With Halloween season upon us, the Haunted Mansion is the perfect attraction to visit, and revisit in this week’s trip to the Archives. Plus, with the announcement of the Haunted Mansion Parlor coming to the Disney Treasure on Disney Cruise Line, it’s like the happy haunts have received your sympathetic vibrations.
So this week, we’re going to go back to the very beginnings of how the concept of this legendary and classic attraction came to be, its many stages, stories, players, secrets, troubles, and how it eventually became the Haunted Mansions around the world that we know and love. We’ll explore the evolution of the Haunted Mansion, as well as its myths and legends. And speaking of Legends, as we step into the Mansion’s sinister halls, we’ll uncover the creative minds behind the attraction, such as Ken Anderson, Claude Coates, Mark Davis, and Rolly Crump. Join us as we unravel the fascinating journey of this beloved Disney classic.
Step into the enchanting world of the Haunted Mansion as Lou Mongello and special guest, Jeff Baham, take you on a thrilling journey through the Haunted Mansion. Explore the fascinating history and early concepts of this iconic Disneyland attraction, from Captain Gore and his ghostly fiancée Priscilla, to the original plans for a walk-through experience showcasing spine-chilling scenes.
Delve into the captivating tales behind the creation of one of Disney’s most beloved attractions. Uncover the remnants of the original concepts hidden within the Disneyland and Disney World mansions, such as the haunting painting of the sea captain in the hallways. Discover how Walt Disney himself paved the way for this frightfully delightful experience, capitalizing on the popularity of haunted houses in the 1950s.
Join the conversation as we discuss the research and inspiration that went into building the Haunted Mansion. From studying mansion tours at Disneyland and Hearst Castle to conceiving unique hiding techniques using trees and shrubbery, discover the ingenious minds behind this haunted masterpiece. Dive into the captivating stories of Imagineers like Ken Anderson, Claude Coates, Mark Davis, Rolly Crump, and Bob Gurr, who brought their creative forces together to shape the ever-evolving concept.
Witness the evolution of the Haunted Mansion over 14 years, as ideas transformed, conflicts arose, and Walt Disney’s vision came to life. From blood mirrors and mysterious brides, to ghosts and themed experiences, indulge in a world of wonder and spooky surprises.
So, whether you’re a die-hard fan of the Haunted Mansion or a curious explorer of Disney history, tune in to this captivating episode as Lou Mongello and Jeff Baham unlock the secrets of the Haunted Mansion.
Thanks to Jeff Baham from Doombuggies.com for joining me, and be sure to pick up his book, The Unauthorized Story of Walt Disney’s Haunted Mansion on Amazon.com
Timestamped summary of this episode:
- [00:02:34] Haunted Mansion fan collects Disney memorabilia.
- [00:10:00] Researching mansion tour behavior, ideas for haunted house.
- [00:15:18] Ken Anderson’s evolving ideas for Haunted Mansion.
- [00:19:16] Ken Anderson’s ideas centered around a family trauma and a haunted house, but it’s unclear if the Sleepy Hollow concept was his.
- [00:25:52] Haunted house tour with competing guides.
- [00:29:55] Expansion, changes, mistakes: Disneyland’s evolving attractions.
- [00:36:41] Walt’s passing led to conflicts and innovation.
- [00:42:35] Rolly worked with Yale on Haunted Mansion.
- [00:48:13] Delay in opening attraction led to benefits.
- [00:51:58] Yale and Roley built full haunted house.
- [01:00:56] Haunted Mansion: Hatbox Ghost design disappointment.
- [01:06:53] Uncertain future for Disney movies, awaiting superheroes.
- [01:08:27] Author explains evolution of Haunted Mansion book.
The key moments in this episode are:
I. Early Concepts and Designs for the Haunted Mansion
- Original concept art and story ideas
- Planned walk-through experience with different scenes
- The impracticality of certain scenes
- Remnants of the original concept in Disneyland and Disney World
II. Creating the Haunted House on the Burbank Lot
- Building a two-story haunted house on a soundstage
- Effects and demonstrations used in the haunted house
- Possible unavailability of glass for a giant ballroom scene
III. Walt Disney’s Vision for the Haunted Mansion
- Walt’s involvement and trust in his team’s ideas
- Research conducted for mansion tours at places like Disneyland and Hearst Castle
- The incorporation of popular haunted house trends
- The 14-year journey from concept to opening
IV. Ken Anderson’s Contribution and Story Revisions
- Grand scenes and different ideas in Ken Anderson’s versions
- Similarities between Anderson’s ideas and the final Haunted Mansion
- Mysterious bride and other characters in early concepts
- Incorporating elements like the Headless Horseman
V. Post-Walt Disney Era and Imagineer Collaborations
- Leadership style and decision-making after Walt’s passing
- Contributions of Bob Gurr, Claude Coates, Mark Davis, and Rolly Crump
- Rolly’s creativity and artistic value in the eyes of Walt, despite other Imagineers’ reservations
- Marty Sklar’s role in refining the ideas and creating the iconic sign
VI. Evolving Storylines and Concept Direction
- Uncertainty about specific scenes and storylines
- Exploration of different concepts, including pirates and a ghost host
- The process of elimination and finding the Haunted Mansion’s identity
- Walt Disney’s original vision of a haunted house in a small town setting
VII. The Blood Mirror and Competing Ideas
- The blood mirror as part of a Disneyland attraction
- The tour guide’s role and the embodiment of the Lonesome Ghost
- Conflict between the ghosts and visitors in the blood mirror
- Ken Anderson’s multiple ideas and the decision to change direction
VIII. New Orleans and Pirates Influence
- Incorporating New Orleans’ mystique into the haunted house concept
- The early integration of pirates with the haunted house idea
- The struggle to find the Haunted Mansion’s identity
IX. Conclusion of Text
- The speaker’s personal connection as a “monster kid”
- Growing up with a fascination for the Haunted Mansion and its development
What is your favorite Disney Parks Haunted Mansion? The original Disneyland? Walt Disney World or Toyko Disneyland? What about Phantom Manor in Disneyland Paris, or the not-so-haunted Mystic Manor in Hong Kong Disneyland?
Share your thoughts in the WDW Radio Clubhouse at WDWRadio.com/Clubhouse, or call the voicemail at 407-900-9391 (WDW1) and share your story on the show.
Three words. Welcome, foolish mortals. Maybe some of the most recognized, familiar, and for people like me, favorite quotes and sounds of Walt Disney World and Disneyland. For me, it evokes a sense of nostalgia, excitement, and yes, even a little bit of happiness. And for many attractions in the Disney parks, getting from concept to reality for a lot of them is a long, circuitous, and sometimes even difficult road.
And I think one of the best examples of such a struggle and journey and payoff at the end was Walt's idea to take you into a moldering sanctum of the spirit world with his haunted house idea for Disneyland. And with the anniversary of the Haunted Mansion opening in Disneyland this month, I thought it would be the perfect time to look back at just how the Haunted Mansion came to be, from Walt's initial concepts, to what it eventually grew and really sort of morphed into.
And our tour begins here, and not just with me, but with someone who, for many years, has been really one of the most foremost authorities on the mansions. He is the creator of DoomBuggies. com, the author of the unauthorized story of Walt Disney's Haunted Mansion, a fellow podcaster over at Nostalgia. Um, I was an early fan of the DoomBuggies site, like, from the late 90s, and I knew him then.
