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Halloween 2011 at Dick Van Dyke’s House: The Biggest Yet!

This was our fourth year helping Dick Van Dyke decorate his house for Halloween, and although we say it every year, this really was the biggest Halloween yet! (For the scoop on last year’s decorations and how we got started doing this, click HERE.)

For starters, this year’s celebration required a pre-production meeting the week before that had us rooting around in a couple of self-storage units filled to the brim with ghouls and goblins and traipsing through the new Anawalt hardware store (at last you can buy a hammer in Malibu!) picking up paint and supplies. Van Dyke also expanded setup to two days and welcomed trick-or-treaters on Sunday night and Halloween night.

Ghouls waiting in the wings...

Our blank canvas

The “stage” has been slowly extending down the street for the last few years, and this year it took over the neighbor’s side yard. Van Dyke convinced them to donate it to the cause as the site of our graveyard, and the plot was so perfect, I’m surprised the neighbors aren’t using it for a graveyard already!

Family Plot


Dick Van Dyke’s side yard is always tricky because the low tree branches prevent us from setting up most of the big figures and there’s a lot of space to fill.

This year I was on a mission to cover the Dumpsters that mar our otherwise convincing displays of horror, so Patrick painted up a tarp to look like a rock.

Every year there’s a new assortment of props and figures to work with, since Van Dyke is constantly rotating his collection, swapping props with his relatives and other Halloween enthusiasts, and acquiring new effects from prop houses and supply stores around the country. Last year’s showpiece, the electric chair effect, and the irritatingly off-key singing heads on pikes (“I Ain’t Got Nobody”) were gone, replaced by a sinister clown; a lunging, blood-spattered butcher; and a mechanical hell hound so large he required someone to stand by all night reigning him in.

The swamp zombie and assorted over-sized creepy-crawlies are holdovers from the last few years.


And then there’s this guy… somehow a re-dressed Santa with dyed beard and, inexplicably, a pirate costume turned up in Dick Van Dyke’s Halloween storage bin, and nobody’s sure why.

Still, our fellow decorators found a way to spookify him a bit…


At lunch time we were treated to pizza and stories by Van Dyke, his daughter Stacy and his fiancee, Arlene. We heard about the ranch the family owned for 10 years in Arizona and how Stacy got to go to the set of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang with her dad every day because she had a tutor. She even got to be in the movie’s carousel scene with her sister. He also talked about his exhausting book tour spent answering the same questions over and over… which he then obligingly answered for us! (Mary Poppins was his favorite working experience, natch, and the film The Runner Stumbles, well, “it closed three days after it opened.”) Oh, and we got to hear a funny story about the time they moved the cat tree from its spot of many years and then watched as the cat instinctively leapt toward a perch that was no longer there—major face plant!

And then it was back to work… The wall Patrick painted last year for one of the figures to bang his head into became a backdrop for a less sinister tableau involving a family-friendly witch.

Another new effect was a lenticular Dick Van Dyke had made of his portrait—the effect was seamless!

Due to Patrick’s storyboarding schedule, we were only able to work one day this year, but we did make it back Sunday night to show his parents our handiwork… most of which had been vastly improved while we were gone! A couple of our co-workers raided a Hollywood prop house for more stuff to round out the graveyard, and it looked amazing!

Last year we didn’t have as many trick-or-treaters as in years past, so this year, Dick Van Dyke put a notice about the 2-night display in the local paper and even secured a parking lot.

The walk up from the lot is quite picturesque—this year the creek was fuller than we’ve ever seen it!

Graveyard before...

Graveyard after!

The scrim was for one of Van Dyke's favorite effects from last year, a projection of three spooky figures dancing to "Thriller" on a loop

This guy jerked and screamed hideously when you stepped on a special mat


The Dumpster cover turned out nice and spooky too!

I always point this out, but... this guy's from the movie Predator!

