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.


Thursday, March 3, 2022

Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Grue...some

Some new items have been noticed at the Anaheim Mansion since the seasonal HMH has been retired for 2022. One has gotten a lot of attention, the other one hardly any, and yet it is the second one that is the really good one (and, it turns out, isn't entirely new). It represents something very old fashioned. That in turn leads us to consideration of something rather gruesome but fun, and finally, we end the post with a postscript to the previous post about Maleficent's torture chamber in the Sleeping Beauty walk-thru, and that one is all about borrowing. So there you have it.


Something New

A couple of things, actually. People have noticed that a replica of the Haunted Mansion is now perched next to the Ambrose tableau in the attic:

pic SFgate

I really don't understand it at all. Everybody keeps saying, "Oh, it's a dollhouse!" and I guess that's what it HAS to be, but to my eye it looks more like a modern, plasticky piece of ©Disney merch than an authentic Victorian dollhouse. And as if to drive the point home, directly behind it there is what looks very much like . . . an authentic Victorian dollhouse! That one has been there for years. Why add another one right next to it? Sorry, I just don't get it.

EDIT (4/14/22): Congrats to Dalton Whiteside at FB for identifying the source of the model:

Anyway, I'm not going to grouse too much about this, because there is ANOTHER new addition to the ride that has received almost no attention and is very nice indeed. In fact, I'm giving it the coveted Long-Forgotten seal of approval.  *golf claps*
Something Old

Old-fashioned, that is. In the Conservatory, they've done some sprucing up of the floral arrangements around the coffin. Most importantly, something has attracted attention on the left-hand side, on the floor, below the raven:

pic by Shannon Nesbitt

"With Love Affectionate, Father Husband."

Hardly anyone seems to have noticed it, and even when they have, it's been a killer to photograph. I've been begging someone to try to get a good shot for weeks, and dear Shannon at the FB HM fanclub site finally came through with one just today. Kudos, Shann. Until now we've had to make do with fuzzy screen grabs off of videos, like this. (See the raven, top right?)

UPDATE: New and better pictures HERE.

It turns out that these items have been around for some time, but the big card has been in a different spot, harder to see.

So what is it? Well, what it appears to be is an authentic bit of Victoriana.

Them Vics loved them some personalized floral arrangements at funerals.

I really like this addition for a number of reasons. First, it's subtle, understated, and unannounced, like all good HM enhauntsments should be. Second, the difficulty in noticing it and deciphering it, let alone photographing it, only makes it more agreeable to my tastes. Call me perverse. (Just don't do it too loudly and too often or the patrol dogs might find you and hit you with the ban stick. That's life on social media these days, kids.) It's a secret Mansion goodie only us hardcore know about (at least at this point). Third, the thing itself is not cutesie or cartoony or cynically calculated to sell more tacky HM merch. On the contrary, this little enhauntsment serves no obvious purpose other than to emphasize that the house is a normal, historically accurate Victorian house that happens to be haunted. Which is the correct exegesis of the Mansion.

Gee, what with the Hatbox Ghost, the April-December portrait, and now this, I have to say I'm mostly pleased with the tone of most of the enhauntsments in Anaheim over the last decade or so. (The new berm graveyard was mostly okay, too.) Maybe I'm just getting soft in my old age? Naaaah. 


Something Grue - some

The "borrowed" thing belongs in a postscript below, so not only are we mangling the jingle but we're going out of order. Call me perverse.

(Oh yes, please do).

That new bit of Victoriana in the Conservatory is actually a perfect set-up for this next item. I've always known that the Vics were pretty eccentric and had morbid senses of humor, but I didn't realize that one of their predilections was perfectly in tune with the Mansion's attic portraits. You all know how all of Connie's husbands' heads come and go. Here they are gone, which is much the more difficult phase to photograph, but Daveland, you rock, brother.

Note that these are not presented as paintings but as tinted photographs. That's significant, because I just learned recently that the Victorians loved to make comic photos of themselves in a state of decapitation. You have to wonder if the Imagineers were inspired by photos like these:

 A fad. Practically a craze. And note that they didn't mind adding a little grue to the photo-trickery. 
I call this last one, "George's Revenge."

Serves her right.

I have to admit that discovering this Victorian fad gives me some grudging new respect for the attic portraits. In my book they've always been one of the only good things about the 2006 attic renovation anyway, and now they seem more authentic than ever. (Connie can still disappear anytime, and I'll shed no tears for her departure, but you already knew that.)


Something Borrowed (A Postscript)

The previous post about Maleficent's torture chamber in the Sleeping Beauty walk-thru did ignore one item in the scene that maybe should have been included. Hanging over on the far right is this thing that looks like a giant "morning star" mace, hanging from a long swag chain:


Here's Chris Merritt's digital recreation of what the original 1957 specimen looked like:

I am not at liberty to show you the original prop as it appears on Ken Anderson's blueprints, but I can tell you it looks a lot like this:

It's obviously modeled on that well-known piece of medieval weaponry, the "morning star" flail mace, except that it's ludicrously large, in keeping with the surreal-unreal ambiguity of Mal's torture chamber:

The question before the bar (and where did that bartender go? My glass is empty). Anyway, the question is: was this item borrowed from Piranesi's Imaginery Prisons, like several other items in the tableau certainly were?

Not directly, no. But I can't help noticing that Piranesi's prisons are simply chock-full of huge, suspended light fixtures that certainly look very unfriendly, and that some rather nasty, spiky things are frequently found lurking in the vicinity. It's pure speculation, but since we know for a fact that Ken drew inspiration for his dungeon from these prints, it's not hard to imagine him combining some disparate elements found in them to create the giant mace in Maleficent's playroom.





    I kid. Your Mansion scholarship continues to delight me, year after year. Thank you!

  2. Wow. Just, wow.
    I thought I had a pretty good grasp on those crazy Victorians, but I had never heard of the decapitation game. I guess it fits in with their preoccupation with death, but man, it's weird! The "custom added gore" option just really pushes it over the top.
    I knew you had been trying to get a clear shot of the Conservatory sign, and I'm glad you did. I agree that it adds to the scene without hitting people over the head, something the present imagineers haven't been able to accomplish in quite a while.
    The miniature mansion is pretty lame, though. Especially since they didn't even bother to move the dollhouse. Still, it seems to be what everybody is freaking out about online, saying how wonderful it is. There's no accounting for (lack of) taste.

  3. Fascinating as always. Thank you, HBG2.


  4. Only tangentially related, but still a fun little tidbit, you can still view an authentic 19th century funerary arrangement like the examples in the above post at the Ulysses S. Grant Cottage National Historic Landmark in Mt. McGregor NY. It remained in the house since Grant's funeral in 1885 (the site was opened as a tourist attraction only five years later).

  5. So happy whenever there's an update here. I love reading new posts.

  6. Now I'm going to be singing "With her head tucked underneath her arm" all day!

  7. I'm so glad someone finally got a photo of one of the "funeral letters" added to the conservatory scene! From what I can tell there's a few, but that one is the only one really readable from the buggies.
    Also, I know the attic stuff is mostly random junk (including, based on the photo of that mini model, old Disney merch--I think it matches a Haunted Mansion playset the parks sold a few years back), but has anything been said about the baby carriage in the attic, now placed across the track from Constance herself with the latest re-shuffle? The idea of Constance being around babies seems concerning in a way Disney probably didn't intend!

    1. Actually, there has always been a pram in the attic, and like some other junk, it's been moved around over the years. I've got a 1975 picture of the bride (still the original corpse bride then) with what looks like that same pram to her right and behind her, pointing in a different direction, but not three feet away from where it is now.