Alright, this entry is a little late. But better late than never.The 9th of August marked the 40th anniversary of Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion. The spooky fan favorite has entertained those brave enough to enter since 1969 when it first opened its doors. I have always been a big fan of Disneyland, and especially of the Haunted Mansion. My second favorite style (mid-century being my first) is the southern plantation style and wrought iron of New Orleans, so walking into New Orleans Square in Disneyland has always made me smile.
My dad attended Disneyland opening week in July of 1955.Growing up in the suburbs of LA, he attended often and witnessed changes as they happened. He continually mentioned that the exterior building for the Mansion stood “empty” six years before it opened. Built in 1963, the imposing building made Disney goers curious and rumors spread like wildfire – “It’s too scary! People have been having heart attacks!” was a common claim. Now, 40 years and a few tweaks later, the Mansion still gives chills and thrills today.
In the Mansion’s 40th anniversary year, Disney has launched a new magazine, Disney Twenty-Three. (23 because that is the year that Disney Studios opened) The magazine is chalk full of goodies and inside stories. In the fall issue, the Haunted Mansion is the cover story with a ten page article inside. The story brings little of anything new to me. I already knew about the infamous Hat-Box Ghost, the fact that the organ in the ballroom was Captain Nemo’s in 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, and other changes and rumors. New to me however was the pre-opening “phone booth” idea where a phone booth would be placed outside with the voice of a “trapped worker” on the inside, followed by a ghost saying “You’ll be seeing through us sometime in the future” and the original concept of the raven which is seen through out the ride. Originally, he was to be the ghost host and he was trapped inside a raven’s body due to a curse of a pendant he wore. The article is written by the Disney Photo Library manager, Ed Squair, who actually never attended Disneyland until 1990, but was fascinated by Disneyland, and especially the Haunted Mansion as a kid growing up watching The Wonderful World of Disney. His writing style is annoying to say the least, and filled with quips that seem to boast and brag about his Mansion collection and the fact that he works at Disneyland.
D23 is spendy to boot. At $15.95, it’s painful to purchase. However, I am puddy when it comes to Disneyland, especially when regarding the Haunted Mansion.The Mansion story, thankfully, wasn’t the only interesting article. After it is a three page story about the history of the Blue Bayou (the restaurant inside Pirates of the Caribbean). This story is much better written and even includes the recipe of the most popular item on the menu, the Monte Cristo Sandwich – the article claims that 200 of them are ordered a day! There is also a story about the first major revision that happened at Disneyland, in 1959 as well as a bit on the upcoming Toy Story 3.
If you are interested in getting the inside scoop on The Haunted Mansion there are several sources I recommend Jason Surrell’s book: The Haunted Mansion: From the Magic Kingdom to the Movies and the extensive fan website, Doombuggies.com. Both include outstanding, indepth information about the original Haunted Mansion and its counter parts around the world, as well as the Holiday Haunted Mansion, and the film that was released in 2003, which really wasn’t all that good. Personally, I blame Eddie Murphy. I don’t care much for his style. The behind the scenes special that is on the DVD is interesting, which you can watch on YouTube!