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To Tell The Truth: The Ballroom Spider In Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion

To tell the truthMost of you guys probably know by now that I am on my first visit to Disneyland at the time this blog is being posted. In fact, I should be at Disney’s California Adventure today! Woohoo! Anyway, this blog will be a special edition of To Tell The Truth focusing on a Disneyland fact.

If you have never participated in a “To Tell the Truth,” here is how you play. I will ask a question and supply 4 stories that answer that question. However, only one of them is true. You then leave a comment below telling me which is true and why you think that specific story is accurate. I will announce which was correct in my next installment of “To Tell The Truth.” Consider it a multiple choice question, except for fun since it doesn’t count for a grade. 🙂

The last edition’s “To Tell the Truth” was regarding the Partner’s Statue and the height of Mickey Mouse. The correct choice was Story 1, Walt showing for a split second how tall he imagined Mickey to be when recording the audio for “The Pointer.” According to an article written by Jim Korkis, Animator Frank Thomas recalled the moments during the audio when Walt “felt like Mickey” and added “gestures that were spontaneous to him.” Mr. Thomas further recalls how Walt put his hand out to indicate that Mickey was about 3 feet tall. He describes this as “the only time we knew how big Walt thought Mickey was.”  Some of you thought that they figured out the height because in Fantasia Mickey appears beside a conductor, but that story was clarified by Marty Sklar who remembers “being amazed seeing Blaine Gibson (artist) and John Hench (Imagineer) spending hours discussing just exactly how Walt’s five-fingered hand should hold Mickey’s four-fingered one. It was finally decided to base it on the one time that an animated Mickey held the hand of a real person.” That, of course, was in the movie Fantasia where Mickey shook the hand of the conductor. So, in reality, the Fantasia reference was strictly for hand positioning.  Thanks to everyone who played along!

Now, for this month’s edition of “To Tell the Truth.”

One of my favorite attractions is the Haunted Mansion. As a child, it used to terrify me to no end. Now, I would ride it multiple times with no problems. In the ballroom scene, there is a spider deliberately placed in Disneyland, and because they wanted the mansions to be nearly identical, they put a spider in the same location in the Walt Disney World attraction. Why was this particular ballroom spider placed in Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion in the first place?


Story 1

While designing the Haunted Mansion, the Imagineers made a lot of creatures and ghosts to put into the mansion. In fact, they made too many. About 2 years after the ride WDW HMoriginally opened, Imagineers decided to place the spider in its home to fill up an empty space. Since there was only one, Walt Disney World Imagineers quickly whipped up another one and placed it in the precise location as the other one.


Story 2

The first year Imagineers transformed Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion into the lovable Tim Burton movie The Nightmare before Christmas theme, this spider was placed in the ballroom scene and was a deep red with green accents to represent the colors of the holiday. When trying to remove this spider, they realized that it was immovable. The way the spider was secured was impossible to undo. Therefore, they painted the spider with black and purple, and left it there. A matching spider was added to the Haunted Mansion in Florida so that they matched once again.


Story 3

One day in the 1980s a child decided to bring a rock into the Haunted Mansion as “protection against the ghosts.” In the ballroom scene, this child got so scared that he threw the rock at a scary figure, but missed and hit the glass behind it. A hole was left in the glass. Imagineers decided to create a spider to cover up this whole so that they didn’t DL NMhave to repair ALL of the glass, since it is one continuous piece of glass around the whole ballroom. The glass is there to create the “Salt and Pepper” effect, which is used to create the illusion of the ballroom dancers. The spider was made and placed on top of the hole to hide it. Since Disney wanted both Haunted Mansions to match, they created a twin arachnid to make its home in Orlando.


Story 4

In years past, gun laws were much looser than they are now. Some people were determined to have a gun on them at all times for safety reasons. On one particular ride through the Haunted Mansion, in the summer of 1974, while riding through the ballroom scene, a guest had a gun that (accidentally, we hope) went off. Thankfully the .22 caliber round didn’t hit anyone. However, it did puncture the glass of the ballroom scene. The ghost dancing illusion is created by the classic “Salt and Pepper” reflection trick, and the whole ceiling is made from glass so that the illusion is possible. In order for Disney to fix this hole, they would have had to take the roof of the Haunted Mansion off, then remove the glass and purchase a whole new piece because it is all one continuous piece of glass. Instead, Disney decided to hide the hole by putting a spider there. Then of course, since Disneyland and Disney World wanted symmetry in their Haunted Mansions, Imagineers placed a similar spider in the same spot in Magic Kingdom, except there was no bullet hole to cover.


Okay, Disney fans, which one of these stories explains why the ballroom spider was added to Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion? Let me know which you think is correct (or if you prefer, which ones are not) below.


See ya REAL soon!

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Quote of the Week:  “Disneyland is a work of love. We didn’t go into Disneyland just with the idea of making money.”  ~ Walt Disney


Makena is a 15 year old high school student who spends much of her free time researching Disney. She enjoys sharing Disney facts and even plans Walt Disney World vacations (including searches for secrets and Hidden Mickeys) for friends and family. You can follow Makena on twitter @Makattack98 or on Facebook (Makena Wolcott).  Makena began blogging for WDW Radio in December 2011.