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.


Monday, December 11, 2023

The New Hatbox Ghost in Orlando

As everybody in the Mansionite universe knows by now, the Hatbox Ghost made his debut in the WDW HM on November 30, 2023.



RIP to the "Donald Duck" chair.

UPDATE (March 2, 2024). The obvious question is why he was installed here and not just outside the attic like he is in Anaheim, only a few yards from where the original HBG stood. At first glance, it looks like the WDW location is a deliberate movie tie-in. As most of you know, in the 2023 movie the HBG makes his first appearance in the Endless Hallway:

And my eyes may be playing tricks, but it does look to me like the animation in the face of the new HBG makes him look more like the movie version. If so, it's quite subtle.

Not only that, but the knick-knacks on the shelf over Hattie's head (which is there
to camouflage the top of a new access panel) are actual props from the 2023 movie.

Peyton Cloudman

HOWEVER, I've been assured by extremely reliable sources that this really is an amazing coincidence and no more, that the location has nothing to do with the movie. I'm not at liberty to say much more about the actual reason why he wasn't put into the same spot as he is in the DL ride, but I am assured that it's rather humdrum stuff having to do with things like structural upgrades and building codes, prohibitive costs, and blah blah blah. At the same time, there was nothing that required he be put HERE rather than somewhere else like the ballroom or graveyard. If it had been up to me, and the attic and porch were ruled out, I'd have put him where the Caretaker is and moved the Caretaker across the track into a newly-created vantage point among the trees on your right side as you descend.

FURTHER UPDATE (March 24, 2024) I now have confirmation that (1) the announcement that HBG was coming to WDW was a complete surprise to WDI East; (2) their pleas to put him by the attic (like DL) or somewhere in the graveyard were ignored, because (3) Top Men at WDW gave WDI a minimal budget to do the install, and the structural work necessary to put him on the roof outside the attic would have broken the budget. He's heavy, and in order to do repairs on the figure, they have to be able to pull him backwards into a work area. That's why there's that open door and room behind him at DL and a camouflaged door behind him at WDW. The necessary structural work at WDW would have included a bigger area than you might imagine.

Anyway, he's where he is because WDW didn't want to spend the money needed to put him where he should be. And this location is an abomination. One of the eeriest and most hypnotic tableaux in the entire ride now has a three-ring circus inches away. No one can deny that the Endless Hallway is thoroughly upstaged and the atmosphere is destroyed. That alone is reason enough to hate this thing.

The Three-Act Play (Again)

The other problem, of course, is the violation of the 3-Act show that is the Haunted Mansion. That 3-Act thing is NOT "backstory." It IS the story. It is simply an outline of the actual show that is there. But you guys know all that. If anyone needs a more in-depth introduction to the 3-Act play, go HERE. The only thing I would add to that is the caution that even Imagineers and other HM experts have routinely gotten the outline of the three acts wrong.

Act One is everything before Leota.
Act Two is Leota.
Act Three is everything after Leota.

Here's Jason Surrell's discussion, but he's not the only one who can't find the correct break between Act Two and Act Three:

You can find evidence for the 3-Act structure in the early 70's. If you read attentively this Vacationland article (Fall-Winter, 1974-75), you can detect the 3-Act outline underlying its description of the ride:

The same team of Imagineers who gave us the 2015 HBG gave us the 2023 version as well, but I don't hold it against them personally. They have to do what they're told to do, and if they don't like it but want to keep their jobs, they have to shut up. What is abundantly clear is that the team was well aware that no ghosts are supposed to be visible before Leota. The official excuse is that the HBG is an "unhappy haunt" and can materialize whenever and wherever. He has no need of Mdm L's assistance.

This is weak tea, of course. After the Ghost Host has explained that the place is a retirement home for ghosts and calls them "happy haunts," it quickly becomes apparent that they are not happy at all. In the original monologue in the Corridor of Doors, the GH concedes the point:

"All our ghosts have been dying to meet you. This one can hardly contain himself."

"Unfortunately, they all seem to have trouble getting through. Perhaps Madame Leota can establish contact. She has a remarkable head for materializing the disembodied."

All. They're ALL "unhappy haunts" until Leota does her thing. Saying that the Hatbox Ghost is an U.H. doesn't really distinguish him much, does it? These lines, by the way, have an interesting history. They were there in the beginning. I distinctly remember them from August 14, 1969. But you don't have to take my word for it. Keith Murray rode the ride at the press preview August 12 and published his review in the Pasadena Star News on Wednesday the 13th. In it, he quotes some of these lines from memory:

The later history of this COD monologue is most curious. They were in and out and in and out:

    1) Aug 1969—ca. Sept 1969........................................Lines are in (less than a month)
    2) ca. Sept 1969—Sept 1995.......................................Lines are out (26 years)
    3) Sept 1995—May 2006............................................Lines are in (11 years)
    4) May 2006—Jan 2008.............................................Lines are out (2 years)
    5) Jan 2008 and Jan—June of 2012............   .. ....... .....Lines are sorta... kinda... (See below)

Things were weird during Jan 2008 and between Jan and June of 2012. You need to know that the GH monologue is repeated every three doombuggies, and during these two time periods it would sometimes be the case that a triad of doombuggies would omit the earlier, "We find it delightfully unlivable..." spiel but include the "All our ghosts ... contain himself" line, while the following triad of buggies experienced exactly the reverse of this! And none of them included the Leota lines.* It all had something to do with a fluky problem during the switchover from HMH back to the regular HM show. Either that or pranky spirits. Since 2012 (as far as I know), the COD lines have been out.

