We're back, and with some hopefully haunting secrets to let you in on about one of the Park's most popular attractions, The Haunted Mansion. As we posted prior, the attraction opened in 1969 after a long standing (literally) pause on the release. The attraction sat dormant for years, until they opened their doors to the mortal crowd to visit on August 9th, 1969.
The Mansion was originally supposed, like Pirates of the Caribbean, to be a walk through attraction. It was released to the public by Walt in 1958. At this point, Imagineers were looking at ideas and concepts for a theme of the building the ghosts were to be housed in. Some of the final designs were inspired by the Shipley-Lydecker House in Baltimore, Maryland, the Evergreen House near the Johns Hopkins University, or the Stanton Hall in Natchez, Mississippi.
Aside from the architectures, there was a variety of story concepts for the attraction. One involved setting the mansion with the owner being a old sea captain who vanished mysteriously years ago, with the tour being introduced by a butler or maid, who would point out some of the sight gags through the walk through attraction. However, this changed over several script re-writes and story changes with ideas being thrown around as a construction crew wanting to rebuild the mansion, but got stopped by the ghosts and spirits pranking and tricking them, to Walt Disney himself welcoming the guests to the house to visit a wedding going on, and even one with the Headless Horseman making an appearance.
As they came up with the concept for stories over time, Walt had to make a big bet on whether or not to really show off his stuff at the World's Fair in the mid 60's. So he took the risk, built four separate attractions for Ford Motor Company, General Electric, The State of Illinois, and Pepsi/UNICEF. All four of them paid off, and all eventually made their way to homes inside Disneyland. But when they got back from this, they discovered new ride systems to work for not just the Mansion, but also Pirates of The Caribbean, as we've written in a previous post. The Omnimover system came in, and helped constantly be a "people eater" attraction, since the attraction never "stopped", guests were constantly being filtered on/off the ride, and it moved seamlessly.
As the attraction was being built, guys at WED (the name prior to WDI) were working at creating and perfecting as many gags and visual tricks to bring those ghosts to life in the mansion. Rolly Crump, and Yale Gracey worked on the gags such as the floating candelabra, the appearing/disappearing ghosts, and one cult-famed Hatbox Ghost trick that never quite turned out right...but that's for the next chapter in this chilling series of posts...