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: Imagineering a Disney Classic (NY: Disney Editions; 2015). That's the
re-named third edition of The Haunted Mansion: From the Magic Kingdom to the Movies (NY:
Disney Editions, 2003; 2nd ed. 2009). Also essential reading is Jeff Baham's The Unauthorized
Story of Walt Disney's Haunted Mansion (USA: Theme Park Press, 2014; 2nd ed. 2016).

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.


Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Here Comes the Bride, Part Two: "Beating Heart"

(This post was extensively rewritten Oct 23, 2019.)

That was her name, or title, I suppose you'd say.  "Beating Heart."  It's on all the blueprints and on the schematics for the figure herself, but somehow it never made its way into public usage. As we saw in the previous post, the title was originally attached to the Moving-Lights ghost, who had picked up several features from an earlier ghost.

In our last exciting episode, we traced BH's roots from the Brown Lady of Raynham Hall to the red-hearted candle bearer in the attic.  The project had proceeded to scale model phase, and still the attic ghostette wasn't clearly recognizable as a bride.  This final touch to the character was probably added late in 1968. The script for the "Story and Song" album refers to her as a bride, and this script in turn closely follows a '68 show script by X. Atencio.  Whose idea was it to turn this ghost into a bride, anyway?

Ken Anderson makes a modest contribution, early in the process.  He wrote four show scripts in 1957-58 (essentially four; some of them have alternate ideas already included in them).  The first script in particular (Feb '57) is often cited as the beginning of our attic bride.  In it, Beauregard the butler directs our attention to a painting and tells the sad story of Captain Bartholomew Gore (aka Gideon Gorelieu) and his young bride Priscilla.

When Priscilla discovers the horrible truth that her husband is, in fact, a bloodthirsty pirate, he kills her.  Her ghost comes back for vengeance and eventually drives Capt. Gore to suicide.  Now the place is haunted.  Bingo, haunted house.

Okay, that seems clear.  A tragic bride haunting the house, looking for revenge.  Case closed.  They just borrowed an old Ken Anderson idea.  Well, not so fast.  First of all, there's nothing associating Priscilla with the attic, and more importantly, she's a "bride" by definition b, not definition a.  A bride is a woman soon to be wed or recently wed.  The former wears a bridal gown; the latter wears a purple dress (or jeans, or whatevv), like our poor Priscilla.  Aside from the bare fact that she exists not too far distant in time from her wedding day, Pris really has nothing in common with the familiar attic bride of the finished ride.

Which one is naughty and which one is nice?  I'm not telling.

Anderson's other three scripts don't get us any closer to the attic bride.  Two of them do organize the present day's ghostly activities around a wedding feast.  In one, "Monsieur Bogeyman" is planning to marry "Mlle. Vampire," and all kinds of famous spooks and monsters are showing up (Dracula, Frankenstein, etc.).  She jilts him at the altar, and things get ugly.  (Truth be told, I'm very thankful that one ended up on the cutting room floor.)  In another, the narrator guides you through the house toward a wedding reception.  It seems the ghosts of the luckless Blood family have been trying to complete the tragically-interrupted marriage plans of one of their daughters, and sure enough, you do eventually see a ghostly wedding banquet of sorts taking place.

Anderson can be credited with the notion that a wedding gone awry would make a good basis for a haunted house, and notice that in that last scenario, an actual ghost bride would have been represented. This might be a good place to ask the question: "Do we ever encounter a ghost bride in popular (or unpopular) culture before now?" Somehow she feels familiar, or at least not odd, but examples of ghost brides are hard to find. Hard, but not impossible:

From Judy, Or The London Serio-Comic Journal, 1876. Hat tip Craig Conley

Doombuggies found another example.

Okay, so when do we get to see a ghost bride in Haunted Mansion artwork? Well, we left off at 1968 in the
previous post, but we are going to need to back up, because Mare Davis did a sketch of a ghost bride in 1964.

MDIHOW (342)

The Haunted Mansion project was put on ice for the remainder of 1964 and 1965, while the New York World's Fair consumed everyone's attention. When it was over, the Pirates ride sucked a lot of the oxygen out of the room. It really wasn't until 1968 that Marc returned to the HM in earnest. At that time he did more bride sketches:

MDIHOW (397)

It's possible that this Davis sketch of a ghost bride on a stairway landing was done about this time.


