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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Friday, March 20, 2020

Marc Davis's Haunted Mansion

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Updated March 22 and 26, 2020

Marc Davis once said that maybe 85% of the stuff in the Haunted Mansion came from him, and if you take this in reference to the finished characters and the experiential situations in the ride when it finally opened in 1969, that number is probably not far off. But even if his contribution was 85%, it was 85% in continual interaction with the talents and contributions of others. I have no doubt that it is because of this mix that the Haunted Mansion endures to this day as a perennial favorite, whereas bona fide 100% Davis productions like America Sings and Country Bears have long since been Yesterlanded at Disneyland. (Yes, the Bears still perform in Orlando, but Disney attributes their greater popularity in WDW to a stronger regional attachment to country music in Florida.)

What if Marc had entirely had his way with the Mansion project from the moment he came on board in 1964?

Well, as of 2019, we have the means to answer that question. It seems that sometime between the first and second editions of Jason Surrell's Haunted Mansion book a five-act outline of the attraction written by Davis came to light. There's no trace of it in Surrell 2003, but it shows up in Surrell 2009 (pp 25-26; moved to pp 23-24 in Surrell 2015).

The outline, dated July 27, 1964, represents Marc's only known attempt to script the attraction.

Surrell gives only a summary of the summary, but Chris Merritt in Marc Davis in His Own Words (2019) reproduces the entire document. It occurs to me that Marc's notion of what the ride could/should be, written shortly after he came on board with the project, gives us a unique opportunity to see things as Marc saw them. Sounds Long-Forgotteny to me, so let's dive in.



"ACT  I, The Stretching Room"

"The audience moves into the elongating room. The ghost host introduces himself as their invisible guide. He also introduces the attendant who is dressed as a butler who will also accompany the group on their dangerous adventure in the haunted mansion. The ghost host recommends that they stay close to the sound of his voice because there are many unpredictable things that may happen and they will be much safer if they stay near him. He says, 'The dead spirits have some resentment for those who wish to stay alive!' But he adds, 'They are a gregarious group and they are always in search of new company. They are always pleased to meet a new ghost. Don’t let it be you!' He warns them to watch out for clutching hands without bodies, cold drafts of air and etc."

"The ghost host points out the salient points of the elongating room. As the room elongates his voice may stay high in the room and gradually feed through an echo chamber. He calls attention to the fact that there are no visible exits to the room. He says there is a way out and with a flash of lightning and a clap of thunder we see a figure hanging and swaying from the ceiling. The ghost host doesn’t recommend this coward’s way out. His voice drops with a dull plop to the floor. The voice is back to normal, the walls open and he leads the group with the aid of the butler, who beckons, into the next scene."



When Marc wrote this, the façade house had been built, landscaped, and had already been standing for a year and a half:

Gorillas Dont Blog

Gorillas Still Dont Blog

The Mansion, July of 1964, precisely when Marc wrote his outline. I've posted the bottom pic before and noted
that it's a favorite of mine. Thanks to the smoggy haze, the building itself looks like a ghost about to disappear.

The foyer and the two elevators were already concrete realities, so the fact that Marc skips the foyer and begins with the "elongating" room suggests that at this point he had no real ideas what to do with the foyer. It's worth noting that the Ghost Host does not actually introduce himself until guests are in (or going into) the stretching rooms, and this feature is reflected in the final ride, so Marc's scripting here evidently carried the day. Perhaps he already recognized that no really vital information should be given to the guests in the foyer, because stragglers coming in late are likely to miss some of the spiel. This reasoning is explicit in X Atencio's continuity script from four years later (almost to the day—July 19, 1968):

"The patrons enter the foyer of the Haunted Mansion to the dismal tolling of a church bell. A ghostly voice is heard from a talking marble bust (projection) in a niche high in the corner of the room opposite the entrance. This would be designed to attract those in the front of the line to the far corner making room for those at the read of the queue. This opening statement would have no pertinent relation to the show so those who might miss the first part would not be slighted."

