It’s almost Halloween! That means a nationwide opening of over 1300 Spirit Halloween stores! (Isn’t that a lucky number?)
The store is part retailer, part haunted house. People with very small children might want to sidestep the creepy animatronics and go right for the brightly colored kiddie corner to pick out a superhero or princess costume. (Go as Wonder Woman, kid, you can be both!) Spirit Halloween implements its own merchandise to create a spooky effect with ambient lighting and fog machines.
This year, customers will be greeted by laughing pumpkins and a devilish Hell fiend hovering over the entrance of a rickety covered bridge. Sound and motion activated animatronics are all over the store, ready to surprise, scare and amuse.
An interesting new wrinkle with the animatronics this year is assigning backstories. You can further frighten your guests by telling them a scary story just before meeting up with the appropriate character. For instance, there’s the poignant tale of Bobo, who want nothing more than to be the funniest clown in the circus. But, his dreams never came true. Because he was never allowed to perform, he would always hide by the big top, waiting to jump out and scare someone. To this day, Bobo still lurks around, looking for people to SURPRISE! At this point, the prostrate clown will spring up and scare the unwary.
A new animatronic, a girl with glowing eyes on a tricycle, has a story about being possessed by a demon. A haunted nuclear power plant and a prison of terrible tortures feature in the backstory of two other animatronics.
If you want your Halloween to be more “Ha-Ha!” than “AAAAAHH!!!”, then the talking Jack Skellington might be for you.
Another new theme added to Spirit this year is Area 51 grey aliens. Two animatronics follow this theme, though one can be switched up to look more like a human cadaver. One had an alien stuck in a pod, making blood curdling screeching noises.
According to its backstory, the alien sees you now, and is coming after you for revenge. The other animatronic is a pair of alien feet sticking out of a sheet marked “Biohazard”. It slowly sits up with glowing eyes and a reptilian hiss. Alien costumes and prosthetics are available among the adult costumes.
Other popular adult costumes are steampunk, various horror franchises and characters from the Netflix show Stranger Things. Also popular are the monster clown and Donald Trump. (Hope that wasn’t too redundant.) This Halloween promises to be a productive one in spite of many recent store closings. It’s forecasted that American families collectively will spend up to $9.1 billion this year, up from the $8.4 billion of last year.
On a heartwarming rather than bloodcurdling note, Spirit has its own charity called Spirit of Children dedicated to making hospital stays for children a little less scary. They have raised $37 million since 2007. The money goes to toys, entertainment and therapy for sick and injured children in 140 hospitals throughout the U.S. and Canada.
What more can be said about Spirit Halloween? Life’s no fun without a good scare. That’s their job but they’re not mean. After all, this is Halloween.