When I hear “luxury resort” I usually think palm trees, bright blue pools and as many combinations of tequila and fruit as my bartender can muster. The Meyer family’s idea of “luxury” involves alien pods, space cocktails and heavy construction.
For the past 21 years, the family has turned its North California Street home into a behemoth monument to Halloween. Calling their annual creation a “haunted house” completely undersells the engineering, planning, craftsmanship and creativity that goes into their Franken-houses.
To put that much passion into Halloween requires a commitment from the whole family. It started in 1990, when Diane and Preston Meyer started putting on a haunted house for their daughter Melissa’s birthday, Oct. 26. Over the years the productions got bigger and bigger — one year they filled their entire living room with dirt for a graveyard.
“When you’re young, you do stupid things,” Diane Meyer said.
When daughter Melissa married Jay Thompson a few years ago, their ceremony took place at Forest Lawn Memorial Park. Their reception had a “Haunted Mansion” theme, and now their 1-year-old son, Ramsley, is the youngest member of the Meyers’ construction crew.
If his name sounds familiar, it’s because he’s named after the butler from Disney’s 2003 “Haunted Mansion” movie.
“Every haunt’s got a story,” Diane Meyer said.
She was referring to the “space resort” being built in her front yard from old TV show sets and materials the Meyers hold in storage for the year.
I guarantee you “The Bold and the Beautiful” never looked so creepy.
I can’t give away the whole story, mostly because it still exists as plywood and framing, plus the spinning tunnel they bought on Craigslist for $500. But Diane took me through the structure last week, and I saw the vision taking shape.
There’s a “space lounge” and a sick bay where something otherworldly has taken over, and things start to go very wrong for the space tourists looking for that perfect off-Earth getaway. To think it all began as an idea on a family trip to the Kennedy Space Center last year.
Beyond the “teleporter” that will beam visitors up to the space resort is the “chicken door,” where folks like me who don’t think they can make the whole journey have a chance to jettison themselves out of the “house.”
It’s been a handy feature in the past — when the Meyers recreated a haunted downtown Burbank complete with 25-foot-high City Hall, no less than 60 people shot through the chicken door in one night. Diane says it’s a sad way to end 2 and 1/2 hours in line.
Yes, 2 and 1/2 hours. The Meyers are hauntmasters extraordinaire, and the word is out. It’s well worth the trip, as they put all the proceeds from their annual haunts — usually between $1,500 and $2,000 — toward a local charity.
For the second year, they will collect donations for the Family Service Agency of Burbank; last year they raised enough to help keep a position from being cut from the agency’s budget.
“We like to do it for someone that appreciates the amount we give,” said Preston Meyer.
For five or six hours a night — double that on weekends — you can see the Meyers and their friends sawing, painting, nailing and gluing the vehicle that will transport you to another world. And after its six-day run later this month, it will be torn down in just under a week — a condition of their permit with the city.
As Diane says: every haunt’s got a story, and hers may be approaching its final act.
Preston is nearing retirement, and the couple are happily settling into their roles as grandparents. But last week, as they were surrounded by coworkers, friends and family, the Meyers and their haunted house hit warp speed for Halloween.
The Meyers’ haunted house is at 907 North California St. Trust me, you can’t miss it. It will be open at 7 p.m. Oct. 22, 23 and 28-31. Admission is free, but donations are encouraged for the Family Service Agency of Burbank.
Visit https://www.rottenapple907.com for more.
BRYAN MAHONEY is a recent transplant from the East Coast. When he’s not heading for the chicken door, he can be reached at 818NewGuy@gmail.com and on Twitter @818NewGuy.