Things You're Just Supposed to Know

Most of the time, Long-Forgotten assumes that readers are already familiar with basic facts
about the Haunted Mansion. If you wanna keep up with the big boys, I suggest you check out
first of all the website, After that, the best place to go is Jason Surrell's book,
The Haunted Mansion: From the Magic Kingdom to the Movies (NY: Disney Editions, 2003; 2nd ed. 2009)
and Jeff Baham's The Unauthorized Story of Walt Disney's Haunted Mansion (USA: Theme Park Press, 2014).

This site is not affiliated in any way with any Walt Disney company. It is an independent
fan site dedicated to critical examination and historical review of the Haunted Mansions.
All images that are © Disney are posted under commonly understood guidelines of Fair Use.


Friday, May 21, 2010

Here Comes the Bride, Part Three: Round Eyes and the "Middle" Brides

New photo of 1976 WDW bride added, Jan 2015.
This post and previous one have been massively revised, thanks to the remarkable new photos and film that surfaced in July of 2011.  See the previous post for details.

Sometime in the mid-70's, the original Corpse Bride was
removed from both Mansions and replaced with this version:

The precise date depends on how closely the two US Mansions followed each other. We know that
Disneyland still had the Corpse Bride in 1975, and we now know that WDW had switched to the blank-
faced, round-eyed type by 1976, when this photo was taken. [This is new info as of January, 2015]:

A little knob-twiddling enables us to pierce the veil. This is currently the
earliest known photo of the blank-faced successor to the Corpse Bride:

This variety is obviously a throwback to some earlier Marc Davis concepts (see Part One). The Disneyland story is slightly different from the Orlando story, so we'll tell them one at a time.  That one at the top of this post is an early Disneyland photo.  Two round, glowing eyes in a darkened face.  Hey, how about a "magic eye" 3-D image?  Get used to these, folks; I've got a million of 'em.  Use the practice thingy over there on the right and maybe you can get the hang of it if you can't already do it.  At worst, you get two images for the price of one, so what is there to complain about?  From 1990:

For many, including your blog administrator, this is still the classic bride.  She's scary precisely because she is ambiguous.  Is she evil and threatening?  Or is she forlorn and tragic?  Is she gonna get you or is she going to plead with you for help?  The candle suggests a searching figure, which in turn suggests victimhood.  Bad guys don't search around with candles; they LIKE it dark (see John 3:20).  But I dunno, Beating Heart still gives you the creeps.  Indeed, she's the number one suspect in the murder of the Hat Box Ghost, but since he's gone, she's what the FBI calls a "person of interest."

Some time in the early 90's, the Imagineers decided to beef up the attic scene (unnecessarily, in my book).  They gave the bride a visible face, put in a phantom piano player plunking out a distorted wedding march, and re-dressed the pop-up ghosts as groomsmen, each of them shouting "I do" in a mocking sort of way.  That "middle bride" version of BH debuted in September of 1995.  This widely-reproduced photograph makes her look kind of sweet.  Notice how the eyes have been dimmed, so you can read the face?  What'd I tell you in the last post?

Maybe too sweet.  Here's another shot in which she looks a little tougher:

In some photos this version approaches something akin to creepy.  Notice how similar
we are to the Marc Davis sketch showing a darkened upper face on the candle bearer.

But it remains true that she looks more forlorn than threatening, especially with those mean old goblin groomsmen all around her, mocking her.  Sometime around 2000, it seems the Imagineers wanted to bring back a little more of the ambiguity that made Ol' Round Eyes scary (or at least scarier), so they made BH's eyes more like the blank old ones, and they put her veil down in front of her face.  The results were impressive.  These  shots by professional photogs make it easy to compare "middle bride 1" with "middle bride 2."  Definitely creepier, but still not as creepy as Ol' Round Eyes, IMO.

