Last year I wrote about the importance of creating lasting impressions for your family. We did it up a bit, having Jackson be Batman, complete with a lit batmobile. Here’s that article. So this year, we had to at least meet the bar set last year; hopefully take it to the next level. I love the creative outlet that days like Halloween provide to imagine and create something that my kids will get excited about. We landed on a Super Mario Brothers theme a few months back, and if you asked him, Jackson knew that he was Mario for Halloween as early as the 1st week of September.
I knew that the theme had to include some sort of mobile vehicle or set, and I really wanted it to have a traveling theme song. Unfortunately, I didn’t start building right away, so I had to cram all of the work into less than a week. But, here was the progression:
I certainly can’t draw very well, but here’s what we set out to build. It would be a rolling platform, 6 ft long and 3 ft wide, that would have a place for the three older kids to ride on. Mario and Luigo (Jackson and my nephew Noah) would ride in the tubes. The princess (Mila my daughter) would ride in the castle, as Mario is always searching for the castle that the princess is in.
For the tubes, we used sonotube concrete forms. They are 12″ wide, which was big enough for the kids to stand in, and easy enough to cut to any length. For the lip of the tube (on top) we used thick weatherstrip insulation that had a self-adhesive back to it. Both tubes were sprayed green.
The actual platform was a simple floor-like framing using 2x4s and plywood. Harbor Freight had inexpensive pneumatic casters that swiveled, making the ride smoother and easier to steer.
Layout and framing
I wanted to make sure everything fit on the platform before it was set in stone. The castle box was built out of 2x4s, and just screwed to the deck. For the tubes, I used angle brackets and put a single bolt with a washer through the sonotube to keep it secure while the kids were in it.
The Mario Bros castle was made of bricks, so in order to create that look, we bought a sheet of gaslight brick, like the stuff people hang up around a fake fireplace, to make the look of the castle. The top of the castle was plywood, to allow a place for the princess to sit.
We decided to raise up the brick and create the fins in the top like the original, and to give more of a barrier to protect Mila up on top. Plus, we wanted to represent the floor of the original Mario game, and so we added a layer of flooring tile that looked similar to the Mario pattern. For the princess to sit in, we used a swing seat and screwed it to the top.
Every castle in Super Mario Bros has a flag pole. We built our flag using corrugated plastic and a driveway stake.
We added LED chrismas lights around the base of the platform as well as around the inside top of the castle to create a glow at night. The lights ran off of a power inverter attached to a car battery. The lights were layed into J channel sprayed black to hide the actual bulbs. In addition, we had three LED spots attached to light up each kid’s position.
The final product was tested out on the Tuesday before Halloween at a mall. All of the kids rode on it, except for the littlest one, who had to be carried. We trailered it to the mall, and had a blast!