You’ve probably put up your Halloween decorations by now. You’ve already been to your local Spirit Halloween store (a few times) to shop for animatronics, décor, costumes, and more. You’re watching your favorite horror movies, carving jack-o’-lanterns, and planning more fun October events.
As you celebrate the Halloween season by unpacking older animatronics, or when you start to put them away at the end of the season, you want to do your best to make sure they haunt your home for the long haul. You spend your hard-earned cash to create the scariest, most impressive display of Halloween decorations that your neighborhood (or social media) has ever seen, so you want to keep it all in good shape. This guide will help you take the steps to properly care for your Spirit Halloween décor and animatronics.
Taking animatronics and decorations out of storage
It might sound obvious but be careful when you remove items from boxes and packaging to prevent accidentally breaking something. Also, make sure you read and follow directions for every animatronic and piece of Spirit décor you own. Doing so will ensure that you’re giving these exciting items the best chance of being ready for you to use next Halloween.
Once you’ve carefully removed everything from storage, you can use a soft towel to wipe plastic pieces clean and canned air to clear dust from all hard-to-reach areas, like joints and electronics. Dust can short electronics or clog gears in your animatronics over time if they aren’t properly cleaned.
In terms of power, check the adapter or batteries when you take items out of storage to ensure that everything works properly. Do not plug in an adapter if an item is also connected to batteries, as that could damage the mechanism. Either use batteries for an animatronic or plug it in using the correct adapter. Using the wrong adapter could also damage the mechanism.
Displaying your décor
Make sure you avoid displaying your animatronics and décor in constant, direct sunlight. Sunlight can cause the decorations to discolor or their costume materials to deteriorate. Prolonged, direct sunlight can also cause latex rubber to dry out and crack.
Detailed animatronic maintenance
This start-of-the-season maintenance tip will help you preserve your animatronics and moving parts for many Halloweens to come! Start by opening up the mechanism or gearbox on your animatronic while running it. Make sure there isn’t any damage and apply a coat of white lithium-based grease (oil-based grease can damage the plastic gears and any latex).
If there is any burnt grease inside the mechanism, mix baking soda with hot water, use a cloth to apply the mixture to the grease, and scrub it off. Then use a soft cloth with warm water to clean all residue, let it air dry, and apply a new coat of white lithium grease. This will keep your motors and gears working properly.
Are animatronics rain-safe?
No. Animatronics must be kept in covered, relatively dry areas. Condensation, morning dew, and rain can all destroy your precious animatronics. We know that’s hard to hear, but just know that you can extend the life of your animatronics if you take care of them properly!
What decorations can be left outside?
Spirit Halloween has lots of outdoor decorations, but the presence of lawn stakes is usually a telltale sign that decorations can be left outside in the yard. Spirit has all the items you need to turn your front yard into a Halloween nightmare, from door coverings to door mats and gravestones to inflatables.
How to care for outdoor decorations
Dry everything completely before putting items back into storage. Let everything air dry or use a soft towel, but never use a hair dryer; these can melt the adhesives anchoring internal electronics.
How to clean your fog machine
It’s always a good idea to quickly test out your fog machine when you take it out of storage. Plug everything in, test your remote and timer, and decide if you need more fog fluid. You don’t want to realize that your fog machine needs supplies right before you intend to use it!
When you’re ready to pack it away after Halloween, unplug the unit and make sure it has time to completely cool before cleaning. Always remove or use up any excess fog fluid and replace it with fog machine cleaner. Run the machine until the cleaner is gone. You can then pack your fog machine away after it has completely dried out. For more information, see our blog post on how to use a fog machine.
Make sure you take care of all the various materials in your décor and animatronics, especially the latex that is often used in the heads and hands. Before storing, wash the latex with clean, warm water, without soap. Wipe off excess water with a soft towel, allow the latex to air dry, and then apply a light coating of talcum powder before storing.
If the latex gets marked, smudged, or dirty in any way, clean it with a small amount of rubbing alcohol on either a soft towel or a cotton swab. Then use warm water without soap to wash the area, before letting it air dry.
Basic animatronic care
As we’ve said before, reading the instructions guarantees the most successful animatronics and décor care. Knowing how different mechanisms work (swinging versus dropping, for example) can help you understand how to best care for them.
Always remove batteries before storing your Halloween décor. If the batteries are damaged and leak while inside your animatronics or décor while they’re in storage, they can ruin the entire item. This easy step is one of the best ways to extend the life of your Spirit decorations.
Also, make sure you disassemble your animatronics before storing them. All of their various mechanisms will benefit from being taken apart before storage. Removing spring-loaded pressure from a mechanism, for example, can ensure that the mechanism works well the following year.
Packing up items for storage
Storing props and animatronics in a temperature-controlled, dry location is ideal. High temperatures can damage latex, while cold temperatures can damage electronics. Again, remove any batteries before storing your animatronics and decorations.
You should also release any external or internal springs in the prop mechanisms. Disassembling the prop can remove undo spring tension on the welds which could otherwise lead to mechanical failure.
Lastly, when storing, be mindful of what is placed on top of the animatronic. Pressure from excess weight can cause damage to welds or possibly crush the item. We love our animatronics too much to see this happen.
When in need, call the Zombie Tech Squad
If all else fails, the Zombie Tech Squad is a Spirit Halloween call center for all your animatronics and décor repair needs. They’re available via live chat, email, and phone from 12 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET, Monday through Friday, 12 p.m. to 9 p.m. ET on Saturdays, and 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. ET on Sundays.
They carry parts for the current year of animatronics, which are supplied on a first-come, first-served basis. However, the Zombie Tech Squad cares about your animatronics and décor, so they will help you troubleshoot your items or send them in for repair.
There’s nothing quite like the excitement of starting to decorate for Halloween. Whether you pull indoor decorations out of boxes or bins at home or you store large animatronics for your home haunt, we’ll help you protect the tools of your Halloween trade. Maintain your animatronics and decor by staying up-to-date with our blog, check out the extensive FAQs on the Zombie Tech Squad page, or reach out to them directly with any additional questions!