Ghost and goblins will once again be haunting visitors at Naper settlement for its annual “All Hallows Eve.”
But this year, the folks behind it are getting help from a former Disney Artist and Naperville resident who’s painted dozen of haunted houses across the country. R.J. Ogren was one of the four original animatronic artists at Walt Disney World in the 1970s.
“We worked on all the attractions, props, murals, but most importantly, all the figures,” said Ogren. “We put skins on the figures, painted them, like the Pirates of the Caribbean and The Haunted Mansion.”
Ogren spent only four years at Walt Disney world but says it changed his life.
“We were there at an incredibly magic time,” he said. “The four of us artists, we were management artists and we were in control of what we were doing all the time. And our bosses came from the Holly wood studios and are Disney legends. We carry that work ethic today of that quality work, of working well with the guests, especially in haunted houses.”
Ogren’s lending his talents to Naper settlement’s “All Hallows Eve”, helping to transform the Martin-Mitchell Mansion into a castle based on real-life Chicago serial killer H.H. Holmes. Holmes built this castle with stairways that lead to nowhere and rooms that spewed gas, killing unsuspecting guests.
“I think he killed over 100 people, which makes him one of the more deadly serial killers,” said Ogren.
His vision is to reenact Holme’s deadly castle at the Martin-Mitchell Mansion. He’s preparing to do so by painting several panels at his studio inside his Naperville home. Ogren uses special black light paint, costing upwards of $150 a bucket, so that the scenery glows in the dark under black lights, much like what one would see at theme parks, including Disney World.
“The effects that you can create are so fascinating to me,” he said. “And also because it’s in the dark you can use that to misguide people.”
Ogren is also creating a script for the scene inside the mansion and working with about 20 actors from Wheaton to further bring the Holmes castle alive.
“Our desire is to creep you out and scare you.”
All hallows eve is on October 14th and 15th, from 6:30pm to 10pm. For more information, visit www.napersettlement.org.
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