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, Doombuggies.com. 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.

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Thursday, May 2, 2013

Weird Glows Gleam Where Spirits Dwell

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[Great new video added June 1, 2015]

Many of you will recognize this quotation from the "Story and Song from the Haunted Mansion" souvenir album:  "Strange sounds come from within the walls, and it's said that eerie lights have been seen, both in the attic windows, and in the graveyard at the side of the house."  I've actually been asked to do a post on the eerie light effect, and I think it deserves one.

Wait, there's an eerie light effect?  Yes, there's an eerie light effect.  Furthermore, it is in my opinion one of the most beautifully economical effects in the Haunted Mansion, and yet it's also the least noted, or darn close.  So modest it is, that even people who know about it tend to forget that they know about it.  Not a word about it can be found at Doombuggies.com or in Surrell's Haunted Mansion book, or anywhere else in print that I can recall at the moment.  I guess it's not thought aught worth commenting about.

It's known as the Traveling Light effect.  I love it.  It's probably been there since the ride opened, and it's still there now; nevertheless, even among Mansion fans, it's surprising how many have never seen it or even heard of it.  If that sounds like you, know that there is a mysterious light which appears in an upper-floor Mansion window and moves across to other windows before disappearing.  After a short interval, it does it again. That sure doesn't sound like much, does it?  But this seemingly feckless effect effectively affects folks, and that's a fact.


Walt Disney World

WDW has the Traveling Light, but the context there is not like Disneyland.  The façade of the HM, by its very design, spreads out its wings and forms a sort of IMAX screen for the effect.  Consequently, the Traveling Light is far more conspicuous in Orlando than it is in Anaheim, and it consists of seven separate lights in coordination so that the light travels quite a distance and even moves through the Conservatory, where you can hardly miss it.  I don't know for sure, but I think that the Tokyo Haunted Mansion has the same set-up.

A video from 1992 showing the light in the upper left window can be seen HERE
A second video from 2012 showing the effect can be seen THERE

Good old Foxxy (she of Passport to Dreams Old and New fame) has published a long-exposure photo showing most of the path of the WDW Traveling Light.  When it's firing on all cylinders, the light begins in the upper window on the left side of the building (around the corner, on the end), it moves across the face of the house through upper left and right windows, goes through the conservatory, and moves across the face again in the lower windows, right to left, ending in the lower window on the left side.  A big loop.  Runs every four minutes or so.


As I said, by design the WDW light is not and cannot be very shy.  You can even see it during daylight hours, although it's possible the light was dimmer originally. The only element of real-world mystery stems from the fact that the light was non-functional for many years.  The motors and bulbs burned out and the effect was largely forgotten.  By the early 90's only one window light was still working.  Older guests would sometimes wonder if their recollection of the traveling light was accurate, and younger ones were either skeptical or envious.  Happily, during either the 2007 "Rehaunting" refurbishment or the 2011 interactive queue installation, the effect was repaired and restored to its original glory.  (Our thanks to Foxxy for much of this information.)

(pic from Lonesome Ghost)

Update July 2013:  I did not know this either.  There are silhouettes of plants
and bottles in the Conservatory that the Traveling Light reveals as it sweeps by.


Disneyland

I much prefer the Disneyland version, because it's harder to see, which means it's easy to miss, which means it's more mysterious.  It has only ever been visible at night in the windows of the second floor. Originally, it moved right to left across the front and around the corner, continuing along the south side toward the berm.  Nowadays it's confined to the last window closest to the berm on the south side. From many vantage points, the view of the light on its original, fuller path was partially obscured by trees.  The light was orange, mimicking a candle flame or an oil lamp.  The first photo of it I ever saw was taken by Jack Wixom in 2007.

(The lower photo is just to show which window is in Wixom's shot.)


For some people, so many years passed before they finally notice it, that they assumed it was a new effect, when in fact it goes back to 1969, if the date on the schematic means anything. Furthermore, like its WDW counterpart, the Anaheim Traveling Light has often been out of commission for long periods.  The story I'm told is that it's a low priority item, so when it breaks, it can take a long time for maintenance to get around to fixing it. Unlike other effects, no one lodges complaints about its absence. And after it's gone missing for awhile, it's easy for both guests and staff to forget that it ever existed. Such, my friends, is the humble profile of our Traveling Light effect.