When we got there, the finishing touches were being placed on the display, and Patrick decided to light the graveyard a little better so the tombstones would be visible after dark.

The asylum door effect has been around a few years now, probably because it makes such a great place to put the candy barrel. I made a big deal of “accidentally” triggering the effect to show the first few groups of trick-or-treaters how it worked…

Totally worth it!

Dick Van Dyke is always a perfect host, graciously posing for photos and autographing memorabilia for the myriad local fans who show up. Here he demonstrates the hell hound effect.

Patrick's parents were sooooooo excited to meet Dick Van Dyke in person!

When it was time for us to leave, Stacy gave us a lift back to the parking lot in her dad’s golf cart. We asked her what it was like growing up in such a Halloween-centric household, and she had nothing but fond memories: “It was better than Christmas!” Then she paid us the ultimate compliment of saying how impressed she was that so many of us turn out to help her dad realize his Halloween vision each year, to which I replied, “Hey, free pizza!”

If you’re interested in reading what the second Halloween night was like at Dick Van Dyke’s, check out this blog.

This post is part of the Disney Blog Carnival. Head over there to see more great Disney-related posts and articles.

{ 31 comments… add one }

  • Jenn Paul November 3, 2011, 8:09 AM

    as always, AWESOME! P is so smart with the ideas! The dumpster cover was genius!! How fun for you all! So excited as always for you! big hugs to you both!

    • lurkyloo November 3, 2011, 9:13 AM

      Hey, thanks Jenn!

  • Elizabeth November 3, 2011, 8:22 AM

    Fabulous job! However, I would never set one foot near a house that looked like that! LOL! I’m a wimp.

    • lurkyloo November 3, 2011, 9:12 AM

      I know!!! The only reason I can stand the gore is that I saw how it was all put together. But it was about 2 years before I could look at that Predator corpse…

  • Korin November 3, 2011, 10:29 AM

    What an awesome experience, thanks for sharing that with us!
    However, that asylum door is going to give me nightmares…

    • lurkyloo November 3, 2011, 10:32 AM

      Sorry about that… 🙁

      • Jenny November 3, 2011, 12:00 PM

        Here I am replying again! Maybe I have truly come out of lurkdom.
        This is really cool! But I have mixed feelings about it. I’m drawn to it and would love to see it one day and at the same time it looks so scary! What a fun way to spend Halloween!

        • lurkyloo November 3, 2011, 12:09 PM

          I know what you mean. If I were a kid, his house would *terrify* me!

          • Jenny November 3, 2011, 12:22 PM


      • Korin November 3, 2011, 7:22 PM

        Lol, don’t worry, I should have learned better by now than to watch scary stuff! (I saw 28 Days Later… whenever it came out in the theaters and I STILL get worried about Rage Infected Zombies when I’m out alone by myself after dark- for instance, on my back porch with the light on!)

        • lurkyloo November 3, 2011, 8:49 PM

          😀 Now I’m really glad I’ve never seen that one!

  • Tracy - mrsksomeday November 3, 2011, 11:18 AM

    Great blog post, I love how Mr. Van Dyke loves Halloween. Patrick is so talented and creative. Thank you so much for sharing this with us.

    • lurkyloo November 3, 2011, 12:09 PM

      I’ll pass along the compliment—thanks!

  • Alicia aka Baloo =0) November 3, 2011, 9:40 PM

    I think it’s funny that a man who is so sweet and funny and would be the PERFECT Grandpa, LOVES this ghoulish stuff…makes me LOLOLOL!!!

    The decorations look great although they would scare me to death if I saw them in RL!

    Thanks for sharing! =0)

  • Hope November 4, 2011, 4:45 PM

    Wow! I thought we had a pretty good Halloween, but you win! 😉 And score on the good candy too!