Only, as Chef Mayhem, I know him now as Jeff Bam, and I want to welcome him, finally, after all these years, to the show, in his corruptible mortal state. Ha ha
ha, thanks Lou, yeah, it has been since the 90s, I, I remember sharing some emails with you, so, um, yeah, wow. I remember talking
to you about, cause I loved the design of the doom buggy site.
I mean, at the time it really was one of the most beautiful sites still is, but you know, it was so sort of, uh, progressive in terms of web design and UI and UX kind of thing that we talked about, you know, web development kind of stuff. Um, going way, way back. So... Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. And every time I've seen you, I always say, we've got to do a show together about Haunted Mansion.
And so it's only taken about nine years to finally make it happen.
And here we are. Uh, 48 years after the Haunted Mansion opened. So, a fitting month. You're right.
So just very quickly, cause look, I've always sort of known and thought of you as like the Haunted Mansion guy. Can you quickly tell us about you and where your love, fascination, passion, unhealthy obsession with the mansion came from?
Absolutely. You know, uh, well, I'm a monster kid, right? I was born in the sixties, late sixties, but in the sixties, and I, and I kind of had that famous monsters monster movies on tv, monster matinee thing going on. So I, I was a big monster kid Halloween fan. I think it kind of comes from that. I had a lot of haunted house records.
My parents bought the Disneyland Haunted House record and the Haunted Mansion storybook record. So that really is kind of the genesis of the Haunted Mansion fandom. As far as Disney goes, I'm probably more a collector and then of Disneyana and then also kind of a fan of Disney and Imagineering history in general, probably more than only the Haunted Mansion, but, but the Haunted Mansion definitely obviously is a focus and a large part of that is, like I said, my, um, My monster kid childhood, and another part of it is, I, I just, you know, I had collected some Haunted Mansion stuff, and websites were becoming a thing, and, and I'm an art, artist, and I had graduated from art school, like, the year before they required you to, to get your degree with some computers, so I had no computer training at all, so I thought, I better learn this website stuff, you know, so everyone else was making, you know, pages for their favorite band, or their favorite pet, I chose my favorite ride, which is the Haunted Mansion, and that's where Doom Buggies kind of began.
and I love that, you know, being able to share your passion for something that, like a lot of us, you know, our, our passion sort of grow as a kid and you were able to take that and create something, um, that not only helped satisfy your, um, just love of the attraction in the parks, but really for so many people, like I said, I think Doom Buggies really is, is still the de facto website when it comes to anything and everything about it.
And I think maybe, look, I'm like you, I, I not only love, The history and the details and the stories. But I think there's so much that so many of us love about the mansion. And I think part of that is a little bit of the mystique, right? I think there's more myths about this. Attraction than probably any other one in the Disney parks.
Yeah, for sure. And I mean, it kind of is a natural thing because they built the haunted mansion. I mean, they built the building right in 1963 before it was, it was sitting there for what, five, six years before they even opened the ride. So, you know, people didn't know back then, Oh, well, they're still in development.
Oh, well, they needed to stop to make the New York world's fair attraction. You know, people didn't quite understand what was going on. You know, there's a building, so it must be done. It must be ready to go in. So why can't we go in? Well, that's where the myths start. Well, it was so scary that someone had a heart attack and died in there or, you know, all these things start happening and the, yeah, the myths began fast and furious.
So, uh, yeah. And it's interesting that
those myths start so early on when there was no communication, you know, there were no cell phones, there was no internet, there was no Twitter, there was no Facebook. So there was no way that was literally just a word of mouth kind of thing. that grew out of this building that had been sitting there closed for so long, and it's fascinating that, you know, so many years later, there's still talk about that, those early myths, um, and some of those early legends.
And I think there's, look, with something like The Mansion, there's so much to cover, right? You know, It really had, um, this 14 year journey from concept to the building to it, it finally, um, opened before it finally opened. And I think we, we've talked about some of, um, what we know about some of these odd different ideas that came together, trying to align.
You know, funny and scary and, and internal troubles, but sort of, let's, let's go back a little bit to the very beginning, right? When there was no New Orleans Square, right? When this is really something that started back in the, the, the early fifties, and it really came from Walt himself, you know, who wanted to have this idea and maybe it was sort of, um, capitalizing on the, you know, the haunted houses that were so popular in the fifties, but let's talk Jeff before we even get to.
What this mansion ended up becoming some of those early concepts that made it on to but maybe never off the drawing board
Yeah, you know, you're you're you're right about Walt wanting that haunted house there from even before Disneyland You know when he when he had that that big map everyone heard about selling a couple months ago of that Herb Ryman drew of Disneyland even on that on the Main Street at the end there There was a little kind of a haunted house building that That, um, was put in there, you know, from the beginning of the concept of Disneyland.
So Waldo always wanted some kind of haunted house. I think he had in mind, you know, a small town has, has the drugstore, has the, you know, the lingerie store, has the organ shop, and it also has like that house on the hill that no one wants to, you know, go to because it's haunted, right? So I think he always had that in mind, but the earliest stories when it really started to flesh out.
Um, kind of focused on the New Orleans area that he wanted to put into Disneyland off of Frontierland. So, kind of over there by where the Jungle Cruise is, um, actually where Indiana Jones is, they were going to, New Orleans Square as, as it was planned in the earliest stages in 1957, was going to kind of curve through there.
And that's where the Haunted House originally was going to, going to be placed. And so, um, some of those early concepts kind of mix the, the New Orleans mystique in the bayous, um, with the idea of this, this haunted house, you know, in conjunction with pirates and, you know, the pirate exhibit. So it all was kind of a blended situation in the earliest, um, iterations.
Yeah, I mean, it seems
from the very beginning. It never, it always had trouble sort of figuring out what it wanted to be, right? So Marvin Davis, the initial concept, this old house on the hill, and then he starts talking to Ken Anderson about this idea of a ghost house, right? Back when they used to be called illusion years before they were imagineers.
Uh, Sam McKinn starts doing this idea of a rundown mansion and then it is sort of the mid to mid to late fifties that he assigns the project specifically to Ken Anderson, right? Who, you know, from Cinderella and Jungle Book and Risk the Cats did a lot of, um, sketches for Disneyland, was an architect and an illustrator and a story guy as well.
And he's really one of the guys that started with this idea of building it in sort of this this New Orleans theme taking it away from the main street you know decrepit house on the hill which was not which would probably not what Walt wanted people to see as soon as they walked into his beautiful new park was this you know rundown mansion on a side street so let's say once they decide to put it over there even the attraction itself Had not just differing ideas of what it should be and the storyline, but even what the attraction should be itself, you know, before they even came up with the concept of omni movers, they wanted this to be a walkthrough.
Yeah, yeah. So Ken Anderson back in 57, which I think is when he really early 57 was really starting on this. He, so he did a few things. He, um, he and Sam McKim, like you said, we're kind of trying to figure out what's it going to look like, you know, and they still were kind of. At the beginning, they were kind of set on kind of a boxy, kind of standard Haunted House kind of a thing.
Um, but he was going out and doing some, uh, some research. He went to the Winchester Mystery House. Um, I don't think for the haunted aspect, more for the idea that it's a mansion that gave tours at the time. So I think he wanted to figure out, you know, how does this work? If we're gonna give tours in Disneyland of a mansion, you know, how do other people do it?