The earliest video of the DL Traveling Light that I've seen is THIS ONE from 1990.  It can be seen near the beginning, from 00.32 to 00.38.


On that same video between 00.42 and 00.46 you can glimpse the light in the front left hand window.


In May of 2015, at the instigation of our Foxxy friend, Andy Castro took some excellent video of the effect. As we said, it is
currently seen in only one window on the south side. Check it out, and be patient. The video is a minute and forty seconds long.


Why am I so fond of the Traveling Light?  Because it scares people.  It preys upon jittery imaginations and sparks rumors. Best of all...

EYEWITNESSES REPORT IT IN MUCH THE SAME WAY AS THEY MIGHT REPORT SEEING A REAL GHOST.

Pardon my shouting, but that, friends, is a mighty fine thing.  Pull up a chair and listen to a strange tale or two.

I was a Sweeper in 1985.  Late one summer night I was assigned to Haunted Mansion on a closing shift.  This meant I was responsible for a final sweep of the queue and to clean out its bordering flower beds. [....] It was dark.  The other sweepers in New Orleans/Bear Country were far off doing their own closing routine.  I was alone.  There I stood in the large bullpen near the east side of the Mansion, with my ever-present pan and broom in one hand and my trust black flashlight in the other.

A breeze lifted the branch of a nearby tree as I stooped over a flower bed in search of old napkins, cigarette butts, guidebooks, cups and other such castaways. The tiny leaves of the branch ran along the back of my neck like fine fingers. I started and stood up straight. Then I saw it. I had been going to Disneyland for umpty years and had been working there for almost two. I had never seen it before.

My eye caught what looked like a yellowish ball of light bobbing gently past the inside of one of the upper story windows of the Mansion. As soon as I saw it, it was gone. I blinked, looked away, then glanced back up. Nothing. Well...I decided I'd better finish up my flower bed, sweep the queue and get out of there. I didn't even have a radio with me. Nope. Just me. And the Mansion.

I directed the beam of my flashlight back into the dark flower bed and gingerly picked out more debris with my pan and broom. I was pretty sure I had seen something, but tried to push it away as the reflection of an airplane in the window panes, or maybe one of my fellow cast members had shined their flashlight up there. Needless to say, I picked up the pace of my work. I looked forward to heading back to the area locker. I was working near the brick wall of the queue and meandering along the bullpen (that's what we lovingly call the area where guests line up) toward the porch of the Haunted Mansion. As I dumped my pan into one of the trash cans of the queue, my eye wandered up the facade toward those upper windows again.

There it was. The ghost. A flickering light moved across the inside of one of the windows again. There was NO mistaking it this time! Then...it moved on to the NEXT window! When it proceeded to pass in front of the NEXT window, then I knew. Darn Imagineers! This special effect was clearly an intended part of the attraction and could only be seen in the dark of night. What appeared to be the ghostly light of a candle moved along inside each of the windows, as though the widowed bride were marching around inside her home, waiting for the return of her captain.

The effect was well done, with a slowly bouncing, flickering light moving past the opaque curtains of the windows. It moved slowly from window to window, with a slight pause in between. When I had first glanced up, the light had reached one of the corner windows, so that it proceeded around the corner to the next window (where I couldn't see it). That is why I caught a glimpse and then it had appeared to vanish. Another smart part of the illusion was that the "walking light" paused for some time between cycles, so that the windows would return to their darkened state and, if you didn't stare up at them for a few moments, you might not notice the light when it began moving again.

Now I'm not saying that there aren't ghosts in the Mansion, but I almost became a believer on that summer evening! I kept that little effect under my hat, sharing it only with a few family members on evening trips to the Park. I have not been out there after dark at any time in the recent past. I wonder if the haunted candle is still pacing around the old house's windows...