Obviously, Davis liked the ghost bride idea, and we may speculate that one day the light bulb clicked on, and he realized that his weird "Beating Heart" ghostette could be conflated yet again with a different ghost, this time the bride.

At last our elusive ghost has donned a wedding gown.

One final decision remained, however. It was decided at some point that the bride should have a corpse-like face. It used to be thought that Marc's "changing portrait" showing a forlorn bride turning into a corpse belongs here, but it has been plausibly explained that this isn't a changing portrait at all but an effects concept showing how the attic bride could be transformed from one stage to the other (presumably through projections of some sort). Since there is no trace here of Moving-Lights (no beating heart, no bubbling weirdness), my guess is that it pre-dates Marc's decision to merge the ghost bride with Beating Heart. See the Comments.

The ghost we finally got was actually a combination of three different characters:
Anderson's candle-holder, Davis's Moving-Lights ghost, and a "corpse bride."

They put Beating Heart in exactly the spot occupied by the maquette figure in the scale model; that is, on the left side, and a little ways to the left of the spot where today there is a ghostly piano (I'm talking DL, of course).  For you young'uns with short memories, her heart glowed red and visibly pumped back and forth, while the sound filled the attic:  Lub dub.  Lub dub.

That's where BH was on opening day, and that's where I remember seeing her on August 14th. Some new information that came to light a few years ago reveals that a large plastic sheet (called "nylon 6") was in front of her, stretching from post to post and floor to ceiling, probably with the intent of making her appear fuzzier. That too jibes with my memory. I remember her slowly rocking back and forth in an area that reminded me of a door frame, and yeah, she was definitely murky.

She was there less than a month.  When the (infamous) Hatbox Ghost, which was located near the exit on the right, failed to perform as hoped and was removed, BH was transplanted to his old spot.  There she remained from August or September 1969 until May 2006, when she jumped the track to the other side and became Constance, that zany hubby-whackin' axe murderer.

What did that original "Beating Heart" bride look like?  Her body was essentially that of the Moving-Lights ghost in a wedding dress, and it remained so right up until she was replaced by Constance. Many of you may never have seen the Moving-Lights body in action. It's very clear in this video:

But her face in the beginning bore a strong resemblance to the corpse phase of the Marc Davis "changing portrait" above, and for that reason this first version of the bride has picked up the name "Corpse Bride." For the Disneyland original, we have a number of good photos of the figure, from pre-opening photos of the figure before installation, down to 1975. Here's a montage:

We also catch a fleeting glimpse of her in the background of a scene from the March 1970 Disneyland Showtime episode, which featured the Osmond brothers and showcased the new Haunted Mansion.  The program was filmed in January or February of that year, so we're mere months past opening day.  Here's what happens if we blur and fade one of the above photos and put it alongside the Osmonds bride (which is on the right)

However, even that is not the oldest photography of the original bride in the attic. One day in June of 2011, Disney fan and historian Todd J. Pierce was going through a box of old home movies and photos he had acquired, and there he found a small reel dated August 1969.  To his astonishment, this one-minute film featured a rare glimpse of the Hat Box Ghost, as well as about three seconds of murky footage of the bride, to date the only known photography of the original bride in her original position.  An edited version of the film was posted at the Disney History Institute and eventually Youtube. Not much of the bride is visible, but you can see the red heart, beating back and forth, the tip of her glowing candle, and a number of large white smears and smudges.  Occasional details like her hair are visible only in a frame or two here and there.  Here's a GIF with a picture of the Corpse Bride superimposed on a composite of various stills from the film. The fit is exact.

The eyes of the Corpse Bride were never very bright, so they don't show up except very dimly in one frame:

Exactly when the Corpse Bride was replaced is not known, neither for DL, nor for her twin at WDW.  At DL she was
definitely still there toward the end of 1975 but gone by 1979. Her Florida cousin likely disappeared around the same time.

Speaking of WDW, unlike the situation with regard to Anaheim, photos of the original WDW bride are extremely rare. One surfaced in February of 2013 and showed up at the irreplaceable Daveland site. It's the Corpse Bride, all right, but it looks like her face in Orlando was never painted with the same amount of detail as the DL version, especially in the lower part of the face.

