Welcome Foolish Mortals…..
We’ve all heard about Grim Grinning Ghosts coming out to socialize but have you ever heard of Globetrotting Ghosts haunting mansions and manors worldwide?
Well, TMSM friends, let me be your host and take you on a hauntingly delightful journey through the history of one of the most beloved rides at Disney parks around the world; you guessed it – The Haunted Mansion. In the spirit of Halloween, during the next month, you’ll get to learn about each of the attractions as they exist at Disney parks in California, Florida, Tokyo, Paris, and Hong Kong. Our first stop; New Orleans Square at Disneyland California.
The original Haunted Mansion was an idea straight from the imagination of Walt Disney himself. The structure housing what would become one of the longest build projects in Disney park history went through quite a few architectural themes before ultimately becoming an antebellum style home in the middle of New Orleans Square.
Ghost Host Fun Fact: The Mansion’s exterior architecture was inspired by a residence in Maryland built in the 1800s called The Shipley-Lydecker House. Currently, a home exists in Georgia that was built as an exact replica of Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion.
The architecture ideas for the mansion weren’t the only things to change over time. The rides concept went through multiple phases after the structure’s facade was completed in 1963. Walt Disney originally envisioned a walk through experience for guests to mingle with ghosts. Early Imagineers (known back then as employees of WED Enterprises) went back and forth with storylines and ideas on what to do with the then built and vacant structure in New Orleans square. It ultimately took over a decade for the final mansion as we know it today to be fleshed out and made a reality.
Some of Walt’s original walking tour concept is maintained in the Haunted Mansion experience; the first part of the ride has guests walking through an outside queue where beloved pets have been laid to rest, and their tombstones describe some unpleasant demises. Next guests are ushered into the foyer, and this is where the true immersion of being in a Haunted Mansion is felt. The foyer with its opulent woodworked décor and dust coated chandelier is the first room guest’s experience, followed shortly by a room with iconic portraits that appear to be stretching. This room is actually an elevator taking guests down to a loading area where a hallway of changing portraits gives way to doombuggies waiting to whisk you off for the rest of your tour of the mansion.
The Haunted Mansion overall has surprisingly remained unchanged since it first opened its doors in 1969. The most relevant changes to the experience came in 2001 with a seasonal addition known as Haunted Mansion Holiday featuring Jack Skellington and his friends taking over the mansion from September to early January every year. A second significant change was made to the mansion attic in 2006, featuring a bride named Constance Hatchaway who is showcased through the years in portraits with her beheaded; oops, I mean, beloved husbands. Perhaps the most exciting and recent change occurred in 2015 for Disneyland’s 60th anniversary celebration, when the Hatbox Ghost made his reapparition at the mansion after an extended 46 year hiatus. Luckily for Haunted Mansion fans, it doesn’t appear like he will be vanishing anytime soon.
To quote Little Leota, “huuuuurryyyyy baaaaack” next week for a glimpse into Disney World’s Florida Haunted Mansion experience, and some of the spectacular fun you can enjoy at the Mansion when you visit the park during Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party.
Erika Gaeta lives in Florida, is an annual passholder and is excited to join TMSM as a volunteer blogger. Her most memorable moment at Disney was getting engaged at MNSSHP on Halloween in front of the Haunted Mansion. She promotes random acts of kindness whenever and wherever possible, working on unique Disney inspired gifts, as well as curating and creating one of a kind mouse ears in her small shop inspired by the spirit of Imagineering.
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