.                                                                                                                                 Mike Kelly, "Jungle is 101" blog post, 9-16-08


When I was a kid...I thought I remembered something like [the traveling light] at Disneyland's mansion.  But I'm never sure if it's an actual memory, something that I made up, or maybe a memory of one of the many dreams I've had about the Haunted Mansion throughout my life.

I do know that for years, whenever I was at Disneyland, I would look for a moving light in the windows of the Haunted Mansion, and over the course of those years I never (again?) saw it.  I have never seen it mentioned anywhere, though, so I have no idea if I'm remembering it correctly.

.                                                                                                                                 Kenny Vee, "The Disney Files" blog post, 9-12



How Do They Do That?
The Traveling Light effect has inspired some elaborate explanations, like this one from a chatboard post at a popular Disney website several years ago:
Actually, it's more than just a wandering candelabra.  The effect is this:  A harsh, reddish orange glow begins to flicker brightly in the window, the flicker glow growing brighter, filling up the window.  Then, as the glow reaches the height of its brightness, a shadowy figure moves from the right side of the window towards the light, putting out the light.  The effect repeats itself every several minutes and is quite unnerving when you see it.  The way the figure moves across the window - it's not like it's walking past the window - it's gliding past it.  
Not bad for a light bulb inside a revolving coffee can. Really, there wasn't much more to it than that when they first created it. The tear-away portion of the drawing below was actually there on the can, and the bulb (not shown) was a flickering bulb, with a mirror behind it (also not shown). They hung black material on the framing behind the whole thing so that when the hole was facing that way you didn't see anything.

It's probably a Yale Gracey creation.  You look at that schematic, and you read accounts like those above,
and you shake your head in disbelief.  Bloody freakin' genius that is, and no mistake.

That's all history, of course. In its present incarnation it's done differently, and the light passes
back and forth. A projector, one supposes. Hopefully something a little sturdier so it will last.


Somebody's Home
What can one say about a mysterious light in the window of an abandoned house?  It's a horror cliché, of course.  Sometimes there is something visible in the window.  In one of Ken Anderson's earliest Ghost House scripts, he describes an effect seen by guests as they look at the exterior of the house: "First at one upstairs window and then another, a girl's face appears momentarily, screams and is throttled by a large hairy hand which draws her back into the darkness."  One decade later, Dick Irvine, then the executive VP and Chief Operations Officer at WED (=WDI), came up with a rude sketch based on Anderson's idea.


"An annual pass is now HOW much?  Tell Mickey he can kiss my mmmphh..."

Even though they didn't use this, creepy figures sometimes appeared
in the windows of later concept art, like this Collin Campbell painting.


These Andersonian spooks are suitable for a shutter-flapping, dilapidated house of horrors, but they are obviously out of place in the pristine, innocent-looking mansion Walt insisted on.  On the other hand, how about a fleeting, mysterious light in the windows, leaving you in doubt as to whether you saw anything at all?  Now you're talking.

To say the motif is well known would be a whopping understatement.  Just by way of illustration, it's hard to count how many books, short stories and poems are titled or subtitled "A/The Light in the Window," and a lot of them seem to use the image to raise goosebumps.


Same goes for artwork.  It's as much of a fixture in
haunted house illustrations as bats or thunderstorms.


Disney uses it in Mansion-inspired artwork, perhaps consciously referencing the actual
effect, but I would think more likely by pure coincidence, so pervasive is the cliché.



On the most mundane level, the unexpected light in the window is evidence of occupation.  Someone or something has taken up residence, here where no one supposedly resides.  Storywise, it creates a tension.  On a dark and stormy night, the light welcomes you to come in and find shelter, and yet it scares you away at the same time.  The situation calls for discretion: Would it be bravery or stupidity to go in?  Would it be prudence or cowardice to keep away?  At this point in the story, it is always the case that you can still choose which path you will take.

There IS turning back now.  Later, not so much.

That point of tension is so pivotal in so many scary tales that it is no wonder that the light in the window cliché continues to be heavily used, since it introduces that moment so well.  "Drawn like a moth to a flame..."

