The Return of Haunted Mansion


Beatrice Song

BCA’s renowned Haunted Mansion has made a comeback! On October 28th, 2022, the AVPA Visual students put together a spectacular haunted house on the auditorium stage. This BCA tradition has been put on hold for a few years because of the pandemic, but this hiatus did not stop the visual academy from creating a fantastic Halloween experience. 

The Academy Chronicle interviewed Catherine Chen, a senior in the Visual Academy, about her feelings on Haunted Mansion’s return. “I only had one [Haunted Mansion] during my freshman year, and of course, being a freshman, you can participate in it, but you can’t really manage it yet,” she said. “Now, being the oldest of the upperclassmen, it’s a very large change in responsibility, but it’s still very fun to be able to bring back a tradition that I think a lot of people just had fun with.” 

Catherine talked about the process of choosing this year’s theme, the Haunted Zoo:

“When we were thinking of themes…we were looking at what we wanted to do, what we had that might fit the theme,and of course, making sure not to repeat previous years’ themes.”  

She also mentioned other ideas the Visual seniors had in mind: “we [initially] had ideas for a dollhouse or a hospital theme. It all came down to voting, and most people wanted a Haunted Zoo.”

In accordance with the theme, each room of the Haunted Mansion was designed around a specific animal exhibit. After a brief opening video, students entered the room of critters, filled with rats, snakes, and little animals of all kinds.

The lit up critters room.

Each room of the Haunted Mansion also included a dynamic element, from jumpscares to moving animals. All of these moving parts had a Visual Academy student staffing and handling them.  

The second room was an aquatic exhibit, filled with large, suspended fish and coral made from foam. The exhibit was lit with blue light, and the creatures were guarded behind a transparent wall to give the illusion of an underwater tank.

The third room was a bird exhibit, filled with paper birds and trees. The moving element in this room was an owl jumpscare that jumped out from behind the trees.

The final room consisted of big animals, with many dynamic elements, such as an elephant whose ears flapped, a bear that jumped out from behind a wall, and a tiger in a metal cage. All of these animals were controlled by the students. For instance, the elephant used a mechanic to make its ears flap, and a student staffer did the bear jumpscare. The tiger was also a student in costume.

The large animals room.

Each of the Visual seniors built one animal for the Haunted Mansion. For example, Catherine was in charge of building the tiger, the final animal in the zoo. These seniors spent class time during their core art class building the parts of the Haunted Mansion. “[When] constructing the cages, signs, [we used] a lot of old materials we had scattered around,” Catherine said.

As visitors exit the mansion, they are greeted by a gallery of pumpkin sculptures that the Visual Academy students crafted during their annual Pumpkin Sculpting event. Even the pumpkins matched the zoo theme, with every sculpture representing an animal of some sort.

One of the sculptures in the pumpkin gallery.

The Academy Chronicle asked a few of the Visual Academy students their thoughts on this year’s Haunted Mansion. 

“I really like large artistic group projects like these. A lot of the time it was very stressful…but I genuinely love [the Visual Arts students] as an academy,” said Catherine.  Her favorite part of the Haunted Mansion experience was the group environment and working with her academy.

“I am very pleased with the results. A lot of the time, we [Visual Arts students] were thinking, ‘Can we get it done? Are we being too ambitious?’ But everything picked itself up. Considering all our time constraints, I am happy with how it turned out in the end,” she said. 

On the other end of the age spectrum, we asked AVPA Visual freshman Zoe Jung, on her thoughts about running the Haunted Mansion in the future. “It does seem a little overwhelming. Maybe being a senior, it gets easier, but it seems stressful.” Still, she said that she is looking forward to playing a bigger role in the Haunted Mansions to come.

The Visual Academy students were not the only ones who enjoyed the Haunted Mansions. As a school wide event, the entire BCA community is looking forward to what Halloween surprises will happen in the coming years.