Haunted Mansion spiel to be scripted

Melanie sez, "Apparently some guests of Walt Disney World's Haunted Mansion have been complaining about the "offensive" ad-libbed lines spoken by the interactive staff in the foyer of the building so someone has decided that the staff will now undergo acting classes and memorize a script of lines to speak to riders."

Truth be told, those macabre remarks that all of those "butlers" and "maids" have made to Disneyland & Walt Disney World guests over the years were never actually scripted. They were just ad-lib lines that got laughs that -- over time -- then became the pro forma dialogue used in the Foyer and the Portrait Gallery.

Well, that's all about to change. According to my sources at WDI, in order to prevent squeamish guests from being offended by semi-improv-ed remarks like "Please follow the blood red carpet into the Foyer," the Imagineers have now written an official script for the Mansion's entrance area. What's more, the cast members who work at both the Anaheim & Orlando versions of this attraction will soon supposedly be asked to attend acting classes. Where they will then be taught the official staging & blocking for this new script.

As you might imagine, once the news of this proposed change started making the rounds among Disney cast members who work at the Mansion, the grousing began. As one Disneyland vet put it:

"Half the fun of working in the entrance area at the Mansion is that you got to play a character of your own devising. You could put a silly or sinister spin on the butler or the maid. It was all up to you. But now with this official script and the new blocking, that's all going to change. It won't be nearly as fun as it used to be to work at the Mansion."

Link (Thanks, Melanie!)


  1. No matter what the industry, if the employees are having fun, the customers are having fun. If the employees are miserable, the customers are miserable. Why don’t businesses get this simplest of facts?

  2. “It won’t be nearly as fun as it used to be to work at the Mansion.” At least you’re not walking around in 95 degree heat in a Pluto costume. I think it’s surpising that in this day and age, employees of a corporation such as Disney were given that much ‘artistic freedom’ to begin with….

  3. I heard there were also plans to make it completely simulated, so you just jack in and experience the whole thing straight to your cortex. I heard they were planning the same thing for the Hall of Presidents! They must be stopped.

  4. Offensive? Jeez, more parents who won’t be happy until little Dakota and Shane are raised entirely in hamster balls. Like someone making a pithy comment about blood-red carpet or other ghoulish little jibe is going to cause the snot-nosed punks to need therapy. Raising up a generation of sissies.

  5. “Please follow the blood red carpet into the Foyer” is what bothers people? It’s not profane, obscene, explicit or even especially gruesome. What is wrong with this? I’m not even being sarcastic here, it’s just so genuinely strange.

  6. I was recently at Disneyland, or rather, California Adventure (Disneyland 2.0), and we had the funniest dude as our guide/elevator operator on the ‘Tower of Terror’ ride.

    The guy was obviously improving, and was putting on this creepy/corny sort of persona which was absolutely hilarious. Adding to it was the fact that he was a rather portly young man wearing the weirdly ridiculous old-fashioned Bellboy sort of costume.

    We kept going back, not only because the ride a blast, but we were hoping to get that same guy again. Sadly, we never did.

    Say no to scripts for Disney Cast Members!

  7. I’d like to know exactly what remarks caused the complaints. Was it actually the blood red carpet one, or is that just an example of the sort of thing they ad-lib?

    Anyway, it does seem like a shame; part of the fun is hearing what they come up with, especially if you go there often.

  8. Rest assured, if there is a way to fake it, Disney can do it. Why even bother with real humans? Disney is so plastic. Dreamy, ain’t it?

  9. I’d think sending their staff to improvisation classes would be a better way to go.

    Then just add a “skin must be this [—] thick” sign at the entrance, next to the height requirement.

  10. Wait, let me see if I get this right, some people are actually upset over lack of individual creativity and spontenaity at a freaking DISNEY park?

    Holy crap, get a grip.

  11. It’s the typical corporate response. Somebody somewhere may be complaining about things that might reflect badly on our company, so we’d better squelch any individuality and make sure that the employees are good corporate drones.

  12. @ #11: I don’t know about that. They may have an outline, but I’ve been on the Jungle Cruise (at Disneyland) several times in the last 3 months and the guides definitely improvise, too.

  13. Bah. People still go to the Disney parks? I avoid that place like the plague.

    I am surprised to hear that they still employ human beings, though.

  14. @#16, etc.:

    A friend of mine used to work Jungle Cruise and ditched it for other rides because it became so oppressive. They’ve had quite a few significant crackdowns in past years on what you can and can’t say on the ride, making for progressively fewer approved spiels. Sure, people will still improvise. According to the friend, though, they actually have people hide in the bushes from time to time to listen in on the skippers… wander too far off script when someone’s listening? Bad things happen, including possible firedness.