 Remarkably, there exists also a film clip of the original WDW bride from 1976:

"Long-Forgotten" threadster Michigan Guy has put together an artist's conception of what the Disneyland
original looked like, and based on available evidence I'd say it's pretty accurate.  Kids, hide your eyes!

Okay, fine.  Not my fault if you have nightmares.  Where are your parents?


Before we bring this episode to a close, I suppose that something needs to be said about
the photo below. It's sorta well-known, and it's often presented as the original 1969 bride.

There are enough idiosyncrasies about it that at least one intelligent observer has argued that it is a pre-opening prototype and not a production figure.  The most glaring problem is the slit-like eyes.  No other bride photo shows anything like that.  Highly suspect.

In fairness, those eyes might be a conservative hold-over from the design you see in the maquette figure, which also has slittish eyes:

Not only that, but as it happens the mechanical design of the lighted eyes would allow for any amount of manipulation of their shape.  You just mask the WALL -E eye box in her head (well, that's what it reminds me of) in any way you think appropriate and get any shape eye you want.

So yeah, I suppose it's theoretically possible that the slit-eyed bride was there as a short-lived experiment, but it's extremely unlikely that she was the original.  Like the round-eyed, dark-faced version that eventually replaced the Corpse Bride (seen above on the left), the slit-eye version has very bright eyes. They would certainly have been visible in the August '69 film footage if she were standing there, but the eyes are only visible in one frame, and even then just barely. I'm pretty sure the mystery photo is either a picture of the second version of Beating Heart (with the eyes narrowed), or it's a prototype.

Next up:  The Black Face Bride


  1. I'd bring back old Beatin' Heart, Hatty, and some blast-up heads and move the wedding pictures to the Corridor of Doors. I'd also lose the piano.

    1. But you need the piano in order for it to churn out the melancholy version of "Here Comes the Bride" overlaying the main central "Grim Grinning Ghosts (The Screaming Song)" theme used throughout the ride from Stretching Room to Graveyard.

  2. Very good post, as usual, and great visual accompaniments....thank you!

    I can see making a compromise, actually, since they want new tech these days at Disneyland. Keep her a projection, but make her silent and put the veil back over face, just glowering at guests. Without the really fake arm movement projection, she might not look half bad. I think can keep the piano tune, actually, but re-install the pop-up heads and their shrieks over the discordant music, and you'd have quite a nice bit of atmosphere to the scene.

  3. As much as I am amused by "Constance", I'd love the return of the original beating heart bride.

  4. You know, I look forward to the new Haunted Mansion movie. I hope more than anything that it will be good, and that it won't force too much of a story on existing characters in the Mansion.

    But what really interests me about the movie is that Del Toro said it will largely focus on Hat Box Ghost, and there are rumors that the HBG might return to the HM. At this point, I think it's wishful thinking by fans, but you never know, perhaps we could see HBG return to the Mansion, which would really bring the attic back closer to the original, and perhaps, at the very least a bit of a touch up on the tech on Constance, if not a bit of a change.

  5. As a 6 year old kid, there was nothing more disturbing, confusing and frightening in the whole mansion than round eyes beating heart bride.(1981?)

  6. Good. Yeah, if that date holds, we've got 1981 as the latest possible date that Roundy debuted.

  7. Does anyone know if the attic swirling bats were ever part of WDW's attic scene? I've ridden the ride prior to the Constance make-over and I don't recall seeing the attic bats. I know Disneyland had the attic bats. What year were the attic flying bats removed?

    I personally don't care for the grisly Constance comic whacho murder style and don't think the scene fits the rest of the ride. I hope both Disneyland and Disney World will return to one of the glowing brides. It seems the 2003 Haunted Mansion movie with Eddy Murphy brought on the attic changes or perhaps the Phantom Manor of Paris. Thanks for all the wonderful photos of the ATTIC BRIDES here in Long-Forgotten. I hope the ATTIC BATS question finds a suitable answer from anyone who reads my comments here.



  8. The bats were definitely there at WDW, just as they were at DL. In both cases they were there from opening day until Constance moved in.

  9. Thanks for the info on the bats. I don't know how I missed seeing them at WDW. Do you have any photos of the attic bats either at WDW or DL?
    I love would to see some photos of them as with the brides? I wonder what who made the decision to add Constance? People seem to like that or not like that. I'm one for bringing back the older brides and pop up ghosts and the bats.