In 2006 they overhauled the attic yet again, replacing Beating Heart and the pop-up groomsmen with Constance and her grisly wedding portraits.  The ambiguity is all gone; she's threatening and definitely not forlorn; plus she's something that no other version of the attic bride has ever been:  comic.  So now we have an absolute split between the melodramatically forlorn bride of Phantom Manor in Paris and the gleefully homicidal wacko of the stateside parks.  (Tokyo retains an ambiguous form of the middle bride.)  People definitely tend to take sides over Constance.  You like her or you don't.  Me, I dislike having a fairly full-blown story-line foisted on me, excluding me from the imaginative process and making me a spectator only.  That gets boring.  And that's without even considering how well the character fits into its context (meh) or how well the effect is executed (meh).

I would vote to bring back Beating Heart in a heartbeat.

The story down in Orlando is similar.  Thanks to Hoot Gibson, we now have that rare 1976 photo above. Here's the WDW version of Round Eyes in 1989 and in 1990.  They liked to play around with her veil down there in Orlando, a little more than than they did at Anaheim, it would seem.  My theory is that she needed mosquito netting, this being Florida and all:

This widely-reproduced pic is undated, but she looks a lot like the '89 model above, except veiled.

Despite how she may look in those photos, when the lights were out
she was still, basically, Ol' Round Eyes, as this 1995 photo shows:

Orlando went to a "middle bride" with a fully-visible face about the same time as Anaheim.  The main difference was the hair, which was pretty crazy at WDW.  They were forever fine-tuning her face, but a lot of people never liked this version ("the smurf bride") and preferred the spookier DL middle bride.

(pix by Allen Huffmann and Mick2005)

"Smurf bride" might be a little harsh.  In some photos she looks pretty darn good:

But just as was the case at DL, the middle bride doesn't look so much threatening as forlorn (yes, I realize I'm overusing that word).  Still, WDW never got as melodramatic as DL did, since Florida was spared the mocking groomsmen shouting "I do."  Never got those.

Before we say good-bye to Beating Heart and hello to Connie,
here are two handy murals of the bride down through the years.

At Disneyland, the Corpse Bride version of Beating Heart was the original, lasting from Aug 1969 until the mid 70's.  The round-eyed, dark-faced Beating Heart replaced her and lasted until 1995.  Then it's the first "middle bride" (Sept 1995—ca. 2000), the second "middle bride" (ca. 2000—May 2006), and Constance (May 2006—now).

At WDW, we started out with the Corpse Bride (Oct 71—mid 70's), followed by Ol' Round Eyes.  They went to a "middle bride" about the same time DL did (ca. 1995).  WDW continued to fiddle around with her over the years, but not as radically as DL did, and so I lump all the brides in the Orlando attic from 1995 to 2007 into one "middle bride" category.  Constance debuted in the fall of 2007.


  1. I personally never liked the middle bride myself. Thankfully though, in California, we never had that WDW version (looks like a cartoon bride- and not scary at all). The middle bride never seemed as creepy as the original bride IMO. Constance isn't creepy either, but I do enjoy her mischievousness.

  2. Great post, and excellent tracking as always...I do sort of selfishly wish DL and Florida had kept the mega-creepy corpse bride throughout, at least as the original model. Oh well. I don't find the idea/backstory of the Constance figure that bad, really..the execution is just rather poor, both projection and performance wise. Alas...

  3. on my Blogger reading list, it says you added a post about the Hatbox Ghost... i'm not finding it. Did you take it down?

  4. The second time I went on the WDW Mansion in July of 2004, I truly remembered seeing the bride with longer hair(rather than the short perked up hair). I thought maybe it was just my imagination but then yesterday, I came across this photo:
    I wonder why they changed her hair for about a year or two until 2006...

  5. I love the re-creations of the Corpse Bride in show lighting. She is truly creepy. I actually got a little spooked going downstairs to get a snack later on the night that I read this post, Haha. No nightmares, but yesh, kept waiting for some spook skeleton woman to pop out of the dark...great stuff...

  6. Earlier today I asked my mom if she remembered the attic bride at WDW from '71, and she said that she remembered it being a spooky skeleton-corpse with a candle that totally freaked her out.
    I was thrilled to hear that she remembered that, and I showed her the artistic recreation that you have here of what it looked like without the lights.
    She said that it was pretty accurate, that she remembers that it did in fact have glowing eyes, she didn't remember it having a red heart, and that its hair was a little bit messier and kind of in its face. Or that maybe it had a veil or something.