The idea of the Host manifesting himself in a talking bust must have come to Marc very soon after writing his outline, since concept art was already in existence by November 18, 1964, when the "Tencenniel" TV program was filmed.


(As we now know, the subsequent idea of using a raven instead of a bust—either as Host or co-Host—didn't appear until sometime between July of '68 and February of '69 and was scrapped after about three months.) When bust and raven were both rejected as inadequate, the Imagineers fell back to the original idea of a disembodied voice, as in Marc's original outline.

Some of the information given out by the Ghost Host here was retained in the ride but eventually transferred to the Portrait Gallery or even later; i.e. the warnings about the danger of lagging behind and about the eagerness of the resident ghosts to add unwary guests to their number, plus, perhaps, the reference to cold drafts of air ("hot and cold running chills").

The second paragraph of Act I is almost shocking in how closely it mirrors the final product. What is most interesting to me is that there does not seem to be any identification between the GH and the hanging figure. Suicide is apparently not yet "his way." In fact, he dismisses the dead man as taking the coward's way out. Later, of course, this line will go to the stretchroom's raven and later still disappear entirely when that raven is scrapped, mere months before opening day. UPDATE. On March 25, 2020 a newly discovered document was partially published at DHI: notes from a "Haunted House Meeting" on Nov 21, 1961. With regard to the stretching room, the lightning flashes and the hanging corpse is revealed, in the usual way, but the Ghost Host says "There is a way out . . . A permanent way out . . . That was me . . But I wouldn't take that way out if I were you . . . ." So it seems that even though there is no suggestion in Marc's outline that the corpse is the GH, the idea itself was certainly there as early as 1961. I'm thinking that Marc's omission was not necessarily a rejection of the idea but possibly a faulty impression left by the extremely abbreviated nature of the outline.

Influence from earlier Mansion Imagineers is obvious, and hardly surprising. As we have long known, the hanging corpse idea is taken straight from Ken Anderson . . .

MDIHOW 343

. . . and the elevators themselves, with the full intention of accommodating stretching portraits, were already there when Davis came on board.

1962 Blueprint

Those were designed by Yale Gracey and Rolly Crump. Rolly had done some portraits, but there is no reference to portraits at all in Marc's outline, just a vague reference to the room's "salient features." Marc was unhappy with Rolly's paintings and started working on new ones about the same time this outline was written (or very soon thereafter). Quick sketches appeared in late summer 1964, and by the time of the "Tencenniel" in November his famous foursome was complete.

According to Chris Merritt, "Marc worked rough and loose with thumbnails until he hit on a gag he liked; then he took it to a tight pencil line and eventually a small watercolor" (MDIHOW 344). The preliminary Tightrope Girl sketches seen below illustrate Merritt's point:

©Disney (MDIHOW 344)

©Disney (MDIHOW 344)

©Disney (MDIHOW 344)

Marc was proud of the way the stretching portraits provide a sort of three-part joke. The top third is serious and ordinary, then an oddity is gradually revealed in the second part, and a humorously macabre explanation of the oddity is finally revealed in the third part. It is interesting that the three-part reveal is not especially clear in some of the early Tightrope Girl sketches above, suggesting that this governing dynamic wasn't something Marc had in mind before he began working on the project but something that came to him more clearly as he went along.

(It also suggests, incidentally, that no such strategy was at work in Rolly's original paintings, of which we know virtually nothing.)

As we've mentioned before, Davis began work on the HM more or less in agreement with the design approach bequeathed to him by Rolly Crump (and enthusiastically endorsed by Walt). His sketch of the stretchroom below was painted only a month or so after the outline, and as we've pointed out before, it is much more ornate and "Crumpish" than what we see in the finished attraction.


Note that the "Dynamite Man" design was already complete by then (at least his upper half!).

