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.


Thursday, December 30, 2010

View Masters From Outer Space (in 3D!)

I think that my favorite old photos of Disneyland are the ones you find on View-Master reels.  Through the magic of stereoscopic photography, you get a perspective that you can't get any other way.  And the older they get, the more fun it is to (re)capture that "you are there" feeling.

Stereoscopic photography uses special double-lensed cameras, thereby replicating the two images received by your two eyes and producing a pair of photos that provide a 3D image when seen through a special viewer, or even "free viewed" without any device at all if you're adept at the skill you use in order to see "magic eye" images.

This kind of photography is nothing new.  It's been around since the middle of the 19th century.

As an interesting historical note, many Abraham Lincoln photos were taken as stereographs.  There are less than 135 known photos of Lincoln, and only nine of them were marketed originally as stereographs, but many "regular" photos of him are simply the left or right side of photos shot with a stereoscopic camera.  Stereoscopes were still a bit of a novelty in the 1860's, and photographers sometimes found it more profitable to print up one side of the stereoscope and sell it as a conventional portrait.  Sometimes the stereoscopic secret was not discovered until much later, when a sharp-eyed observer noticed minute differences between photos thought to be identical, and it was discovered that they were actually right and left sides of a stereoscopic image.  The two could then be recombined and the stereo effect recovered.  Some of those lately-recovered 3D images are among Lincoln's best-known portraits!

This would obviously be appropriate content for a Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln blog, but what does it have to do with the Haunted Mansion?  Well, the same thing happened to the Mansion that happened to Lincoln.  When the HM opened in 1969, they took the extant New Orleans View-Master set (three discs, 21 pictures) and trimmed seven shots out of it so that they could devote the third reel to the HM.  Those seven pictures are the only officially released 3D images of the Disneyland Mansion.  For the WDW View-Master set, they kept six of the seven the same and simply swapped out the exterior shot for a shot of the WDW exterior.

Very nice set.  But these six interior shots were simply the ones they selected to use in the View-Master reel.  The photogs took a lot more than six!  What happened to the rejects?  Well, a lot of them were perfectly good photos, and so Disney kept them in their files and continued to use the left or the right sides for post cards, souvenir guides, magazine ads, etc.  Looking at these, I have detected small differences between identical-looking photos and recovered at least three "lost" View-Master 3D shots of the Mansion interior, all taken in 1969.

This first one I have posted before.  In this case the stereoscope is the same as one of the View-Master shots, but I think it's much better quality than the VM version (see above).  One side is from a post card, the other side from a Panavue souvenir slide.

In this next case, one side is from Gordon and O'Day, Disneyland: Then, Now, and Forever (2005: Disney Enterprises), p 124 . . .

...and the other is from a 1970 ad in Vacationland magazine.

I had to colorize one of them.  Behold, the graveyard band in 3D:

This Death Coach shot is probably my favorite 3D shot of all.  The depth of field is amazing.  Actually, I have found three similar but slightly different photos of this scene, so I suspect there's a fourth picture floating around out there somewhere, and that there were at least two stereoscopic photos taken in succession during the same shoot.

You can also cheat and create your own 3D stereoscopic photos by clever juxtaposition of consecutive (or near-consecutive) stills from video footage when the camera is slowly sweeping horizontally and the subject matter is not moving too much.  Here are a few favorites I've created in that manner.  If you are able to do the "magic eye" thing, these should be no problem, but everyone's different, and you may need to drag them to your desktop and play around with the size.  Also, some people have better luck by reversing the photos and using a "cross-eyed" method.  Me, I can't do it that way.


  1. I just love the magic-eye pictures - thank you!

    I never thought about the 3D information that is stored in moving videos; the idea is great - simple but brilliant. Going one step further, it should be possible to convert a (very steady) horizontal video movement to a 3D-video...

    Btw: How did you notice the difference between the two ghost band-pictures? I couldn't spot any.

  2. What tipped me off with the band photos was when I noticed that the shapes between the harpist's legs were not situated the same in the two photos, and especially when I noticed that the white rectangle to his right (our left), below his elbow and in the background, was clearly different in the two photos.

