Aerial view of Disneyland's Haunted Mansion facade and ride-building

The Long Forgotten blog — the world's greatest source of informed critical speculation about the design thinking behind the Haunted Mansions at the Disney parks — has just put up a smashing post about dueling theories of the intentions (conscious and subconscious) of the Mansion's creators. In the middle of that post is this remarkable photo, showing the Mansion's facade, and the ride building behind it, outside the railway berm, in what was once the parking lot. I've never seen this shot before — I'm riveted by the sight of the ride's apparent structure and the huge, actual structure behind it.

Add to this the surprisingly flexible limits of "realistic" presentation under any circumstances, not just haunted houses, and things really become loose. Few films or rides concern themselves too much with reconciling inside and outside architecture. Someone with a perfect sense of architectural space may wince once in awhile, "knowing" that if the character really did turn left down that hallway, he should by rights walk smack into the outer wall of the house, but for the most part such concerns are ignored. This includes size considerations. With the HM, even if we discard about a third of the show building as housing an outdoor scene (the graveyard), the square footage of the house we experience is still much larger than anything that could pass for the "original" house remodeled into the current Mansion.

Long-Forgotten: The Ghostland Around Us, Beneath Us