On the other hand, Marc is siding with Anderson rather than Crump when his Host warns about "clutching hands," exactly the sort of cornball haunted house gimmick Rolly despised but Ken embraced. Ken's artwork we've seen before:


We will see some of this in the next room...


"ACT II, The Portrait Gallery"


"This room is filled with oversized furnishings, paintings and sculptures. The ghost host tells the story of first one and then another of the people portrayed in the paintings and sculptures. As he does, some visual effect takes place. They talk or change in a magic ghostlike manner."
"The final picture is perhaps behind black drapes which raise as the ghost host calls out attention to it. As the drapes part we see a painting that has everything in it except a figure. There is perhaps a vague image where the figure should be. The ghost host reacts in a frightened manner. He explains that this is terrible because this is the most dangerous ghost in the mansion. When he climbs out of his picture he mingles with the guests until he has turned one of them into a ghost. He describes the ghost’s appearance and its omnipotent powers. He suggests again that everyone should stay in a tight group; this evil ghost loves to pick off stragglers. He suggests that the group be wary of sliding panels, gusts of cold air and etc."
"We move into the next scene through the fireplace."

In the case of the Portrait Gallery we have covered Marc's contributions rather thoroughly in other posts, so what you might do if you're reading along is follow the links and review those first.

For Marc's Portrait Hall in general, see HERE. That's the main one.
For the "oversized furnishings," see HERE.

A half dozen years ago, I would have confidently told you that the format described in the outline, in which the Ghost Host takes the group on a leisurely tour of the various artworks, which one by one spring to life and change, was an approach quickly abandoned in favor of the relatively short, self-guided stroll down the hallway and around the corner, done without any special commentary on the artwork and done with simple back-and-forth, two-stage changes in the paintings so as not to slow down traffic. But thanks to some game-changing discoveries in 2015, we now know that something closer to Marc's 1964 template still prevailed well into 1969. (We covered that rewrite of history in a series of four posts, beginning HERE, and followed by THIS, THIS, and THAT.) The point-by-point tour conducted by the Ghost Host is also mentioned in the aforementioned 1961 "Haunted House" notes, so that part of Davis's outline is not original.

I'm posting the artwork yet again (what is this, the fourth or fifth time?), because (1) true Forgottenistas can never tire of them, and because (2) these are fresh scans from a different source (Merritt's Marc Davis), which is always a nice thing. (Note that the middle one is for the first time published unmatted, ensuring that you get every scrumptious detail. A curse upon croppers!) But there is also a third reason, something connected with the outline.

©Disney (MDIHOW 349)

©Disney (MDIHOW 349)

©Disney (MDIHOW 349)

That whole business about the "Most Dangerous Ghost" is the keystone of the entire outline, providing as much of a "backstory" as Marc will allow. Marc did give us one sketch of the vacated painting described in the outline. We've talked about it before (HERE), arguing that the MDG character undercuts the intellectually sloppy notion that all Davis cared about was making the HM funny. We talked about it again HERE, arguing that Marc was never one to let a perfectly usable design go to waste. But there's good reason to look at it a third time:

©Disney (MDIHOW 349)

If this character was already central to Marc's HM plans in July of '64, shouldn't it be reflected in his concept artwork of the Portrait Gallery done shortly afterward? The answer is, it is. Have you taken sufficient notice of that strange, dark curtain in the corner? Did you ever connect it with the "Most Dangerous Ghost" portrait? Note the "stars" holding up the drapery on either side in both sketches.

©Disney

When we combine this artwork with the outline, we can plausibly reconstruct the show flow Davis had in mind. Note that the MDG portrait is located near the entrance to the Gallery, but in the outline it's the final stop in the tour. It seems that Marc envisioned a circular crowd movement, up one side, past the fireplace, and down the other, finally arriving at the MDG. After the painting is unveiled and the Host makes his frightening speech, the guests realize they are now in danger and undoubtedly expect to flee through the same gate by which they entered. After all, it's right next to them. But—horrors!—the gate is locked! Better yet, it slams shut (Addams Family style). Thankfully, the fireplace at the other end of the hall opens up magically, and everyone hurries down that way in order to make their escape.

