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, April 23, 2021

Our Elevendieth Year and Other Anniversaries (Plus: April in April!)


It's our eleventh anniversary! Pop the corks, and let the undecennial festivities begin! We're all familiar with "silver," "gold," and "diamond" anniversaries, true?  Well, unless I am very much mistaken, the eleventh is the "particle board" anniversary.

 

This is not to say that 2021 is a nothing year as far as Mansion milestones are concerned. Far from it. As some of the gang at "the Thread" have noted, 2021 is a banner year for anniversaries:

  • 50th anniversary of the Walt Disney World Haunted Mansion
  • 20th anniversary of the Nightmare Before Christmas/Haunted Mansion Holiday overlay
  • 15th anniversary of the original Long-Forgotten Haunted Mansion thread at Micechat
  • 15th anniversary of Constance Hatchaway's debut
  • 10th anniversary of the interactive queue and digital hitchhikers at the Orlando attraction
  • 5th anniversary of the return of the berm graveyard at Disneyland

Mind you, your blog administrator is not necessarily happy with all of those changes. You ... know ... he's ... not. But love 'em or hate 'em, they are significant events in the Mansion's history. Too bad the Long-Forgotten blog is off by one measly year and so misses inclusion on that impressive quinquennial list. But, *sniff* the same can be said of Phantom Manor (29 years), the attic Pianist (26 years), Doombuggies.com (24 years), and the new Hatbox Ghost (6 years).

 

May April March?

So now we have another item to add to that column: the return of April-December after an absence of seventeen years, plus about half a dozen lesser "enhancements." What shall we call this cluster? When the WDW was spruced up and received a set of new and improved effects in 2007, the clever collective name for it was the "Rehaunting" of the Florida HM. For the new changes to the Anaheim attraction, the only buzzword WDI seems to be throwing around so far is "enhancements."

I realize that most, if not all, of this blog's readers have already heard the news and seen that video. It makes for an awkward situation in that I can hardly pass by this announcement in silence while I kick back and salute our undecennial, but as I write, the return of April has only been announced, not witnessed, because the park won't reopen for another week or so. I will have more to say once first-hand reports start coming in. Plus, I'm planning on a DL trip in July, so I'll have my own observations. Eventually some old blog posts will need updating, but for now, I'll restrict myself to some remarks on the return of April-December as far as it can be observed in the materials currently out there, ignoring for now the other "enhancements," most of which are pretty sketchy at present.


March, April May!

Yes, march April may. In other words, if the pictures and videos can be trusted, Miss April will now be permitted to once again strut her stuff. The team responsible for the new April, led by Michele Hobbs, is to be warmly congratulated for their tasteful restraint and their respect for the prototype. The much-coveted Long-Forgotten seal of approval is hereby bestowed. As was the case with the new Hatbox Ghost in 2015, any temptation to overdo the new April-December appears to have been successfully resisted. April looks exactly as she did when she left us, except that she morphs through all six stages as originally painted by Ed Koch, not just two:
 

You will recall that "April" and "December" originally flashed back and forth with the lightning (i.e. two images), but at a very early date the effect went to a slow morph. There exists some remarkably good video of her from 1989, just twenty years into the ride's existence:
 
That two-panel set was the only version ever used in the ride, but it has long been common Mansionological knowledge that Marc Davis originally conceived the effect with four panels. It was not until November of 2015, when the above slide set came to light, that we learned that Marc's four was expanded to six and came very close to actually being used that way, morphing through the whole series. It appears to be the case that the new April reproduces exactly this full set, looking much like she would have looked if she had materialized in accordance with plans still in effect mere months away from opening day in 1969.

Granted, the new team's conservatism may have been more than simply a matter of respect for the original. If they had gotten cute and April had been singing and dancing and blowing bubbles, she would have created a slowdown in the line at that point. As it is, the full effect can be appreciated in a matter of a few seconds and shouldn't cause any traffic jams.
 