  10. There's a photo of the WDW bats in this post:

    Here's another:

  11. The "slit eye" bride was in WDW for a while in the mid to late 80's I remember seeing it there as a kid

  12. I remember going to disneyland on 2004, and seeing a no-face eyes only bride with really bright eyes and a veil covering her face. I remember her clearly because of two reasons: One being I was used to the uncovered face bride and second because I believe the next year or 2006 got constance and a whole new attic. I really miss the pop-up ghosts, they were really creepy in the attic, unlike the graveyard ones.

    1. I thought I was the only one and that I was going crazy! Does anybody know how long she was there to replace the uncovered face bride and why ?

  13. In 2012, I went to the Disney Archives special exhibit at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. They had some great theme park pieces, including an attic bride. You can see it at 2:38 in this video:

    I'm thinking its this first version of the bride (maybe from WDW because of the unpainted face), but I can't remember what the placard said. If the eyes glowed on this model, that effect didn't seem to be running. Perhaps someone else will be able to identify it more clearly.

    1. I saw it too. It's the WDW "middle bride," dubbed "the smurf bride" by her detractors. (See the next post in this series.)

    2. Ah, yes, as I was reading Part 3, I was starting to think it might actually be the smurfette, but I wouldn't have known for sure without you. Thanks, HBG2!

  14. Do you think it's possible to make a petition to bring back the beating heart bride? Surely if enough people complain, I'm sure they might consider it.

    1. One can always try, but in my experience they don't respond to petitions.

    2. True, I remember watching a documentary on the hatbox ghost. The imagineers said the only reason why they brought him back was because he had such a huge cult following even while he was absent in the mansion and they eventually gave in. Maybe it's possible to do the same for The Bride? Like a popular hashtag on Twitter or tumblr or something.

    3. The Hatbox Ghost had a following among influential WDI Imagineers. That's what made the difference, in actuality.

  15. I can't believe Constance has been there for 12 years! 12 years! Do you ever think they'll change/revamp her? I know it seems highly unlikely but one can surely hope. Im curious, If you could revamp Constance what would you change/keep about her?

    1. I don't think they can ditch her very easily, as she is represented in a lot of merchandise. I'm afraid we're stuck with her. If they ever did remove her, it would only be after she had been absent from the merchandise for a considerable period of time. What I wish they would do is (a) remake her as a real AA rather than an obvious projection, (b) silence her, (c) make her features less clear as time goes by, so that she begins to resemble earlier bride versions, and of course (d) put the red heart back in her. They'll have to retain the hatchet to go with the husband portraits, and she could still vocalize a little--maybe a chuckle or something.

    2. I wanted to add a comment onto this regarding what you mention in the post as a changing portrait concept of the bride. Based on personal knowledge on that piece of artwork, it actually is not a changing portrait concept, but it is Davis's effect design for how she would actually appear in the attraction. The scrim you mention, Nylon 6, would have served as the projection front for her normal, living look. Then when her heart would beat, she would fade to reveal the "true" look of the bride: a decaying corpse. She would then transform back to normal upon the next heartbeat, and it would simply loop from there.

  16. Wow, thanks for the info! But I don't see how the Nylon 6 screen could have worked as you describe in conjunction with a fully-dimensional figure behind it, as the synchronization obviously would not have remained stable as you moved past it, to say nothing of viewers of different heights (e.g. kids and adults), so a changing-face projection on a scrim would have ruled out a mannequin behind it. They would never have lined up. Contrariwise, projection on a mannequin (Leota effect) would have ruled out a scrim, as it would have interfered with the projection. Blueprints which I'm not at liberty to share show a Beating Heart AA behind the Nylon 6 screen, so at least by that stage the bride must have had a permanent face, and the screen could only have served to put a fog or blur in front of the figure (as indeed was the case). No changing-face projection would still have been possible by that point. This may be another case where Davis asked for an effect that Yale could not deliver (like the appearing/disappearing see-saw Royals). I imagine that in 1969 combining the Leota effect with a changing image effect would have involved a bulky double-projector and required more room than the attic affords.

    1. I would agree. Most likely Yale had a hard time delivering an effective approach to it.

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