Main

Haunted Mansion Archives

March 7, 2009

Mr. Toad and the Haunted Mansion

After publishing my Everest Shrine and Cool Wash blogs, I received a number of requests for similar bits of information. It seems you all love this type of Disney trivia. I'm not sure I can deliver, but I'll do my best. This next item isn't so much a "hidden but obvious" detail. It's just sort of a "hidden" detail.

When the Mr. Toad attraction closed to make room for the Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, the Imagineers wanted to give J. Thaddeus a proper burial. They thought, "What better place than the pet cemetery perched on the hill next to the exit of the Haunted Mansion." (If I had to guess, I bet many of you didn't even know there was a pet cemetery here.)


Mr.%20Toad%20HM%20Blog%2001.jpg

Mr.%20Toad%20HM%20Blog%2002.jpg


Anyway, if you look all the way to the back left corner of the burial ground you can see a grave marker in the shape of this famous croaker.


Mr.%20Toad%20HM%20Blog%2003.jpg


While we're in the general area, let's take a look at the benches that line this brick wall. These seats are unique to the Haunted Mansion and if you look closely, you can see menacing hound's heads on the arms and legs. Look even closer and you can see that their eyes are red. Spooky.


Mr.%20Toad%20HM%20Blog%2004.jpg

Mr.%20Toad%20HM%20Blog%2005.jpg

Mr.%20Toad%20HM%20Blog%2006.jpg


Legend has it that a number of years ago, a teenage girl was sitting on one of these benches painting her fingernails. She noticed the hounds and decided to paint their eyes red, the color of the polish she was using. Months later, when it came time for the benches to be repainted, the Imagineers liked the red eyes and decided to keep them.

Now I want to tell you, this is a legend. I have absolutely no proof to back up this story. Also, I'm not giving anyone permission to deface Disney property. But it does make for a good tale.

And now for the sad news" While talking with a Haunted Mansion cast member I was informed that these benches are being retired. In fact, two have already been removed and it's only a matter of time before the others are gone too.

September 13, 2008

Haunted Mansion Attic

In mid-September of last year, the Haunted Mansion reopened at Disney World after a lengthy rehab.

Haunted Mansion


A number of effects were either enhanced or added. The Attic Room is one such example. Gone are the carnival-like pop-up heads to be replaced with state-of-the-art effects.

This blog is going to discuss some of the nuances of this room that are easily missed when traveling through. Since flash photography is not allowed in the Haunted Mansion, I do not have any pictures of the attic to share with you.

Note: Spoilers ahead!

One of the first things you'll notice as you enter the attic is a portrait of a bride and groom. This "happy" couple is Ambrose Harper and Constance Hatchaway.

Near this portrait are a number of modest wedding gifts such as a music box, china, crystal, and various household goods. A nearby wedding album reads:

OUR WEDDING DAY
Ambrose and Constance 1869

Ambrose is the son of successful farmers. For this particular occasion he wears a sensible woolen suit and bowler hat. Constance's past is murky and suspect. For her special day she wears a stylish wedding gown and a single strand of pearls. As you pass their portrait, Ambrose's face fades into nothingness and then reappears - signifying that Constance has outlived him for some reason.

You soon come to a second portrait, this time featuring Constance and her new partner, Frank Banks. Frank is an Eastern banker and well placed in his community. He proudly dons a stovepipe hat. Constance, being practical, chose to wear the same wedding dress as before, but this time proudly displays two strands of pearls around her neck.

Look closely at the cabinet in the foreground. On it you'll see a porcelain figurine of a well-to-do French woman looking down at a second, toppled figurine of a gentleman, who apparently lost his head in the fall. On the shelf below you can see a broken ceramic heart-shaped box.

There are more wedding gifts in this area and they seem to be of better quality than those given to Constance on her first marriage. A nearby banner reads:

Constance and Frank
TRUE LOVE FOREVER

Constance chose for her next spouse a foreign diplomat known as the Marquis De Doom. In their wedding portrait, The Marquis wears a military uniform, complete with sash, assorted medals and a formal hat with plume. The ever sensible Constance once again chose to wear the same dress; however three strands of pearls are now evident. There wedding album reads:

The Marquis Constance
1874

Continuing her social climb, Constance's next husband is Reginald Caine. He was a railroad baron and dressed the part. For his wedding he sports a brocade vest, fancy shirt, and costly jacket. And like her previous husbands, he too dons a fine hat. Being ostentatious, Reginald also wears a large ring on his little finger and a sizable stone in his lapel.

Constance, as usual, chose the same wedding dress. It has served her well so far and she sees no reason to tamper with things. The only change, a fourth strand of pearls has been added to her ensemble.

A nearby frame says:

Reginald & Constance
1875

Constance's last husband was George Hightower. He should look familiar to you as you have seen his countenance for many years on the gravestone in the stretching room. Before his demise, George owned the stately mansion you are now visiting.

The gifts for this final wedding are by far the most expensive. In keeping with her growing wealth, their wedding portrait is displayed in an ornate frame. An inset reads:

George & Constance
1877

As you might have guessed, Constance now wears five strands of pearls.