And I, I, Rolly Crump has told me that, um, They went also to Hearst Castle, because that's another big mansion that gives tours. So they were kind of trying to check how, how many, how big can tours be? How do people behave in these kinds of tours? Um, so, so he was doing that research, you know, you know, and they were trying to figure out how can we put this into a.
You know, a building on the side of this New Orleans area that we want to build, but we also want to have this pirate display. And, um, so he, he first came up with the idea of building kind of a house you can see, but hiding some of the building with, um, trees and shrubbery, but having a show building that went out beyond the berm, which they do now with the Haunted Mansion also, and also Pirates of the Caribbean, but they, but he was first coming up with that idea for his earliest Haunted Mansion, you know, his haunted house idea.
Um, I think, yeah, you're, so many ideas and plans were in Ken Anderson's various, um, plans. Yeah, I think he made more than a dozen different story revisions for his haunted house in 1957 before, um, he finally stopped working on it. But, um, I think the earliest one involved pirates, the Captain Gore, right?
You've heard, maybe you've heard the Captain Gore story. And, um, He, it was basically going to follow the story of a captain that had killed his wife and his, his bride's ghost was haunting him through the house until he finally hangs himself at the end and you walk out and then you have a last little shock scene with the ghost bride, right?
And then you leave the house. Um, I think that was his earliest way of trying to figure out how is this gonna work and what are we gonna, what kind of story are we going to tell and how can we tie it in with the Pirates Wax Museum that we're gonna build in New Orleans and this is all kind of under, underneath this facade of this beautiful French Quarter of New Orleans with hustle and bustle and jazz bands and you know and um Fancy stores and whatnot.
So, you know, you could feel them starting to figure out the drama here, you know, the light and the dark, the hustle and bustle of New Orleans, but then the underbelly when you walk into this wax museum and see the pirates and then you walk around the corner, going to this haunted house, right? So I think that's kind of what they were, what Ken Anderson was picturing at the very beginning of his, uh, his plans to put this area together.
Yeah, and the whole Captain Gore, you know, the sea captain and his fiancée Priscilla and the wedding, you know, he really had sort of flushed that idea out and created a story. That the, um, that the building, that the, the mansion, the entire, uh, attraction would really sort of revolve around, and there was early concept art of, you know, this dead woman in the wedding dress, and, and Captain Gore who, who had hung himself, and how does it go from a You know, this idea to there was also I saw a, um, uh, Tony Baxter had done sort of a, uh, a discussion and walk through that there was actually a scene that they were going to have, like when this was going to be a walk through attraction, guests would sort of be would go from room to room and they would enter this chamber, the wind would blow the doors open in would come this boat with the sea captain on it who would tell his entire back story of the mansion and his, his dead wife Priscilla and the, the captain would dissolve into a puddle on the floor that would eventually disappear and he says that supposedly the effect was amazing but the problem is This room would only hold 10, 15 people and it would take like two minutes or so, which in, in theme park time is like an eternity, right?
Um, for the effect to actually take place, but that's sort of where when you go in either the Disneyland or Disney World mansion, there is remnants of that where you see the painting of the sea captain from that original concept art, um, in the hallways when you first, you know, enter the attraction.
Yeah, you know, Ken Anderson, in his, in his version of these haunted houses, he always had this grand scene, you'd walk into a parlor and, um, there was one room at the end of the house where you'd, you'd walk in and there'd be, you know, these windows out to the graveyard or in, in the earliest versions, like Tony was saying, out to the Bayou and, um, it was like a cyclorama effect he created.
So he could make this big room with a big backdrop and all kinds of special effects going on in there. Right. And so the earliest version was going to have a ghost ship, you know, come in and then some, some type of special effect with the pirate happening. In, in that scene, um, he kept that idea through the various versions of the Haunted House that he came up with.
Later on, he turned it into, well, what if the Headless Horseman comes riding through after they had kind of, when they moved past the, the pirate's idea, right? And, and so you were asking, like, how does it move from this Captain Gore and this grim, I'm hanging myself, and, you know, how does that move into, you know, some of these other ideas?
And actually, you know, Captain Gore hanging himself, that's, that's one of the things that kind of, Lasted all the way through to the Haunted Mansion we have today. It's interesting to take a look at all the ideas Ken Anderson had and you can kind of start picking out little things and say Oh, this kind of is reminiscent of what we have today.
And oh, this is still kind of here And oh, there was a bride in the attic that no one really knew who Who she was or where she came from. Well, you can kind of see Some of that, the seeds of that idea in Ken Anderson's stories too. So, um, so, you know, I think, I think as he's kept going and taking these ideas to Walt and they weren't quite hitting, you know, the mark.
And I don't know, I don't know exactly if Walt. Really knew what he wanted. I think they were going through the process of figuring out what he didn't really want and You know, and I think somewhere in there they decided, you know, this doesn't really have to tie into to the pirate story Let's see if we can tie in some other properties that Disney has So then Ken Anderson came up with an idea for well, what if we have?
You know, it's just based on a family the Bloodmere family and instead of a pirate you see captain What if it's you know, this haunting and you're led through Through the mansion by a ghost host and he called this the lonesome ghost When Ken Anderson was planning this but but nevertheless, it's still the idea of What if this, you know disembodied spirit is kind of guiding you as you walk through the house?
And then they can also kind of tie in the lonesome ghosts, which is a Disney property, right? So so you can see Ken Anderson starting to change his thinking a little bit and and I think we can interpret from that is You know Walt kind of Taking him in different directions and saying well, let's let's look at this and let's look at that because Ken Anderson was the primary guy For this haunted house idea, which is I think a little unusual well often would put people together that would have conflicting ideas and see what they could kind of come up with and I think you know, Ken Anderson probably had a A real interest in trying to put something together and had some ideas and thoughts he wanted to go with, and that's probably why he was the lead man here, but Um, it's interesting to kind of see the things he came up with and how they evolved and changed, and a lot of his ideas were the same, you know, that cyclorama, big dramatic moment, and we kind of still have that in the Haunted Mansion as it is, it's a, it's a ballroom scene, right, that's the big Scene that you come to it as a climax and and there's all these amazing special effects And how do they do that?
You know Ken Anderson didn't quite have it as a Pepper's ghost effect But he had the idea of they're gonna come to this Parlor and look out the window and it's gonna be this big amazing scene And I think the most famous and most developed version of that he came up with was well What if we have the Headless Horseman?
Ride by and he comes up from the back and you hear the horse and you see him ride in silhouette across the you know the background and then suddenly he pops up in front of you and You know, there's this big drama and it happens to be another property we have that we can capitalize on so Yeah, he you know, his ideas were constantly evolving changing very quickly I mean he wasn't working on the haunted mansion that long but he came up with you know all kinds of new ideas and new stories and new concepts
Yeah, and we'll, we'll come back and touch on bringing the conflicting ideas together and see how that actually plays out because that is one of the things I think that led to the delay in the mansion opening, but just to go back and touch on a couple of the storylines that didn't make it.
I think the Sleepy Hollow one is really interesting because, you know, Anderson sort of goes back to you. Yeah. His fantasy land roots and this idea of using some you know, it already existing source material like the legend of sleepy hollow and living events sort of from that perspective and having the headless Worson and these familiar characters like him and Ichabod Crane and this was one of the ones and correct me if I'm wrong.
