09 August 2009

Things That Go Bump In The Night

In case you have been living under a rock somewhere or, more appropriately, buried there, today is the fortieth anniversary of the Haunted Mansion. I am sure there will be articles galore, many much more detailed than this one, and accounts of the day’s festivities at Disneyland, but here are just a few words to consider the next time you encounter your friendly neighborhood Ghost Host.

Today’s Back Issue is not a full article, but rather an excerpt from Les Perkins’ Disneyland Diary (Part Two) entitled Things That Go Bump In The Night. It was originally published in the Summer 1985 issue of Disney News.

In 1969, after much anticipation, 999 ghosts we at long last gathered from around the world to inhabit the “Haunted Mansion” in New Orleans Square. Though the exterior of the attraction was completed in 1963, the house lay “vacant” for many years.

Plans for some sort of haunted house actually appeared on the 1957 Disneyland Souvenir Map (drawn by artist Sam McKim). The eerie abode was to be tucked into a corner of Frontierland.

Ken Anderson created an ominous-looking rendering in 1959 that is very close to how the mansion’s fa├žade was actually built. A show which offered a “host ghost with the most” providing a tour of the sea captain’s dilapidated home was “mocked-up” (temporarily created in full-scale) at the Studio around 1962.

Ken recalls that he senses Walt had concerns about the limited movement of guests through that version of the show and whether it promised enough repeat enjoyment. Probably because the New York Fair projects were becoming so active, Walt waited before pursuing the Haunted Mansion idea any further.

With the development of the “Omnimover” vehicle-system created for Adventure Thru Inner Space and advancements in Audio-Animatronics technology, designers where [sic] able to work out the guest flow problems and embellish their earlier ideas. And so, the Haunted Mansion “opened its crypts” August 9, 1969.

Trivia buffs will be interested to know that the organ featured in the enchanted ballroom scene, was transplanted from the “20,000 Leagues Under the Seas” attraction.

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