    If you need someone to hold paint brushes next year, call me! 😉

    • lurkyloo November 4, 2011, 4:50 PM

      Definitely! Now let’s hear about your Halloween… do you guys get trick-or-treaters over there? We never do. 🙁

      • Hope November 4, 2011, 5:06 PM

        Not anymore. 🙁 We ended up dressing up (by “we” I mean just me and my cousin. Hubby’s too cool for school now) and hitting up the WeHo Carnaval. There were a ton of cool costumes out this year and we had fun posing for pics with the fellow party-people. See? I told you, you win! 😉

        • lurkyloo November 4, 2011, 5:09 PM

          Well I’m impressed you braved that crush of humanity! The only time I ever tried, my friend and I spent the whole night driving around looking for parking, til we finally gave up and went home.

          • Hope November 4, 2011, 5:19 PM

            I know! It’s so crazy! We actually arrived early and got dropped off by the Bev Ctr and then walked up to Santa Monica Blvd. from there. It seemed that a lot of party-goers were parking further away and walking to We Ho. We considered taking the bus but then didn’t want to look dumb in costumes. A handful of people actually braved public transport in costume so we know it’s an option for next year. We left around 10:30 and there were still tons of people barely arriving. It’s definitely an experience and the craziest thing is that there were a handful of little kids there and some older folk parked on the sidewalks sitting in lawn chairs catching all the action!

            • lurkyloo November 4, 2011, 10:10 PM

              I love it!

  • Maureen November 4, 2011, 8:25 PM

    Thanks so much for taking the time to post such an interesting story involving a beloved movie star. My 7 year old is over the moon for Mr. Van Dyke! She is a huge late 20th century movie fan, along with most electronics and Tai Kwon Do. Per her request, I’ve googled for an official site and fan club for her to request an autograph with poor success. If you happen to know of such a site and would care to email me, it would make my youngest daughter’s day!
    Thanks again for posting a fun story for fans of all ages,

    • lurkyloo November 4, 2011, 10:14 PM

      Hi Maureen! I found a website that says he accepts autograph requests through his talent agency – hope this helps!
      Dick Van Dyke
      William Morris Endeavor Entertainment
      9601 Wilshire Blvd.
      3rd Floor
      Beverly Hills, CA 90210

  • Michelle November 5, 2011, 12:59 AM

    dick van dyke truly amazing person and a star!!!!!!!!!

    his halloween is fantastic and the best and i think he is amazing and looks fantastic! I love his shows, movies, songs, dancing, everything about dick van dyke…… what great inspiration!!!!!!!!

    • lurkyloo November 5, 2011, 9:47 AM

      That pretty much sums it up! 🙂

  • Michelle November 6, 2011, 4:58 PM

    I’m in australia and my dream would be to meet dick van dyke – that would be a incredible experience.
    any suggestions or so…. in making that dream come true would be greatly appreciated as I am across the ocean down under.
    Thanks dick for everything, your awesomely talented incredible.

    • lurkyloo November 6, 2011, 5:02 PM

      Well, he seems to make a lot of appearances in and around the Los Angeles area (onstage, acting or performing with his singing group), so if you are ever out here for a visit, you might luck out!

      • Michelle November 6, 2011, 7:43 PM

        thank lurkyloo for the info.
        when i come to L.A. for a visit i pray my dream of meeting dick van dyke will come true. thanks for the info.

  • Stelle November 7, 2011, 1:16 PM

    I didn’t think I was reading this right that you helped THE Dick Van Dyke decorate his house for Halloween but I was reading it correctly! How how how awesome! I know this whole display would scare me to death… I was always afraid of haunted house type things. I mean, wow. What a moment. Thanks for sharing it! 🙂

    • lurkyloo November 7, 2011, 1:24 PM

      I still can’t quite believe it myself! It’s always really surreal to be there… Thanks for reading!

  • Chilly November 12, 2011, 9:09 AM

    Great work, you and Patrick did a fab job, so jealous.

    • lurkyloo November 12, 2011, 10:51 AM

      Aw, thanks! 🙂

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