2014 Halloween Haunt Award Nominees: Best Addition or Improvement to an Existing Haunt

A cyborg in the Backwoods Maze
A cyborg in the Backwoods Maze

This category is for long-standing haunts that might otherwise be overlooked because they remain relatively consistent from year to year, and we do not want to keep renominating them in their respective categories for previously seen elements. So much in the same way that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will give a composer an Oscar for scoring a sequel only on consideration of new music - not for themes reused from the original - we use this category to acknowledge noteworthy additions and improvements to existing favorites.

And the nominees are...

Giant Robots in Backwoods Maze

This back yard walk-through has been gradually evolving from its backwoods theme to something more post-apocalyptic, with the addition over the years of some Mad Max-style imagery, but we could not have blamed visitors for overlooking the change - it is easy to miss details when your screaming and running for your life. However, this year's over-sized cyborgs were impossible to miss - impressive not only in size but also in detail and design.

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Boney Island Cat copy

Skeletal Cat and Butterflies at Boney Island

Goofy imagery has always been the hallmark of Boney Island, even as the yard haunt has added more technically impressive effects (the Spirit Box, the Anti-Gravity Water). Some of the best gags are tucked away in quiet corners, providing laughs for those observant enough to notice them. In 2013 there were skeletal hummingbirds flitting in the bushes; this Halloween the birds were joined by skeletal butterflies - and a skeletal cat pawing at them. The technical trickery was modest, but the imagery was priceless.

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Madame Leota horizontal

The Seance from Los Angeles Live Steamers Ghost Train

This Halloween ride provides a twenty-minute tour past an incredible variety of effects and decorations, much of which was the same as in past years. For 2014, there were several additions, the most notable of which was an over-sized version of Madame Leot'as seance from Disneyland's Haunted Mansion. While an enormous table spun above disco lights and a thumping music, the original video of Madame Leota was projected above, creating the illusion of a disembodied head reciting the famous incantation ("Send us a message from somewhere beyond!") The scene was at once an impressive installation, for its sheer size, and a loving tribute to the Disneyland attraction, which is celebrating its 45th anniversary this year.

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