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.


Friday, October 22, 2010

Father of the Haunted Mansion, Part Two

Let's rejoin our party in their cart-like platform below the first room of Ken Anderson's Ghost House.  (Woo-hoo, I love that sentence; go back and read it again.  I'll wait right here.)  And let's unload the guests so that we can continue as a walking tour, since all of Anderson's materials from this point follow that format.  Incidentally, even in this area Anderson foreshadows the real thing.  He was pretty sure the whole thing would need to be a ride, but until he worked out exactly how, he apparently fell back on the walk-thru format as the default method of presentation.  The same thing happened ten years later.  The HM Imagineers knew the attraction would need to be a ride, but until they could come up with a satisfactory conveyance, they continued to pretend it was a walk-thru, again, it seems, by default.  It was the Omnimover system, in late 1967, that finally drove the stake through the heart of the walk-thru option.  (Ick, I don't love that sentence.  Move along here, folks, nothing to see...)

The group passes down a hallway featuring locked doors (suggesting rooms "too dangerous to enter") and portraits with eyes that follow you as you pass by.  That, of course, has been a haunted house clich√© for a very long time:

(Quiver magazine, vol. 32, 1897.  Hat tip to Craig Conley)

You end up in a library, where you encounter more portraits.  These change before your eyes.  Anderson describes several, but two are especially interesting:  "a maiden aunt with an austere face will coyly wink" and "a portrait of a gay blade will disintegrate a la Dorian Gray."

Okay, next we move...

Whoa! HEY...whoa, slow down! TIME OUT...
The board is lighting up like a freakin' Christmas tree.  Back up.

Oh all right, I suppose we should get caught up before we move forward any further.  That "portrait gallery" hallway is obviously similar to the first hallway after boarding the doombuggies in the WDW Mansion, which was home to the "Sinister 11" eyes-follow-you portraits until 2007:

The locked doors, "too dangerous to enter," recall not the portrait hallway but the Corridor of Doors that comes up a little later.  Curiously enough, however, the two hallways are linked to each other, especially in the DL Mansion.  The "demonized door" design used in the CoD. . .

 . . . is found in only one other place in the DL Mansion.  You guessed it.

So the combination of scary locked doors and changing portraits in Anderson's single hallway is not identical to the real thing, but then again, the real thing does seem to link together the two kinds of hallways architecturally.  Of course, this may be coincidental.

Oh, incidentally, when Anderson started working on the Ghost House, he had just finished with his labors on the original Sleeping Beauty Castle walk-thru diorama.  Here he is in a seldom-seen photo alongside Claude Coats, giving a demonstration to Walt, while Fred Joerger looks on.  "There were giants in those days..."

"Uh, fellas?  Maybe it would work better if there were, you know, batteries in that thing?"

Anyway, I wonder if his artwork for the "Meet Maleficent's Demons" peep-hole wall in the diorama might give us a teensy-weensy inkling as to what kind of images ran through Anderson's mind when he spoke of "locked doors, too dangerous to enter."

This won't be the last time we glance over our shoulders at the Sleeping Beauty walk-thru as we wend our way through the Mansion.  But enough of that.  Some of Anderson's effects sound like they were incorporated into the eventual Mansion intact, like the eyes-follow-you portrait hall and the "Dorian Gray-like" painting (which is the way the "Master Gracey" portrait was actually described, you know).

In other cases what Anderson describes sounds like it was broken into pieces and the parts re-used
in the service of other gags, like the austere-faced maiden aunt who gives us a coy wink.

Speculative?  Yes.  But suspiciously Andersonian, just the same.

And there's much more to come, Forgottenistas, so stay tuned for part three.


  1. "There were giants in those days..." There were indeed. I think a small group of Imagineers back in the day probably could get more done in a year than all of the present WDI people could in 5. Oh wait, they did. I believe it's called Disneyland.

  2. Yeah, it was a sort of perfect storm, when the incredible talent of that generation was able to operate in an environment of relative bureaucratic freedom and relatively modest cost. I remember reading a Rolly Crump comment somewhere (I think it was he) to the effect that one time, when something needed to be installed in the HM, he just grabbed a wrench and went in and did it himself. Compared to today, WED had just a handful of full-time employees back then, because everybody did everything, and you didn't have to worry so much about an army of OSHA inspectors, permits stacked inches thick, and unforgiving union regulations. You assumed that people would use common sense, and left it at that. I wonder how much more some of today's top Imagineers could do in such an environment? The HM cost $7 million. Even adjusting for 1969 dollars, what would be the comparative cost today?