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, July 9, 2020

The Other Ken's Haunted House

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After all these years, our post on the tombstone epitaphs found in the Graveyard Jamboree finally reached completion only in the last month when Tom Morris helped identify the last, most stubborn holdout among the nine stones. Tom thinks that RESEER is a tribute to Larry Reiser, a project coordinator who may have done some project coordinating at the DL Mansion before heading to Florida, where he did most of his project coordinating. You can tell how much I understand these job titles.

To celebrate, let's take a look at a long forgotten project done by the man saluted in the NEKEESORF stone, one of the nine, found in considerable quantity throughout the cemetery. You will recall that NEKEESORF is a tribute to Imagineer Ken Forsse. We gave a little information about Ken in the "Nine Old Men" post and mentioned the fact that he created an elaborate haunted house model for a now-defunct amusement park, but the online source for that story is no longer available, so no can linky. That's a pity. It's a tale worth telling.

Mind you, we don't ordinarily concern ourselves here at LF with the outside projects of Disney Imagineers, but in this case we're performing a public service by rescuing something wonderful from the brink of extinction, and it's a haunted house project by a former Haunted Mansion Imagineer, so I don't think I'm going to take too much flak.


Young Ken:


The story and the photos which follow all come courtesy of Reed Savory, whom I wish to thank for his permission to share them here.

Reed and his wife Zahava paid a visit to Ken and his wife, Professor Jan Forsse, at the tail end of 2013. As he was ill and confined to bed, Ken was unfortunately not able to entertain visitors, and the Savorys didn't have a chance to actually meet him. It was Mrs. Forsse who shared the following with the Savorys. (Sadly, Ken passed away at the age of 77 just three months later, in March of 2014.)

Ken left Disney not long after his work on the Haunted Mansion, and in the early 70's he was contacted by the Sid and Marty Krofft organization about the construction of "The World of Sid and Marty Krofft," an indoor amusement park based on characters created by the Krofft brothers, to be built in Atlanta. They wanted Ken to design a haunted house for the park.

Ken worked nearly 18 months on the project, constructing a scale model filled with dollhouse-like props, all hand-made. Reed was able to take numerous photos of the huge model in the Forsse's basement, still in excellent condition after four decades.

"The World of Sid and Marty Krofft" opened in May of 1976 but closed after only six months due to poor attendance. I know what you're all thinking: "How could it miss with a whiz-bang name like that?" One of life's many mysteries, I suppose. Anyway, larger attractions, like Ken's haunted house, were never built. 

Forsse moved on and eventually struck gold in the 1980's with his Teddy Ruxpin doll, mentioned in the earlier post. That's what he's most remembered for. If not for the 2013 visit from the Savorys it's possible that all memory of his remarkable haunted house project some ten years before Teddy would have perished by now.

Feast your eyes.



Gotta love those lion's head knockers.



Looks like a pair of needle-nose pliers on the right. Helps to provide some scale.


In the photos, not many figures are visible inside the house, but there are some:




The details!


Yessss, an attic scene! All that incredible stuff, hand made.




Is that a coffin back there?


Those who knew him say Ken was an immensely talented guy. If we needed any proof, there it is.


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5 comments:

  1. Dan – I just wanted to thank you for bringing this information to the attention of the readers of your blog.

    Zahava and I were out for an evening stroll and literally had a chance encounter with Professor Forsse, whom we hadn’t previously met, and suddenly we found ourselves becoming the sole documentarians for information about her husband’s life, facts that were totally unknown to the world at large.

    Thank you for resurrecting my old blog article and pictures on this topic – Ken Forsse was a giant in his field, and his accomplishments should be known and celebrated.

    -Reed

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  2. Thank you for this article (and thanks to Reed Savory) - a very nice tribute to Ken Forsse. That model is incredible, I’m so glad that we can at least look at the photos (as you said: “The details!”). I’ve also been fascinated with “The World of Sid and Marty Krofft”, who doesn’t love a failed amusement park (see: Freedomland)? The perfect place for a Scooby Doo villain to lurk (wrong IP, I know). It’s intriguing to think of how the finished full-size house would have looked with dark, moody lighting, we’re seeing the equivalent of “flash photography” here.

    Do we have any idea if the haunted house attraction would have been a ride, or a “walk-through”? Maybe it was sort of a classic fun house. I fear that most (if not all) info has been lost, but I’ll bet there would have been a “Pepper’s Ghost” effect or two. Would they have gone for “funny” or for “scary”? Probably a little of both, I’d guess.

    The moment I saw that coffin in the last photo, I thought of the “Lemme outta here!” ghost from the Haunted Mansion. It does look like the lid is askew. H.R. Pufnstuf is trying to get out.

    How could you resist writing “Look at those knockers!” (as a nod to “Young Frankenstein”)?!

    I’m so glad to see new material on “Long-Forgotten”, thank you.

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    1. Looks to me like a walk-thru, which would have been mega-cool.

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  3. I was wondering the same things as the good Major. Also, I wonder if there was going to be a story involved or if it was going to be more of a typical "spook house?" I also wonder if the model still exists (or parts of it), what the layout was and if so where it is? A great ghost story always brings up more questions than it answers...

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  4. Great post! I was one of the few people who got to experience the World of Sid and Marty Krofft. I was 13 years old in 1976 and a huge fan of the Krofft shows and even I was a bit flummoxed by the small size of the park. Yes it was cool, but there was so little of it. You could see everything in a couple of hours. My parents dropped my brother and I off and we had to just kill time there while we waited for them to come back from shopping. I would have loved to have seen this haunted attraction. The park might have survived if it had had more attractions like this.

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