Someone during the major 1995 rehab apparently said, "Hey, why were these lines deleted? Let's put them back in." A stern email went out in May of 2006 from the very top of the food chain at WDI with the "request to permanently delete" the COD lines, and this—ahem—"request" included a warning: "If there is an incident where someone intentionally or accidentally reactivates them ... we will be forced to remove them entirely." Yikes. The next day they were out, so the leaked email was no hoax.

Even though they've now been utterly gone more than a decade, virtually all of the ride-thru souvenir CDs and whatnot that have been sold over the years include them. Every Mansion freak knows about them. They're "canon," if you want to use that term, and they ought to put to rest any doubts about whether the 3-Act play is really the story of the ride.

Shoehorning in the Hatbox Ghost

The 2023 team had to make lemonade out of the lemons the Top Men handed them. The best they could do is declare him an U.H. independent of the predicament Leota and she alone can solve. They have also gone out of their way to make it as clear as they can that the HBG is an intruder in the ride, an interloper, a party crasher, an uninvited guest. His luggage has been dumped unceremoniously in the Endless Hallway (there's a trunk there, not just extra hatboxes), and there are muddy footprints indicating that he's come in the side door, dropped off his stuff (a hand truck with extra hatboxes, like at Disneyland), and he's returned to the door and turned around to look at you. The footprints are already there in the concept art:

But they're more conspicuous in the ride, and the double-tracking (back and forth) is also clear.

pic by travel__time

The whole thing is theoretically possible, story-wise, because the nature of the problem that only Leota can fix is never explained. Some kind of curse, perhaps? In that earlier LF article, I offered my own explanation, which I still think makes good sense, but nothing in the ride is explicit on this point, so yes, it can be argued that the HBG has managed not to get stuck in the Act One predicament. Evidently he has evaded the problem because he was never invited to join the retirement home of happy haunts and has barged in anyway. That must mean that the retirement home invitation had a metaphysical flaw in it that turned the Mansion into a trap. Once they moved in, they found that they could not materialize.

All of this opens doors to more unwanted and unnecessary backstory, of course. Many HM fans will be thrilled at the prospect. Me? I thought the WDW HM was ruined in 2011, so this is just one more reason to continue thinking so. The Endless Hallway scene has been spoiled, and they had to have known it would be spoiled. Anyone with two functioning brain cells could have foreseen that. But they went ahead anyway. That alone tells you all you need to know. Sorry for being such a downer, Floridians, but that's my honest opinion.

*A big hat tip to bigcatrik at Micechat for this info.


Friday, June 30, 2023

Crump and Davis: Lost Artwork and Long-Forgotten Collaborations

There's a dandy piece of unpublished Marc Davis HM artwork that I've had locked in my files forever because I have not been at liberty to show it. However, I got a second copy of it recently with permission from the owner to post it, so AT LAST y'all will see a wonderful changing portrait concept from the master himself.

It's been around since the end of 1964 at least. You can see it in the background of the "Tencenniel" program aired in January of 1965 in anticipation of DL's tenth anniversary.

It's the "Great White Hunter" character. Apparently, Marc wanted to do a lot with this guy. He would have been a prominent denizen of the "Ghost Club Room," where a retired sportsman like the GWH could relax and enjoy his afterlife. We've all seen this artwork a gazillion times...

For the gags that Marc had in mind involving the tiger rug, see the sketches HERE. Anyway, what I want to draw your attention to today is the picture over the mantelpiece.

Before it was going to be a tiger, it was a rhino. Here's another unpublished sketch:

This might have been a concept sketch for a TALKING portrait rather than a changing portrait. Who knows where Marc wanted to take this gag. It's fun, knowing he created a character and had a number of different ideas about how to use him and how much. It turns out that the one well-known concept sketch of the tiger rug chomping on his butt was only the tip of the iceberg.

Notice the picture frame in both of the above sketches. It's composed of slain animals in a sort of Gaston-ish decoration. It reminds me of this concept sketch from the dearly departed Rolly Crump.

This is Museum of the Weird stuff, of course, but I have to wonder if Marc was inspired by Rolly or Rolly was inspired by Marc here, or if the resemblance is purely coincidental. (Note too Marc's water buffalo horns and Rolly's giant wings.) The "living doorframe" concept became a maquette at one point, by the way. See it behind the Coffin Clock maquette?

Rolly and Marc worked together on the Tiki Room, as we all know (scroll down to Point 5), and we've talked before about the strange chemistry between two very dissimilar artists who nevertheless seemed to borrow ideas from each other. I like to think that it was Marc who got ideas for his macabre, pitiless (or PETA-less) picture frame in part from Rolly's surrealistic doorframe.

