Walt Disney World's Haunted Mansion: stupendous essay


Disney's original, 1969 Haunted Mansion opened in Disneyland's New Orleans Square, which made a certain sense -- all those stories of haints on the bayou made the Mansion a good fit for a New Orleans theme-area. But two years later, they opened the Walt Disney World Haunted Mansion in Florida's "Liberty Square," which was a slightly weirder fit (in Tokyo, they relocated it to Fantasyland; in Paris they put it in the western-themed Frontierland).

The Passport to Dreams blog explains the fascinating process by which Liberty Square became home to the Mansion, and has a stellar critical look at why the Mansion captures our imagination:

The question of time allows us to open the door on another question which is perhaps instructive about the darker recesses of this attraction. When I was younger and more literal-minded, the question of what I called the "continuity flaws" of the attraction bothered me to no end - when you're in the stretching gallery, for example, lightning flashes outside the windows, but later, in the Music Room, there's nothing but ominous clouds and moonlight. Later, at the conservatory, there's a foggy landscape, in the ballroom we have lightening again, then in the graveyard there's thick fog, rolling clouds and twinkling stars. All of these weather patterns, of course, are even stranger depending on the weather patterns outside the show building - in the real world - when you enter, but this further complication is usually swallowed up by the trancelike state inside the attraction, where it is perpetually night.

The logical answer to this question, of course, is that all of these scenes were developed independent of one another and linked in an order that most made sense, the atmospheric effects of lightning flashing through windows is only dependent on what will enliven the scene and give the proper atmosphere. I'm not interested in the logical answer here however, but the poetic one, for no attraction is like the Haunted Mansion in seeming to be a genuinely expressive freeflowing harmony of light, sound and motion. I think we can see the Haunted Mansion in terms of its 1969 promotional image, especially that old LP, The Story and Song From the Haunted Mansion, and her threadbare plot of teenagers spending a night in an old dark house.

History and the Haunted Mansion (via The Disney Blog)
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