There was a lot of They created a lot of plans a lot of drawings for this version of it but he Didn't, was it really Anderson who decided rather than sort of, um, building on top of this, this existing story, we need to create our own backstory because in order to sort of go through the whole legend of Sleepy Hollow, it might not be something that would be necessarily of interest to guests.
We could sort of write our own story that would be better for this type of attraction. Yeah,
well, you, you want to follow, you know, if you follow the different ideas Ken Anderson had, it, it kind of always falls back to this, this family trauma, right? Some kind of a, a horrible haunting, you know, of a, of a house, uh, kind of a traditional idea, but, but he did have.
He kind of comes back to that story and you can you can almost feel different people telling him. Well, let's try this well, let's try that so he'll put things in to his stories and you know, they may work or not work and Not the sleepy hollow idea. I think I don't know that he ever took that much further than this one dramatic scene You know, we would be touring through this haunted house and suddenly we would come into this big dramatic parlor and then You know, the Lonesome Ghost might tell you something reminiscent of, you know, Sleepy Hollow, and suddenly you're thinking of that story, but then that's over and you move on.
Um, so I, you know, some of these things are more obvious to us as Haunted Mansion fans and historians because Do we have Ken Anderson's plans, right? But, but I think there's a lot more to kind of the ideas he came up with. Some of it we may not even ever get a chance to see because, um, you know, he worked so fast on this and so quickly and had so many ideas all at once.
And then, then he was not on the project anymore, but, um, yeah, but for sure the haunted, the, the idea of bringing Sleepy Hollow into a haunted house, probably. I'm gonna, if I had to guess, and I am speculating, maybe it wasn't his, his idea. Maybe someone suggested, hey, what if we do this? You know, I think, you know, it looks to me from all his ideas, it looks like he probably had the idea of this, some kind of family that had some kind of a murder in it, or something that, that caused this house to be haunted.
And, um, Most of his stories kind of fall default to that. Some of them are more, I think they started a little more gruesome and dramatic and they got a little bit lighter. I'm guessing that's probably Walt saying, well, let's try this and let's try that, and um, he introduced this idea of everywhere you'd go, your guide would get attacked by some arms coming out of the walls and um, kind of comedic effect, you know, and so I think Those were some ideas that he started to try to add in to change the feel of his story a little bit.
Um, but it's usually most of Ken Anderson's, um, storyline seemed to feel a little dark and, you know, a little, uh, I guess ominous or, you know, For lack of a better word, um, and it definitely lightened up later on to what we have now, but yeah He I I'm I'm feeling from most of his storylines mostly kind of a haunt a Traditional haunting I think is what he was basing his ideas on and then just sticking things in and seeing how they worked
Yeah, you know the blood mere matter was one that when you Read what sort of the the storyline was supposed to be.
It's very dark, you know it and you can see why maybe Um, this would have been potentially even off putting to some guests and, and again, correct me if my recollection of the story is wrong, the, the Bloodmere Manor was supposed to be an old, you know, century old, um, southern manor that was going to be moved from, um, Louisiana to Disneyland, but it had this reputation of being haunted.
And once it was there, the original only the original owners, this, this blood family was going to be like poltergeist, like tormenting the guests. And they created this mythology around it that. You know, when they were, were, um, renovating and transporting the manor here, um, one of the Disney workers was walled into, uh, one of the walls and that's why they abandoned the project right in the middle of, uh, and he was one of the people that haunted it.
I mean, so it really was a very sort of dark, poltergeisty kind of, Um, scary thing as opposed to again, what it eventually started to turn into, which was something much, much lighter.
Yeah, you know, and it's interesting that that's kind of the moment when they took this interesting take on it where the haunting was going to be more involving this, the process of putting this in Disneyland.
You know, it was part of the story was how we brought this house to Disneyland and, um, rather than you trying to transport you to, Oh, you're going out to New Orleans and you're going to this house. You were going to a place in Disneyland, right? So, that was an interesting story. I think Walt Disney was even maybe gonna record some kind of a spiel for that one at the beginning, where you'd hear him talking to you, um, through a telephone or something.
You could pick up headphones or something to listen to him kind of narrate this, and he was gonna tell you the story of how, well, we tried to bring this to Disneyland, and we've had these problems, and, you know, we think it's safe now, but, you know, maybe be on your guard a little bit. You know, that kind of thing.
And, um... But yeah, the, the darkness of Ken Anderson's original ideas is, is interesting. Um, you know, and around that time or, or not too long after that is when we heard Walt Disney go out, um, and do an interview in the United Kingdom where he said, well, we're collecting ghosts and it's going to be like a retirement home for ghosts.
So I think they were, you know, in that process, you know, Ken Anderson had these ideas that were just kind of, I don't know if it would have been. Hard to, you know, there's definitely a lot of drama at Disneyland and in Disney stories and Disney movies and Disney films, even back then, you know, Snow White's scary adventures were not necessarily.
A friendly family, friendly kid ride to go on, you know, even though it was plopped in the middle of Fantasyland, it was still pretty scary. So I don't think Walt was afraid of the drama and the scary, but I think the story was just a little too, um, you know, how do you say it? How do you put that in Disneyland and make it?
Make make it a have a payoff at the end and an entertaining experience not just you know murder stories So that was probably kind of tricky to handle wasn't
there a version that I don't know if was Anderson didn't like or Walt didn't Like where Walt was actually going to be The tour guide, like they were going to tape Walt sort of taking you room by room.
He would have sort of been kind of the, the ghost host, which maybe would have, uh, lightened it up just a little bit. But that idea obviously didn't get very far either.
Yeah. I mean, I'm not sure if they had the idea of Walt being the entire, you know, tour guiding the entire thing or not. I don't actually remember.
I know what you're talking about. And I, that's kind of what I was referring to where Walt's going to be recorded and be part of this experience. Um. You know, there were a lot of ideas for tour guides. They always had, he, Ken always had the idea that this would be a guided tour. It was never going to be something you just wander through, you know, it was always going to be, and, and, you know, I think the, the most realized version of the blood mirror, um, manner that he had put together, you were going to have a tour guide.
Plus, the Lonesome Ghost was gonna kinda guide you through, so you would, they would kinda play off each other, like you'd hear this, this embodied spirit, and sometimes you'd see him manifest through special effects and things, but you'd be led room to room by a, like a, a uniformed guard, or guide, or construction person, or whatever, someone that was working on this, This house that they brought over to Disneyland, right?
So you'd have both of those competing tour guides basically to kind of keep the story moving and um, and then the the actual human tour guide would be the one that kept getting attacked by these arms coming out of the walls because the story was supposed to be The ghosts don't really want you in here, you know, it's kind of a dangerous place.
And so You know, maybe we can, maybe we can scoot you through, you know, a few at a time and just, you know, watch yourself and, um, that's kind of the idea there. Um, But definitely, you know, Ken Anderson had all these, all these competing ideas coming at him and, um, Blood Mirror I think was probably the most, you know, probably the last thing, the last storyline that he put together, um, before they finally thought, you know, this is not quite the right direction.
it's interesting because, you know, from the very beginning, it wasn't even, it wasn't conflict at the beginning. It maybe was Confusion about what this was supposed to be. I wasn't necessarily competing ideas. Like they just couldn't wrap their heads around what it was supposed to be. You know, a year later.
