Diane Meyer could divulge what’s inside the Wilsley Bros. Fun House in Burbank, but that would ruin the surprise and maybe some of the screams.
“It’s really what you would find in a fun house,” Meyer said, but all she’ll reveal for certain is uneven floors, a spinning tunnel and clowns.
“There’s going to be a lot of darkness and a lot of scariness,” she said.
The fun house is this year’s incarnation of a Halloween tradition she and her husband, Preston Meyer, along with friends, have kept going at their home on California Street since 1990.
The annual haunted house began back then as something they did for their daughter’s 9th birthday, just a few days before Halloween. It opens this weekend for its 24th season.
“The reason we do it is because we enjoy the creativity of it,” Diane Meyer said. “We enjoy the aspect of giving back to the community.”
Admission is free, but the Meyers accept donations for local charities. This year, the selected nonprofits are the Burbank Arts for All Foundation and the Los Angeles chapter of Bikers Against Child Abuse. Last year, they raised $3,500 for the Burbank Arts for All Foundation.
“Thank goodness for organizations like this that are keeping and putting arts back in school,” Diane Meyer said.
They chose to support Bikers Against Child Abuse this year because Doug Devine, one of about 10 volunteers who have helped build and put on the haunted event over the years, is a passionate member of the group, she said. The motorcycle club works to help keep kids physically and emotionally safe from their abusers.
Trena Pitchford, executive director of the Burbank Arts for All Foundation, said the creativity and innovation on display in the annual haunted house aligns perfectly with foundation’s focus on supporting and promoting arts education.
“I am just blown away every year by the design and the creativity,” she said.
The generosity of the Meyer family and their collaborators, plus the community members who donate at the event, “makes a big difference,” she said.
“It’s significant,” Pitchford said. “It’s what this community is made of.”
The Meyers and their “cast” of volunteers began building sets for the haunted house in September, using cast-off materials from local studios along with supplies they purchased.
On Wednesday, they were still scrambling to get everything in place for the weekend, with some volunteers putting in 20-hour days installing fun house features.
“We’ve been sick and we haven’t slept,” Diane Meyer said. “Right about now, it’s not so much fun.”
The Wilsley Bros. Fun House, located at 907 N. California St., will be open to the public from 7 to 10 p.m. Sunday. It will be open again those same hours on Halloween and next Saturday.
Meyer recommends visitors arrive early — the fun house is in a residential neighborhood and has to close by 10:30 p.m. out of respect for the neighbors, no matter how many people are left in line.
“We get more people than we can put through,” Diane Meyer said. “[At] one point last year, we had to cut off [the line] at 8:30 p.m.”
She said they typically get about 3,000 visitors over the two weekends they open each year.
“The lines may be shorter this year because people really hate clowns,” she added.