The setting for the New April is a new hallway cleverly carved out of one side of the Limbo Load area:
 


©DISNEY

 
©DISNEY
 
Here are a couple of "before" shots of the same area:
 
 yentsidtlaw1969
 
 Looking back:
 
 
 
From 2008, before the wheelchair access gate was installed:
 

Some props are apparently gone, alas.  C'est la vie, or should we say, C'est la mort?

[Spoke too soon. The urns are now collected together by the staircase.]




The folding metal screen on the left reminds me of a 2011 sketch
by "WDITrent," concerning which I have little information:
 

There are some among us who think that they may be trying to capture some of the beautiful
and mysterious indoor/outdoor ambiguity seen in this famous Claude Coats concept sketch:


That's all for now. We'll know more once eyewitness reports start trickling in.


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12 comments:

  1. I suppose this is as good a post as any to propose another possible Mansion inspiration/influence? In this case I'm wondering aloud if the "limbo" load area that is now being... um, 'enhanced', might have borrowed from a 1964 episode of The Outer Limits, "The Guests". A man finds himself trapped in an isolated Victorian mansion with some other permanent residents. Don't mind the extra-terrestrial in the attic--this mansion is effectively a creepy old haunted house, and while trying to find an exit, the man wanders into a black void area with only a few columns and door frames to mark the way (also quite similar to concept art for the corridor of doors). I thought I detected a similarity to the Mansion way back in the 70s when I first saw this episode in reruns. Unfortunately I can't find video anywhere, just a few screen grabs that only hint at the full scene (link to one below). It's a great episode for Mansion fans, even if there is no actual connection.
    https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-moqB9AGOq0s/W152LdEFQ2I/AAAAAAACbV0/I2flU5Xb9VooeYabC4hhT1953TMS2dcJgCLcBGAs/s1600/Outer%2BLimits%2B-%2BThe%2BGuests%2B%252840%2529.png

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  2. Interesting! Actually, that photo reminds me even more of one of Marc Davis's oft-published ballroom concept sketches about arriving guests. (It's in this lengthy post, about 2/3rds of the way down): https://longforgottenhauntedmansion.blogspot.com/2011/12/claude-coats-art-of-deception-and.html

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  3. Happy 11th! That means it's been 10 years since I started reading this blog, wowee. Also I had no idea Doombuggies.com wasn't newer.

    Seems the DL mansion is still paced the way it should be. The new pet cemetery looks tasteful; remains to be seen. (pun intended)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Heh heh. "Remains to be seen" = what happens in the stretchroom . . . for now.

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  4. Those bozos lit on "enhancements" and didn't realize the potential pun right at their fingertips?

    I'm gonna call them the new enHAUNTSments! You may steal it if you wish.

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    Replies
    1. I suspect that they use "enchancements" in lieu of "changes" or "additions," terms that trigger knee-jerk hostile reactions among the ultra-purists.

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    2. PR folks gonna PR, but my point was that once they decided on "enhancements," they should have realized that "en-haunts-ments" would be even better.

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  5. It looks like the April stage doesn't say "April". Am I just not seeing it? I thought each version was labeled...

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    Replies
    1. It's there, but only flashed very briefly. https://photos.app.goo.gl/Fiw6AKUfbAg7dn8T6

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  6. So for Covid concerns, Disneyland is occasionally having people go through the "chicken exit" as opposed to entering via the stretching room. There was a video shared on Tiktok of the space, which isn't fully themed but they did attempt to add touches to help. https://vm.tiktok.com/ZMe42FbxW/ is the video in question!

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    Replies
    1. I've actually had to use the chicken exit two years ago. The ride had just opened for the day, and we'd gotten to the load area, but apparently something was wrong.
      The chicken exit is like a surreal, black void that is completely different from anything else in the ride. I like that they're trying to bring some semblance of theming, although I'll miss the good ol' void.

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  7. I've seen the Disneyland Haunted Mansion by watching youtube videos people have posted. Actually, the "chicken exit" has been used for years for people who were too scared to go through the stretching room, people too scared to get on a doombuggy, or as an emergency exit. I found that out by reading the comments on one youtube video where an employee explains it. I believe HBG2 would love the hitchhiking ghosts; they appear to be the same, but I believe their heads move now.

    ReplyDelete