If not for the massive interruption caused by the 1964 New York World's Fair projects, the Haunted Mansion could have been completed and opened before the end of 1963, and if it had, it would have followed a template designed by Rolly Crump and Yale Gracey and would have been a very different kind of attraction. In an earlier post I suggested that if you want to see how that version of the Haunted Mansion would have functioned, check out the Enchanted Tiki Room, which opened in 1963.
The Haunted Mansion was going to be a walk-thru with maybe six or seven rooms and a two or three minute presentation in each one before you moved on to the next. It would have been not unlike a series of short Tiki Room shows. We know that Rolly was enamored with the idea of a weird, surreal house that was itself alive, like the bewitched castle in "Beauty and the Beast" as the tale is told in Jean Cocteau's La Belle et la Bête (1946). I pointed out in that earlier post that if you simply exchange "tiki god magic" for "ghosts," the Tiki Room (minus the birds) is pretty close in concept to the sort of thing Rolly had in mind for the Mansion. And remember, too, that Rolly did a lot of work on the Tiki Room.
Faux thunderstorms outside the windows were a prominent element in Ken Anderson's 1957-58 plans for the DL Ghost House, but there is no need to appeal to that in order to explain what we see in this part of the Tiki Room show. When it comes to haunted houses, stormy windows are even more of a hoary old cliché than "hoary old cliché." All I'm saying here is that the Tiki Room itself makes the point that there isn't a whole lot of difference between an enchanted building and a haunted house.
From Cocteau to Cockatoos
In discussing La Belle et la Bête, Rolly frequently refers to the living faces carved into the fireplace hearth in the Beast's castle.
This is the sort of thing Rolly wanted to see in the Mansion:
There are other differences between the two backgrounds, like the size of the stone blocks and the vanished face inside the doorway,
but those are mere and trivial discrepancies, whereas the changed facial expressions fit the story and are undoubtedly deliberate.
Was artist Eyvand Earle inspired here by the Cocteau film? Well . . . it's not exactly impossible, I suppose, but I wouldn't push for anything stronger than that. At the same time, I won't deny that it's fun to compare these Sleeping Beauty background paintings with the fireplace in La Belle:
Sleeping Beauty) would be obvious enough, but let's not overlook the Tiki Room
(or "Tropical Serenade," as they called it in Orlando until 1997).
Those faces in the corbels/capitals of the stretching room sketch look kind of like squashed tikis to me.
We're on more solid ground with the totem poles built
at the inside corners of the room. Marc Davis designed
those. Here at last are moving faces carved into a wall.
The chanting totem poles have always been my favorite things in the Tiki Room, and they're even more fun when we recognize that they are about as close as we'll ever get to something we probably would have seen in a Haunted Mansion that never was, if you follow me.
Another point of contact between the Tiki Room and the Mansion is botanical. Rolly loved him some man-eating plants.