October 23, 2014

Photo Essay: Boney Island's Magical Skeleton Crew (Updated for 2023—Reopened at NHMLA!)

[Last updated 10/6/23 10:33 PM PT—For my photo essay on the new Boney Island at NHMLA, click here.]

[Updated 9/7/23 12:40 PM PT—Boney Island will pop up at Natural History Museum of Los Angeles this year September 28-October 31, 2023. I've got my ticket for opening night, so stay tuned for my report!]

[Updated 10/29/21 12:18 AM PT—Boney Island closed in 2017 and relocated to Griffith Park in 2018. It's been dark since 2019, but it may come back at the same or in a different location.]

I grew up in an area where neighbors reveled in their Christmas light displays, though nothing really compares to Dyker Heights in Brooklyn.

But since Southern California isn't terribly Christmasy, it seems like our residents spend far more effort in putting together their yard displays and home haunts for Halloween – a holiday that doesn't require snow, and that gives Hollywood creative types the opportunity to show off their skills.

Case in point: Boney Island, located near the border of Sherman Oaks and Studio City. 

 It's not so much scary as it is entertaining—and it feels like a little slice of Universal Studios in someone's actual backyard.

In fact, Boney Island is the backyard of Rick Polizzi, Emmy-winning animation producer for The Simpsons for the last several years...

...who created its cavalcade of skeletons for neighborhood families and visitors alike.


It's a family-friendly, carnival-style attraction in which sideshow skeletons talk to you, tell your fortune...

...and tell you to pick a card, any card.

Every six minutes, attendees are treated to a colorful, Vegas-worthy fountain show... which cauldrons spew out green spurts in various watery formations...

...egged on by yet another talking skeleton, positioned in front of a four-story treehouse.

You can actually climb up into the treehouse...

...which is such a treat... jack o'lanterns light up the night...

...and you can view the fountain show from above.

And it is amazing.

To follow the rest of this year's Halloween adventures in pictures, click here.

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