    Apparently it looked pretty good. I wish there were photos of it...

  7. Ok, some of those are SUPER CREEPY. Paricularly the CB. I've never been to Orlando, but it seems (with the exception of smurfette) that the WDW brides went through scarier stages than they did at DL.

  8. WHOA! I had no idea DL got the Corpse Bride too. She's freaky.

  9. I liked all of the brides! Except Constance she SUCKS!!!! I loved all of them! I want them back! I want the middle brides back! I grew up peeking over the bard and feeling bad and wanting to help her. I felt bad that she was being mocked my the pop-up ghosts.

  10. Me luffles all the brides except the smurf chick.

  11. Thank you for the reference photos of the Bride's progression over the years! I never get tired of reading about the late Mrs. Beating Heart. The Bride completely captivates me, like so many other HM fans. My mother first rode in '70, and says she recalls the beating heart lights and sound. I first rode the attraction in Anaheim when I was 9 years old (that would have been around Christmas 1995), and it breaks my real, un-glowy heart that I don't remember seeing her AT ALL. This is probably what fuels my fixation with her. The only thing I remember about the attic to this day are those darn pop-up ghosts. Though I feel the Imagineers went a bit too far with Constance, I have to say I'm relieved that the Poppers of Distraction are no longer present in that scene. :)

  12. I love the bride (pretty much all of them). I do think it would be a good idea to have a silent Constance, jus standing there and being mysterious, but I do like her. I actually dressed up as her for Halloween. Th Attic will always be my fave!

  13. I personally hate the bride named Constance. Give me the old beating heart bride any day!

  14. Two questions.

    1. Why do they still play the heart beat in the attic?

    2. Considering how many changes there have been over the years, is it possible that Constance will be replaced or revamped/redone? I can't see her being permanent, especially if Del Toro actually does pull through.

  15. 1. I don't know. I suppose some would speculate that it indicates their intent to return the Hatbox Ghost, since his head trick goes with the bride's heartbeat, but I suspect that would be overthinking it.

    2. They certainly have been willing to redo the bride whenever the mood strikes them, but the changing portraits represent a much more elaborate and expensive technical overhaul of the entire attic area, so I would think they will be loth to replace her. This time around it would be replacing a major story element. Alas, I think we're going to be stuck with Connie for quite awhile. Hope I'm wrong.

  16. I haven't been to WDW since 2006, so I haven't seen Constance. I'm sure the effects are quite impressive.

    But I kind of wish they'd done the best of both worlds...use the technology that created Constance, but also kept the creepy/melancholy feeling of the earlier brides.

    Maybe have her start off as a beautiful young woman, weeping and glowing-eyed...then as the buggy passes, have her age rapidly, Miss Havisham-style, until she's a skeletal corpse, eyes still glowing. Sort of like the original Marc Davis changing portrait brought to life.

    In fact, didn't one of the concept paintings you posted for the new bride show a melancholy young bride created with the state-of-the-art projection tech?

  17. There's concept art for a changing portrait that goes from sad young bride to corpse, and something like that could be done with an interior projection (like Leota is now), but I don't know if it could be performed and reset again as the buggies pass without it going too quickly to be effective.

  18. In my humble opinion, the "attic bride" was not meant to be a bride at all. It is merely supposed to be a wedding dress on a dummy that's been stowed away in the attic... the dress is meant to look as though it is haunted by the late bride. But now they've turned the dress on a dummy into an actual bride ghost, which ruins it for me. The very best "attic bride" was the one with the pitch black body with the glowing round eyes and heart.

    1. That's an interesting take, but actually, the bride has never had a "pitch black body." Before Constance, every bride used the same body, which was translucent plastic with rippling lights running through it. The body and limbs were usually packed with what looks like a lot of blue cellophane to give it a blue glow. The head and neck, however, did have a black phase.

  19. "Orlando went to a "middle bride" with a fully-visible face about the same time as Anaheim. The main difference was the hair, which was pretty crazy at WDW. They were forever fine-tuning her face, but a lot of people never liked this version ("the smurf bride") and preferred the spookier DL middle bride."

