Holidays in the San Fernando Valley: Holiday Fantasies Come To Life in Burbank

Tina Schaefer always loved decorating for the holidays. She would decorate her home for Valentine’s Day, Back to School, Easter and of course, Halloween and Christmas.

“When we (Arnie and I) met, I didn’t know he liked to decorate but I love to decorate. So I was always decorating every holiday and he called me up and said, ‘What are you doing?’, I told him I was decorating but he showed up any way.  Once we started decorating together, we kept on adding stuff.  We entered our first Halloween contest with the City of Burbank and we won.  We got so excited and we said to each other, we can do better.  That’s when you (Arnie) said let’s build a castle,” shares Tina, as she talks about how this all began.

“Doing this, you feel like a little kid.  It brings your childhood back.  We were excited and so happy and seeing so many people come through, especially after we won the contest.  We had about a hundred people pass by.  We started talking about it blah…blah…blah.  And I said to her, you’re my queen and queen deserves to live in a castle.  If I can’t buy you a castle, what if I just build you one?,” chimes in Arnulfo “Arnie” Padilla, her partner-in-crime. And, a castle he built for her, serving as the backdrop and the corner stone for all their Halloween and Christmas themes and decorations.

And before you ask, no, they don’t work for the studios and neither one are set designers, which is a common misconception based on the quality and detail of their decorations. Tina is a teacher and Arnie is a chef, both with a passion for all things Disney and decorating for the holidays. Their team up brought Holiday Fantasies Come to Life in 2015. After entering and winning for both the Halloween decorating contest with their Wizard of Oz design, and Christmas decorating contest with their Beauty and the Beast concept, both of them knew they had to keep on raising the bar to challenge themselves and bring even more joy and wonder to the community.

“We decided we weren’t always going to do the same themes.  Every year was going to be different and we would challenge ourselves also, which was really crazy,” shares Tina.

“It’s a good craziness that makes a lot of people happy.  It doesn’t just make the kids happy.  It’s also the adults,” adds Arnie. And, ultimately, that’s the couple’s goal, to bring joy and happiness not just to the neighborhood but to as many people who pass by and enjoy their decorations for the holidays. During Halloween and Christmas, you’ll either see both or one of them talking to passers by who usually have questions about their decorations. There was even one time that they were both out there until 2:00 a.m.

A lot of love, creativity and passion goes into their decorations. Most of their pieces are built and made by them.

“We usually pick what we like, what we’re big fans of.  That way we have a hundred percent of we want to do into it; and be creative and passionate about it, ” Tina talks about how they pick the themes for their decorations. “We want it to be family friendly too because it brings a lot of people from all over the place. We get the meet a lot of them and make a lot of friends who come back every year,”

The feedback from the community has been overwhelming, especially during the pandemic, when people needed to find a bit more cheer during the holidays. People from Disney and from DreamWorks have visited their display and have sent them thank you notes and heartfelt comments. They’ve even been featured in the Burbank Leader as well as, on ABC 7. This year, they won Best Overall in the myBurbank 2021 Holiday Home Decorations Contest.

Stop by, take photos with Mickey, and say hello to Tina and Arnie! They would absolutely love to meet you. Follow @holidayfantasiescometolife on Facebook and Instagram to see their latest updates. They are open 6PM – 10PM every night until New Year’s Day.

Location: 1505 N Valley St., Burbank, CA 91505

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