**************

It's appropriate that we find ourselves here on the second floor at the Anaheim Mansion, because in the next two posts we'll be running all around the front yard, and before we're finished we will spend quite a lot of time on this upper balcony, the place where the weird glows gleam.


36 comments:

  1. Great article, as always!

    I'd just like to point out that in Phantom Manor, the Bride as well as the Phantom really do appear in the windows as silhouettes, although it is very easy to miss them.

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    1. Interesting! Didn't know that. They include that feature in concept art showing the Manor exterior.

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  2. DL's Haunted Mansion traveling light has long been one of absolute favorite hidden Disneyland detail. It is so simple yet more profoundly effective than any digital projection could ever hope to be. The way that one light evokes so much mystery and mood is nothing short of pure magic.

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  3. Amazing, as usual. You've managed to find one tiny but significant detail I had never noticed after all these years: I never noticed the lighted windows on the cover for "The Story And Song From The Haunted Mansion". I've been looking at that cover since I bought my copy in about 1975 and never, ever caught that detail! I wonder if they used it on the Lakeside Game facade...

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    1. Yeah, the Lakeside Game has it too, much like the S&S artwork.

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  4. Curious. I recall in the late 80's at the Disneyland H.M. the light being in those 2 corner windows above the balcony where you have the red circles drawn. They started at one window, and slowly moved to the other window. I never seem to see it anymore, but then again if they moved the effect one floor lower, no wonder I missed it!

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  5. The last time I remember seeing the traveling light working at the Disneyland Haunted Mansion was in the late 1990s. I was able to point it out to a friend that had never noticed it before! I haven't seen the traveling light again until about 2 years ago; it was on but not working properly. Every second floor window had the traveling light going, but, they weren't synched. So, the light would start from the right of every window at the same time and end at the left. Once again I was able to point it out to a friend that have never seen or noticed it before. Except this time I was trying to explain how it was supposed to work. The light starts from the right hand window (the one closest to Splash Mountain) on the front of the Mansion and travels around to the left hand side over the queue and ends with the window closest to the berm. Though I don't recall if the last window off of the balcony towards the rear of the house has the light? I haven't seen it since then. I really wish they would get it working again, such a cool effect!

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    1. Thanks for the info! I've updated the post to reflect your input, and after looking again at the 1990 video, sure enough, you can briefly see the light in one of the front windows, so I've added that to the post as well.

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  6. You're welcome! I've asked cast members that work at the Mansion about the traveling light and why it wasn't working and I usually get a look like I am nuts and don't have a clue! I've even mentioned it at City Hall and got that same look! Lol. No one I spoke to at the park seemed to know what I was talking about. At least there are others that know what it is and how it it supposed to look. There was a member on the Doombuggies blog years ago by the name of WDWcaretaker, he worked in the Disneyworld Mansion repairing animatronic figures and other things that broke down. He explained how different things worked in the Mansion, a wealth of information! I recall he even explained one time how the traveling light worked. Might be worth your while to search through the archives there for his posts. BTW, love your blog!

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    1. You're lucky. I get funny looks from people even when I'm not asking them any questions.

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    2. I remember WDWcaretaker, from when I was on Doombuggies. I copied all of his posts into a word document but never edited it(it's dated 8/24/03), it's rich with info he even talked about "Monkey Snot".
      Wasn't there a huge server crash on yuku/ezboard about 7 or eight years ago(maybe longer). That took down a number of message boards, if memory serves Doombuggies was on it.

      I still have that word document, and I found some of what WDWcaretaker said about the lights in the WDW HM.
      "...the traveling light only cycles once every four minutes so unless you stand there and look for it, you may not see it."

      "...the one in the Atrium (conservatory) travels from left to right as you look at it from out front. It only takes a couple seconds then you have to wait four more minutes.
      There are three others in windows near the faux front door and a window up over the entrance area of the facade."



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  7. I remember there being a light in the windows at WDW's Mansion, but I never took notice of it being a traveling light effect because the entire front of the facade was illuminated with other creepy lights.

    Another great post, as always!

