Chris Giffen's Springettsbury Township home is the spookiest on the block.

Featuring two ominous 7-foot-pillars out front, skeletons scaling the house's boarded-up windows, tombstones on the front lawn and a seemingly joyful skeleton on a swing, it's clear Giffen has a taste for the terrifying.

Growing up, his dad would take him to typical haunted house attractions that rely on shock value, he said.

"They were entertaining, they were shocking," he said. "But I never left completely

entertained -- and I knew I could do better."

Now he fixes up his house for Halloween each year with original, animated decorations -- and nothing's off-the-rack, he said. When people started to take notice, he said that interest evolved into something else.

Chris Giffen sets up lights on the Halloween display outside his home on Greystone Road in Springettsbury Township. He’s using the crowdfunding site
Chris Giffen sets up lights on the Halloween display outside his home on Greystone Road in Springettsbury Township. He's using the crowdfunding site Crimso to raise money to build a permanent Halloween attraction in York County. (John A. Pavoncello photo)

"And slowly, it grew into me building things for actual commercial haunted houses and amusement parks," he said.

Giffen, 43, even used his talents last year to create life-size mannequins to sit atop Apple Automotive Group's billboards.

Now he's in the final stages of bringing Sinister Shadows, his very own Halloween attraction that has been in the works for 10 years, to York.

The ride: The concept is simple: It will be a traditional pretzel ride, which takes visitors on a winding journey through a building.

It would be different from the other Halloween attractions in the area, which are mainly outdoors and not as friendly to children, older people and those with mobility issues, he said.

"The ride is going to be what I would call an immersive story that takes people away from a normal day at the fair," Giffen said.

The ride -- even waiting in line -- is going to be a narrative that takes visitors on a trip from a benign forest to a different world, he said. The ride, complete with state-of-the-art animatronic characters, will be at least 20 minutes long, plus the time spent in line, which is about 10 times longer than most amusement rides, he said.

Most of those characters and scenery are already complete -- the final step is finding a 15,000-square-foot building in York County to put everything in, Giffen said.

"I will never take this out of York because so many people from York have supported this project from the very beginning," he said. "It is astounding how much talent York has."

The journey: From voice actors to musicians to sculptors, many Yorkers have already come together to support Sinister Shadows, Giffen said. For the past 10 years, all of the funding for the project has come from the people working on it, he said.

Now he's enlisting the public's help toward making his dream a reality. Using Crimso, a new crowdfunding site, he hopes Yorkers interested in the attraction will support it.

When thinking of a location to install the ride, he said he's constantly reminded of all the big, empty buildings around the county. But it has to have large-capacity parking and room to get thousands of people in and out, he said.

"This should be able to entertain 3,000 to 4,000 a night," Giffen said.

The attraction would also have a restaurant and be open a week before October and run till the end of November, he said. Best of all, because of all the robotics involved, there is very little acting talent needed, which would keep down costs, he said.

And it's going to be different from anything York has now, he said.

"Anyone can hide in a cornfield with a chainsaw and scare the bejeezus out of you -- we're not talking about that at all," he said. "After you leave our attraction, it's gonna be like seeing a really cool movie."

-- Reach Mollie Durkin at

Join the fright

Budding haunted house attraction Sinister Shadows has its crowdfunding home online at Similar to Kickstarter, the site offers incentives to those who donate.

Perks start at $10 and range from T-shirts to unlimited access to the ride to naming rights for a ride car. For $5,000, an animatronic of the donor would be installed in the ride.

Visit for more information on the project.