(The post was extensively rewritten in October, 2019 and May-June, 2020.)
Disneyland Goes Black
Sometime in the late 1970's, but before the end of 1979, the face of the original Corpse Bride at Disneyland was changed. This was the new look: a blackened face with hollow, round eyes.
I now think (2019) it will be most helpful to refer to this version as
the "black faced bride." It looks like her entire head was changed:
How different did she look? Here are a couple of side-by-side comparisons to help you imagine:
When the black faced bride debuted, it was 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 the post is a Disneyland photo. 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:
Disneyland Turns Blue
In September of 1995 (many sources erroneously date this to the 80's), the Imagineers decided to beef up the attic scene (unnecessarily, in my book). They put in a phantom piano player plunking out a distorted wedding march and made the pop-up ghosts stop their screeching and start yelling "I do" in a mocking sort of way. They replaced the bride's black head with a blue one. It looks kinda green in this photo, but in others it is more clearly a pale blue.
The idea, I guess, was to give the bride more of a personality.
This widely-reproduced photograph makes her look kind of sweet.
Maybe too sweet. Here's another shot in which she looks a little tougher:
Pulling her veil down over her face somehow made her look scarier. These shots by professional photogs make it easy to compare "black face" with "blue face." With the veil, I'll grant that blue looks creepy, but still not as creepy as black.
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 now gone; she's threatening and definitely not forlorn; plus she's something that no other version of the bride has ever been: comic. People definitely take sides over Constance. You like her or you don't. Me, I dislike having a full-blown storyline foisted on me, excluding me from the imaginative process and making me a spectator only. That makes it boring. And that's without even considering how well the character fits into its context (meh) or how well the effect is executed (double meh). We'll talk more about Constance in an upcoming post.
I would vote to bring back Beating Heart in a heartbeat.
Meanwhile in Orlando
UPDATED June 2020: As best we can piece together the clues, the Orlando story goes like this: The bride started out as a milder version of the Corpse Bride, but with slit-like eyes. They must not have liked it, because that version lasted only about two years. In 1973 (as best we can tell), they opened her eyes (almost made them round) and eliminated the Corpse Bride look in favor of the dark-faced version, several years earlier than Disneyland's bride. At least in photos, the black-faced version looks not so much black as very dark blue, as in these Kenneth Sundberg shots from '89 and '90. They played around with the veil and the bouquet quite a bit in Orlando as well.
This widely-reproduced pic is undated, but she looks a lot like the '89 model above, except veiled.
The real revolution came in 1997, when she got her pale blue face. Unlike DL's blue-faced version, the Florida bride also got a wild hairdo, and she was finally elevated off the floor like Anaheim's bride, giving her a floating effect. Fans were installed to billow out her dress and hair.
Speaking of fans, a lot of Orlando Mansion freaks didn't really like this version ("the smurf bride"), preferring the spookier Disneyland version. The Imagineers were continually tinkering with her face, and unfortunately the figure frequently fell into disrepair (a big problem at WDW in those days). Here she is in 1997 or 1998; in 2001 (+ or - a year); and in 2006.
(pix by Allen Huffmann and Mick2005)
"Smurfette" is probably a little unfair. Some people who were there tell me she
actually looked pretty good, at least at first, and some photos bear this judgment out:
actually looked pretty good, at least at first, and some photos bear this judgment out:
Here's a killer recreation by Brandon Hardy:
But just as was the case at DL, the blue-faced bride tends to look less threatening than forlorn (yes, I realize I'm overusing that word). Oddly enough, with the popup ghosts, WDW did the opposite of DL. Whereas the Ahaheim spooks were dressed the same as always but now shouted "I do," like groomsmen, in Florida they were dressed as groomsmen, but they screamed and screeched the same as always. For some reason Orlando was spared the "I do's."
Next up, Constance Hatchaway.
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.ReplyDelete
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...ReplyDelete
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?ReplyDelete
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:ReplyDelete
I wonder why they changed her hair for about a year or two until 2006...
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...ReplyDelete
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.ReplyDelete
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...
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.ReplyDelete
WHOA! I had no idea DL got the Corpse Bride too. She's freaky.ReplyDelete
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.ReplyDelete
Me luffles all the brides except the smurf chick.ReplyDelete
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. :)ReplyDelete
I remember seeing the Beating Heart Bride back in 2005 when i was a teen in Magic Kingdom. i liked the character as i saw her as a tragic and downhearted woman that was misunderstood. But still hope we can see her return in some way. :)Delete
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!ReplyDelete
I personally hate the bride named Constance. Give me the old beating heart bride any day!ReplyDelete
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.
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.ReplyDelete
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.
I haven't been to WDW since 2006, so I haven't seen Constance. I'm sure the effects are quite impressive.ReplyDelete
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?
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.ReplyDelete
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.ReplyDelete
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.Delete
"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."ReplyDelete
The Smurf bride! LOL! I always thought of her as the Blue Bramah (Hinu) bride, but Smurfette is great!
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.ReplyDelete
That would be an example of fan fiction, which is fine, but her only official title for all those years was "Beating Heart."Delete
So many fan names for the pre-Connie bride, but I've not heard of Prudence. Priscilla was the name in the Gore story, and Emily is the one on the Ghost Gallery website, but I've never heard of Prudence in conjunction with the bride.Delete
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.ReplyDelete
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.
