Haunted Mansion


Haunted Mansion
The Haunted Mansion
Haunted Mansion Exterior.JPG
Disneyland
Land New Orleans Square
Designer WED Enterprises
Theme Haunted house
Opening date August 9, 1969
Hosted by Paul Frees as the Ghost Host
Music Buddy Baker
Vehicle names Doom buggies
Vehicle capacity 2 or 3
Maximum speed 3 mph (4.8 km/h)
Number of lifts 1
Closed captioning symbol.svg Closed Captioning Available
The Haunted Mansion
The Haunted Mansion.jpg
Magic Kingdom
Land Liberty Square
Designer WED Enterprises
Theme Haunted house
Opening date October 1, 1971
Hosted by Paul Frees as the Ghost Host
Music Buddy Baker
The Haunted Mansion
Tokyo Disneyland
Land Fantasyland
Designer WED Enterprises
Theme Haunted house
Opening date April 15, 1983
Hosted by Teichiro Hori as the Ghost Host

The Haunted Mansion is a dark ride located at Disneyland, the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World and Tokyo Disneyland. A significantly re-imagined incarnation of the ride, known as Phantom Manor, is located in Disneyland Paris. Each incarnation of the attraction features a ride-through tour of a haunted house in Omnimover vehicles called Doom Buggies, preceded by a walk-through show in the queue. The attraction showcases a number of age-old tricks, advanced special effects, and spectral Audio-Animatronics.

Contents

The Attraction

Disneyland version

The Hall Of Portraits which guests pass through after they step off the elevator

Entering the queuing area through a pair of ornate gates, guests find themselves in the mansion's well-tended gardens and courtyards. The queuing path leads guests past a mausoleum featuring humorous epitaphs, and a white carriage hearse, led by an invisible horse, out of which sounds can be heard. The path leads guests onto the porch, where they are led into the mansion's foyer by somber maids and butlers.

The guests are ushered into an octagonal portrait gallery and encouraged by the staff to move into the "dead center" of the room. As the wall behind them slides closed, the Ghost Host (voiced by Paul Frees) introduces himself with an eerie voice:

“Welcome, foolish mortals, to the Haunted Mansion. I am your host – your ‘ghost host.’

…and taunts them:

“Your cadaverous pallor betrays an aura of foreboding, almost as though you sense a disquieting metamorphosis. Is this haunted room actually stretching? Or is it your imagination, hmm…?”

As the voice speaks, the guest's eye is drawn up to four portraits on every other wall of the octagonal room. The floor quietly sinks downwards, elongating the paintings and revealing the morbidly comedic fates of previous guests:

  • A bearded man is seen in the dress of minor nobility and red and white striped boxer shorts while standing on a keg of dynamite with a lit fuse.
  • A demure young woman holding a parasol and calmly balancing on an unraveling tightrope above the hungry jaws of a waiting crocodile.
  • An old lady sits atop a tall gravestone which features the bust of a man with a hatchet in his head. This is a portrait of the late Constance Hatchaway.
  • A man with sideburns sitting on a fat, mustached man who is sitting atop a lean, pale-looking gentleman who is chest-deep in quicksand.

“...And consider this dismaying observation: this chamber has no windows, and no doors... which offers you this chilling challenge: to find a way out! Of course, there's always my way...”

The lights go out, lightning and thunder effects fill the gallery and, in a rare instance of Disney dark humor, a glimpse of the earthly remains of the Ghost Host is shown hanging from a noose high above in the cupola. A dreadful scream is followed by the sound of bones shattering. The ghost host apologizes for the pre-mature haunt, then a wall mysteriously opens, leading the guests further into the mansion.

Guests are then led down the hall of portraits with thunder crashing from outside the windows to the left while the portraits of several people on the right wall mysteriously transform from the image of them in their original states into corpses and monsters. At the far end of the hall, two statuary busts depicting a man and a woman are stationed. As the guests move past, these two statues appear to turn and follow them with their gaze.

Next, guests step into a dark and misty loading area, where they are guided to their carriages, or "Doom Buggies". The ghost host lowers the safety bars, provides the safety speil, and the journey begins. The Doom Buggies glide upstairs to the second floor and point guests toward an endless hallway. A lone candelabrum floats down the hallway, while a nearby suit of armor comes to life.

Turning away from the endless hall, guests travel past a deserted funeral in the conservatory. A large raven perches next to a coffin adorned with dead plants, with the corpse inside trying to break free.

The ghosts become more restless and try to escape from their hiding places, which results in a corridor full of shaking, knocking, moving, and breathing doors. Demon-faced wallpaper adorns the walls as well as black-and-white photos of goblins and ghouls. A demonic grandfather clock chimes 13 as the hands spin wildly backwards, the shadow of a claw passing over it.

Guests enter a dark séance room full of floating musical instruments. Madame Leota, a medium whose disembodied head appears within a crystal ball, summons the mansion's spirits while levitating above her table. Madame Leota says the following:

"Serpents and spiders, tail of a rat/Call in the spirits, wherever they're at./Rap on a table, it's time to respond/Send us a message from somewhere beyond./Goblins and ghoulies from last Halloween/Awaken the spirits with your tambourine./Creepies and crawlies, toads in a pond/Let there be music from regions beyond./Wizards and witches wherever you dwell/Give us a hint by ringing a bell."[1]

Next, guests pass onto the balcony of a magnificent ballroom where the happy haunts begin to materialize. A ghostly birthday party appears to be taking place at the dining table (a dinner plate and two saucers on the left side of the table combine to make a "Hidden Mickey"). Some spirits sit on the chandeliers, gorging themselves on wine, while other ghosts enter the hall from an open coffin in a hearse. A ghost wraps his arm around a woman bust, and two portraits of men with guns come to life, dueling with their pistols. A ghost plays an organ (Captain Nemo's original organ from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea), while spirits float up out of the pipes and transparent couples waltz nearby.[2]

The attic is an irregularly shaped room that the Doom Buggies enter immediately after the ballroom scene. It features a collection of gifts, personal items, mementos, and wedding portraits. In each portrait, a common bride is featured with a different groom, whose heads disappear to the accompaniment of a hatchet sound. Eagle-eyed guests may notice that with each successive photograph, the bride gains another string of pearls. Just before the Doom Buggies leave the attic, the same ghostly bride from the pictures is seen floating in the air, intoning twisted wedding vows. As she raises her arms, a hatchet appears in her hands.

