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, 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.


Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Penn & Teller on the Haunted Mansion (except for Penn)

Everyone knows about Penn & Teller, I trust. The quieter half of the magical duo is Raymond Teller, and you may be interested to know that he is one of us:

"As you might imagine, I'm a long-standing fan of the Haunted Mansion, mainly because it contains such beautiful use of the classic Peppers Ghost in the ballroom scene. In fact, this version is even more classic than that. It harks back to Dircks, who actually invented the principle in 1858. The very idea that the lame amusement park Spook House, with its air-jets to blow up girl's skirts, could become such a work of art just thrills me.”

From Carlene Thie, Homecoming Destination Disneyland (Riverside, CA: Ape Penn Publishing LLC, 2005), p. 108.


And just WHAT, pray tell, is wrong with air-jets up girls' skirts? Here, at least, we'll just have to agree to disagree. Anyway, Teller is correct that Henry Dircks was actually the man who rediscovered what is called the "Peppers Ghost" effect. (I say re-discovered, because the illusion had been around for centuries.) He didn't have the money or the know-how to successfully market the trick, but John Henry Pepper saw Dircks' effect, and he DID know how. He figured out a cheaper and simpler way of achieving the effect and actually partnered with Dircks. "Pepper," however, is the name that stuck, so he gets the credit that probably should belong to Dircks. Since both of them have "Henry" in their name, maybe it should have been called "Henrys Ghost." But who said life has to be fair, or even make sense?



  1. Always liked those two (especially Teller for his illusory skill).

    I assume by now you've heard that A/D is returning to Anaheim! Very exciting things happening over there.

  2. By the way, I believe Teller actually hates his deadname, and does not like people using it. He has legally changed his name to just Teller.

    1. This isn't a criticism but I've never heard the phrase deadname used to refer to a cis person before!

  3. “Henry's Ghost” just makes me think of that unproduced 1930s Mickey-Donald-Goofy feature film project about Henry Morgan's Ghost

  4. What, no more air jets? And I was going to wear my kilt!
    As an aside, I can certainly understand how the effect had been known for centuries. I think most people have had the weird experience of seeing something out a window, only to discover (usually with a start) that it is actually in the room with them. Cats seem especially good at pulling off this trick (without trying) for some reason. The main issue would seem to be learning a way to turn it into a controlled illusion, rather than happenstance. The Haunted Mansion, of course, controls the heck out of it to the tune of thousands of individual performances a day!