The mansion appears on the Disneyland map like literally almost 10 years before it actually opens like New Orleans Square wasn't going to open for what five, six, seven years or so, and it wasn't going to be until a few years after that they eat that they even start building. You know, a facade for it, but they just, I mean, what would, what do you think was the thinking to put this on the map so early on before they even had a storyline, a design, anything, you know, again, late fifties, early sixties, it's already on the map so long before there were even close.
Yeah, well, that's. That's an interesting kind of glimpse into how did they make these plans and how did they decide what to do, right? Um, so Sam McKim worked on those maps, right? And he also was working with Ken Anderson on the look and the design of the first haunted houses. So, so a little bit of that you can say, well, you know, he was, he was doing both of those things.
So maybe he had a little hopeful thinking and he loved what they were working on and, you know, and they were planning to put in, you know, they also put Liberty or Edison street on some of those maps that never happened. So there were a few things that made it onto maps that actually never came to be. I think they wanted the maps to be accurate and they had to do them, you know, a year and a half in advance probably, or a year early, you know what I mean?
So there's probably a lot of things that went into, why do things turn up on maps that didn't actually happen? I think with the haunted. House that became the Haunted Mansion. I, I think they, you know, really thought we're gonna have this New Orleans, they didn't call it New Orleans Square at first, you know, this New Orleans district or, or whatever of Frontierland down there next to Adventureland.
I think they really thought that might be open by 1959 or 1960, 60, 61, when they first were, in 57, you know, making these plans. So, um, You know, Walt's always, always moving on to things and the Disneyland and WED Enterprises was not the organization it is today. You know, it was, we know the people that were working there.
A lot of great minds and, but you know, also it was kind of a, let's focus on this. Well, wait a minute, let's focus on that. And I think, you know, the, putting together the idea that they also were putting together this Pirates. Stuff. And it turned out to be, um, I think Walt Disney, at Walt Disney's behest, I think it became a larger and larger project than they originally thought.
Another probably walkthrough thing originally they thought it would be this wax museum. And you'll go through and you see these little scenes and well, you know, no, let's make it into this bigger thing. So I think you take a lot of those things that were expanding and their, um, vision was growing for the ideas.
And I think they just kind of. Jump the, I think Sam and Kim just jumped the gun a little bit putting that in the, in the map. They probably really thought we're gonna get to this stuff in the next year or two and turned out that, well, pirates turned into a bigger thing and then it also turned out, well, we're gonna divorce the haunted house from the pirates and put it in another area of New Orleans Square and you know, things just kept rolling and then when you throw the World's Fair in there in 1964 and 1965, you know, so that was from 1962 through 1964, WED was really with getting these attractions ready for the New York World's Fair.
So, you know, you mix all that together and I think they, you know, had to kind of keep changing plans on the fly and we see little bits of evidence of when. How, when the timing was for these things by the little mistakes they made.
Yeah, cause he didn't even, you know, he didn't even like some of the design, the original, some of the original McKim and Goff and Anderson designs.
Walt didn't even like, excuse me, early on. But eventually they come up with this, um, antebellum mansion based on, really, I guess, heavily influenced by, excuse me, the um, The Shifley The Shifley The Shifley The Shifley Shifley The Shifley Oddly enough, it wasn't in New Orleans, but they found it in Baltimore, correct?
so, yeah, and you know, that's one of those things that the Disney company has loath to admit, you know, um, and looking back at it, um, they never really had the idea that Ken Anderson based the Haunted Mansion on a house in Baltimore. I, I, when I go back and read through some of my Disney magazines and things like that, David Mumford was saying that in interviews, but it was really kind of a just a, oh yeah, he based it on this.
You know, Disney had kind of The idea that there were all these ideas. We went to this house and that house and took, you know, uh, a stairway from here and some railing from there and came up with this amazing building. You know, you can understand the idea that the feeling that we want it to feel like this thing.
But really Ken Anderson, he did copy almost exactly. One, one house, one building, in fact, one photograph in this, in this catalog they had in Wed, um, It was a catalog of Victorian artwork and, and that type of thing. So you could imagine he was probably looking through it for ideas for furniture and decorating.
And he came, he came across this house and he said, that's, that's our haunted house. And you know, I'm not one to, that's a, you know, if you find the perfect place, that's what you should do. That's, that's what you should use. And they did it. And it was the perfect place. But when you look at that photograph, like there was, there's no other, right.
At least from the, from the exterior, there's no other influence. It's, it's this. This house that he found in this book, right? So, and then, yeah, he just drew it right out of the book. Sam and Kim kind of painted it with a spooky bayou background. And that's the famous stories about Walt saying, Well, you know, it, I don't really, Where are we going to have this spooky bayou with all this deterioration in our beautiful park?
Like, I don't see that place. I'd rather have a nice house and you can spook up the inside, right? So, um, and that gets to the story you were, you were telling about Walt not really, Cut being sure about you know, are we gonna use these these spooky looking cliche houses. I don't think so Yeah,
and and so they they at least can agree on what the outside is going to look like, right?
So 61 I guess they start to build the the exterior facade assuming it'll be done for 1963 It'll open upside alongside New Orleans Square and by 63 Like you said the focus wasn't necessarily on finishing The haunted mansion. It was moved over to New York because they were worried about the World's Fair, but it wasn't this time that Again, guess it's sort of known this was coming for years But Marty Sklar put out that that giant sort of poster that invitation from the ghost relations department inviting the ghosts to, um, rent or they could rent or lease some property inside this home that was, you know,
Yeah. So that's, you could, you can kind of mark that as the turning point, right? Because Marty, Marty and Walt were really of a single mind about a lot of things. You know, Marty wrote a lot of Walt's words, right? So they were, you can imagine they had some pretty good conversations about this and I, and Walt had made that comment fairly.
Not too long before this about how well we're gonna have this retirement home, and I think that's basically what Marty went by. I think they decided, you know, it's, we're not gonna have this family and this murder stuff, and we're gonna have it more, a little bit more light hearted, like, it's just gonna be a place where all these ghosts come, which is a little unusual for a haunted house, because Ken Anderson, and just traditionally, a haunted house is usually, like you were saying, a poltergeist, like one ghost that's...
Tormenting everyone or one horrible thing happened or one event or whatever, you know But I think Walt was opening it up to well, we can just have all kinds of you know it's not necessarily what happened here is this is where we're gathering this party for ghosts and then then Marty Sklar kind of distilled that and some of the ideas they had into a Sign and said hey if you're if you're one of these ghosts, we got a room for you here Come come apply and yeah, and so that sat there with this building for years And
it really, I think things, um, part of the reason for the extended delay was because after Walt passed in 66, the mansion was one of the many things, one of the many visions.
that there was a lot of disagreement, um, infighting, clashing over, and I think really because some of the illusioneers had their own ideas, they weren't really sure what Walt wanted to do, and Dick Nunes, who was president of Disneyland at the time, was like, look, So, if you need to create a people eating kind of guest kind of system here, they had resolved the idea of at least a type of attraction.
It should be realizing that a walk through museum of the weird tour guy led thing is not one that would get guests that the throughput would not be there but they had the people mover that they developed in the world's fair for adventure through inner space and things like that. They realize that is at least the mechanism that they could use.
Now, all of a sudden. sort of becomes this battle, for lack of a better word, to sort of oversimplified the two sides. It's the scary side versus the silly side. And they were really sort of two camps led by Mark Davis on the funny side and Claude Coates on the scary
side. Yeah. I mean, so much had happened in those few years, right?