The Doom Buggies drift out a window, turn around, and tip backwards down a fifteen percent grade surrounded by dark, ghoulish trees with knotted expressions. On a branch overhead, a raven caws at the guests.

The Doom Buggies reach the ground, and turn towards the gate of the graveyard. There stands a caretaker, one of the few living characters in the entire attraction, his knees shaking in fright and an expression of terror on his face. Beside him is his emaciated dog, whining and whimpering. Around the corner, a ghostly band of minstrels plays a jazzy rendition of "Grim Grinning Ghosts".

Ghouls pop up from behind tombstones, a king and queen balance on a teeter-totter, a young princess swings back and forth from a tree branch, and a hellhound howls from behind them. The Doom Buggies travel down a hill and turn to see five singing busts continuing the song of "Grim Grinning Ghosts".

Next, guests encounter a tea party of ghosts surrounding a hearse stuck in the mud. An arm protrudes out of a crypt with a wine glass in its bony hand, while banshees ride bikes in the distance. Nearby, the ghost of an old bearded man struggles to understand the words of an awakened mummy via hearing horn.

The Doom Buggies turn to face two phantoms of the opera, blasting their voices up into the night. Beside them are three other ghosts — a decapitated knight, his executioner, and a prisoner — who also join in the song.

Guests pass a spook bricking himself into his own tomb and enter a crypt where they encounter the attraction's unofficial mascots, the three hitchhiking ghosts. Passing by three large mirrors, guests discover that one of the trio has hitched a ride in their Doom Buggy.

The last apparition guests see as they exit the mansion is a tiny spectral figure—the Ghost Hostess—who encourages them to:

“Hurry back... be sure to bring your death certificate, if you decide to join us. Make final arrangements now. We've been ‘dying’ to have you…”

Characters

History

Original concept

The attraction's roots date back to even before Disneyland was built, when Walt Disney had just hired the first of his Imagineers. The first known illustration of the park showed a main street setting, green fields, western village, and a carnival. Disney Legend Harper Goff developed a black-and-white sketch of a crooked street leading away from main street by a peaceful church and graveyard, with a run-down manor perched high on a hill that towered over main street.

While not part of the original attractions when Disneyland opened in 1955, Disney assigned Imagineer Ken Anderson to make a story around the Harper Goff idea and the design of his new 'grim grinning' adventure. Plans were made to build a New Orleans-themed land in the small transition area between Frontierland and Adventureland. Weeks later, New Orleans Square appeared on the souvenir map and promised a thieves' market, a pirate wax museum, and a haunted house walk-through. After being assigned his project, Anderson studied New Orleans and old plantations to come up with a drawing of an antebellum manor overgrown with weeds, dead trees, swarms of bats, and boarded doors and windows topped by a screeching cat as a weathervane.

Despite praise from other Imagineers, Disney did not like the idea of a run-down building in his pristine park, hence his well-known saying, "We'll take care of the outside and let the ghosts take care of the inside." Despite this, Disney journeyed out to the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, California and became deeply captivated with the massive mansion with its stairs to nowhere, doors that open to walls and holes, and elevators. Anderson came up with stories for the mansion, including tales of a ghostly sea captain who killed his nosy bride and then hanged himself, a mansion home to an unfortunate family, and a ghostly wedding party with previous Disney villains and spooks like Captain Hook, Lonesome Ghosts, and the headless horseman. Some of the Universal Monsters were even planned to appear.

Rolly Crump and Yale Gracey, two Imagineers put in charge of the spectral effects, recreated many of Ken Anderson's stories. Disney gave them a large studio at WED enterprises; they studied reports of hauntings and Greek myths and monster movies, eventually making quite a show in their private studio. Some of these effects frightened the cleaning crews that came in at night to such an extent that the management eventually asked the crew to leave on the lights and to turn off the effects after hours. Defying this, Crump and Gracey connected all the effects to a motion-sensitive switch that, when passed, would turn everything on. The next day when the two returned to work, all the effects were running with a broom in the middle of the floor. Management told them that they would have to clean the studio themselves, because the cleaning crew was never coming back.

The duo made a scene where a ghostly sea captain appeared from nowhere. Suddenly a wretched bride emerged from a brick wall and chased the ghost around in circles. The frightened pirate melted into a puddle and flooded the entire scene only for the water to mysteriously vanish with the bride. "A ghost haunted by a ghost!" Rolly told Walt between chuckles. Walt and the Imagineers were amazed, but Walt still didn't like how the project was coming out. That put the mansion on hold for quite some time.

The decision was made to place the attraction in the New Orleans Square section of the park, and thus the building was themed as a haunted antebellum mansion. In 1961, handbills announcing a 1963 opening of the Haunted Mansion were given out at Disneyland's main entrance.[3] Construction began a year later, and the exterior was completed in 1963. The attraction was previewed in a 1965 episode of Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color,[3] but the attraction itself would not open until 1969. The six-year delay owed heavily to Disney's involvement in the New York World's Fair in 1964–1965 and to an attraction redesign after Walt's death in 1966.

Many Imagineers such as Marc Davis, X Atencio, and Claude Coats contributed ideas after the fair and after Ken Anderson left the project. Rolly Crump showed Walt some designs for his version showing bizarre things like coffin clocks, candle men, talking chairs, man-eating plants, tiki-like busts, living gypsy wagons, and a faced mirror. Walt liked this and wanted to make the proclaimed "Museum of the Weird" a restaurant side to the now named Haunted Mansion, similar to the Blue Bayou at Pirates of the Caribbean. Although the idea was never realized, some aspects of it lived on in the final attraction.

