Want to go on a theme park “dark ride” but live too far away from a theme park? Make one your self!
After a trip to Disneyland in 2012, father and son Scott and Ashton D’Avanzo of Los Angeles, California, were inspired to build “Mystic Motel: Basement Tour.” Scott, who works as a video game designer by day, is a longtime fan of Southern California’s theme parks and always wanted to try his hand at building a ride himself. With his son’s encouragement, they got to work on designing a backyard roller coaster. Shortly thereafter, the duo decided to turn the project into a dark ride because that would allow them to be more creative. After raising $2,500 for the project via Kickstarter, they started piecing their ride together.
In the year that followed, Scott says he pumped another $15,000 of his own money into the project and spent an estimated 1,500 hours working on it (with Ashton also contributing an untold number of after-school hours too). His efforts weren’t all for naught, especially since his wife and his other kids were willing to put up with all of the racket while he and Ashton worked on the ride in the family’s two car garage. Mystic Motel now occupies the garage and, as the name implies, it leads riders on a short trip through the basement of a “haunted” motor lodge. It also features animatronic ghouls and a finale that makes it seem like the motel has caught fire. Much like many of the rides in the Magic Kingdom, this one even has a pre-show video that explains the motel’s spooooooky backstory.
The D’Avanzos opened Mystic Motel to the public over Halloween weekend in 2013 and received hundreds of visitors. It was so popular that they expanded the ride in 2014 and added a creepy walkthrough queue in the house’s adjacent courtyard. While visitors wait to go on the ride, they can peek into the motel’s rundown rooms and drink hot chocolate in a dilapidated diner.