I’ve always loved decorating for holidays. In 1964, my Mom bought some large animated figures of a Victorian family decorating a Christmas tree. Back then, only the big department stores had these kind of displays. When we set up this elaborate tableau in our front windows, cars would line up just to see our house.
I also had a love of Dark Rides – the kind you’d find at Amusement Parks and Carnivals. So it was natural that I would set up rides in my backyard or through my house and have friends come over to “Polizzi Park” to catch the latest attraction. I would pull them on a wagon past different displays with music and narration going. Sometimes a smoke bomb might go off combined with a bright light from my Instamatic Flashcube to simulate an explosion. Sometimes, creepy lighting, hanging threads and a ton of cotton batting would transport them into a Spider King’s lair. Whatever the scenario, I knew I wanted to design rides for a living. Flash to 1996 and now I have two daughters who loved Halloween, but every spook house around had people chasing you with chainsaws, or guys in masks screaming their heads off. So, since I had a decent sized yard, I decided to create a Halloween display that I would want to take my girls to.
The animated display started off small, then quickly grew to take over the yard and house and have over 45,000 visitors each year. It’s basically a walk-thru dark ride. The theme for the past couple of years has been “Magic,” so all of the skeletons are performing (and usually screwing up) magic tricks. I like to have a bit of a storyline flowing though it, and the displays have to be neat and meticulous. I don’t want it to look like K Mart just threw up on my front lawn. Because of the care put into it, Boney Island has been featured on all the major networks, CNN, HGTV, Variety, Emmy Magazine & the LA Times to name a few.
My friend, Rex Danyluk, has been instrumental in getting Boney Island up and running. We’ve also included the 4-story treehouse in my front yard into the production. Rex has been working on a portable water display that we’ve designed a show around. Our animatronic Maestro, Maxilla the Great, conducts musical cauldrons along with a tree full of mischievous pumpkins in a dazzling display of ultraviolet water and light.
Here’s a video of some of the attractions at Boney Island and the complete Maestro Maxilla water show.
At Boney Island, some folks like to people watch or look out for celebrity sightings. That’s Halle Berry up in the treehouse. And here’s Dave Grohl from Nirvana and the Foo Fighters.
Past attractions have included a working shooting gallery, giant singing pumpkins and massive hot air balloon that flew back and forth over the entire display.
HGTV did a story on us in 2006.