Marc Davis and Claude Coats, two of the mansion's main designers, were in a constant argument over whether the ride should be scary or funny. Claude, who had a life of a background artist, made moody surroundings like endless hallways, corridors of doors, and characterless environments, and wanted to make a scary adventure. Marc, who designed most of the characters and zany spooks, thought that the ride should be silly and full of gags. In the end both got their way when X Atencio put all the scenes together.

After Disney's death in December 1966, the project evolved significantly. The Museum of the Weird restaurant idea was abandoned, and the walkthrough idea was replaced by the Omnimover system used in Adventure Thru Inner Space, renamed the Doom Buggy, a promising solution to the problem of capacity. Imagineers had been fighting the low-capacity nature of a walkthrough attraction for years, even going so far as suggesting building two identical attractions to get double the number of guests through.

On August 12, 1969, the Disneyland version of the attraction was officially opened to guests, though there were employee previews on August 7 and 8, 1969, and then some "soft" openings when park guests were allowed to ride on August 9, 10, and possibly the 11th. The early opening to the public was advertised in full-page newspaper ads, creating the anomaly of either two official openings or an advertised "soft" opening. A special "Midnight" Press Event was held on the evening of August 11, and the ride opened to the public on Tuesday, August 12, 1969. The opening brought in record crowds and helped Disney recover from Walt's untimely death. In the early 1970s, the Imagineers gave some semi-serious thought to resurrecting many of the creatures and effects that Rolly Crump had originally created for the Haunted Mansion's pre-show as part of Professor Marvel's Gallery, which was "... a tent show of mysteries and delights, a carousel of magic and wonder". This was to be built as part of Disneyland's Discovery Bay expansion area.

At the time of its release, the original Haunted Mansion was considered somewhat of a disappointment. Many of the Imagineers were upset with how the attraction turned out, one being Ken Andersen who was responsible for many of the mansion's early concepts and storylines. Another was Marc Davis who claimed that "too many cooks" were making the soup. Park guests were a bit disappointed as well after going through years of anticipation and hype. Pirates of the Caribbean had set a new level for following attractions and the Haunted Mansion met that level. Many wondered why the attraction wasn't scarier. Today the attraction is one of the most popular in the park, continuing to reel in thousands of guests every day. A humongous fan base has evolved. Die-hard mansion fans continue to support and research the attraction to this day.

In 1999, a retrospective of the art of the Haunted Mansion was featured at The Disney Gallery above the entrance to Pirates of the Caribbean. When the 2003 film The Haunted Mansion was released, a retrospective of its art was featured in the gallery as well.

In October of 2001, Haunted Mansion Holiday premiered, a seasonal overlay featuring characters from the 1993 film Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas. The seasonal overlay was inspired by the question of what would happen to the Haunted Mansion if Santa Claus landed there.

In October 2005, Slave Labor Graphics began publishing a bimonthly Haunted Mansion comic book anthology, with the main recurring story (Mystery of the Manse) centered around "Master Gracey" and inspired by the sea captain concepts proposed for the attraction by Ken Anderson in the 1950s. The comics are non-canon.

In July 2010, Guillermo del Toro announced that he is set to write and produce a new movie based on the attraction, promising that it will be both scary and fun.

Other Theme Parks

The attraction opened at the Magic Kingdom in 1971, Tokyo Disneyland in 1983, and at Disneyland Paris as Phantom Manor in 1992.

The Haunted Mansion was an opening-day attraction at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom, opening in 1971. This attraction was developed at the same time as the Disneyland version, resulting in a very similar experience to the Disneyland version, though the slightly larger show building allowed the addition of several new scenes. The attraction was placed in Liberty Square, a small land that was a tribute to colonial America, as the Magic Kingdom did not have a New Orleans Square. Thus, the Mansion was given a Dutch Gothic Revival style based on older northeastern mansions, particularly those in older areas of Pennsylvania and in the Hudson River Valley region of New York. The mansion is surrounded by large oak trees adorned with Spanish moss, red maples, and pines, all of which are native to Florida.

At Tokyo Disneyland the Mansion was placed in Fantasyland and was a near-complete clone of the Magic Kingdom version. The only exterior differences from the Magic Kingdom are two bronze griffin statues guarding the main gates, as well as the left bottom and top windows being both smashed open, and the top having some velvet curtains hanging out. The narration is in Japanese.

At Disneyland Paris the attraction goes by the name Phantom Manor. Its architectural style is Second Empire (the same style as the Bates mansion in the 1960 film Psycho), based on the look of the Fourth Ward School House in Virginia City, Nevada. The attraction uses a Western plot to fit in with the Thunder Mesa and Frontierland backdrop.

When the Haunted Mansion was transplanted to other Disney parks, space management was much less of a problem. For example, in Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom, the entire show building is located within the park boundaries.[4] Luckily, the placement of the show building has no bearing on the quality of the experience. Most guests give little thought to whether they are actually inside the mansion they saw while in line.

Differences between attractions

The following are elements that are unique to each particular attraction.

Entrance

  • Disneyland:
    • Guests enter from New Orleans Square.
    • Years ago, the cemetery paid tribute to the Imagineers, much like the one at Florida and Tokyo, but was changed when the queue was expanded some time after the mid-80s, to make room for the handicapped entrance.
    • When plans were being made for a Young Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular, Disney bought a hearse for the show. When plans for the show were scrapped, the hearse was given an invisible phantom horse and placed outside the Disneyland mansion.
  • Walt Disney World:
    • Guests enter from Liberty Square.
    • An invisible phantom horse and hearse, this one black, also waits here.
    • One feature unique to the Florida mansion is a tombstone for Madame Leota. On it is a bronze carving of her face that, by way of animatronics, occasionally opens its eyes and looks around. In March of 2011 an interactive queue was added, featuring such elements as a murder mystery, a sea captain's grave that spits water, a musical crypt, a pipe organ, a library with moving books, and a book that writes itself. Many of the original graves were moved.
    • In the back of the pet cemetery (top left), there is a headstone of Mr. Toad in tribute to Mr. Toad's Wild Ride, which closed in 1998.
  • Tokyo Disneyland:
    • Guests enter from Fantasyland.
    • In comparison to the other mansions, the Tokyo mansion is more ramshackled and overgrown. A window hangs on its hinges, two ominous griffin statues rest at the entryway, and the gardens are overgrown and messy. Several crypts and fountains appear to broken, the crypts emptied.
  • Disneyland Paris

Small Foyer

  • Walt Disney World and Tokyo Disneyland:
    • A portrait of the master of the house rests above the fireplace and slowly transforms into a portrait of a rotting corpse.
  • Disneyland:
    • Guests enter a small rectangular room containing a dusty chandelier and a wooden floor (in the design of a spider's web).
  • Disneyland Paris
    • A portrait of Melanie Ravenswood fades in and out through a mirror.