I'm happy to say that unexpected support for the above reconstruction came very quickly (March 26th—less than a week!), when it was discovered that the 1961 "Haunted House" notes call for something very much like it. At the end of the Portrait Hall presentation, the Ghost Host leads the audience to a false exit, a bricked-up door, but a sliding panel opens elsewhere in the room to allow guests to exit.

The Host's warning about "sliding panels" and "gusts of cold air, and etc." at this point sounds to me like a cue for the whole room to now come to life, ominously and simultaneously (think Tiki Room), as the guests speed past all of it toward their exit at the far end.

The "Haunted House" notes mention among the elements of the Portrait Hall, "sliding panels in walls" that "expose surprise elements such as hands with daggers, claws, etc." Clearly Marc is following those suggestions in this part of the outline and in this 1963 sketch:

©Disney (MDIHOW 342)

Hey look, funny and scary, although the "funny" in this case is just the result of witnessing or anticipating human reaction to the scary. The same humor dominates countless films and TV shows (Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein, "The Addams Family," etc.). Speaking of AF, I wonder if Davis had in mind here Lurch's habit of brutally grabbing hats off of guests to the Addams house? (If so, we'd have to adjust the date of the sketch a bit, from "late summer" to some time after September 18.)

Just as Marc's outline makes no specific mention of the stretchroom portraits in ACT I, so his description of the Portrait Gallery says nothing in particular about its paintings in ACT II. Either he didn't want to bog down his outline with such details or he hadn't yet started working on those paintings in earnest.


"ACT III, The Séance Circle"

"The ghost host leads the audience into an overburdened Victorian room. This room is hung with heavy draperies in deep reds. There is a table in the center of the room. Several chairs are near the table."
"The ghost host explains that in former times this room was used by the famous medium, Madame Z…! And if this audience is a receptive one they may see a very unusual séance. A spirit medium producing other spirits."

"The ghost host’s voice moves to the center of the room. He talks as he invisibly moves the chairs around the table. He rearranges objects that are sitting on the table. The ghost host calls for Madame Z… to enter but she is reluctant because of the ghost (she refers to him by name) who is on the prowl from the portrait gallery. The ghost host, however, convinces her that she should not let her audience down (the show must go on)."

"The medium enters the room. She pulls a chair out from the table and we see the chair seat sink down with her weight. She pulls the chair in and the long table cover reacts to her knees. She readjusts the objects on the table as she asks the audience to join hands. She warns that if they feel a very cold hand it might be the villain ghost. Please be careful! She asks them to join her in her incantation to call the good spirits from the other world."

"She brings back a series of spirits. We would use all the the clichés commonly used by a medium. Bells ring, a tambourine jiggles, a chief appears, a trumpet plays and other standard characters appear. Audience participation is suggested. Soon, however, things begin to get out of hand. The medium becomes very upset. The good spirits are being intimidated by an evil presence."

"The ghost host suggests that this is a dangerous situation and we had best leave the séance room."


Once we leave the Portrait Gallery we have also left the last part of the Mansion show that was already set in concrete by the time Marc wrote his outline, so from here on out he can pretty much do as he pleases. If we are to go by the outline, it would appear that Marc decides at this point to ditch the Rolly Crumpish, surrealistic interior design of the HM for a more traditional look ("overburdened Victorian room . . . . heavy draperies in deep reds"). We know this because Rolly had drawn up concepts for the Séance room, and despite the differences in the two artists' style (to say nothing of temperament), the Crump Séance rooms look like they would make a natural segue from the Davis artwork for the Portrait Gallery (as, once again, we've noted before):

©DISNEY


Modelmaker extraordinaire Jack Ferges did a maquette of the table in Rolly's sketches that's rarely seen:


It looked unfinished to me, so for fun I took the liberty of adding the ring of skulls from one of Rolly's sketches:


But a note of caution is in order, since the surreal interiors we see in the Davis artwork are not so much as hinted at in the outline. It's possible that a self-conscious decision to follow the nightmarish Crump look only really took hold after writing the outline and beginning to do graphic artwork, but if so it's a tight window.