As with Ambrose, Constance's first husband, each successive spouse fades from view as you pass their portraits. All the while, a melancholy rendition of "Hear Comes the Bride" can be heard in the background.

In this same area is a hat rack. Hanging on it are all five of the hats worn by Constance's dead husbands.

Just before you exit the attic, we finally get to meet the ghost of Constance.

She stands in peaceful serenity as her hands move from her side toward her chest and an axe materializes in her grasp. All the while, she utters a number of well known, albeit telling, wedding phrases, each with a slightly different expression. With a twinkle in her eye she calmly says:

"'Till Death". Do Us Part""

"Here comes the bride!"

"As long as we both shall live""

"For better or for".WORSE."

"I do. I did!"

"In sickness and in ".wealth!"

"You may now kiss the bride."

"We'll live happily ever"after!"

Many of the sights I've described are difficult to see. EXTREMELY difficult to see. I rode the Mansion five times in a row last week, looking for them and it took a quick eye. Good luck!

Interested in learning more about Disney's Haunted Mansions? Check out Imagineer Jason Surrell's book The Haunted Mansion: From Magic Kingdom to the Movies!

May 22, 2008

1972 Magic Kingdom Walt Disney World Pictures - Part 2

This is my last set of January, 1972 pictures. I do have others, but they are of things that have changed very little over the years, such as Main Street and portions of Fantasyland, and really aren't of any historical interest. Enjoy!

This first picture is of the Haunted Mansion. The first interesting detail is the lack of trees. Although you can't see it in this picture, in the early years, the building that actually houses the attraction was visible from inside the park. Also notice that the queue doesn't have an awning over it. Remember, Walt Disney World was designed by people who lived in California. They hadn't yet learned that the sun is brutal in Florida, as are the rainstorms.

Haunted Mansion Magic Kingdom 1973

This next picture was taken from the Skyway of the Mad Tea Party. Notice that the teacups do not yet have a roof overhead. Same California designers.

Mad Tea Party Magic Kingdom 1973

The third picture is of the "Pearly Band." These entertainers were a regular fixture at Disneyland and then the Magic Kingdom after Mary Poppins debuted. If you remember, a "pearly band" played in the animated portion of the movie. I can't remember the last time I saw this group. They are playing in front of Mr. Toad's Wild Ride in Fantasyland, the current home of the Adventures of Winnie the Pooh attraction.

Pearly Band

This fourth picture, also taken from the Skyway, is of Tomorrowland under construction. The Carousel of Progress would eventually be built here. Like Disneyland in 1955, when the Magic Kingdom opened in 1971, Tomorrowland was just a shell of what it would finally become.


Future Home of the Carousel of Progress Magic Kingdom 1973

I took this final picture of a popcorn vendor because of the costume he was wearing. I had never seen this outfit as the Disneyland vendors wore different apparel. Eventually, this look would find its way to California. Like the pearly band, this costume is now just a memory.

Also notice the spires that marked the entrance to Tomorrowland. The design called for columns of water to cascade from these towers. However, even a slight breeze would send droplets all over the walkway and they were often turned off to save giving the guests a shower.

Tomorrowland Popcorn Vender Magic Kingdom 1973

October 9, 2007

Haunted Mansion Update

I rode the Haunted Mansion today and I'm happy to report that the Attic Room is now working properly.

CAUTION Spoiler ahead"
CAUTION Spoiler ahead"

CAUTION Spoiler ahead"

CAUTION Spoiler ahead"

CAUTION Spoiler ahead"

CAUTION Spoiler ahead"

CAUTION Spoiler ahead"

CAUTION Spoiler ahead"

CAUTION Spoiler ahead"

CAUTION Spoiler ahead"

CAUTION Spoiler ahead"

When the HM reopened, the Attic Room had been completely redesigned. Instead of the carnival-like "pop-up" heads, various portraits of a bride and her numerous, headless husbands were scattered around the attic. However, the pictures were stagnant and contained no special effects. Now, as you pass by each portrait, the husbands' faces fade in and out as guests pass by while the bride's face remains constant.

Now that the effect is working properly it is consistent with its Disneyland, California counterpart.

September 15, 2007

Haunted Mansion Comes Alive

All Ears® Team Member Jack Spence (accompanied by Anita Answer and friends) files this report:

The good news: it's still the Haunted Mansion. It has been improved. Some changes are obvious, others would hardly be noticed. They come together to update a wonderful attraction. Somebody who had never been on the attraction wouldn't have a clue of which effects are new, and which are the originals from 1969 / 1971. Even people familiar with the attraction might have trouble.

First, what hasn't changed:

It's still the Haunted Mansion.

The feeling of the attraction is the same.

The entire graveyard scene is the same.

The busts that turn to watch you pass are the same.

The hitchhiking ghosts still join you on the way out.

The ballroom dancers are still backwards.


Rumors that weren't true:

There are no live bats

There is no new shop at the exit.