Octagonal Room

  • Disneyland and Disneyland Paris
    • In the Disneyland version and the Phantom Manor, the room is, in fact, a cleverly concealed OTIS elevator. The room is lowered slowly as the ceiling remains in place to give the illusion that the room is stretching. This brings the guests down to where the ride begins, below ground level. This elevator effect was necessary to lower the guests below the level of the railroad which circles Disneyland. The actual ride building of this attraction is located outside the berm surrounding the park, and the Disney Imagineers developed this mechanism to lower the guests to the gallery leading to the ride building.
  • Walt Disney World and Tokyo Disneyland:
    • Guests enter a chamber in which the floor is stationary while the ceiling itself rises, as do the portraits. As both rides (Florida and Tokyo) were built on stable ground, there was no need to lower guests down and out of the park. For the 2007 refurbishment, Walt Disney World's stretch room was given new wallpaper and stretching sounds. After the stretching sequence, as guests exit, they can hear the gargoyles whisper.
  • Disneyland Paris
    • Instead of the regular portraits, guests see four portraits of Melanie. In the first one, Melanie steps through a stream. In the second, she holds a parasol, in the third, she picks flowers, and in the fourth, she is having a picnic with her fiance. As the room stretches:
      • Melanie steps through a stream, and reaching for her foot is a hand, connected to a water monster.
      • Melanie clutches a parasol, while in a boat, above a vertical waterfall.
      • Melanie picks flowers, above a gravestone, while a skeleton emerges from the ground.
      • Melanie is having a picnic with her fiance, as ants raid their food, and a snake, scorpion, spider and water beetle approach.
    • The skeleton of the groom, hung in the rafters in the ceiling over the stretching room, replaces the hanged version of the Ghost Host.

Leaving Octagonal Room

  • Disneyland:
    • The wall opens into a portrait corridor. When the walls finally do open, guests are ushered into a portrait corridor with paintings that depict seemingly innocent scenes. Windows on the left give guests a peek at the thunderstorm raging outside. With every flash of lightning, the paintings flicker with ghastly images, including a demure young woman sprouting snakes from her scalp (Medusa), a magnificent sailing ship at sea that becomes a tattered and ghostly version thereof in a storm, a man who changes into a decrepit corpse, a knight and horse who both turn into terrifying skeletons, and a woman sitting upon a sofa who is revealed as a were-tiger. The grim busts of a man and woman placed at the end of the hall seem to turn their heads, glaring at the guests as they walk past.
    • After escaping the portrait corridor, the guests walk through an ethereal void, a boundless realm of limbo, where an eerie green, glowing fog floats between spider webbed-adorned walls, and cobweb-wrapped candelabras dimly illuminate the area. The Ghost Host points out that the house has 999 spirits with room for a thousand ("any volunteers?").
  • Walt Disney World:
    • The wall opens directly to the Doom Buggy load area, and will always open underneath the pink lady's portrait, no matter how the room is situated. Seven of the sinister 11 portraits are located in the load area.
  • Tokyo Disneyland:
    • The wall opens directly to the Doom Buggy load area. Instead of the sinister 11 portraits (the paintings with eyes that follow) the walls are adorned with urns.
  • Disneyland Paris:
    • The wall opens into a hall similar to that of the Disneyland version. At the end is a picture of Melanie Ravenwood dressed in her wedding dress. Guests pass a green bust whose eyes seem to follow them. Then guests enter the loading area with a grand staircase, where a raging storm keeps turning off the lights.

After load area and before Conservatory

  • Disneyland:
    • Guests are seated and ascend a pitch-black staircase. A chair whose embroidering resembles a hidden face and a moving suit of armor stand in front of the Endless Hall, where a candelabrum floats down the corridor.
  • Walt Disney World:
    • After boarding the Doom Buggies, guests are taken through a room containing a stairwell leading up to a landing, where a candelabrum floats above. Two of the sinister 11 portraits are located here. The Doom Buggies then take guests down a long portrait corridor, past flashing lightning windows and ghostly portraits similar to those in Disneyland’s changing portraits corridor (minus the "aging man" portrait).
    • Passing under an archway, guests enter a library with staring busts, moving ladders, flying books, and an unseen ghost rocking in a chair reading a book by candlelight. After this is a music room where a shadow plays a mellow version of Grim Grinning Ghosts on a rundown piano. A stormy forest is shown in the window behind the piano.
    • The Doom Buggies then ascend a room full of staircases that defy the laws of physics (like the art of M.C. Escher). Green footsteps stomp across the upside down and side-way stairs, which creates a very disturbing sense. At the top of the stairs thousands of blinking eyes look around and fade into demon-faced wallpaper.
  • Tokyo Disneyland:
    • Doom Buggies take guests down a long portrait corridor, past ghostly portraits whose eyes seem to follow guests as they pass. This scene was once at Walt Disney World until the 2007 refurbishment.
    • The guests ride through a dark room filled with giant spiders in webs.
  • Disneyland Paris:
    • This section of Phantom Manor is identical to the Disneyland version, but an audio-animatronic of Melanie bows at passing guests.

