and the anicent celebration begins...
"Dia de los Muertos"!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Creating the River Styx (First Look)

Creating the River Styx has been a great pleasure to do. As I comment
before, the river in my version is an old sewer tunnel with the souls
of the dead trapped within the pipes that run from above.
It is difficult to see, but the pipes are almost done, with slime
running down from them and faces embedded within them. Only a hand
full of pipes were PVC, while most were hand made by fellow Haunter
Michael Gilbert and myself.
Next, we'll finish up the details and add 3D effects!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Creating the River Styx 2009 (My Concept)

I had the privilege of re-imagining the River Styx from the Divine Comedy. The vision in Dante's story is a dark and muddy river filled with the souls of the dead forever trapped in its tides.

After much brainstorming, I decided to take a modern look into the river. Natural rivers are a little hard to do in the amount of space I have available (a corridor about 6 ft by 3 ft). I remembered a great documentary I saw about man-made rivers such as the New York underground tunnels and sewers. In taking this idea to our Haunt, I wanted to update the Styx and make it more relevant to today's audiences. If you look closely, you'll see old portraits of Dante's river as a homage to the original. I still wanted the souls trapped in the "river", so I designed them to be trapped in the pipes and ducts running back and forth in the sewer tunnel. Keep checking up for updates on the progress of this room!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Creating The River Styx 2009

Halloween Dominion's 2009 Haunt has many talented Haunters working on attraction. I'm in charge of a few rooms and corridors within that Haunt. One of those rooms is called the River Styx, after Dante's Inferno. I will post the progress of this room and final product here on West Coast Hauntrepreneur.
The theme of this year's haunt is Dia de los Muertos, which is a great celebration going back 3,000 years. The traditions in the last few hundred years has blended with traditional Roman Catholic beliefs and superstitions. One of the great Christian poets, Dante Alighieri wrote Divina Commedia, or the Divine Comedy which describes the afterlife as imagined by Christians in the 1300s.
In our dark attraction, we wanted to have the same blending of traditions. We began with Dia de los Muertos and as you "descend" into the haunt, you become Dante as he descends into the 9 Circles of Hell. Each Circle is designed by a different Haunter, and you will also have the opportunity experience their own unique talent and artistic expression. I was lucky enough to get the River Styx.
The River Styx, has its beginning in old Greek mythology and it is river that souls take to the underworld. In the Divina Commedia, this river is in hell and transports you to the deeper circles. The river is described as having the souls of sinners forever drowning in its deep and muddy waters. The picture above illustrates the how Dante viewed this river. Check in often as I take you down my version of the River Styx!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

A Sneak Peak at Halloween Dominion's 2009!

Without giving too much away, here is a look at one of the rooms in
the 2009 Halloween Dominion Haunt! The lighting is not complete, so to
see the final effect make sure to stop by "Dia de los Muertos"!!!
I help design this room, so I hope you like the finished product!

Disney relives the Golden Years

Disneyland California is getting in their fall mood by beginning to
decorate their theme park. I wanted to share this wonderful scene
display at Disneyland California Adventure Park, near the Hollywood
Tower of Terror. A very great reproduction of classical Golden Age
Halloween. Check it out yourself at Disneyland California!!!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

R.I.P. (Reserve-Invest-Plan)

"Now is always the best time"
Last week, I had the opportunity to catch up with a friend of mine at a baby shower. Like me, my friend Nathan recently got married and we're both trying to build our savings during difficult economic times. Of course, I began to think of the effect of the recession on the Halloween Industry. As we begin build Halloween Dominion the realization of building a seasonal company that truly has one month (in fact, maybe 3 weeks) of operations that brings in cash is unnerving to say the least. For the last two years, the industry has heard researchers and analysts say that Halloween is "recession-proof" and showing "growth" almost to the level of Christmas (the biggest holiday in North America). That was all said before the real hard times hit. What about now?

Today, the industry suffers as much as any industry in America. The Home Haunter (maybe I'm bias) is the hardest hit. Home Haunters are the front-line of the Industry. They are not only purchasers, they are enthusiasts. Often times, Home Haunters can't run a business and depend on donations for their craft. Fellow Halloween Dominion member, Johnny and I spend small fortunes each year since 1996 until recently with the help of other creative members. Our haunts cost an average of $4,000-$5,000, with a decent inventory on hand.

