I came across this photo recently as I was going through my library. I smile every time I think of Ernie. There was something of heaven in the way he played. His music was gentle and could turn a sour mood sweet in no time. I’m grateful for every moment I got to bask in it.
New Orleans Square
Spring is here and I have to say that I’m ready for it. The weather has been warming up a little here in San Diego and the fresh air makes me want to get outside every chance I get.
Birds are singing a merry tune each morning. Flowers along the road on the drive to work are blooming in such vibrant colors. It sets a wonderful tone for the day. And then, of course, they’re there to perk you up on the way home again.
The photos below were taken exactly one year ago at Disneyland in New Orleans Square. There’s a planter that runs parallel to Café Orleans and it often has the most beautiful roses. These were some of the best I’ve seen. They were fragrant too! I’m afraid technology hasn’t given us a scratch ‘n sniff screen for me to share that part of the story just yet.
This is one of my favorite views in all of Disneyland. I can’t quite put my finger on a single reason. I think it’s more what the pieces add up to.
The flag stands tall atop this roof and appeals to my patriotism. New Orleans Square is my favorite land in the park—though it was more favorite before the Club 33 renovations—and this building conveys that charm. This building sits atop Pirates of the Caribbean, which was my favorite attraction for many years; I think that changed about the time Jack Sparrow took residence, despite loving his film debut. That staircase used to lead to the Disney Gallery, which while enjoyable to visit in its current location, can’t compete with climbing those stairs and walking through art exhibits in rooms filled with natural light or stepping out on that balcony for the grandest view of the Rivers of America.
Oh, and the gorgeous John Hench Disney Gallery poster that my parents have hanging in their house.
Then there’s the whole it was intended to be Walt’s apartment in the park thing.
I remember a moment, standing in just about this same spot, from a day we spent with the person who would quickly become the first friend we made through this blog. I thought to myself, “This is really awesome, getting to meet cool people by sharing pictures of Disneyland to a blog.”
This view—this one view—is a sensory trigger to all of that for me… and it never occurred to me until sitting down to write this.
Do you have any spots like that?
There are so many vignettes at Disneyland. I don’t know about you but I often find myself creating backstories for them. I assume that’s part of the intent, to evoke a history and draw interaction from guests’ imaginations. To the Imagineers responsible for these scenes — mission accomplished. It’s crazy to stop and consider how much these parts add up to and how many there are in making the whole experience.
I’m a big believer in finishing strong and I couldn’t imagine a better way to end our Haunted Mansion series than with the hitchhiking ghosts. Phineas, Ezra and Gus comprise one of the biggest takeaway moments—if not the biggest—from the attraction. Are the hitchhiking ghosts really a little matter the ghost host forgot to mention?
I don’t think so.
I remember being so freaked out as a kid, thinking I needed to look over my shoulder because one of these “playful spooks” was going to tag along. They never actually did, of course, but the idea of it was haunting just the same. It sort of still is, isn’t it? The mirrors that follow and have them magically appear in your doom buggy do wonders to reinforce it.
No matter how many times I ride The Haunted Mansion, the reveal of the hitchhiking ghosts is always so epic and always too fleeting. You go from “Ah, there you are…” to “…there they were” in a few thrilling moments. Capturing a halfway decent picture of them certainly isn’t an easy task. Shooting something that moves in lowlight from a moving vehicle is kind of like trying to catch the bouquet at a wedding. You flail about wildly in hopes of capturing something good but the odds are just not in your favor. Not that I’ve ever done that or anything…
You may notice that I haven’t included the full resolution image for this one. We don’t share many on-ride shots because we’ve been hoarding them away for a special project but we wanted to do something special to end our series. The uploaded image is still high-definition so that it will work for most people to use as a desktop background. Just remember that if you share it to please give attribution and a link back to our site so that people can find us! This image will also be available in our shop (starting tomorrow) along with the other Haunted Mansion shots from this series for a limited time. Did I mention we now offer FREE SHIPPING? Sorry to yell but free=exciting.
Doom buggies. Their appearance has always seemed coffin-like to me. They are the carriages that carry you into the boundless realm of the supernatural, the moldering sanctum of the spirit world within the Haunted Mansion. Once you board, you are at the mercy of your host, your… ghost host.
One of my favorite parts of the experience is the way the doom buggies jerk too and fro as though they have a mind of their own. Challenging for taking pictures. Brilliant for enhancing the haunted part of the Haunted Mansion. It elevates the attraction from something you can observe as a passerby by bridging the gap to make you feel a part of it. Not so different from the way the darts shoot at you in Indiana Jones Adventure or the way errant cannonballs splash water on you in Pirates of the Caribbean.
In The Haunted Mansion, that extra step is what breaks down the barrier of comfort just enough for you to wonder if a hitchhiking ghost will really follow you home…
Tomorrow’s post will be the 13th and last of our Haunted Mansion series celebrating its 45th anniversary. We hope you’ve enjoyed it as much as we have!
The Haunted Mansion gargoyle candelabra is my favorite lighting fixture of the attraction. Not just for its unique character but for the menacing way the lot of them look down upon you as your tour really gets under way. While the queue outside and even the Haunted Mansion foyer have elements that evoke a creepy atmosphere, the gargoyle is the first that is truly disquieting. Before you notice that the portrait room is a chamber that has no windows or doors and before the room undergoes its metamorphosis to reveal the stories of the stretching portraits, you see the gargoyles, looking down at you in decidedly candid nefarious anticipation. Statues they may be, but their lack of movement can only suggest their willingness to wait.
The Haunted Mansion pet cemetery at Disneyland is another one of those rich areas that you know has more to it than meets the eye. One of my favorite resources to consult on such matters is the Long-Forgotten blog, which is full of Haunted Mansion history, conspiracy, theory and everything in between. The pet cemeteries article over there has some interesting thoughts on the influence behind some of these tombstones. Like one of the commenters there, I view this area as a sort of transition from the romantic charm of New Orleans Square to the more sinister storyline that awaits inside the Mansion.
I took this picture on the same evening I took yesterday’s picture. Disneyland’s normal operating hours were ending and the gates to The Haunted Mansion were closed. Thanks to the graciousness of a couple cast members, we had this area to ourselves for a few minutes. That’s always when the atmosphere becomes the creepiest.