When Davis includes "a spirit medium producing other spirits" he is taking his cues directly from Ken Anderson:


This sketch was on display in the DL Opera House in 2019, with this caption:


Lessee . . . Crump, Anderson . . . you know, we may as well collect all known HM concept artwork for the Séance Circle into one place, since there isn't all that much, and it's never been done. In addition to the above there is my favorite, Dorothea Redmond's wonderfully creepy watercolor, featuring the heavy Victorian look Davis wanted, except she evidently prefers "blues" where Marc likes "reds."


After those, all that is left is Davis artwork: three finished sketches, plus a page of preliminary sketches for one of the three:




It seems to me that this last one could (as in maybe, perhaps, possibly) be Marc's attempt to bend the depiction of his medium a little more in the direction of Dorothea's concept. Mdm Z is still a comic figure, but she is also a darker, hooded figure, and she's lost some serious tonnage:


Nothing became of the elaborate dialogue between the Ghost Host and Madame Z (or "Z..."; it's always "Z...", not just "Z"). We are now at the point in the ride where the actual HM is a ride, but in 1964 a walkthrough attraction was still assumed. By the time Marc produced the artwork seen above (all of it from 1968), the attraction was indeed a ride and the earlier concepts were no longer feasible.

All that business about the moving chair, moving table covering, etc., designed to indicate where the invisible medium is, may have been inspired a little bit by and adapted from Rolly's Séance room, where spirits are not visible but are actively at play, and the furniture moves and is alive (a talking chair, etc.). At any rate, to judge by Davis's artwork, he had abandoned the idea of an invisible medium in favor of an audio-animatronic by the time it had become clear that guests would be riding through the scene.

The Séance Circle is another case where, after a lot of playing around, an old original idea came full circle and at the end of the day got the nod. Leota is Anderson's spirit medium. Davis did get his "Victorian look" with its "heavy draperies" and "deep reds," and he does have a head inside a crystal ball in that last sketch, but he may have gotten this idea from Yale Gracey, who years earlier had listed "Crystal Ball Ghosts" among the effects he developed (or wished to develop) for the Mansion.


As for the bells, tambourines, trumpets—all the "clichés" Davis mentions, we need only consult his sketches to see what he had in mind, and you need only consult THIS and THAT for a discussion of that topic.

UPDATE, March 22. Originally, I wrote here, "Oh, 'a chief appears'? I have no clue." Well, I should have done better research. Apparently, the appearance of Indian chiefs at séances back in the heyday of Spiritualism was extremely common, very much a cliché. A whole book on the subject was published in 2017. On page 55 there is a quotation from a Spiritualist investigator named H. H. Farness, who sneered in 1887 that "there is no Cabinet, howe'er so ill attended, but has some Indian there."


"ACT IV, Ghost Club Room—A Meeting Place for Retired Ghosts"

"This is a large comfortable room with many little alcoves. The ghost host explains that it is possible that if we are in the proper frame of mind, we may actually be able to see a few real live ghosts."

"The ghosts in this room are much like old actors in the motion picture relief home. They are constantly boring each other with stories of their great successes. Each has a trick that he did to scare the life out of people when he was an active haunting ghost. Each in turn does his trick, each topping the others. There can be surprise gags such as a head flying off a figure or funny-business gags."

"But as in the previous act something begins to go wrong. The presence of the villain ghost makes itself felt and these older retired ghosts are frightened. Whatever we have used to indicate the nearness of the villain ghost would be repeated here. With frightened yells and screams the retired ghosts disappear and the ghost host, who now gives a slightly evil laugh, suggests we, too, should disappear."


"We leave to go to the next scene."