Endless Hallway

  • All parks (except Paris)
    • As guests ascend a narrow staircase, whether from the load hall at Disneyland and Disneyland Paris or in the grand staircase scene in Walt Disney World and Tokyo Disneyland, guests come across a living suit of armor, a chair which is embroidered with a hidden abstract face, and a long, narrow corridor down the center of a parlor. Partway down the corridor is a candelabrum, floating eerily down the hallway.
  • Disneyland Paris
    • In Paris, the scene is identical to the other versions, but guests see Melanie come into view and out of view, while the candelabra she holds remains in view.

Conservatory

  • All parks (except Paris)
    • As guests pass through the conservatory, the Doom Buggy is spun to face backward. On the side of the room is a glass room. Dead flowers adorn the whole room with a coffin in the center. A raven sits perched atop a wreath with a banner that reads "Farewell". The coffin's lid is being raised by a pair of skeletal claws while a green glow radiates from the inside. The coffin seems to be nailed shut, which explains why the corpse inside is screaming for help.
  • Disneyland Paris:
    • In the conservatory, there is a piano on which sits a red-eyed raven. The keys on the piano seem to play by themselves, an effect obtained by the use of mechanically moving keys. The guests can see the shadow of a phantom pianist projected on the floor. This scene is very much like the Music Room at Tokyo and Florida.

Corridor of doors

  • Disneyland:
    • After leaving the conservatory, guests travel through a dimly lit corridor. Portraits of family members, all of which resemble zombies and skeletons, hang upon these walls while monstrous voices echo through the halls. Many doors are seen here; their handles are jiggling and door-knockers are knocking with no one in sight. A cross-stitched sign reading "Tomb Sweet Tomb" hangs crookedly on the wall. A portrait of the Ghost Host wearing a hangman's noose and holding a hatchet is seen to the left of the corridor. Next to that, a door seems to be breathing as if it were human. Two reliefs resembling a smiling and a snarling demon are found here as well. At the end of the corridor is a door with a pair of skeletal hands trying to open the door with an eerie green glow from inside.
  • Walt Disney World:
    • Similar to the Disneyland mansion, but with newly drawn portraits and a different version of the Ghost Host's portrait (this time depicting the same decrepit man, but with his shadow raising the hatchet menacingly).
  • Tokyo Disneyland:
    • Related to both American parks, but instead of family portraits and the hanging man, a portrait of a top-hatted man hangs on the corridor's wall. But, with a slight twist, this portrait seems to grow a three-dimensional face, facing the guests.
  • Disneyland Paris
    • The Doom Buggies pass a series of ten doors. Knocking sounds can be heard behind the doors and the knockers seem to be moving by themselves. At the tenth door, two skeletal hands can be seen trying to force their way through above the door.

The Clock Hall

  • All parks:
    • Each clock hall contains a single grandfather clock with demonic features. As the shadow of a claw reaches over the face of the clock, the hands spin wildly counter-clockwise, striking the number 13 every other second. The clock's swinging pendulum resembles a demon's pointed tail.
  • Disneyland
    • The clock's hands resembles a demon's tongue. Unlike the other parks' clocks, this clock has only 12 hours, with the twelfth hour marked as "13".
  • Walt Disney World
    • The hands look like a pair of skeletal fingers.
  • Tokyo Disneyland
    • The hands have a Japanese design.
  • Disneyland Paris
    • The clock's minute hand resembles a snake's tail, while the hour hand features a crescent moon shape. The demon wallpaper has faded into the darkness and its eyes glow a greenish color, blinking at guests.

The Séance Room

  • Walt Disney World:
    • The crystal ball containing Madame Leota’s head floats mysteriously above the table. Floating objects and instruments respond to Leota's incantations while a wispy green specter roams in a corner of the room.
  • Disneyland
    • For many years, the crystal ball remained stationary on the table. In 2006, it gained the ability to float. Madame Leota was grounded again in 2009, but recently the floating effect has been reactivated. The wispy spirit that floats reveals a skull-like face in the background.
  • Tokyo Disneyland
    • Madame Leota's crystal ball remains stationary while a specter floats about the room.
  • Disneyland Paris
    • Madame Leota's crystal ball sits on a floating table.

The Ballroom

  • All parks (except Disneyland Paris)
    • After leaving the Seance circle, guests arrive at a balcony overlooking festivities below in a ballroom, with a number of ghosts dancing and making merry. Ghosts are seen entering the room through a broken door, where a hearse is crashed with its coffin sliding out. Eerie wraiths are seen flying in and out of the windows above. A merry ghost is seen sitting atop the mantle of a fireplace (spitting out green flames) with his arm wrapped around a familiar bust. An elderly ghost is seen rocking back and forth in a chair while knitting a sweater. Many ghosts have gathered around a dinner table, where a birthday ghost is blowing out 13 candles on a cake. A ghost can be seen at the far end of the table. A massive chandelier hangs above the table where a couple of drunks are swinging about, hanging on with their canes. Another balcony is seen across the room, where a curtained doorway is situated between two portraits of duelists. From time to time, the ghosts of the two duelists appear and shoot each other with their firearms. A number of elegantly dressed couples are seen below, waltzing to a haunting version of the song "Grim Grinning Ghosts", played on a large organ. The organ is played by a ghostly gentleman while skull-like banshees fly out of the organ pipes. At Walt Disney World, shortly after the 2007 refurbishment, one of the sinister 11 portraits was relocated here. At Disneyland, the organ is the actual prop of Captain Nemo's organ that was used in the film 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. While the organ console remains the same, a bat-shaped note stand at the console has replaced the mirror and the pipes are arranged differently from the design in the film. At the other parks, the organ is a replica of the original.
  • Disneyland Paris
    • At Paris, the table is set for a wedding party. Melanie (the bride) is seen standing on the staircase, upset, while the Phantom looks on from a window, laughing. Most of the rest of the ballroom is identical to the other versions.