Unfortunately, gone are the days of buying on a whim and minimal planning. I think that all Home Haunters must do 3 important recession planning steps:
  1. Reserve: start to save now, for your Haunt.
  2. Invest: purchase (wisely) items that can be reused over and over again.
  3. Plan: plan every detail of your Haunt, so you have a goal of how much to save, and how much to spend.
In the R.I.P (Reserve-Invest-Plan) blog, I will not only introduce some great Home Haunting techniques I've learn over the years, but I'll bring you news of how the economy is affecting the Halloween Industry. Maybe it's a little too late but now is always the best time. It's a call of action for all Haunters, both professional and home to prepare in advance to survive the hard times. If you, like me are building your own company---now is the time to learn and plan for the financial health of your dream.

I also welcome ideas and thoughts about your financial best practices. Please comment below and help the community at large!

If you're interested in great Financial topics, visit Nathan's blog Mischief.Mayhem.Soap for some great advice and savings tips.

And on that note: Click the ads on this site! It's a win-win for both advertisers and West Coast Hauntrepreneur!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Seasonal Food & Beverages

As the Fall season descends upon us, I am reminded that some of my
favorite foods are associated with this time of year. So a new section
of this blog will introduce you to several of my favorite dishes that
I hope you'll enjoy. And I invite you to share some of you own

One of my first traditions comes in the form of Starbucks Coffee
Company's Pumpkin Spice Latte. This blend of espresso, steamed milk,
Pumpkin Spice Sauce and whipped cream is the perfect balance of sweet
pumpkin pie flavor and coffee. The best part is that you can customize
it the way you want it.
As a home haunter, October is a busy month, usually with long nights
and early mornings. A little coffee break is much needed during our
long building night. I customize my latte with non-fat milk and no
whipped cream. Depending on my mood, I might add an extra shot of
espresso. I truly believe that the best way to serve your customers is
to be alert, awake, and healthy at the same time. Have this drink with
low fat or non fat milk and maybe a less pump of that delicious sauce
for a healthier alternative.
Interested? Click the link below for the nutritional information. I
hope you enjoy Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte, and don't forget to tip
your Barista!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Historia de Dia de los Muertos Parte 1 (1492 A.D.)

"Life is a dream"
During the Spanish Conquest of Meso-America, Spanish Conquistadors were astonished by a ritual performed by native Aztecs, in what is modern day Mexico, that seemed to mock death. They had been practicing this ritual for almost 3,000 years. Skulls were predominate in this ritual that lasted over a month beginning in August.
The ritual was celebrated during the Aztec month of Miccailhuitontli, and it was believed that the Lady of the Dead or Mictecacihuatl presided over the ritual. Skulls were kept as trophies by the Aztecs and other Meso-American cultures. They also symbolized death and rebirth. The skulls were used to honor the dead, and during their ritual Aztecs believed that the dead would visit the living again.
In this time of conquest, the cultural differences between the old and new world were experienced.
The Spaniards believed that death was the end of life, while the indigenous people saw it as a continuation of life. According to Carlos Miller of The Arizona Republic, the native's culture did not fear death, " they embraced it. To them, life was a dream and only in death did they become truly awake".
Similarly to the assimilation of the Celtic ritual of Samhain, the indigenous ritual of the dead was moved to the Catholic celebration of All Saints Day and All Soul's Day on November 1st & 2nd in an attempt to make it more Christian.

Special thanks to Tomascaste at Wikimedia Commons for the great images of Dia de los Muertos, a candidate for Picture of the Year 2007.

Miller, Carlos (2009) Day of the Dead history. The Arizona Republic. Arizona Central, Arizona's Home Page. Retrieved on September 3, 2009
The Pacific Coast of Mexico (2009) Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead). The Pacific Coast
of Mexico. Retrieved on September 3, 2009 from:
Tomascastelazo (2007) Day of the Dead Images. Tomascastelazo. Wikimedia Commons.
Retrieved on September 3, 2009 from:

Welcome To Eternal Image

Most people know I'm a huge Star Trek fan! These urns and caskets look
great, but would I have to pull a "Spock" and die saving a starship to
be in one?
For most people, death is a serious and sad stage of life. However, it
can also be a celebration of life and all the wonderful things we
enjoyed. My mother-in-law reminds me that the Irish celebrate and
remember the dead through lively wakes. I'm sure being in tomb in a
Photon Torpedo Casket would take the edge of another wise morbid event.
Check out Eternal Image, if you love Trek consider one of their urns
when you bodly go....

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Halloween Dominion 2009

Help support Halloween Dominion 2009! Our celebration this year is Dia de los Muertos, a Hispanic celebration of life and death... with a twist! We're also partnering with Costumes for Kids, a great Halloween Charity! Costume for Kids helps bring new or used Halloween costumes to disabled children, to bring them the Halloween they deserve!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Planning for Halloween 2009

Home Haunting Prep

The Hauntrepreneur's garage!