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  8. The traveling light gag was alive and well when I worked at the park in the '70s. As a sweeper foreman, my workmates and I often found (incredibly feeble) excuses to explore every inch of the Mansion especially when the park was closed Mondays and Tuesdays… or when we walked the attraction before private parties. We'd stop and start vehicles as needed (the idea was to sweep out the Omnimovers while they were stationary and then vacuum the entire pathway loop when they were moving again), poke around in the attic/machine shop, climb the access ladder in the break area up to the board slung across the elevators and go check out cupola for no good reason whatsoever, AND squeeze into the tiny spaces that constituted the front facades to see how the traveling light gag mechanism was getting along.

    For some reason, it never got boring poking around in the Pirates and the Mansion show buildings back then—we always seemed to find something new—and the maintenance and sound guys were always happy to show us how some gag worked. Pre-Eisner, Disneyland was a pretty fantastic place to work. The unwritten rule among all employees, though, was to never purposely ruin a customer's experience if you walked a ride while the park was open. That wasn't easy in the Mansion wearing our sweeper "Pepper-perfect" reflecting whites, so we'd always put on our navy nylon jackets if there was a nasty popcorn spill (or worse) that a ride foreman thought needed immediate attention.

    Whew, I really rambled on there… sorry!

    Anyway, the traveling light effect was still working when I quit in 1980, but I've seldom seen it make the complete cycle since the mid '90s. Too bad, it's a fun gag. I'll have to pull out my '69 Haunted Mansion maintenance checklist (which the ride foreman was supposed to use during opening each day to see what needed attention) to see if it's listed somewhere. I always liked that the effect gently illuminated the berm and then faded as it fully rounded the back… almost as if it continued all the way around the Mansion. Of course, this was back when customers walked the complete pathway (and that awful hearse wasn't planted in front) just *so* they'd experience the grounds and (perhaps) the traveling light. Now they just shove everyone though the front door and often one doesn't even get the chance to hear Frees' terrific "When hinges creak" business.

    And yes, we were employees and they were customers back in the '70s—even the biggest Disney freaks refused to call themselves (ugh) "cast members." Sheesh.

    Thank you for yet another great post on your absolutely wonderful site. Good stuff!


    ~Huck

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    1. You're welcome, and thank YOU for the wonderful reminiscences.

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  9. I love the traveling light at the Disneyland Haunted Mansion and always look for it during evening visits. But one thing I always recalled from Walt Disney World visits of the 70's and 80's was that the Liberty Square mansion featured a green traveling "dot" light with a fading green trailing "tail" in the conservatory wing only. Does anyone else remember this? It was similar to a light effect inside the Disneyland Haunted Mansion seance circle.

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    1. I asked Foxxy about it, and she thinks the light may well have been green colored in the Conservatory, but it wasn't the trailing light effect of the Séance Circle. Check out this late 80's pubbie, a time exposure, which shows a green light in the C. It also shows that one of the window lights is burned out!

      http://themeparkcanuck.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/HAUNT_1_998.jpg

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  10. Towards the end of this post, I though for sure you were going to list the 1964 Chilling, Thrilling sounds of The Haunted House as an example of lights in old houses, especially the cover and the the title track " You are a bold and courageous person, afraid of nothing. High on a hilltop near your home, stand a dilapidated old mansion... some say the place is haunted, but you don't believe in such myths. One dark and stormy night, light appears in the top-most tower of the old house. You decide to investigate, and you never return." But thanks for this article as I was thinking of building a traveling light effect myself.

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  11. The single light in the upstairs of a dark manor, was seemingly some kind of rule when it came to Gothic romance paperbacks, that and the girl in the nightie approaching you, holding a candelabra. For me, one of the seminal images of the dark house, with the lit window is the Bates House form the Hitchcock film "Psycho".

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  12. Great post as always!

    -Mel

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  13. Lovely post. And the upper balcony? My favorite part of HM that nobody ever talks about. I can't wait!