    The Smurf bride! LOL! I always thought of her as the Blue Bramah (Hinu) bride, but Smurfette is great!

  20. BTW, the name of the attic bride was always Prudence, until the change in 2006to Constance. This is consistent with The Ghost Gallery and several stories, as well as cast member comments.

    1. That would be an example of fan fiction, which is fine, but her only official title for all those years was "Beating Heart."

  21. The two that work best for me are numbers two and the current version (number five, 'Constance')...number two works on a downright terrifying level...she has NO FACE, glowing eyes, doesn't speak...and we hear her thudding heart. LOVE...IT.

    The current incarnation is seriously cool LOOKING...the face that is clear, animated and has burning eyes, along with the hand/knife morph...LOOKS very impressive and cinematic (plus the humorous, chidding remarks...'Till death do us part! (giggle", etc...all delivered in a sweet, mocking...admittedly creepy manner)...however, I don't consider this version 'scary' or unsettling...just entertaining.

    SCARY VOTE goes to number TWO.

  22. Random question: do you know the height of the bride? (or of the ghost host hanging from the rafters?)

  23. I don't dislike Constance, and her gimmick is more befitting the gallows humor of the Mansion's other scenes, but I have to admit that I greatly enjoyed having that moment of creepy, maudlin gothicness, and the more mysterious backstory. Sometimes I think Constance might work better if they made her faceless and voiceless and brought back the heartbeat, but kept the candle/hatchet effect. I think that could be my ideal bride.

    1. I think you're right that anonymity would improve her, so yes, what you describe sounds better to me.

  24. I've so far only been to WDW,('88, '92, '04) and my opinion of the various Brides is: 'Ol round eyes absolutely rules! She was the one truly scary part of the whole ride. The giant Smurfette was a huge step down, tho I can see by the pix that California got a much better version than Florida did. Yea, and now they have Constance.... Well, lets just say, I'm thankful that I got to see 'Ol round eyes twice!

  25. Great blog, thank you. I've been drowning in it gleefully for days. I had no idea they'd changed the beating heart bride so many times, and I don't know how I feel about that Constance edition. She looks interesting enough, but as far as I can see, she seems to lack the same haunting, dark, eerie mystery as the others. She, along with the portraits in the hall that changed from, say, a beautiful young woman to old, decaying wraith are the two most vivid memories of my visit, oh so long ago. Now, about my visit, I have an inquiry. I don't know if my mind is forcing a different view because of my age at the time, or my memory has become warped with visual disorientation, but when I visited the Haunted Mansion for the first time back when I was around, oh, 8 or 9 or so (this was most likely in the mid-80's), I remember seeing the the bride. I don't recall what happened before that in the ride, but I do remember that suddenly seeing the bride, standing cold, haunting, desperate and lonely was very striking, and the sound of the heartbeat, the only noise after a loud ride, was strikingly unnerving. My question, though, is that every time I recall that vision, I seem to see the bride as a doll. Am I right to assume that all the figures above are life-sized? If that's the case, I'm confused as to why my memory is serving up this odd image of a doll-sized bride, with the glowing heart pulsating under her gown. Every time I describe her, it's "Then there was this creepy little doll in a wedding dress, with a glowing heart..." etc. Was there any time in the history where she was tiny? Or IS she tiny? Or, perhaps, she broke down and they put a maquette in her place? I'm rather confused. Thank you for the

    1. It sounds like you're conflating two figures, the attic bride and "Little Leota" (as she's called). As you are exiting the ride, you ascend a speed ramp (like an escalator without steps) and pass a small tableau with a miniature lady who urges you to "hurry back." She's not actually a bride, but she looks a little like one, so many people assumed (pre-Connie) that she was the attic bride making a second appearance in miniature. Her face is created the same way as Madame Leota (and in fact it is the same face), so she's been dubbed "Little Leota." Here are some pix:

    2. THAT is what I remember. It makes so much more sense now, thank you. I now recall the difference of the two. The miniature figure struck my memory more than the life-sized, for some reason, so she's always the first to drift up to my mind. Much appreciated.