I like to think so, because it means we can turn around and find an example of Rolly borrowing from Marc, in ANOTHER unpublished artwork. Well, technically not "unpublished," but unnoticed and unexplored. It's a full-sized, grayish-blue tombstone maquette over in Rolly's corner of the workshop and so probably a design of his. You can see it in at least three photos:

Walt and Julie Reihm

Walt, Julie, and Harriet Burns

Walt, Julie, and John Hench

Two of the photos are not too horrible, and they are at slightly different angles, which means you can create a "magic eye" 3-D version if you twiddle and fiddle with the photos until they line up, plus some other adjustments. It's not exactly View-Master quality, folks, but it works.

Is the skull wearing a conical hat? Or no, and is that a handle on the right? (The 3-D helps here. It looks to me like the lighter-colored bar is out a bit from the background.) In other words, perhaps it's not a hat but rather a hatchet. More of a tomahawk design, actually. Is Rolly borrowing an idea from a Marc Davis concept artwork directly across the room? It's fun to think so, even if the evidence is not clear enough to be sure.

In One Year and Out the Other

Brandon Hardy has solved a minor mystery. The so-called "Rolly Chair" that was added to the Séance Circle during the "Enhauntsments" of 2021 turns out to be an off-the-shelf item: A Deangelis Rattan wicker chair. See HERE. But around here if you oust one mystery, another moves in. Why has the chair been removed? At least as of now, it isn't there. Didn't come back after the HMH overlay this last winter. No one knows why. Maybe the owner of the chair's design went harrumph and the Disney lawyers up and panicked?

No such speculations can help us with the Bat Cage mystery, however. It showed up next to the Endless Hallway after the most recent HMH overlay, but just as mysteriously it disappeared after only a brief tenure. You might say it was removed in just the bat of an eye.

Jeff Baham


Sunday, April 23, 2023

Thirteen O'Clock (and RIP to a Friendly Bumpkin)

June 14, 2023. UPDATE on the so-called "Rolly Chair" in the Séance Circle HERE.

It's thirteen of the clock at Long Forgotten. (That's what "o'clock" means, 'case you didn't know.)

This is our thirteenth anniversary.
Lucky you, lucky me.

Thanks once again to all you readers. This anniversary should have been a fun one, but our countenances have fallen, our celebration is subdued, and our pain is still fresh after losing the last of our original A-team Haunted Mansion Imagineers, Rolly Crump, who left us March 12th.

Truly he lived and died a friendly bumpkin.

1971 pic by Lou Perry

His is the only original "family plot" tribute headstone that is still doing service at the Mansion,
as most of you know. Find him at the graveyard jamboree, not far from the opera pair.

A good place to pay your respects as you pass by.

Speaking of, there have been tributes to Rolly all over the web, so I won't bore you by repeating things others have said. As many of you know, Rolly's artwork can be found in places other than Disney or other theme parks. His calligraphic skills were in demand, and he did a lot of posters for events. You can spot them without much difficulty, once you get the knack, since his style was quite distinctive.

But I DO have something extra special. In our last post on Dorothea
Redmond, I mentioned how one of her artworks obviously inspired
something Rolly did, but I wasn't at liberty to show it to you.

Well, it pays to have friends in low places, as I've said before. Sometimes you end up with something otherwise verboten from a second source, which means it's sorta open season since no one can know where you got it once it can be got from more than one place. And sometimes something you thought was photographed only once, wasn't. But I can neither confirm nor deny . . . anything I just said.

So behold, a Rolly concept sketch for a Museum of the Weird sign. It's not the greatest piece of artwork Rolly ever produced, and it lacks his usual spidery calligraphy (although there IS a spider in it), and he painted over a spelling mistake (ha!), and it clearly is derivative from Dorothea's concept for a HM sign, but SO WHAT? It's a Rolly artwork you've never seen! One interesting feature is that it shows that at one time 1966 was an unofficial target date for the opening of the Haunted Mansion, which doesn't coincide with anything Mansion-related in that particular year that I'm aware of, so it's . . . weird. But all the more fascinating because of it.

Long Forgotten delivers the good goods, folks, and don'cha forget.

The Redmond sign concept once again, for comparison:

It seems that Dorothea's concept sketch inspired not one but TWO other designs.

"Here y'go, this is it.
Hmm? What? Oh, I'm sorry. I thought you asked me what my Sklar Sign is."

What this shows, really, is that back in the day, everything was everybody's,
and all of it was Walt's anyway, and you checked your ego at the door.

Because teamwork. Nuff said.

(Rare photo of a prop from the '59-'63 days when Rolly and Yale were the team working on the Mansion.)

A personal recollection. We visited the NY World's Fair in '64 or '65, and one thing I distinctly remember was this orchestra with instruments made from actual car parts, a display for the queue or the end-of-ride spill area of the Ford "Magic Skyway" attraction, created by Rolly Crump. Even at the age of 9 or 10, I thought it was neat-o mosquito and tough torpedo. Of course, I had no idea back then who was responsible for it. (The lady on the right has that look that says: "And just what the hell is THAT supposed to be?")