Scenes from the Haunted Mansion plus facts and story

Land: Liberty Square
Designer: WED Enterprises
Theme: Haunted houseOpening date: October 1, 1971
Hosted by: Paul Frees as the Ghost Host
Music: Buddy Baker

The Haunted Mansion was an opening-day attraction at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom, opening in 1971. This attraction was developed at the same time as the Disneyland version, resulting in a very similar experience to the Disneyland version, though the slightly larger show building allowed the addition of several new scenes. The attraction was placed in Liberty Square, a small land that was a tribute to colonial America, as the Magic Kingdom did not have a New Orleans Square. Thus, the Mansion was given a Dutch Gothic Revival style based on older northeastern mansions, particularly those in older areas of Pennsylvania and in the Hudson River Valley region of New York. The mansion is surrounded by large oak trees adorned with Spanish moss, red maples, and pines, all of which are native to Florida.

* Guests enter from Liberty Square.

* An invisible phantom horse and hearse, this one black, also waits here.

* One feature unique to the Florida mansion is a tombstone for Madame Leota. On it is a bronze carving of her face that, by way of animatronics, occasionally opens its eyes and looks around.

* In the back of the pet cemetery (top left), there is a headstone of Mr. Toad in tribute to Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, which closed in 1998.

Guests enter a chamber in which the floor is stationary while the ceiling itself rises, as do the portraits. As both rides (Florida and Tokyo) were built on stable ground, there was no need to lower guests down and out of the park. For the 2007 refurbishment, Walt Disney World’s stretch room was given new wallpaper and stretching sounds. After the stretching sequence, as guests exit, they can hear the gargoyles whisper.

* After boarding the Doom Buggies, guests are taken through a room containing a stairwell leading up to a landing, where a candelabrum floats above. Two of the sinister 11 portraits are located here. The Doom Buggies then take guests down a long portrait corridor, past flashing lightning windows and ghostly portraits similar to those in Disneyland’s changing portraits corridor (minus the Master Gracey portrait).

* Passing under an archway, guests enter a library with staring busts, moving ladders, flying books, and an unseen ghost rocking in a chair reading a book by candlelight. After this is a music room where a shadow plays a mellow version of Grim Grinning Ghosts on a rundown piano. A stormy forest is shown in the window behind the piano.

* The Doom Buggies then ascend a room full of staircases that defy the laws of physics (like the art of M.C. Escher). Green footsteps stomp across the upside down and side-way stairs, which creates a very disturbing sense. At the top of the stairs thousands of blinking eyes look around and fade into demon-faced wallpaper.

# All parks (except Paris)

* As guests ascend a narrow staircase, whether from the load hall at Disneyland and Disneyland Paris or in the grand staircase scene in Walt Disney World and Tokyo Disneyland, guests come across a living suit of armor, a chair which is embroidered with a hidden abstract face, and a long, narrow corridor down the center of a parlor. Partway down the corridor is a candelabrum, floating eerily down the hallway.

# All parks (except Paris)

* As guests pass through the conservatory, the Doom Buggy is spun to face backward. On the side of the room is a glass room. Dead flowers adorn the whole room with a coffin in the center. A raven sits perched atop a wreath with a banner that reads “Farewell”. The coffin’s lid is being raised by a pair of skeletal claws while a green glow radiates from the inside. The coffin seems to be nailed shut, which explains why the corpse inside is screaming for help.

Similar to the Disneyland mansion, but with newly drawn portraits and a different version of the hanging man’s portrait (this time depicting the same decrepit man, but with a shadow of a man raising an axe behind him).

# All parks: Each clock hall contains a single grandfather clock with demonic features. As the shadow of a claw reaches over the face of the clock, the hands spin wildly counter-clockwise, striking the number 13 every other second. The clock’s swinging pendulum resembles a demon’s pointed tail.

# All parks (except Disneyland Paris)

* After leaving the Seance circle, guests arrive at a balcony overlooking festivities below in a ballroom, with a number of ghosts dancing and making merry. Ghosts are seen entering the room through a broken door, where a hearse is crashed with its coffin sliding out. Eerie wraiths are seen flying in and out of the windows above. A merry ghost is seen sitting atop the mantle of a fireplace (spitting out green flames) with his arm wrapped around a familiar bust. An elderly ghost is seen rocking back and forth in a chair while knitting a sweater. Many ghosts have gathered around a dinner table, where a birthday ghost is blowing out 13 candles on a cake. A ghost version of Julius Caesar can be seen at the far end of the table. A massive chandelier hangs above the table where the ghost of Cleopatra and Mark Antony also a couple of drunks are swinging about, hanging on with their canes. Another balcony is seen across the room, where a curtained doorway is situated between two portraits of duelists. From time to time, the ghosts of the two duelists appear and shoot each other with their pistols. A number of elegantly dressed couples are seen below, waltzing to a haunting version of the theme song “Grim Grinning Ghosts”, played on a large organ. The organ is played by a ghostly gentleman while skull-like banshees fly out of the organ pipes. At Walt Disney World, shortly after the 2007 refurbishment, one of the sinister 11 portraits was relocated here. At Disneyland, the organ is the actual prop of Captain Nemo’s organ that was used in the film 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. While the organ console remains the same, a bat-shaped note stand at the console has replaced the mirror and the pipes are arranged differently from the design in the film. At the other parks, the organ is a replica of the original.

The Story and Song From The Haunted Mansion

Disneyland Records released The Story and Song From The Haunted Mansion as a record album in 1969. It featured the story of two teenagers, Mike (Ron Howard) and Karen (Robie Lester), who get trapped inside the Haunted Mansion, with Thurl Ravenscroft as the Narrator, Pete Reneday as the Ghost Host, and Eleanor Audley as Madame Leota. Some of the effects and ideas that were planned but never permanently made it to the attraction are mentioned here: the Raven speaks in the Stretching Room, and the Hatbox Ghost is mentioned during the Attic scene. It was reissued in 1998 as a cassette tape titled A Spooky Night in Disney’s Haunted Mansion.

A second reissue was released on CD in 2009 for the Halloween season. It used the original title of The Story And Song From The Haunted Mansion and used the original cover artwork. Along with the story from the record, the CD also contained the song “Grim Grinning Ghosts” in its entirety as a separate track. The CD was also enhanced with high resolution artwork drawn by Collin Campbell. The CD’s case doubled as a story book depicting various scenes from the attraction with illustrations by Collin Campbell.

Previously, as the Haunted Mansion attraction was in its planning stages and still known as “The Haunted House,” Disneyland Records released the album Chilling, Thrilling Sounds of the Haunted House (1964), a collection of sound effects and brief “stories in sound” introduced by a narrator, Laura Olsher. Many of the sound effects, originally created for the vintage Disney cartoons, were later used in the Haunted Mansion ride. Disneyland Records used the same title in 1979 for a new album of sound effects and story situations.

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