Random question: do you know the height of the bride? (or of the ghost host hanging from the rafters?)ReplyDelete
I'd sat probably 5ft but she just looks taller because you are sitting while looking at her.Delete
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.ReplyDelete
I think you're right that anonymity would improve her, so yes, what you describe sounds better to me.Delete
I'm so torn about the brides. Like, on the one hand, the pre-Connie ones scared me as a child, but in terms of atmosphere, their anonymity and subtlety are more befitting the story the attic wants to tell than Connie, who just hits you in the face with her story. I think that Connie would have been better if they would have made hers be a full story of resolution with the husbands getting some sort of revenge, instead of just this limbo with no resolution at all.Delete
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!ReplyDelete
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 theReplyDelete
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:Delete
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.Delete
Video from Disneyland's 35th anniversary special with Woody from Cheers recalling a trip to the mansion. Includes a close up of Ol' Round Eyes, as well as a cast member in the suit of armor gag that was short lasted.ReplyDelete
That isn't a cast member. By 1990 that gag had been gone for years.Delete
I do think it is. Remember, although the movie is from 1990, this is supposed to be a flashback…Delete
"…plus she's something that no other version of the attic bride has ever been: comic." I beg your pardon ??? When you think about it afterwards, the twisted marital vows can make you chuckle, but when you're riding, in my opinion, Constance is much too creepy to ever make anyone laugh, with her hissing, unnatural voice and that awfully disturbing sound she makes when the hatchet appears. And I'm not the only one in this case, if Internet is to be believed. If anything, I think Constance is too scary compared to most other Haunted Mansion ghosts… certainly not too funny.ReplyDelete
Sorry, she's very much a comic character. It's grim and grisly "black" humor, but humor just the same. Her statements are all macabre puns and merrily morbid parodies of lines from the traditional wedding vows. "Comic" does not necessarily mean light-hearted or knee-slapping hilarious.Delete
Hi! Love the blog. Just wanted to tell you that the WDW photo from 1976 might be misdated. My father rode the WDW Mansion in 1978. He told me he remembers that the attic bride "looked like a skeleton." I showed him the artist renderings from the previous post and he said that that was what she looked like. Just thought you may find that interesting.ReplyDelete
Also, does anyone know if the Tokyo bride has gone through all of these changes like the U.S. counterparts have, or has she always looked like Disneyland's second middle bride?ReplyDelete
The Tokyo bride has always looked like some sort of version of the middle bride. In recent years she was revamped to look a lot more like the DL middle bride, except with a bigger smile.Delete
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FqR0ieyUnxg 6:03 round eyesReplyDelete
A great article comparing the various brides. The new Constance bride is a joke. I'm not sure what the Disney Imagineers are smoking nowadays.ReplyDelete
With Disneyland, the 2nd middle bride (2000-2006) was the one I will always remember because she was the one who I saw when I first rode the HM. I had a personal theory that she was Medusa from the Portrait Corridor. Her yellow eyes looked snake-like and the veil-covered face was what made he look beautiful until it was removed.ReplyDelete
im obsessed with constanceReplyDelete
The corpse bride had the coolest design by far. 'Tis a pity that they softened her down more and more over the decades until any surviving shreds of creepiness were destroyed for good by Constance. Constance, by the way and in my humble opinion, is unbelievably cheesy and along with the piano music doesn't fit the pacing of the attic room at all.ReplyDelete
I have always loved the Beating Heart Bride. To me she's a tragic and downhearted misunderstood woman that wants to help you. And i don't think her heart is creepy, but a heart that has an undying love that kept on beating forever for her man.truthfully i like her heart better than that of Davy Jones. In fact i will rather have her instead of the Black Widow Bride Constance Hatchaway.ReplyDelete
But! She is one of my favorite Disney characters along with Jack Sparrow, Goliath (from Gargoyles),uncle ford (gravity falls), Hiro Hamada, Tron, Jim & Capt Silver & capt Amelia (Treasure Planet) and Maui.
Thanks for these. I was born in 1981, and have some very vivid childhood memories of round eyes/no face terrifying the living daylights out of me.ReplyDelete
I saw Constance but I saw images of the old bride and I already miss her Disney bring her backReplyDelete
I'm going through rereading all of your blog lately. Thank you so much for all the updates. Rereading this post reminded me of how terrified me and my siblings were of the bride when we were kids. We would literally argue about who had to get into the buggy first because no one wanted to be on the bride side of the vehicle. She was absolutely terrifying to me, the type of thing I'd see in my nightmares. I was scared in that room that if I took my eyes off her and looked again she would be right next to the cart ready to grab me. Constance is neat technology, but ruined the creepy vibe of that whole scene. Anyway, thank you for all the work you're putting into these updates!ReplyDelete
You're welcome. It feels good to finally have time to spruce the place up!Delete
I with you on the subject of the bride. There's nothing about Constance I like, we're told she's a Black Widow Bride, who's killed 5 husbands. BHB was a mystery, I always felt she was a forlorn character, who died on her wedding day. Like all the other ghosts in the mansion, it was up to the rider to decide who they were and what their back story was.ReplyDelete
Clearly these modern imagineers don't belive that 'less is more'.
I have only been to the Disney World version of the Haunted Mansion. I visited Disney World in the early 1990s as a kid and in 2006 (I think, I remember at the time that Pirates of the Caribbean ride was being refurbished). I remember the black face bride clearly in the 1990s. My brother and I rode the Haunted Mansion ride every time we walked past it. I didn't know the attic bride was a bride. The black face bride appeared to me to be wearing a hood, although it could have been an illusion with the way the dress and veil were arranged. I don't remember the blue face bride since I was there before the ride was refurbished. It could be that time around we only went on the ride once. What if the Disney World ride made an addition after you get off the ride, and in a darkened room put a Beating Heart Bride with the Hat Box Ghost along with some heads coming out of hatboxes. Does that sound like a good idea to anyone? It probably won't happen though.ReplyDelete