The Attic

  • Disneyland and Walt Disney World:
    • The Doom Buggies pass portraits of wealthy men, each standing next to the same bride. A ghostly pianist is seen banging the keys on an old run-down piano, playing a grim version of Richard Wagner's Bridal March.
    • The grooms' heads disappear from their shoulders in rhythm with the bride's loud heartbeat. For each husband the bride marries, she gains a strand of pearls.
    • Eventually, the Doom Buggies come across the bride herself, uttering her wedding vows in a slow, ominous voice. Halfway through each of her vows, an axe appears in her hands, disappearing before she starts her next vow.
  • Tokyo Disneyland :
    • Upon entering the attic, a loud heartbeat resonates throughout the room, followed by the screams of skeletal ghosts which pop up from among various bric-a-brac. At the end of the attic stands a blue, pale-faced bride whose heart glows red; she holds a candle stick.

The Boudoir (Disneyland Paris)

  • The Doom Buggies enter the Bride's Boudoir. Melanie is now an old woman and sits in front of a skull-shaped mirror, crying. Following the Bride's Boudoir, Phantom Manor follows a different series of scenes from the standard scenes of the regular Haunted Mansions.

The Graveyard and Ending

  • All parks (except Disneyland Paris):
    • The left hand of the ghost’s cloak near the opera singers forms a Hidden Mickey in the Florida version.
  • Walt Disney World:
    • To the right of the opera singing lady (her left) is a ghost resembling the grim reaper. He is holding up his left arm. Hanging from his left hand is a cloth with markings at the top that form a classic Hidden Mickey. The Grim Reaper is standing between the two white stone walls.
  • Disneyland Paris
    • There is no graveyard scene at Paris. Instead, guests leave the Bride's Boudoir into the Manor's backyard where the Phantom stands before an open grave and laughs menacingly. Then the Doom Buggies pass an undead dog.
    • The Doom Buggies then travel underground, into some catacombs, and pass a series of coffins being opened by their skeletal residents. Four white marble busts come into view, bearing the expressive faces of four phantoms singing "Grim Grinning Ghosts".
    • As guests pass through a hole exiting the catacombs and enter Phantom Canyon, the supernatural version of Thunder Mesa, great rifts in the earth surrounding the buggies suggest that there is an earthquake happening. An eerie-looking figure is then seen standing before a ramshackle train station, offering guests train tickets to the underworld. This character is nicknamed Ezra (because he resembles one of the Hitchhiking Ghosts from the original mansion, who shares the same name). Guests then pass a ruined town hall where a mayor stands, inviting guests to become the manor's 1000th ghost. (The Mayor's dialogue is made up of clips from the Paul Frees Ghost Host narration of the American versions of the Haunted Mansion). As he tips his hat, his head comes with it. A shootout follows between a bank robber fleeing a bank on a mule and a cowardly sheriff, with Big Thunder Mountain in the background. Guests see a pharmacy where a green-faced pharmacist drinks a deadly-looking medicine, followed by a saloon with a caved-in front wall. Inside it there is a dancing showgirl, a bartender, and a man playing a honky-tonk piano. Four invisible gambler figures play poker nearby.
    • Another figure of the Phantom leads guests into an open grave. As guests see the silhouette of the Manor ahead, they enter a dark passage and see Melanie's corpse pointing to the way out. The vehicles enter a subterranean chamber lined with large, gilt-framed mirrors in which a ghostly image of the Phantom can be seen above the guests' own Doom Buggies. This replaces the Hitchhiking Ghosts scene from the other versions. Then guests enter a wine cellar and disembark.
      • Much of Phantom Canyon was derived from a planned scene of a mining town called Dry Gulch in the never built Western River Expedition at the Magic Kingdom. Phantom Canyon is also based on a supernatural version of Thunder Mesa, per the backstory of both Phantom Manor and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad in Disneyland Paris.

Recent changes

Disneyland

In June 2010, Leota's floating technique was presumably replaced with a clearer and digital internal projection (just like the current projection of her at the WDW Haunted Mansion).

Walt Disney World

At Walt Disney World Resort, the Haunted Mansion closed for refurbishment on June 8, 2007 and reopened September 13, 2007.

Changes to this version of the attraction during the refurbishment included the addition of a new audio system for the Ghost Host that makes it seem as if the spirit is circling above visitors' heads, new red, blue, and gold wallpaper (related to the paper at Disneyland but instead of green, it has blue), different and enhanced lighting throughout the attraction, and new stretching sound effects for the stretching room. The gargoyles in the stretching room now whisper with messages of "Stay Together", and emit child like giggles after the stretching room sequence. An exclusive Escher-esque staircase scene has replaced the empty dark banister area covered in cobwebs and the giant orange spiders. After the staircase scene, there are all new ghoulish eyes that glow while monstrous sounds echo through the halls. The foyer music has been changed to a lower key as well as taken out of the corridor hallways. The original attic sequence is now replaced with the new Disneyland attic scene including the five changing husband portraits and featuring the new Constance. The other major Disneyland enhancements were also implemented at Walt Disney World including the floating version of Madame Leota with a much clearer projection, and The Sinister 11 (the portraits with the following eyes) were replaced with the changing portraits from Disneyland's portrait gallery. Seven of the Sinister 11 are now located in the loading area of the ride (These include Jack the Ripper, Arsonist, Mariner, Vampire, Witch of Walpurgis, and the Ghost Host) while the other four are located in various parts of the mansion. The graveyard ghosts minus the deaf old man, the singing busts, and the mummy audio tracks now seem to come from the singer when near them. The once blue/purple ghosts are now green as well. A sharp-eyed guest will also notice that the Hitchhiking Ghosts now have empty sockets for eyes. The Doom Buggies have been fixed to a much more quiet sound than the high squeaking sound before the refurbishment.

In early October 2010, construction walls went up in the queue area of the Haunted Mansion, blocking the view of the small graveyard just outside the entrance. A new effect has also been added to the ride: a hand points to the left on the back of the doombuggies as guests exit.

On March 14, 2011 The new queue area has been updated now including a dead sailor whose grave squirts guests.