©Disney (MDIHOW 366)

". . . a head flying off a figure . . ."
(Although this 1968 specter seems a lot scarier than anything the '64 outline has in mind)

For a long time it was common to credit Marty Sklar for first articulating the "ghostly retirement home" concept, citing his text in the famous pre-opening sign that hung in front of the unopened Mansion for years. That made sense as long as the sign was misdated to 1963, but since we now know it didn't go up until the beginning of 1965, it is clear that Sklar got the idea from Marc's outline, right down to the "country club" atmosphere.


With the outline's description of the various ghosts acting up we finally encounter the Marc Davis we know and love, adding his trademark humor to the attraction; in fact, it is the first and only overt humor in the entire outline.

This is the ultimate seedbed for all the ghost characters populating the ballroom and graveyard scenes. The idea here is that ghosts who have already enjoyed successful hauntings elsewhere have now retired and like to show off their scary antics to each other. This is still reflected in the spiel when it says that "several prominent ghosts have retired here from creepy old crypts all over the world," but in reality little of this original concept survived. It's too complex for a ride-through attraction. Very quickly Marc simplified the idea so that we would get instead ghosts contin-uing after death what they did in life, not what they did as ghosts before retirement. We get boxer ghosts, carpenter ghosts, soldier ghosts, etc.

©DISNEY (MDIHOW 389)

This sketch, like most of the others, is earmarked for the "Banquet Room." This "Ghost Club Room" is the Marc Davis version of the Grand Ballroom scene, a pretty regular and consistent feature in HM planning going all they way back to Ken Anderson.

As we have seen previously, Marc eventually eliminated all of these working class phantoms except for the ones plying professions actually needed for the big party the ghosts are having at the Mansion when we arrive: musicians, a coachman, a medium. There are others who had recognizable professions in life, of course (royals, the headsman, the knight), but they are no longer performing those duties in the afterlife.

I think the closest thing we get to the pompous, show-off characters described in the '64 outline is the opera pair, realized almost without alteration directly from Marc's original sketch.



A lot of the humor derives from the depiction of characters who had dangerous professions in life, allowing us to draw humorous and macabre conclusions as to how they probably died. We have the beheaded knight, of course, and the duelists, but there were a number of others in this mold that did not make the final cut, like a trapeze artist and a lion tamer.



A very early concept sketch of a duelist:


We're almost done. Davis's outline is quite brief. As a walkthrough attraction, Marc probably expected some of these rooms to take a considerable amount of time, especially this fourth room, which, with its "many little alcoves," could be compared to Country Bears or America Sings. For something contemporary with this outline, think of the sideshows in the Carrousel of Progress. It's not terribly hard to imagine those with ghosts, each providing a humorous snippet of what we presume was its regular performance elsewhere, before retirement.


"ACT V, A Room That Has a Garden View"

"The ghost host leads the audience to this room, which has open floor-to-ceiling windows. There are candles on the mantel. One is lit. A raven is perched on a bookcase. Outside it is moonlight."

"The ghost host explains that while it may not look it, this is a room where great evil has taken place. (He may tell of the bride and her fiancé who were killed by a rejected suitor. The bride and her fiancé might appear in an embrace.) In any case the ghost host now says he feels that he should reveal himself to the audience. He has grown quite attached to them. He starts a wild mocking laugh. It clouds up outside. The curtains blow inward. It starts to rain along with thunder and lightning. Outside we see a figure take form and it moves into the room. The rain comes into the room with the figure and a pool of water forms around its feet. This is our ghost host but it also follows the description of the villain ghost that escaped from the painting earlier. The ghost host is now all villain. He murdered the young couple and etc:"

"The raven on the mantel says the audience can’t get out soon enough—“Go through the bookshelf—Go through the bookshelf”—Bookshelf opens and we exit through churchyard!"


The gag about the Ghost Host revealing himself as the Most Dangerous Ghost has the obvious disadvantage that it can surprise you only once. Pretty soon everyone knows the "secret," and as its usefulness as a genuine shock or scare tactic fades its status as pure camp inevitably increases. That was a road nobody wanted to go down.

