The back half of the queue area for the Disneyland Haunted Mansion has a long and mostly sad history. Today it looks like this:
That last one from Daveland has some magic in it, so stay tuned. (A big tip o' the hat to Dave.)
With all the greenery around, especially the berm, and with that handsome building right before you, it's not exactly unattractive, but it's not terribly interesting either, unless you're a fan of cattle chutes. Before you enter this section, you have the genuinely lovely front yard, and under the category of "themed queue," you've got the pet cemetery, which appeared in 1993, and you've got the hearse with the ghostly horse harness (1995). I'm not keen on either of those myself, but at least there are things for guests to look at while they're in line out there, and we're told that those items are popular, so I'm resigned to their presence. Once you head into this back section, however, things get a little thinner. All you're given in the way of theming is a set of hilarious crypt epitaphs in the corner, including thigh-slappers like U. R. GONE and I. L. BEBACK, and who can forget G. I. MISSYOU? Maybe they should have ROTFLMAO too.
There are relatively few photographs of the original cemetery. Here's a montage to whet your appetite.
And it's on film too! Not that it really matters, since, you know, headstones don't really move around all that much (at least until you're on the ride). But yes, you can get a glimpse of the old graveyard in the famous 1970 Osmonds Disneyland Showtime episode, which featuring the HM.
As it happens, one of the extant photos of the family plot was taken from exactly the same spot as the Daveland photo above. Not only that, but this 2004 photo by Allen Huffmann at DisneyFans...
...was taken from almost the same spot as a publicity shot of the Osmonds in the old cemetery, one of several pubbies released to the papers before their March 1970 TV program...
As many of you know, the epitaphs were composed by show writer X. Atencio as wry tributes to various Imagineers who worked on the Haunted Mansion. Here are the original Disneyland eight, left to right in the layout above, with the Imagineer thus honored:
The WDW set was probably created at the same time, but it is not identical to the DL set. Orlando has only five of the DL eight, leaving out Cousin Victor, Phineas Pock, and Rolo Rumkin. But they added several more:
RIP Good friend Gordon
Now you've crossed the river Jordan
Here lies a man named Martin
The lights went out on this old Spartan
Rest in peace, Cousin Huet
We all know you didn't do it
RIP In memorium [sic], Uncle Myall
Here you'll lie for quite a while
Here lies good old Fred
A great big rock fell on his head
RIP Mr. Sewell
The victim of a dirty duel
Dear departed Brother Dave
He chased a bear into a cave
In 2002 a new animated tombstone was added at WDW:
Dear sweet Leota, beloved by all
In regions beyond now, but having a ball
The Imagineers being honored in these WDW epitaphs are treated in a series of blogs at 2719 Hyperion, including further details on the DL Imagineers if you're interested. I'm too lazy to duplicate all that info here, and we've got other ground to cover.
You hear these epitaphs described as "witty" and even "frightfully funny," an example of Boot Hill-type gallows humor ("Here lies Lester Moore. Four slugs from a .44. No Les. No Moore."). Okay, many of them are, but let's face it: in others the whimsy is so subtle as to be practically non-existent. "In memory of our patriarch, dear departed Grandpa Marc." "Master Gracey laid to rest, no mourning please at his request." I have to stop here as my laughter becomes uncontrollable at this point. No, really, if there's humor in there, it's so dry that even an Englishman might miss it. Don't get me wrong; I love it. It's the comedic equivalent of watching someone trying to see how slowly he can ride a bike without falling over.
Sometime in the 1970's they decided that they needed more room for queueing, and the graveyard was doomed. X. wanted to award the stones to the Imagineers to whom they paid tribute, and so they ordered up a fresh batch of headstones for installation up on the berm. As it turns out, the only guy who took his tombstone home (as far as we know) was X. himself. It's still sitting in his backyard today. Marc's sat by his desk for a time, until he finally couldn't stand having his own tombstone staring at him while he was trying to work, and he got rid of it. Rolly's stone ended up inside the ride, in the graveyard scene, not far from the singing bust that also goes by the name of Rollo Rumkin [sic]. Wathel Rogers' original stone went onto the berm. Alas, the fates of the others are unknown.