On April 6, 2011, changes to the "Hitchhiking Ghost" section of the ride were completed and debuted to park guests. The original audio-animatronics for their initial appearance have been replaced with updated, more fluidly-moving versions. The mirror effects have also been extensively updated, using technology that simulates the ghosts physically interacting with riders. All three Hitchhiking Ghosts can now be heard for the first time, voiced by Disney voice-over artist and recording vocalist Kurt von Schmittou.

The Haunted Mansion Holiday

Haunted Mansion Holiday

Since 2001, the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland is transformed into Haunted Mansion Holiday during Christmas, based on Disney's Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas. The Haunted Mansion is closed in September for a few weeks as they revamp the attraction, replacing many of the props and Audio-Animatronics with characters and themes from the movie.

Contributions of Kim Irvine

Leota Toomb's daughter Kim Irvine, now working at WED, created a rarely seen pet cemetery, once clearly visible to those entering the foyer through the side door reserved for handicapped guests and their parties. Since a wheelchair ramp was added to the front of the mansion, guests rarely see this area. This pet cemetery was popular with the few who saw it, so WDI created a larger one in the normal queue around the time the new ramp was installed. Kim Irvine, bearing a heavy physical resemblance to her mother, also played Madame Leota for The Haunted Mansion Holiday.

Behind the scenes

Building layout

Space management

The original Disneyland Haunted Mansion required clever space management in a theme park that has always contended with a lack of space. When the New Orleans Square area was added in the early 1960s, there was no more room in that quarter of the park for large attractions. The Imagineers therefore placed the bulk of the two major attractions — Pirates of the Caribbean and the Haunted Mansion — outside the park's earthen berm. The famed "stretching rooms" were implemented simply so guests could be moved underground and outside of the park without them knowing. Most guests do not realize that the portrait hall is actually an underground passage leading under the berm behind the mansion facade. As they enter the loading area, they pass beneath the Disneyland Railroad's tracks and into a vast, approximately 37,000 square feet (3,400 m2), soundstage-like show building located outside the park boundaries. Painted dull green like most Disneyland show buildings, this 35-foot (11 m)-tall facility is roughly rectangular, with a front section that is covered by the berm and through which the train tunnel passes. Guests may catch a very brief glimpse of the building while riding the tram from the Mickey and Friends parking structure, or by boarding the Disneyland Railroad at the New Orleans Square station and facing backwards in the train. However, the show building has no visible above-ground connection to the themed façade within the park.

The show building extends an additional 10 feet (3.0 m) below the backstage ground level, though much of the attraction takes place around ground level. The layout of the track is convoluted, but it's essentially a clockwise loop that runs through the outer areas of the building. Smaller scenes such as the conservatory and parts of the attic lay outside the loop formed by the track, but most of the major scenes take place on the inside of this loop. This leads to some interesting spatial relationships between them. For example, the organ in the ballroom is back-to-back with a number of crypts in the graveyard, and the back of the loading area shares a wall with the endless corridor.

Backstage areas

The show building houses a number of backstage areas unseen by guests. One of the easiest ways for cast members to enter these parts of the attraction is by entering a small, shed-like protrusion behind the façade. Inside this shed is the entrance to a cast member break-room and a staircase that leads down below the berm, making a left turn into the attraction's control tower. This small room (about the size of the conservatory) is hidden between the unloading and loading areas, seen only by handicapped guests who must ride all the way through to the loading area. Another way into the show building from within the park is through a door in one of the queue's crypts. This leads down several staircases into the portrait hall.

Near the tower, a pair of stairways leads beneath the Doom Buggy track and into a passageway that travels between the loading area and the graveyard, below the endless hallway, and behind the ballroom. On the other side of the ballroom, several large maintenance and equipment rooms can be found.

The show scenes themselves are only convincing when viewed from the path of the ride; exploring these areas quickly reveals the fact that they are built much like movie sets in a sound stage. For instance, the wood that the ballroom walls are built of is easily seen from backstage. The back of tombstones also shows plastic, spray paint, etc.

The top 8 feet (2.4 m) or so of the building are separated from the larger area below containing the ride. Numerous air conditioning ducts pass through this attic of sorts, which can be accessed via a caged ladder on the north side of the building. The tops of the large, squarish indentations in the sides of the building mark the floor level of this attic space.

It is worth noting that at Disneyland, the Haunted Mansion and Splash Mountain show buildings are very close to each other. When the Doom Buggies face the back of the graveyard, adjacent to the ghostly band, guests are looking at the building's northwest corner. Just a few yards beyond the back wall is a similar but smaller building housing Splash Mountain. Guests evacuated from Splash Mountain during a breakdown will verify that the Haunted Mansion show building is virtually indistinguishable from the Splash Mountain building, and that the two have only a few yards of pavement between them.[5]

Because of the Magic Kingdom's different layout, the Haunted Mansion show building is instead located next to the one that houses "It's a Small World". This version of the ride takes place within a similar building, though this one is larger and entirely enclosed by other areas of the park. This attraction differs from the original in that the ride takes place at the same level as the mansion itself. In addition, no berm separates the façade from the show building; the back of the mansion has a visible, above-ground connection to the main warehouse. To avoid exposing backstage to the guests, WDI uses trees and other rides to hide the building from view.

Special effects

Rotating busts

The bust effect, patented by Disney,[6] was achieved by creating inverted busts: they actually recede into the wall. A combination of dim lighting and optical illusion makes the busts appear to stare at the passing guests. (A similar effect is used in the Hollywood Backlot section of Disney California Adventure.)

Endless hallway

The endless hallway has a mirror placed at the end of it that fools the guests into thinking they can see twice as far down it as they actually can. The mirror has a scrim over it which serves two purposes: first, to make the corridor appear to stretch away into the mist, and second, to deaden the reflection of the candelabra - the back of which is painted black - in the mirror.