What is different outside:

Outside, the queue begins near the old fastpass structure. The line has a couple of switchbacks in this area before proceeding under the "13 minute" sign. (The line was long this morning, so all the queue was in use.) The awning over the queue area next to the Rivers of America is wider than it used to be. This provides enough space that they can divide it into thirds - so one line goes in front of the mansion toward the attraction entrance, then it switches back toward the 13-minute sign, then switches back toward the attraction entrance again. The line is narrower than it used to be, so people more naturally fill the available space without worrying about passing (or being passed by) somebody else.

The color of the building is subtly different.

WARNING: SPOILER ALERT AHEAD. DO NOT LOOK/READ ANY FURTHER IF YOU WANT TO BE SURPRISED AT THE HAUNTED MANSION CHANGES. DETAILS OF THE CHANGES INSIDE OF THE ATTRACTION ARE BELOW THIS WARNING.


WARNING: SPOILER ALERT AHEAD. DO NOT LOOK/READ ANY FURTHER IF YOU WANT TO BE SURPRISED AT THE HAUNTED MANSION CHANGES. DETAILS OF THE CHANGES INSIDE OF THE ATTRACTION ARE BELOW THIS WARNING.


WARNING: SPOILER ALERT AHEAD. DO NOT LOOK/READ ANY FURTHER IF YOU WANT TO BE SURPRISED AT THE HAUNTED MANSION CHANGES. DETAILS OF THE CHANGES INSIDE OF THE ATTRACTION ARE BELOW THIS WARNING.


WARNING: SPOILER ALERT AHEAD. DO NOT LOOK/READ ANY FURTHER IF YOU WANT TO BE SURPRISED AT THE HAUNTED MANSION CHANGES. DETAILS OF THE CHANGES INSIDE OF THE ATTRACTION ARE BELOW THIS WARNING.


WARNING: SPOILER ALERT AHEAD. DO NOT LOOK/READ ANY FURTHER IF YOU WANT TO BE SURPRISED AT THE HAUNTED MANSION CHANGES. DETAILS OF THE CHANGES INSIDE OF THE ATTRACTION ARE BELOW THIS WARNING.


WARNING: SPOILER ALERT AHEAD. DO NOT LOOK/READ ANY FURTHER IF YOU WANT TO BE SURPRISED AT THE HAUNTED MANSION CHANGES. DETAILS OF THE CHANGES INSIDE OF THE ATTRACTION ARE BELOW THIS WARNING.


What is different inside

The first improvement I noticed was the sound. In the stretch room, the ghost host doesn't bounce from one location to another. Rather the voice moves smoothly around the room. Also, some new sounds have been added to improve effects - when the room stretches, it creaks.

The interior of the attraction has been spruced up. For example, the wallpaper in the stretch room is new. The old was looking rather shabby. The frames on the stretch pictures look better.

The lighting throughout has been improved. While the ambient lighting isn't brighter, most anything of interest is better lit. The hanging body above the ceiling is more visible; the ballroom characters are brighter.

Some of the pictures with the eyes that follow you have been moved to the loading area. The hallway where these pictures used to be now has windows on the left side, with lightning outside and the appropriate thunder. On the other side, there are still pictures, some with the eyes that follow you, and some not. But all of the pictures change appearance with the flashes of lightning.

One of the most obvious changes is the area where giant spiders used to be on giant webs. Those are completely gone, replaced by stairways going up, down, and around at odd angles. Some room décor around the area (such as candelabra and small rugs) are also at odd angles, even upside down. You can even see the foot falls as a ghost is walking on the steps. I always thought the spider webs were put in because there just wasn't enough space in this area for anything more. The Imagineers certainly overcame that limitation.

The séance room has more items floating around the outer edges (or are they just better lit?) Madame Leota's crystal ball floats and moves above the table.

The other most obvious changes are in the attic room. The pop-up heads are gone. Similar to the Disneyland HM, there are several pictures, each with the same bride, but each with a different groom. At Disneyland, the faces of the grooms fade out. I believe the effect is supposed to be the same here, but it wasn't working. Finally, you see the bride, holding an ax which appears and disappears.

One of the best effects is that there are eyes (bats' eyes, I think) which watch you from the darkness. Some of the eyes even move. As you move along, the eyes transform into the wallpaper - the same wallpaper with eyes that has been on the walls since opening day.

If you're looking for more information on the Haunted Mansion, Jason Surrell has written a great book on this attraction. The Haunted Mansion: From the Magic Kingdom to the Movies fleshes out how the Mansion's 999 grim grinning ghosts were brought to life. Rare early sketches and story concepts, and stunning architectural drawings illustrate the Mansion's evolution as it was constructed at each Magic Kingdom Park around the globe.
The Haunted Mansion: From the Magic Kingdom to the Movies

September 3, 2007

Haunted Mansion Update

I visited the Magic Kingdom today and took a couple of pictures of the Haunted Mansion. As you can see, it is encased in scaffolding.

Haunted Mansion.jpg


Haunted Mansion

Return to Blog Central

About Haunted Mansion

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to The “World” According to Jack in the Haunted Mansion category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

Liberty Tree Tavern is the next category.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.