History of Halloween Part 2 (1880s-1930s) The Golden Age

In the 1880s, immigrants from Europe brought their Halloween customs and traditions to the states. The first celebrations were considered "play parties" and public harvest events held in New England. The Potato Famine of 1846 brought many more immigrants, especially Irish immigrants, and helped bring Halloween celebration to the national stage. The American Halloween tradition of going door to door asking for money or food later became known as "trick or treating", a tradition that is practiced today. By the late 1880s, Halloween was more about community and neighborhood socials than about ghosts, ghouls and witchcraft. Diane C. Arkins, author of Halloween Merrymaking, describes this period as the "Golden Age" of Halloween. Arkins describes the traditional Halloween gatherings as " fun, food, and frolics served with a side of mild-manner seasonal frights." Parties during this time focused more on stylistic costumes rather than gory, bloody or horrifying costumes. Even the old Celtic beliefs of fortune telling became more of a game rather than actual future predictions. Arkins describes a popular game involving cleaning out walnut shells, filling them with a paper fortune and having guest chant "Elf that haunts the walnut tree, what has fate in store for me?" Modern Halloween traditions that originated from the Golden Age, include:
  • Parties and social gatherings
  • Invitations
  • Halloween theme food
  • Halloween theme games and decorations
  • Pumpkin carving
Pumpkin carving is an Irish-American tradition most associated with Halloween.
The story of the Jack-O'Lantern has its start from the story of Stingy Jack. Neither allowed in Heaven nor wanted by Hell, the soul of Jack travels the world with only a burning coal to guide him. The Irish called him, "Jack of the Lantern" which in turn became "Jack O'Lantern." To keep bad spirits and Stingy Jack away, people carved faces into turnips and potatoes, placed a candle inside and set them on their windowsills. The pumpkin, a native American fruit later replaced the turnip and potato of Ireland.
Arkins, Diane C. (2004) Halloween Merrymaking, an illustrated celebration of fun, food, and frolics from halloweens past
Pelican Publishing Company, Inc., Gretna, Louisiana
Halloween Pictures (2009) Wikimedia Commons. Retrieved on August 23rd, 2009 from:
History (2008) The Real Story of Halloween. A & E Television Networks.
Retrieved on August 23, 2009 from:

History of Halloween Part 1 (1 A.D.-800 A.D.) Birth of Halloween

Over 2,000 years ago, the Celtics lived in the lands of modern day Ireland, United Kingdom and France. During the month of October, the Celtic tribes celebrated Samhain (sow-in) which represents the end of summer and the beginning of the harsh winter. On October 31st, the Celtics believed that mischievous spirits of the dead returned to earth. They believed during this time that it was possible for the living to predict the future. Crop and animal sacrifices were offered up to the Celtic deities, while tribe members dressed in costumes made of animal skins.
By A.D. 43 the Roman Empire had conquered the Celtic territory. The cultural blending of both Roman and Celtic traditions and celebrations began. Feralia a commemoration of the dead and Pomona the celebration of the Roman goddess of fruit and trees merged with Samhain.
Pomona's Roman symbol was an apple, which the modern day game of bobbing for apples may have originated from.
By A.D. 800, Pope Boniface IV declared November 1st as All Saints Day, a day to honor saints and martyrs. Many believe that this was the pope's attempt to replace Samhain with a Church sanctioned holiday. All Saints Day was later called All Hallows or All Hallowas, and over time Samhain was to be known as All-Hallows Eve.
Today, we call this day Halloween. In A.D. 1000 the Church declared November 2nd as All Soul's Day a time to honor the dead. This celebration was marked with bonfires, parades and dressing in costumes to represent saints, angels and demons, similar to Samhain over a thousand years earlier.

History (2008) The Real Story of Halloween. A & E Television Networks.
Retrieved on August 23, 2009 from:
Bonfire Picture (2003) Janne Karaste. Wikimedia Commons. Retrieved on August 23rd, 2009 from:

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Welcome to my new Halloween blog!

Welcome to my Halloween Blog! Since 1989 I have been home haunting every year in October. On the 20th anniversary of my first haunt, I have decide to move to the next level. This year, together with an amazing team we're redefining what a Halloween dark attraction can be. Not only can a Halloween Dark Attraction entertain people, but it can also be a responsible part of the community.
Along with our creative team, we've launched Halloween Dominion a new model of Halloween business. We're deep in to the pre-production process, and business building.
I hope to bring insights from the local Halloween community, industry and other business related interests.

Happy Haunting...