Like you mentioned, Walt passed away and that's a big deal because I think Walt, at least from what I hear people say on occasion that worked with Walt, um, you know, he would put people that didn't agree together Because they would either come up with a better idea by solving their problem or he could come in there and say well Let's go this way, right?
So So it's not really a surprise, you know, and we hear lots of stories about the haunted mansion particularly I I kind of suspect when Walt passed away there were there were other fights happening, you know about about a lot of things you know because people just of High standing in the company there wasn't a person to break the tie, right?
So, um And then you talk about the conveyance that Bob Gurr came up with, the Omnimover, right? And he, uh, he, he was inspired by that at the New York World's Fair. The audio animatronics had come leaps and bounds at the New York World's Fair. So you get to this point where, like you said, there's kind of competing concepts going on.
Um, Claude Coates was from animation. He was a background guy and, and kind of a... He came into Imagineering bringing his ideas for settings and scenes and backgrounds and atmosphere, right? And then you have Mark Davis, who was probably one of the most famous Imagineers, one of Walt's nine old men, came into Imagineering and Walt brought him in specifically and he tasked him to make Disneyland a happier, funnier place.
You know, he, he, he had this idea that Disney, or Walt had this idea that Disneyland isn't really as entertaining as I want it to be. Can you, can you bring the funny, you know? And so, so they both had competing goals to begin with. Um, when, when they were working on anything, I, I would think. And so, you can imagine when Walt's not there, and they both have visions for how this haunted house is gonna go.
What's going to happen other than some conflict there. I, you know, I personally don't really look at it as, as funny versus scary. I think for me, I kind of look at it more as a conflict of, is it going to be atmospheric and is it going to be about the house and the setting, or is it going to be character driven?
Is it going to be about these, these, um, ghosts that we've called in here and put together and. Um, that have all these different personalities and ideas and, you know, which way are we going to go? Because I don't think Claude Coates thought, let's, let's fill this up with murders and blood and gore. I think he knew, you know, that the ghosts are going to be comical and it's a Disneyland attraction.
But I think he just wanted it to be more, you know, more of his vision of this kind of ominous, dark place. And I think Mark thought, no, Walt wants me to make funny stuff happen. So here's, here's all these amazing, hilarious, you know. Gags that you can choose from let's let's load it up with these things.
And I think that's kind of where the conflict was and You know, it was difficult for them to try to navigate. How do we decide who gets to make this decision?
I sort of got the impression that Mark Davis was going back to what worked and continues to work so successfully with pirates, right? It's it's pirates, you know, depicted in films was a scary thing the way they, you know, ravaged and plundered and rifled and loot and all that but they made it funny and I think he's sort of evil that maybe that's why he also was going back to this idea of a nautical theme sort of tying it back to what was going on there Wanting to keep it light the way he did it But claude coach was inspired by you know, he understood it had to be family friendly, but he was inspired by Horror movies, you know, I remember, uh, I guess probably reading on your site.
The haunting was one of the movies early on that had inspired some of the, um, the special effects and stuff that he wanted to do in there. And he, you know, he wanted it to be more of a haunted house than sort of, for lack of a better term, sort of a goofy version of like a pirates of the Caribbean.
Oh yeah, definitely.
I mean, if you, if you're, if your listeners haven't seen the haunting, the Robert Wise version of the haunting, I think he did that. The year before the sound of the sound of music or right after around then. But if you haven't seen that, it's kind of an amazing, you can, you can see so much of the haunted mansion in that movie, if you watch it and you say, wow, they really were inspired by this to kind of create this atmosphere of a house that is really, it's the house.
That's the character. It's the house. coming to get you, you know? And so for sure, Claude Coates was inspired by that, you know, to a big degree. And, you know, it's interesting because he did work with Mark on the pirates very successfully. You know, he, he came up with this amazing, adventurous, burning city.
Right. And it's, it's so creative and imaginative. And it works so well, they work so, or they appear, appear to work so well together in Pirates, you feel like, well, how, how did that not translate as well to the Haunted Mansion? And, you know, it's hard to, it's hard to tell exactly what they each had in mind that were so distinct that they would be in conflict.
But, um, definitely Cloud Coats was inspired by these, uh, you know, these, these big, dark, um, kind of incredible experiences like the Haunting film. Um. And you can see that in the Haunted Mansion as it exists.
And, you know, while there's sort of these somewhat conflicting ideas of what the tone of the mansion should be, guys like Rolly Crump and Yale Gracie are already working together on some of the different effects that they were going to bring in there.
And I know you've spoken to Rolly in the past. He had come up with some very interesting, very creative, you know, I think he sort of, Was still thinking about this idea of either the museum of the weird as as part of the attraction or an add on to the attraction and was designing a lot of miniatures and effects on his own and with Yale Gracie that were going to be used hopefully in whatever version of the attraction was gonna be right
So, so he kind of had two, two parts here. He, he started on the Haunted Mansion project just more or less as an apprentice to Yale Gracie because Yale Gracie was kind of trying to put together some of these ideas that Ken Anderson had and trying to make them work and see how can we make this actually an amazing effect.
And so he was working with Yale on those things and they were trying to, you know, create these just a magical, amazing illusions and they, they really did come up with some really amazing things. Um, later on. The World's Fair happened and Raleigh was heavily involved in that with Small World and, you know, different things and he, uh, he came back and was trying to put together what he thought while Or what he wanted to suggest to Walt that they look at in terms of the haunted house because he knew it wasn't really working for Walt and Rolly's opinion was this is just too halloween You know, there's ghosts and goblins and black cats and even the weather veins of black cat and you know Let's just not follow the spider webs in the attic route, but let's just look at this a little bit But more surreally and so I think he wanted some surrealism in there And you know, he's kind of famously also was inspired by some movies I'm an old French version of Beauty and the Beast where there were the the Beast's Chamber had human body parts as furniture, you know arms holding lamps and that kind of thing and I think he was inspired by some of that and Maybe some more mystical, um, metaphysical ideas.
Um, so he was trying to come up with that stuff and, and he, you know, he says that Walt liked it. Um, no one really disagrees, you know, with his story that Walt looked at these things and he kind of liked the direction. He just didn't know, you know, we're so far along in this and, you know, we have all these storylines going and I, I just don't know where this, you know, suddenly we have these arms coming out of the wall.
You know, I don't know how this is going to work, um, but, well, I like it, right? And so, you know, and you got to throw in there, Rolly was a young guy, early, mid twenties when this was happening and, um, the other Imagineers were more peers with Walt, you know? And so he, Rolly was kind of the odd man out in Imagineering.
He never really, I think was respected as a co cooperative, or like a, you know, a cohort to some of these Imagineers like Mark Davis. Um, so, that's going on a little bit too, you know, and, and Walt really liked Rolly. He liked, he thought he was a creative guy, and an artistic guy, and I think, you know, the other Imagineers probably didn't.
Quite see what's Rolly got that we don't have. You know, so there's a lot of that going on and it turns out that he his Contributions to the haunted mansion were sort of minimalized even though Walt liked him Walt said well Let's let's build a pre show or you know Something like that and we'll put your stuff in there and it'll just kind of set the mood and be an atmospheric thing and then Walt passed away and that never happened.