The main event here, of course, is a faithful adaptation of Rolly and Yale's infamous pirate ghost scene. Marc liked this idea and would try to bring it back at least one more time, many years later in Florida, as we have seen, but it never happened.


Certain details in this scene will pop out for you hardcore. The raven "perched on a bookcase" will be mentioned in narration of the
"Story and Song from the Haunted Mansion" souvenir album. Confusingly, the raven is also said to be on the mantel, as in this concept art:


Well, wherever he is, the talking raven as co-host makes his debut here (although Ken Anderson still gets credit for the idea of having a raven in the ride at all). The room itself, with its large windows and view of a stormy exterior (a cyclorama presumably) is also an Anderson feature. So is the idea of exiting through a bookcase and eventually into an outside graveyard. In fact, other than that interactive raven and the denouement of his MDG story, there is nothing original in this scene. It's practically all Ken, Rolly, and Yale.

The outline ends with reference to a graveyard (here called a "churchyard"), but only as an exit route. However, we know that a fuller graveyard scene was another item that came into the planning very shortly after this, because it is alluded to in the text of the Sklar sign, composed not long after Marc's summary.

And yeah, no humor. The Mansion walkthrough ends with a prolonged, scary scene.


Conclusions?

It's all there. We learn what we should already know but sometimes forget: Marc Davis was never an imperious, one-man show. He was a team player. He interacted creatively with the work already done by previous Imagineers, displaying in this outline nothing but respect for what was good in what they had done. And he clearly followed the funny-and-scary recipe already laid down by Ken Anderson, with equal attention to and emphasis on both.

All and all, a fascinating document to anyone interested in the history of the ride.


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


13 comments:

  1. It is worth nothing that the stretching rooms in Orlando's mansion became a little more Crumpish in 2007. Grates in the form of hidden monster faces were added to the bottom of each room to hide newly-installed speakers.

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  2. I wonder if Marc Davis was responsible for the deep shade of red that Orlando's CoD was originally lit in, since he used a lot of red in his concept art. We also see a lot of red in the Endless Hallway and on certain pieces of furniture. Fortunately Tokyo's CoD still has the red lighting.

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  3. Brilliant article, as usual! Nicely done sir.

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  4. Incredible article, as always!

    "Oh, "a chief appears"? I have no clue."

    My guess is that it means chief as in handkerchief or neckerchief in this context.

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  5. I took "A chief appears" to mean an Indian chief. Old mediums were known to produce "historic" figures. and right after the line he says, "other standard characters appear." But he hadn't really mentioned any characters at this point other than the mysterious "chief."

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    Replies
    1. I agree that "other standard characters appear" in context can only be a reference back to the chief. It's just that the idea of an Indian chief being a sort of stock character in manifestations at a typical seance is news to me. It might be fun chasing this down to a source or sources.

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    2. Okay, that didn't take long. Yes indeed, the appearance of Indian chiefs at seances back in
      Spiritualism's heyday was very common. I've updated the post.

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  6. "there is no Cabinet, howe'er so ill attended, but has some Indian there."

    Cabinet, cupboard...

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  7. Madame Z is alluding to Madame Zarkov, a character from the Adventurer's Club and also referenced in the BTMR queue as being from "The Museum of the Weird", the early HM concept.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for calling attention to the connection, but the allusion certainly runs in the opposite direction. "Madame Zarkov" was created in the late 80's, obviously inspired by Davis's "Madame Z...", created in 1964.

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  8. The idea of the ballroom crowd as a meeting of a club of old, retired ghosts seems to have endured in the minds of the Imagineers for years after the Mansion opened: in that 20-minute Mouse Factory special hosted by Phyllis Diller inside the Mansion, available on YouTube, she refers to the ghosts at the ballroom table as "the Over 400 Club". Or could that just be a coincidence?

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