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  14. Another splendid example of the light in the window is the opening sequence of Mel Brooks' "Young Frankenstein". Very much an old-Hollywood feeling effect, the film starts with a long view of the castle on the mountain in the storm, in the center of the field is the lighted window, all else is dark. A very long slow zoom in, always adjusted to keep the lighted window in the center of the screen, while the rest of the scenery runs out past the edges.

    Anyway, great post. I remember seeing this wandering light HM effect several times during the '70's, but haven't seen it for years and years.

    JG

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  15. Excellent post! My favorite Disney "Light in the Upper Window Haunted House" pic is on the orange cover of the 1964 Record "Chilling, Thrilling Sounds of the Haunted House." That light that shouldn't be on in the top window of an abandoned, dark graveyard house really spooked me when I was a kid!

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  16. I've seen videos on Youtube of the this "Traveling Light" from the windows of Phantom Manor in Disneyland Paris, but I didn't know that this was also over in Disneyland's Haunted Mansion. I haven't seen light in the windows the past 17 years. But I know recently for Disneyland's Haunted Mansion Holiday, [I presume it's] Zero's nose can be seen lighting up the attic tower windows, as well as a light. In addition to, I know for a fact that back before Cars Land was built and the Timon parking lot was still present, my brother and I would watch the back and side windows of the Hollywood Tower Hotel (also known as the Tower of Terror)and would see them turn on and off. I'm not sure if this ties into the "Traveling Light" effect, but it sounds similar.

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  17. james DemetriadesJuly 24, 2013 at 2:05 PM

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FPN97OK1vPE
    I recently saw this addition at WDW and thought of your article!

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  18. I believe that ~Huck solved the mystery of why the lights are not kept up as well as they should be. He said above that he had to "squeeze into the tiny spaces that constituted the front facades to see how the traveling light gag mechanism was getting along."

    We tend to forget that what we as the Haunted Mansions are facades, there are no rooms behind those windows, there is just enough space to make it look like a room from the ground. The light effect may have been an after thought or accessing them an over site with no easy way to get to the lights provided during construction. And as I have never met an amusement park maintenance person who was not of the fell fed variety, (I am sure there are some, just never met one), I can understand why repairing this effect that few people even know exist would be worth squeezing in to to fix, if it was even physically possible for them to accomplish.

    Mystery solved!

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    1. That may well explain Orlando, but I'm afraid we'll need a different explanation for Anaheim. Those second floor windows are functional, so there's easy access from the porch through them, and owing to the octagonal shape of the stretchroom and the square shape of the building, there's actually plenty of space behind the corner windows. There's also a maintenance platform running all the way around inside there that's a little over two feet wide.

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  19. HI! I really like to read your blog, even if I´m not supposed to... I have existential questions and stuff like that ( and I shortly stop using ) ... Well Whatev.. Your Blog Rules !!! <3
    Keep up the good haunted work!

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  20. I learned about this effect in the pre-WWW days (either via GEnie's Destination Florida RoundTable or via newsgroups). It may even have been detailed in the old Haunted Mansion FAQ from usenet. At the time, the FAQ was heavily Disneyland-oriented, and I made an attempt at balancing it out (this was around 1995-1996) after I started visiting both parks each year thanks to a new job I had. I had my first digital camera in 1996, but at 640x480 resolution (that was after the memory upgrade, else 320x240), and no more than 99 pictures before download, I didn't take nearly as many images as I did later when the tech improved. I will have to check and see if I ever got it on video (though that would have been around 1999). Such a great read!

    And fun seeing Leonard Pickel pop up here too.

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  21. In Epic Mickey(the Wii game), 'Lonesome Manor' (aka the haunted mansion, so they don't get sued) has the same effect in the top right window. I toughly enjoy the attention to detail imagineers throw in.