So but even with Rolly you see some echoes of the things he worked on In, in the Haunted Mansion, you know, so some illustrations he did, some ideas he had, still kind of the ideas made it into the Haunted Mansion, so they really did work, you know, take everything into account and continually look at what do we have and, you know, what are, what's our Thank you.
Collection of ideas and plans here and how can we utilize these things to create this attraction? Well, I
think too because his designs were sort of this amalgam of both being you know Funny, but a little bit creepy it fit into what eventually the mansion was going to be which was this compromise of almost to a certain degree The first part will be scary.
The second part will be silly. And if you look at some of, like you said, some of his designs, you know, the chair that he drew, the sort of the face in the chair, seems to really be the inspiration for the red chair with the face that you see in, in the first section of both
mansions. Yeah, definitely. And you can see those arm holding, you know, the torches being held by the arms at the end of the attraction.
So he definitely got his, his, his things in there. Yeah, and I guess that is a good point. He had kind of a good aesthetic and maybe that's why Walt kind of was gravitating towards his ideas and saying, you know, I like this. I don't know exactly, you know, how this is gonna work with where we're, where the train is going here.
But, you know, let's, let's look and see what we can do here. And, um, you know, I, I think compromise is a good word. I, I don't. I don't even know if they compromised as much as just kind of finished, you know, just kind of put the, yeah, put the stuff together and just, we're done. I, you know, I think the Imagineers that worked on the Haunted Mansion, from what I can tell, you know, most of them are passed away now, but I think they were most, more or less proud of the attraction, maybe didn't, sorry, my daughter is, I'm sorry.
Um, I think most of them are kind of, um, you know, kind of proud of what they did, but maybe don't see the whole thing as, Um, exactly what they would have planned. Um, maybe, oh, we like it. I maybe would have done this or that, you know, you know, so, but as fans we come together and somehow we've just, we've determined as a group that this is like the best outcome that there could have been like chocolate and peanut butter.
Somehow they ran into each other. You've seen the old commercial, you know, like you got your chocolate and my peanut butter, but we love it. Right. So, um, I don't know that that was necessarily as intentional. As we hope it might be or wish it could be, you know, but it did work out that way, probably by the brute strength of great ideas, you know, Walt had the best guys working on everything.
So, whether they had to compromise, whether they didn't quite see it eye to eye, they still had a bunch of great ideas and, you know, you mix them together and it still is a great attraction. Um, however you, you slice it.
Well, and I think to a certain degree, you could almost argue that the delay in opening the attraction may have actually proved.
as a benefit, right? Because they couldn't, they really never hit on what they wanted. But to use your, your peanut butter and chocolate analogy, that's sort of what happened, right? So the delay gives them the advantage of saying, hey, This omni mover system thing that on the magic skyway that works that'll that'll eliminate all the issues with the walk to a walk through attraction.
It'll have a steady, um, traffic flow. We can also control as imagineers exactly what we want them to see. And when right so to a certain degree it'll satisfy Walt's desire to have this walkthrough but eliminates all the issues with speed and stairs and darkness and things like that and it also allows them to come together and Maybe the beginning of the attractions a little bit scarier, right?
You've got the the hanging in the in the stretching room Then it gets a little sillier in the graveyard, and then at the end you got that little hint of, you know, hurry back, and a little bit scarier again with little Leota as a goodbye. So, you're right. The delay almost helped, you know, accidentally to a certain degree of allowing these ideas and these, um, seemingly disparate concepts to really come together.
Yeah, you know, and I don't know if we can ever know for sure how Walt You know, what was his, what did he really have in mind as this Haunted Mansion was being developed? You know, that's, that's the one missing piece here. You know, what, what, he couldn't have just been floating through letting people throw things at him, right?
There was feedback, and you know, that's, that's what I'm all, you know, Haunted Mansion Students and fans always trying to figure out what did Walt think. You kind of think, well, he probably put this on hold, um, shortly after they built that big mansion because I think, you know, he knew the different things they were trying to accomplish for the World's Fair.
And I think Walt probably knew, you know what, this is going to affect all of Disneyland and everything we do moving forward. So why don't we... Pause everything, really develop these, this audio animatronic, um, you know, let's take it to the next level because Bob Gurr and Lincoln, like he was coming up with, you know, Pirates would not be the same.
It would literally have been a wax museum with maybe moving arms and legs, right? If it wasn't for these developments that Bob Gurr did to come up with Mr. Lincoln to create that auctioneer scene. So I think similar, similarly with the Haunted Mansion, I think Walt probably had in mind, you know, we're going to, we're going to just.
Stop. We're going to really develop some ideas and move forward in our technology, and then we'll come revisit this and make the best idea and bring the best ideas
forward. Yeah. You know, the question we, I'm sure you've heard it a million times. What would, what do you think Walt would think of this? What do Walt think of Epcot?
What would Walt think of DCA? You know, you could almost ask, what do you think Walt would think of the Haunted Mansion? Right. He wanted. the mansion to be, you know, very, he didn't want it to be decrepit on the outside, but on the inside, it looks run down and it looks, you know, maybe a little bit different than it was on the outside.
Is that what he had in mind or is it not? Um, you know, if you rode through it today, one wonders what he might think. I think at the very, uh, at a very bare minimum, I'm sure he would be. incredibly impressed at Not just the the storytelling and the artwork and things like that, but some of the effects that they used in there You know yale gracie when he worked um on the some of the the effects too he was sort of um Was back and forth over the the scary versus the silly but they created the pepper's ghost effect for the ballroom and didn't they build?
Like a full scale room in order to like very early on to show the pepper's ghost effect how it would
work Yeah, they actually Yale and Roley They actually built a full haunted a trap haunted house on the Burbank lot and they would And I didn't actually know this until recently, but they had a full It's a two story haunted house that they put into a soundstage that people could walk through and um, get a lot of the different effects shown to them and demonstrated and they would try different things in there and Some of it was this pepper ghost stuff.
I don't think they ever came I don't think they demonstrated a giant amazing ballroom scene. I don't know that for a fact, but I don't believe they had the, the, the glass available to do that on the, on the lot. Um, but they definitely had all the ideas and concepts. You know, Walt, he did kind of have an idea what this was gonna be like and the magic of it, because a lot of those effects were pretty nailed down by 1965.
You know, in 1965, there's that famous Disneyland show, Showtime television show, where they showed, you know, all the great stuff happening in 1965, and Walt, Was showing Julie Rehm all the Haunted Mansion special effects and a lot of that was stuff that Yael Gracie and Rolly Crump and Mark Davis had already planned for the Haunted Mansion.
So some of this stuff was, I think Walt had a good idea. You know when people ask me what would Walt have thought, well they I mean, the easy answer is, well, no one, no one knows what Walt would have thought, but you know, I kind of feel like, I don't know that Walt Disney always made the decisions for Disneyland based on, do I like this?
I think he had his best people come up with an idea. And come up with the best idea they could put together. And I think he judged things by how is it working in Disneyland. So I think he would have looked back and seen how popular and how, you know, even back in 1969, like two weeks after the Haunted Mansion opened, they had a record attendance.
What was it? 10, 000, 11, 000 people came to Disneyland, just Disneyland. There's no, there's no, um, space mountain. There's no big thunder. There's no Indiana Jones, but there still isn't more people than you have on a busy day at Disneyland today to, to ride this haunted house, you know, and you go back to what you were saying about how did people tell them each other about, you know, how, how did the social media work back then that two weeks after it opened, everyone wanted to go on this attraction and, um, you know, people were in line four hours, five hours to go on the haunted house.