    You're right about the possibility of making a 3D video, but you'd have to have a long stretch of steady horizontal movement AND a subject matter that didn't move.

  3. Glad you like it. I always wonder how many readers are going to be successful in getting the 3D thing to work, "free viewing" right off the screen. Many can't seem to get it, and I suppose that makes a post like this a bit of a dud for them. Hopefully, the historical info is still of interest. For those who really want to capture the 3D effect but can't do it off the screen, they can always print the photos out and then use a device like the Stereopticon 707. With that, you will almost certainly succeed. Those devices are cheap; I think around ten bucks.

  4. Actually if I'm not mistaken there is in one of the Haunted Mansions a Stereopticon on a table in the ballroom where the dancers are.

  5. What I loved most about Viewmaster reels was that they lit up the rides more so you could see things never intended. Like the speaker in the wing chair. It was always the next best thing to a time machine. The 20k Leagues reel is outstanding.

  6. You can see the antique stereoscope in the WDW ballroom here:

  7. For the first time, I got the "magic eye" thing to work! Apparently, it helps if you're tired...

    It works if I cross my eyes ever so slightly, while at the same time relaxing them somewhat. The result is three photos in a row, with the 3-D image appearing in the center. Amazing! Very interesting discovery, Dan!

  8. There was a local company that made retro stereoscopes and cards in the mid-2000's. I picked one up and a good shwack of the images, mostly having to do with the Canadian Rocky Mountains. Stereoscopes are fun!

    Unfortunately, your "magic eye" images hurt my eyes! Usually I can do those, but for some reason it feels like yours will cause my eyes to rip out of my head ^_^

    Still, excellent detective work!

  9. Thanks. LIke I say, some people have better luck if they shrink down the size or reverse the images.

  10. All of your 3D images work great for me when viewed on the iPhone 4 "retina screen." I need to go through my Disney videos and see if I can pull out 3D shots from them. Thanks for the great article!

  11. I know there's a few Snow White View Master images of the original 1955 Scary Adventures ride that I'd like to get a hold of. But the HM pics keep me quite happy as well. Terrific post HBG2!

  12. Here's what I did, inspired by your article: 3D Disneyland photo made with one iPhone 4. Thanks for the idea!

  13. Works pretty good, doesn't it? I've actually built up a small library of homemade HM 3D's, mining Youtube videos for raw material. After you get the hang of it, you can cobble one together in just a few minutes. It's a Mansionite dream come true, actually: a vast crop of HM "Viewmasters," just waiting to be harvested.

  14. I loved the Viewmaster as a child, and never thought I could experience the same effect, easily, without any device? Are there any websites out there that collect stereoscopic images? I would love that!

    1. There's a 3D Disney group at flickr:
      They're the "cross-eye" variety. I have to reverse the images and shrink them a little before they work for me.

    2. Thanks! I'll have to check that out. Not sure about the 'cross-eye' technique - I taught myself to unfocus my eyes as a child without realizing that's what I was doing, and it was just a way to amuse myself by inducing weird double vision until I discovered I could see Magic Eye pictures without having to work at it.

      Great site, by the way. I love the more philosophical posts best - my favorite has probably been the one about the stretching portraits. Those were one of my favorite parts of the Haunted Mansion as far back as I can remember (growing up in Southern California, I got to visit Disneyland at least once a year, and twice had an annual pass). They have always provided me with a thrill at once profoundly unsettling and addictively satisfying, though I doubt I could have explained exactly why.

  15. Around 1999-2000, I bought a 3-D camcorder attachment and I took it with me on some trips to Disneyland. I shot hours of 3-D video, and posted a vew clips. The Haunted Mansion Holiday was one of them, though the darkness made the anayglyph conversion not great (but the field sequential interlaced video was amazing with a properly adjusted CRT). It was a grand experiment. I am facinated to see 3-D become more mainstream these days (YouTube support, 3-D in Google Street View, TVs). I suppose I need to revisit my old digital camcorder footage and see what all I have.