Forget about "Grim Grinning Ghosts." Get ready for "Prim, we-don't-mean-to-offend-anyone Ghosts."
That's the word coming out of Glendale
these days. Reportedly in response to guest complaints about goofy but ghoulish lines like "Drag your wretched bodies to the dead center of the room," the Imagineers
will soon be revamping the script for the Haunted Mansion
. Deliberately changing lines that Disney cast members on both coasts have said for almost 40 years now in favor of less objectional material.
"Why make this change now?," you ask. 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."
Of course, Imagineering has an entirely different take on this tale. According to my guy in Glendale, this proposed change isn't about stifling cast members' creativity. But -- rather -- making sure that guests who visit the Disneyland & Walt Disney World versions of the Haunted Mansion get a consistent quality product. As he explained:
"First of all, please let your readers know that we're not touching anything that Paul Frees did for the Mansion. His Ghost Host will remain just as it always has. We'd never dream of touching that recording. It's a crucial component of what makes the Mansion so popular with Disney theme park guests.
As for this new script that we're putting together for the cast members ... It isn't so much that WDI is responding to specific guest comments about offensive material at the Mansion. It's more about 'plussing' the guest experience. Giving Disneyland & Walt Disney World visitors something entertaining & new to view as they move from the Mansion's Entrance Hallway through the Foyer into the Portrait Gallery.
Trust me. Once people hear the new script and see what the cast members are doing now, no theme park guest is ever going to complain again. They're just going to think that this is a clever addition to a classic Disney attraction."
Well, that's what the folks at 1401 Flower Street have to say about this proposed changes at the Mansion. As for the people in Ops who have to safely load a new group of guests into those stretching rooms every 90 seconds so that this attraction can then meet its 2400+-guests-an-hour target ... They're admittedly a little leery about all this talk of an official script for the Haunted Mansion's entrance area as well as classes to teach cast members new staging & blocking. They're worried that any changes made here could then have a significant negative impact on the smooth operation of Disneyland & Walt Disney World's Haunted Mansions.
"So when does this all actually go down?," you query. Sorry. I didn't mean to frighten you prematurely. I'm told that WDI will officially be handing the new script that they've written for the Mansion's Foyer over to the parks sometime later this month. What's more, Imagineering will then be sending an acting coach to both Disneyland and Walt Disney World to help teach cast members the staging & blocking for this new scene. Though that's not scheduled to happen 'til late January / early February.
So what you folks think? Does it bother you that you'll soon no longer be told to " ... drag your wretched bodies to the dead center of the room" ? Or are you genuinely looking forward to hearing the new comical remarks that WDI has cooked up for cast members to say?
More to the point, how do you feel about the idea that -- just because a handful of squeamish guests complained -- Walt Disney Imagineering then felt it was necessary to revamp the Haunted Mansion's script? Eliminating gags that have entertained Disneyland & Walt Disney World visitors for nearly 40 years now?