Arnulfo Padilla and Tina Schaefer of Burbank, Calif. love Disney and love decorating. In fact, they love it so much that they’ve turned their home into a castle full of holiday decorations.
This year, they’re using “Fantasmic!” as the theme as they deck out their house for the Halloween and Christmas seasons. I recently had the chance to chat with the creators of “Holiday Fantasies Come to Life.” Read as they share stories about how it all started, why they do it and more.
A lot of people decorate their homes for the holidays, but you take it to a new level. When and how did this grand-scale decorating begin for you?
It got big around 2017. We used to decorate our home like a cemetery, then we made it more exciting. One of my neighbors mentioned a city decorating contest, so I decided I had to jump into that for Halloween.
We won the city contest – we got so excited for winning the Halloween contest and then we thought we could do better than that. So the following year, I decided to make my house into a castle.
I started thinking about how I was going to do it, then I thought about what the theme would be. We decided upon doing a “Wizard of Oz” theme with the scary forest and our house could be the witch’s castle. So I decided to do it and do it real good.
Then we made it into a Disney castle for Christmas. The following year, we turned the house into a ship with a Pirates of the Caribbean theme, combining both the Disney ride and the movie. This year is the only year we’ve left the castle towers up for the entire year. We haven’t seen our house for three or four years; it’ll be a castle, a ship, then back to a castle. We just keep layering the designs onto our house.
How did you land on a “Fantasmic!” theme for the decorations?
“Fantasmic!” is my favorite. I like to do things and I like to do them right. Disney is full of so much joy and love. Originally, we were going to do “Shrek” as a theme, but the idea got too big. So I scaled it down a bit to create “Fantasmic!” in my yard.
We thought we might not be able to decorate at all due to COVID, but our fans were so excited with what we created in the summertime, so we knew we had to do something for Halloween. We can’t have our live band play on Halloween this year, but the decorations are up and we did it at a faster pace than ever before. Since I was off work, I had more time during the day to dedicate toward it. We ran around, we hustled, we got creative and made it happen.
You’re dressed as a wizard out there performing every night. You’re out there all night, aren’t you?
Yes, from 6:30-11 p.m. So I’ve been at work since 8 o’clock in the morning; I just got home. I’m gonna take a shower and start getting stuff ready outside and I won’t stop till around midnight. Then I’ll come back inside, take another shower, grab a snack, sleep a few hours and do it all over again.
Is this the first time you’ve been out there performing in costume as part of it?
Yes. I’d normally be at work at the restaurant. When I got off of work, we would hang out outside with the people enjoying it.
How long are the “Fantasmic!” decorations up until?
The wizard performance will be done on Halloween. The “Fantasmic!” villain lights will stay up for another week. Then the first weekend of November, we’ll start taking stuff down and recreate it into a Christmas theme. It will still be “Fantasmic!,” but instead of the villains it will be “Fantasmic!” Christmas with the princesses and more magical themes.
We’re constantly playing around with it and making changes. I’m always looking to see what I missed here and there and will make those changes. When we think of a theme, we sketch it out, go outside and see what we can do in our yard.
How can people stay up to date with what you’re doing?
Our Facebook page, Holiday Fantasies Come to Life, is the best way to stay updated. This year just blew up because of all of the fans of Disneyland and it being closed. We were also part of the ABC show, “The Great Christmas Light Fight” last year. They contacted us because they saw a YouTube video.
We were just doing it for ourselves and for anyone who passed by. We never thought it could get to the size it is now. It was honestly just something we did because we loved doing it. We definitely are die-hard fans here. We try to make it so you feel happy when you see it and it makes you feel like a kid. The sad part is when we have to take it down.
You can visit Holiday Fantasies Come to Life and see their decorations at 1505 N. Valley Street, Burbank, CA. 91505. When visiting, please be respectful of neighbors and remember that this is a private property and someone’s home.