As I'm sure many of you know, the ballroom scene in the Haunted Mansion has a soundtrack in addition to the organ. It's party noise, the sound of clinking glasses and laughter. (Bonus trivia: At the 52 second mark you can hear a woman say, "Oh, that's the funniest story I ever heard.")
Eerily enough, laughter and tinkling glasses are attested in accounts of "real" hauntings. Not far from where I live, in the Santa Cruz mountains, is Brookdale Lodge, built in 1924 and closed just last year after being declared a firetrap. Here's the long story extremely short: Brookdale Lodge is thoroughly haunted, say many. Among the ghostly manifestations reported have been these:
Edit October 2019: It seems that actress Elke Sommer and her husband Joe lived in a haunted house for a time. It's a fun read. One ghostly phenomenon in particular catches our attention:
"In the middle of the night, Elke and Joe would wake up to what sounded like a dinner party going on downstairs in the dining room, hearing voices, chairs scooting, glassed tinkling, and silverware clanging. Yet they would go downstairs and no one would be there."
(Thanks to Doombuggies.com for directing our attention to the article cited)
And that delightfully intriguing introduction, dear friends, becomes now the flimsy pretext for winging our way into a pure trivia post, one for the hypergeeks. Hey, it's summertime, and the living is easy. We can't float around in the ozone all the time, indulging in grandiose theorizing. Besides, one man's trash is another man's treasure, as the saying goes, and if you happen to be a serious porcelain or glassware buff as well as a Mansionhead, this may jolly well be your lucky day. Right, so let's do the dishes.
tablecloth, but at least their china is in good shape. Fit for a king it is—nay, fit for a Caesar.
The Original China
Some of you readers who really know your porcelain may be able to identify the style. I haven't been able to. That china is also seen in the pre-opening, WED ride-thru film that we have spoken of before. That's the weary stock film that they continue to recycle whenever they need interior footage of the Haunted Mansion. By the way, in the two shots (above and below), notice how bare the table is compared to what is there now.
showing the white dishes still in play. They were replaced sometime before 1988, when these were taken:
The blue dishes are Spode Blue Italian. "Spode" is a name spoken in hushed and reverent tones by connoisseurs of fine china. It's a very old English producer of fine earthenware. Blue Italian was launched in 1816 and is still in production today, one of Spode's most popular styles.
Are they antiques? The Imagineers did use genuine antiques in the original attic, although they replaced most of them with less-valuable junk later. Spode allows their artisans some leeway, so there are idiosyncratic differences in the various batches of Blue Italian produced over the years, like the number of sheep pictured, or slight differences in the shades of blue, all of which makes it possible to date a plate with some degree of confidence, even from a photograph. I asked Andrew Pye at the website Lovers of Blue and White if he could date the Mansion plates from some pix I sent him, and he opined that they were from the 1960s or 70s. In other words, they weren't antiques but were bought new.
dang, I must say those aren't bad looking chunks of glass.
(See now below for a good guess as to what Tokyo is using.)
of you out there may well be able to identify them, but I'm afraid this too is beyond my ken. It's even beyond my barbie. *bad-a-bing*
Phantom Manor is using Royal Albert's "Lady Hamilton" design, and you know, I think he's right:
pass this way again. There are two sizes in use at all three Haunted Mansions: King's
Crown cranberry wine glasses (small) and King's Crown cranberry claret wine glasses (large).
And So, In Conclusion
What? Are you expecting something more? I told you that this was a straight trivia post. I tried to jazz it up with funnies, hoping to inspire a few Oh-that's-the-funniest-thing-I-ever-read 's, but I'm afraid most of them were clinkers. *bad-a-BING, dammit*
One thing I can tell you that may be of interest is that the china is not particularly expensive or hard to find. If Mansionology is for you a guilty pleasure, and your Long-Forgotten habit is something you must keep carefully shielded from public view (it's okay, I understand; the world isn't ready for us), one way you can discreetly display your secret vice is by getting one of these plates and a wall hanger. To others it's just a nice plaque, but you know what it really is, and it'll set you back maybe 20 or 30 bucks, a lot cheaper and (if you ask me) a lot more beautiful than most of the crappy merchandise and "collectibles" Disney serves up for Mansion fans.