Since "Phineas Pock" was not a tribute to anyone, it was immediately available to join the newly-ordered stones up on the berm, along with Wathel R. Bender. Exactly where these two were located or how long they were there, I don't know, but they were close together, toward the top of the ridge.
"Phineas Pock" may have originally been the name they were going to give to the Ghost Host. Reportedly, there's a blueprint around of an unused WDW tombstone reading "Phineas Pock, Lord and Master." Be that as it may, they got a lot of mileage out of the name. One of the singing busts is "Phineas P. Pock." It's on the blueprints and on the leaders for the film strips they used to use for the effect, so that one is as official as it can possibly be.
The purported author of the popular old souvenir booklet, Magic from the Haunted Mansion, is a certain "Phineas J. Pock."
And then there's the "Phineas Pock" who died in 1720 and starred in a radio ad when the Mansion first opened in 1969:
Phineas Pock Radio Ad
In the spring of 2011, up popped a Phineas stone in the expanded graveyard at WDW:
For the sake of completeness, I suppose I should mention that one of the wretched new crypts in the WDW queue is for "Prudence Pock."
No doubt some people associate Mr. Pock with the rotund hitchhiker, who is also known as "Phineas," but that name actually originated with a cast member who probably was influenced by the plethora of Pocks already there. If you want to try to sort out this peck of Pocks, feel free. It's just a funny name.
Back to the berm. The berm graveyard was there until 2000, when it was removed for unknown reasons. During the HMH overlay the hillside is covered in jack o' lanterns, but the berm graveyard was removed a full year before the first HMH, so Jack Skellington cannot be blamed for its elimination. Too bad. Here's a photoshopped montage created from several photos:
The berm set included some of the WDW headstones for the first time at DL, plus some new versions of a couple from the old queue graveyard set. "Good Old Fred" made his Anaheim debut at this time. Oddly, none of the berm stones was an exact replica, and several had differences in the texts. "Master Gracey" was now "Mister West," "Francis Xavier" was now "Chauncey Xavier," "Cousin Huet" was now "Old Cousin Huett," "Brother Claude" was now "Brother Dodd," and "Good Friend Gordon" was now "Good Friend Borden." Some of these alterations were for the purpose of transforming the old stones into tributes to new Imagineers.
There is a great deal of logical continuity to the mass of data presented to you with the HM. It's hard to know how much of it is deliberate, how much is dumb luck, how much is the Imagineering team's artistic instincts firing on all cylinders, and how much is the Haunted Mansion Muse, overseeing the project at all times and eliminating patent absurdities as they arise. The two human graveyards are a good example (there are two pet cemeteries too).
In your imagination, the queue graveyard—in either its ground level or its berm incarnations—was not to be confused with the graveyard scene that provides the ride's climax. That graveyard is a very old public cemetery, next to which the Mansion was built sometime during the 19th c. It's "out back" in some vague sense, behind the berm and the trees, not visible from the front. The Caretaker is not connected with the HM but is a public employee, caring for that old municipal cemetery. That's why you go through that big iron gate to get into it, and that's why Collin Campbell put a sign on the gatepost in his painting of it.
The headstones back there are uniformly in the style of 16th-18th century New England grave markers, and many of them are dated accordingly. They're much older than the house, in other words.
In contrast, the boneyard out front is, as I've already called it several times, the family plot, the private family burial grounds. That explains the relatively modern (i.e., 19th c.) tombstone designs, and that explains the familial terminology: "Grandpa," "Brother," "Cousin." How carefully all of this was thought out—like I say, I can't tell. But the coherence in details like this, even when it isn't strictly necessary, is one of the things that embolden me to reach for the word "art" without embarrassment. There is an unexpected imaginative unity in the whole presentation.