HOWTO recreate the Haunted Mansion's singing busts

TheNewHobbyist has posted an Instructable for re-creating the "Singing Busts" effect from the Disney Haunted Mansion rides, using an Arduino to control the effect so that it springs to life when trick-or-treaters step up to your porch.

After I started learning to program my Ardunio this evolved into a photocell actuated video "on demand" Halloween display. I used an example I found on to control a Dell Mini 9 netbook running AutoHotKey. When the photocell switch is tripped the Arduino sends a serial message to the Dell laptop which is converted to a keystroke by AAC Keys which in turn triggers the below AutoHotKey Script and finally plays back using VLC. The "AAC Keys" could probably be replaced by setting up your Arduino as a USB HID but at the time this was all a foreign language to me.

(via Neatorama)


  1. I think the singing busts were negative molds so they would seem to turn their heads to watch you as you went by.

    1. No, that’s a separate effect from earlier in the ride (the following-busts appear at the load-area in DL, and in the library in WDW)

  2. My brother and I did this exact effect for a Halloween party once! Our decapitated, spear-impaled heads lip-synced David Seville’s “Witch Doctor” song in front of the house. His head sang the main part as a pith-helmet wearing explorer, mine sang the refrain as a headdress-wearing witch doctor. I wish we’d been able to get decent video of the installation but lighting was tricky.

    My brother actually works as an engineer at Disneyland now.

    1. Yep, and that was all with analog video tape on a loop.  No fancy Ardunio controllers necessary.  Although earlier this week some of my co-workers used one of those controllers on their winning “pinewood derby” car.  Some people like to over-complicate things…

      1. Nice nom-de-net, bro. Let’s make sure to do one of those setups again when the kids are a little older.

        1. That would be tricky.  If you remember, you have to hold your head position very still when recording the video.  I don’t think any of our little whirling dervishes are going to be able to handle that any time soon.

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