October 30, 2009
| by Tom LeBlanc
Sequels usually aren’t very good.
But the updates made to this fully-automated haunted house make it even better than when we wrote about it last year.
Digital Panacea, an integration company that does a lot of Home Automation Inc. (HAI) control system programming, revisited its spookiest client for a pre-Halloween tune-up.
Halloween Park, a haunted attraction outside York, Pa., isn’t a typical haunted house. It’s interactive, meaning that visitors must solve clues in order to move through the scary rooms.
The HAI automation system is critical because most of the spooky sounds and sudden movements are triggered by anticipated activity. For instance, a motion sensor might pick up when a visitor enters a particular room and triggers a scary voice to give him a clue.
If the clue leads the visitor to do something, such as take a particular book out of a bookcase, a contact on the book might trigger something shocking, like a secret door opening.
Jeffrey Lehman, owner of York-based Digital Panacea, says programming an automation system for the haunted house is similar to doing it for a regular (non-haunted) house.
He might install motion sensors in a regular house so lights turn on when an owner enters a room. In this case, instead of lights turning on, it’s along the lines of a skeleton being hurled across the room.
Programming a haunted house isn’t without its unique challenges, Lehman acknowledges.
“It’s a tremendous exercise in programming,” he says. It’s particularly challenging because “you have to make sure everything resets” after the actions are triggered, the spooky stuff happens and the visitors move onto the next room.
Since the Halloween Park is interactive and based on clues, the owner wanted to keep it fresh by revamping many of last year’s scenes and adding new ones. That meant a lot of work for Lehman.
He estimates there’s about 5 miles of wire in the three-story haunted house with 32 rooms and spaces — “plus, God knows how many contacts and motion sensors and there’s 800-some-odd lines of code.”
There’s likely to be more wire, more programming and more of everything else next year. Lehman says Halloween Park is likely to add a fourth floor to the attraction.
Click here to view Halloween Park’s haunted house.