The seance circle

The Leota effect is accomplished through digital projection of an actress (Leota Toombs)'s face onto a head sculpture with features of the actress. At Tokyo, the movement of the cable-suspended sphere is synced to the projection via computer-control (what Anaheim had originated), while in Florida the projector is located inside the Crystal Ball. In Tokyo, when the projection is not correctly synchronized with the movement of the bust, Leota's crystal ball rests in a cradle on the table.

The other floating objects in the room are held up by fishing lines.

Constance Hatchaway, the singing busts in the graveyard, and the Ghost Hostess are also created using the same projection technique as Madame Leota's.

Ballroom

The ghosts in the ballroom are commonly believed to be holograms. However, all the ghosts in the ballroom scene are created using a clever variation of Pepper's Ghost, an illusion invented in the mid-19th century. The version of the illusion in the Haunted Mansion works like this: a row of columns in front of the mezzanine are supporting gigantic panes of glass, which are nearly invisible to the guests. The "ghosts" are merely the reflections in the glass of audio-animatronic figures, located in rooms above and below the mezzanine, where the walls are painted entirely black. The audio-animatronics for the ghosts that appear on or near the floor are located below the mezzanine, while the audio-animatronics of the ghosts which appear near the ceiling are located above the mezzanine. None of the reflections are at the guests' eye level, since that would require the audio-animatronics to be located in a place visible to guests.

This scene was designed for the most part by Marc Davis, who designed all the humanoid spooks and portraits. It is the largest example of the Pepper's Ghost effect in the world.

Other ghosts

Disney used other techniques to make the graveyard ghosts appear to be ethereal. They are made of mostly translucent or transparent materials, which glow in the ultraviolet light that is used to light their scenes. They are made to appear blurry and indistinct through the use of scrims mounted between the guests and the ghosts.

The crypt

The mirrors in which guests see the hitchhiking ghosts are actually two-way mirrors. The ghosts are audio-animatronics in a room behind the mirrors. They move along in sync with the Doom Buggies, and weak lights shining on them allow them to be seen through the mirrors.

Soundtrack

Narration

The foyer, stretching room, and ride narration was performed by Paul Frees in the role of the Ghost Host. For the Disneyland and the Magic Kingdom versions of the ride, different recording sessions were used in some places. The Magic Kingdom version of the ride includes a library scene, in which a unique piece of narration is used. At Tokyo Disneyland, whose mansion is a replication of the one in Florida, both inside and out, the narration is provided by Teichiro Hori, a movie producer from Toho Studios (Hori also provides the voice of the talking skull in Tokyo's version of Pirates of the Caribbean). In 2002, an imitation of Paul Frees (by Joe Leahy) could be heard in the Disneyland and the Magic Kingdom versions instead of the original safety spiel, giving a more detailed warning in the load area, followed by a Spanish spiel. In Tokyo, the safety spiel is done by the Ghost Host himself.

Theme song

Grim Grinning Ghosts was composed by Buddy Baker and the lyrics were written by X Atencio. It can be heard in nearly every area of the ride, with various instrumentations and tempos. Contrary to popular belief, "Grim Grinning Ghosts" is not performed by the Mellomen, but rather by a pickup group. The only member of the Mellomen heard is that of the deep bass voice of Thurl Ravenscroft (best known for voicing Tony the Tiger in television commercials), who sings as part of a quintet of singing busts in the graveyard scene. Ravenscroft's face is used as well, projected onto the bust. His face is oftentimes confused with that of Walt Disney himself.[7]

Releases

The Story and Song From The Haunted Mansion

Disneyland Records released The Story and Song From The Haunted Mansion as a record album in 1969. It featured the story of two teenagers, Mike (Ron Howard) and Karen (Robie Lester), who get trapped inside the Haunted Mansion, with Thurl Ravenscroft as the Narrator, Pete Reneday as the Ghost Host, and Eleanor Audley as Madame Leota. Some of the effects and ideas that were planned but never permanently made it to the attraction are mentioned here: the Raven speaks in the Stretching Room, and the Hatbox Ghost is mentioned during the Attic scene. It was reissued in 1998 as a cassette tape titled A Spooky Night in Disney's Haunted Mansion.

A second reissue was released on CD in 2009 for the Halloween season. It used the original title of The Story And Song From The Haunted Mansion and used the original cover artwork. Along with the story from the record, the CD also contained the song "Grim Grinning Ghosts" in its entirety as a separate track. The CD was also enhanced with high resolution artwork drawn by Collin Campbell. The CD's case doubled as a story book depicting various scenes from the attraction with illustrations by Collin Campbell.

Previously, as the Haunted Mansion attraction was in its planning stages and still known as "The Haunted House," Disneyland Records released the album Chilling, Thrilling Sounds of the Haunted House (1964), a collection of sound effects and brief "stories in sound" introduced by a narrator, Laura Olsher. Many of the sound effects, originally created for the vintage Disney cartoons, were later used in the Haunted Mansion ride. Disneyland Records used the same title in 1979 for a new album of sound effects and story situations.

Popular culture

The video game Epic Mickey features a Haunted Mansion-like level known as Lonesome Manor. According to Warren Spector, it is the different versions of the Haunted Mansion ride thrown together.

References

  • "Disneyland's Ghost House". (2004). The "E" Ticket (41).
    This is the Fall 2004 issue of the magazine The "E" Ticket, which was dedicated to the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland.
  • Eastman, Tish. (1997). "Haunting Melodies: The Story Behind Buddy Baker's Score for the Haunted Mansion". Persistence of Vision (9) 39.
    Persistence of Vision is an irregularly published magazine "celebrating the creative legacy of Walt Disney." Back issues can be found at The Book Palace.
  • Smith, Paul. (1997). "Tales from the Crypt: Life in the Haunted Mansion." Persistence of Vision (9) 89.
  • Surrell, J. (2003). The Haunted Mansion: From the Magic Kingdom to the Movie. New York: Disney Editions. ISBN 0-7868-5419-7
    A book published by Disney giving a comprehensive history of the Haunted Mansion from early inception, in which it was a walk-through attraction, to its current form. It includes information on The Haunted Mansion movie.

External links


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