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  22. Wonderful article! I've had a really hard time hunting this exterior effect down! As of summer 2014, I know this effect is still currently running at WDW. I know I've been aware of this effect for sometime, but it is one of those things that's slipped my mind on my more recent visits. I had almost forgotten till my last trip when I caught the tail end of the light passing through the conservatory. I thought it looked more like a moving shadow from where I stood. But I'm glad to finally know the truth. My parents thought I was crazy. It never came around again timely enough to show them. The WDW mansion has so many outdoor spotlights now (green, purple, orange? for effect) so I think that's why the effect does not stand out as it once did. I remember before all the spotlights in the late 90's seeing the light move across upper level windows.
    Now, this might be a mixed up memory- but there were (/are?) lighting effects on the mansion right? I thought every once in a while at night a lightening strike could be seen. I also recall when I was younger wolf howls and thunderstorms audio playing outside the mansion. Am I right on this one? Now, I think they play more of the ride organ music in the lines. Anyways, I appreciate all the digging and Haunted Mansion insights you've provided for this blog. It has for several years now been a Haunted Mansion favorite of mine.

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    1. I'm glad you are enjoying the blog!
      When it comes to details about the history of the WDW HM, I would defer to Foxxy over at the Passport to Dreams Old and New blog. I'll drop her a note about your comment and see if she can answer your questions.

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    2. Hey Jordan;

      The early, early Haunted Mansion facade lighting scheme circa 1971 to say 1994 was simply a lot of blue and green lights stashed in the trees around the house, not dissimilar to the "dapple moonlight" blue light effect Disneyland's had on their house since the start. In 1991 or so, the "thunder storm" effect was added. This involved 3-4 pocket strobes which would illuminate the facade and, for a year or two at the start, a fog machine on the roof which would run at night. It looked like a thunder cloud was literally hovering over the house, which was cool. There's a postcard showing what this looked this that was in print through the 90s: http://vignette3.wikia.nocookie.net/hauntedmasnion/images/9/9a/The_Haunted_Mansion.jpg/revision/latest?cb=20130424055816

      Note that all of the lighting in that image was placed for the photograph and does not reflect the actual lighting scheme in use on the facade in the 90s. The house was lit from the front by two dim blue lights shining up at the windows.

      Then in 2003 WDW rebuilt the Conservatory and at that time WDI got the idea in their heads that the Mansion looked too bright, so they turned around the original blue lights and faced them out towards the river, meaning that the stone balustrade was now lit from behind by blue lights but the house itself was pitch black at night. It stayed this way until 2011 and 2012 when the current blue lights which illuminate the facade at night were added, bringing the exterior back to way it was supposed to be.

      If you were visiting on a Halloween party night then the Mansion gets very elaborate lighting which does not reflect how it usually looks. The photo I took in this article which HBG2 included is an accurate view of the day to day effect.

      The wolf howl and lightning effect still plays outside the house. you can see video of it as well as all of the lights passing the windows in Martin Smith's 2009 Haunted Mansion super-video. The wolf howl is currently playing only dimly, but this has always varied in volume and I'm not especially worried about it.

      The organ music you describe plays around the entrance of the attraction from speakers situated along the top of the old Keelboats building. It's a short (3 minute?) loop consisting of the HM load area music mixed with the PM "Phantom Organ". That was added in 2006, iirc. Inside the queue proper there's never been official music.

      Hope that helps! - F

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    3. Hello again! It's been a while since my last comment. I recently enjoyed a lovely vacation to Walt Disney World this year and I was able to capture in a series of 3 photos (of what I believe is) the "traveling light" effect across the conservatory. Though, the shadow is more eye-catching than the light. The photos will explain all. If you are interested, please let me know.

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    4. Sure! If you want to put links in here, that's okay with me.

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    5. The photos can be found here: https://goo.gl/photos/RG32PcEkcVJXSfLz5

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  23. Thanks for a great post, and for the exploded-view of the original device, which I was lucky to see in person. One morning before opening the WDW Mansion, I was upstairs (where the Cast bathrooms are) and the maintenance door to the stretch rooms was open. No one was about, so I did what anyone would do: I investigated! Unfortunately this was before camera phones. I soon found myself INSIDE the Conservatory! And this little tin can device is exactly what I saw, on a bench in the back-middle of the room. Until that moment I had forgotten all about the eerie light in the Conservatory from my childhood. After discovering a door which exited the Conservatory out onto the porch, I returned to work. A very cool experience, one of many I was lucky to have at Disney!

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