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.CONTINUE READING
Beware of Hitchhiking Ghosts
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?CONTINUE READING
Return From the Moldering Sanctum
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.CONTINUE READING
Haunted Mansion Gargoyle
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 underway. 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.CONTINUE READING
The Haunted Mansion Pet Cemetery
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.CONTINUE READING
Weird Glows Gleam Where Spirits Dwell
The Haunted Mansion is full of secrets. Some of them true. Some of them not. It is the mystery and the blurred line between the two that piques our curiosity and draws us in deeper. When I heard about the secret graveyard on the back side of the Mansion, I had to ask if it was real and see it for myself. It’s not one of those secrets that only a select few know. It’s more like one that the average visitor doesn’t know.
When I finally managed to make it, I was delighted to have the experience. What impressed me more than the pet cemetery plots was the light emanating from behind The Haunted Mansion. As the song goes, weird glows gleam where spirits dwell, right? I know it’s just light, but it was pretty darn creepy. Again, the thoughtfulness of Disney theming shone through. The only (park approved) way to get to this area is to be escorted by a cast member. To be escorted by a cast member, one has to know about it to ask. Once you’ve asked, you have to hope that there is a cast member available (don’t ask when it’s busy, it’s just bad manners). For an area that’s obviously not intended to be seen by many, this seems an unnecessary feature, which is what makes it so fantastic.
People can feel what’s poured into something, whether or not they can (ever) see it. If you pour the fire of passion into something, people will feel the heat even if they can’t see the flame. Disneyland is the perfect example of this (most of the time). No matter how seemingly insignificant a detail might be, it deserves the same level of attention, planning and execution.
In case you’re wondering, I didn’t dare round the corner. Sometimes it’s best to leave the mystery alive!