  15. I remember when I was in elementary school coming across an old man who reminded me of Lurch hanging around the entrance to the Mansion. I was kind of freaked out about going inside, as I’ve always been squemish when it comes to haunted houses. Using a small plastic tree frog, some sound effects, and an elastic face, this gentleman made one of my better memories of the park. Disney may seem plastic, but it’s the wonder and creativity displayed in their better work (the pop surrealism of their early pieces, the latest stuff by Pixar) that make me wish they weren’t going down this path.

  16. I was at Disneyland once, in ’98, and the improv of the Jungle Cruise and the Haunted Mansion were the best parts of the park. (Sure beat the cruddy Mulan-themed parade).

    Such a shame to squelch the improv. :(

  17. knew a former Disney employee… never understood til now why he referred to it as “Mouseschwitz”

  18. Let’s try to keep some tiny bit of perspective here: nowhere does it say that the new script is designed to eliminate lines like “blood-red carpet” or “dead center.” That may be the case, it may not; my personal hope is that the classic cast member lines will be integrated into the script.

    I know that the default pose is to assume that everything Der Maus does is intrinsically evil (and I don’t know WHAT the hell issue 54N71460 is trying to work out), but I’m reserving judgment until I know a little more.

  19. Just got back from WDW. FIrst, the changes to the HM are wonderful (unlike the travesty that used to be the Mexico ride in Epcot). Second, we were there in that magical empty time right before Christmas, when normal people are still at work, and the cast members we encountered in the Mansion were amazingly great. I’ve encountered many in the past, but these guys (and they were males and not generic “guys”, not to say that the gals wouldn’t have been great, but we didn’t interact with them this time) were truly amusing and wonderful. Not all of them spoke. One guy sort of sidled up next to me and just stood there and looked comically creepy. We loved him so much we dropped Disney a note when we got back commending his wonderful creepiness. We go every Christmas for exactly that random Disney magic. I would hate to see that spontaneous whimsy lost in the sea of corporate pc conformity.


    (RIP Gran Fiesta Tour)

  20. Just take a lot of acid before you enter the park; it’s so dumbed-down and hyper safety-conscious that you almost can’t hurt yourself, and you won’t even understand what any of the staff are saying anyhow. Oh, and the best place to burn one is along the outdoor stretches of the People Mover (there are about 50 feet of track not covered by security cameras, probably the only part of the entire park so unwatched). It’s worth doing once, then you can move on.

    If your trip doesn’t work out so well, the Disneyland Jail is almost as nuts as the park itself, all pink with Mickey heads everywhere (used to be, anyway) and connected to other parts through the vast underground tunnel system (at least as big as the part you see).

  21. Welcome To Corporate America! Pablum in; Pablum out.


    (don’t forget to visit our gift $hop on your way out…)

  22. One of my favorite memories of Disney World as a kid was waiting in the Mansion line outside and watching an extremely impatient guy pester the Host at the front door about the start time of the next show.

    The Host, without missing a beat and in a deep deadpan gloomy voice simply said “Your time….will come….” and closed the door on the guy. A priceless moment.

  23. On the Jungle Tour, a friend of mine would shoot at the hippo and then say, “Stop, LAPD!” That eventually got him fired when a LAPD officer complained.

  24. @17: Yeah, you tell ’em! Down with fun and happiness! Down with creativity and joy! Sure showed us!

    Seriously, what kind of curmudgeon would hate Disney parks so much as to bitch about it on BoingBoing? I know people who hate the place because they loathe children or resent the prices…

  25. On the Jungle Tour, a friend of mine would shoot at the hippo and then say, “Stop, LAPD!” That eventually got him fired when a LAPD officer complained.

    I would laugh so hard if I heard this. Geeze.

  26. Truthfully, having ridden Haunted Mansion in both US parks, there’s rarely any spiel going on anyhow. I’ll usually hear one say “move your bodies into the corridor…” and then, “Please move to the dead center of the room,” before the Paul Frees narration starts.

    Now, if they clamp down on the improv at the Tower of Terror or the Jungle Cruise, I’ll be upset — hell, besides nostalgia, the hope of getting a great captain is the main reason to ride Jungle Cruise.

  27. Is the Adventurer’s Club at Pleasure Island still open? There’s still hope for some small amount of improv at WDW if it is.

  28. Zydeco, the Adventurer’s Club is still open, and still awesome. A hidden gem, and one of the best things at WDW.

  29. You have no idea how scripted those “improvised” lines are on the Jungle Cruise in DL. Trust me. There used to be those of us that could improvise and get away with it, but no longer. Most of what you’ll hear now came about from my crew. Originality is dead in the water and all exits lead to a store.

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