And, you know, I think Walt would have looked back and I think. Based on the success, he would have been pleased with what happened. I don't know that he necessarily would have put together these kind of compromise ideas. I think he would have said, well, let's do this and let's do that. But I think at the end of the day, I think a lot of what he decided about things was based on how is, how is it working in Disneyland?
And what do that.
Well, I think
Walt, too, trusted in the people, he's surrounded by, he was surrounded himself by the people who were the very best at what they did, even if they didn't know that himself, there was a lot of times, a lot of stories where, look, Exitensio is a great example, right? He's an animator. They could bring him over to wed as a script writer.
He's like, wait, I'm not a script writer. He goes, well, no, you're a storyteller and that's what you need to do to tell stories. So when he had this idea of, um, of having, you know, for example, somebody like X working on it, he trusted in him to be able to come up with a storyline with lyrics and things like that.
Look, Yale Gracie was the guy When it came to visual effects, he was sort of the go to person, right? He started off, um, on like you start off as an art director, right? It wasn't the art director of Fantasia. And then eventually came over before he came to Whedon?
Yeah, yeah, he was definitely working on that kind of stuff back when he was with animation.
And you know, the interesting thing about Walt Disney is he had to be, I think he knew more about his employees than they ever thought he would be, care to know or be interested in knowing. You know, he knew Gail Gracie was this kind of, also, besides that, he just liked to tinker around with stuff. You know, he just liked to kind of put little inventions together and make stuff.
And I think he used that knowledge along with what he did for the studio. To decide what he was going to do for him at wed. Same thing with Rolly. He knew Rolly liked these little delicate. Sculptures and, you know, mobiles and things and so when he pulled him from animation, which really hated, you know, to wed I think he kind of had an idea, you know early on Raleigh was creating this this Sculpture for a small world at the New York World's Fair because Walt kind of knew similar with X, you know I think X wanted to be a journalist.
I think he kind of somewhere somehow Walt kind of knew Hey, he would like to write or he earlier in his life. He he had an idea that I could be a writer so Time goes by, he's in his job as a, you know, at, at the studio and Walt says, why don't you try writing over here? And, you know, at first he's. Thinking, well, I, you know, I don't, I don't do that.
And Walt said, well, I think maybe you could, you know, . So I think Walt put paid so much attention, you know, I think that's, uh, of course another one of the things that made him such an amazing leader of these people. Um, he really knew who they were and what they could do more than they even thought they probably were showing him.
Yeah. And I think X. I think X's work on this may have helped to, um, set the tone for the mansion, too. You know, again, there was this conflict of funny, scary, funny, scary. I think when he wrote Grim Grinning Ghosts and having that be the single song that's played throughout the attraction, save for the Here Comes the Bride part, um, sets a, sets a, um, a common tone and theme across the board, um, which I think helped to Sort of bring all these, uh, sometimes contradictory elements together.
Yeah, I mean, the importance of the script probably can't be overstated, um, because you did have some really funny ghosts in the graveyard, and then some spooky, like, an endless hallway with a ghost's candle floating in it. Like, how do you make those things work in one experience, you know, when you just look at those very disparate ideas and feelings and you know, it's You really have to have something incredibly effective to tie this all together and make you feel like yeah There's this is one thing.
It's this guy's house and he's kind of saying yeah Sometimes this scary stuff happens, but everyone just wants to enjoy themselves, you know And if it wasn't for that It would be very difficult to kind of feel kind of a cohesive experience here
yeah, and I think it wasn't a tony baxter who said that it that um, this was one of the Ways that it helped sort of unite this look, this attraction came with so many different conflicting ideas, but it helped really create it a, a three act play out of it, right?
The, the first act. It's, you know, the anticipation of what is going on inside. And then, uh, I think he said sort of Madame Leo to help sort of separate acts two and. Act three as well. So it ends up all working out and that was one of the things that may have really helped to tie it all together, too.
And I mean, I think the three act play is definitely, um, kind of looking back at what happened and dissecting it. I don't think they... Really put that into play as as a plan, but that's another reason why it's really effective, right? Because it's it's put together as a very good three act play and I think Yeah, Exitensio ties it together even Buddy Baker who wrote this this little melody, right?
It's a simple little melody and people don't realize you hear that in every every scene you hear that At the beginning, a parlor organ plays it. You hear it in the wind when you're waiting to get on the dune buggies. And there's wind blowing. If you listen, it's blowing in the tune of the Grim Grinning Ghosts melody.
And then in same thing in Madame Leota's room, you know, there's these weird sounds, but if you listen, they're playing the, the tune that he wrote to this Grim Grinning Ghosts. So all through the Haunted Mansion, this theme. ties everything together. So yeah, I mean, you know, we talk about, we, you know, it's such a big history.
You focus on something, you focus on Ken Anderson or you focus on Mark and Claude, but really all of these parts are so important to each other, you know, to tie together, to make this experience what it really is.
Yeah. You know, you can look, it's almost one of these, um, perfect accidents, you know, because of the way things look, even to the certain degree, you can almost argue that.
The Hatbox Ghost, right, this legendary, um, uh, effect that Yale Gracie worked on that only worked for a couple of weeks, right, they couldn't actually, they never got it right, all of a sudden, literally just disappears, like, right, tell me if I'm wrong, like, they said everything disappeared, like the molds, the figures, the drawings, the figure himself disappears after only being in the attraction form A couple of weeks because it never worked right and the do bunkies were getting too close and then when it would comes back You know years later Was it sort of early?
2015 I think it comes back. Yeah It helps to sort of complete the story and bring that again that that mystery in that Legend of it that the mansions had from the very beginning
Yeah, I mean, well, everyone's always looking for how, what's going to happen with the Haunted Mansion next, you know, and always there's something, something comes up next and yeah, they brought that, the hatbox ghost, you know, um, there's a lot made out of how it vanished.
I mean, it really wasn't a lot to it. The schematics for it still exist and it was this head which they didn't lose the mold for the head because it's the same head as the hitchhiker's ghost. The same heads are used for the hitch, one of the tall hitchhiking ghosts and then the hat box ghost. So they just kind of, it was basically just kind of, I don't know, a very simple frame with a lot of cellophane wrapped around it to look sort of ghostly, a cloak and this effect happening, right, where, where the lights would turn on and off and I think, I don't know if it was.
You know, we all talk about how well it didn't work because the light was, you know, maybe that's probably true. But I think Mark Davis overall just wasn't so impressed with how, how it came out at, uh, based on what he kind of designed and created and how it looked in the attraction. I don't think he thought the whole thing is just not really working.
So let's get rid of it. Um, but anytime something like that happens, like it becomes a myth, right? Especially with a haunted house and a haunted mansion. So everyone, you know, the hatbox goes and there were again, no social media. We couldn't tweet that we saw it. So did it really exist? Was it really there?
Even Disneyland didn't know for sure that it was in there for the public to see. I think they knew it was installed and I think Disneyland mostly believed the people that speak for Disneyland up through the years that it was just taken out early on. They tested it and didn't really like it. If it wasn't for, you know, Doom Buggies, I Someone sent me a picture out of the blue.
Someone said, you know what, I was looking through some of my sister's old snapshots from a trip she took to Disneyland in 1969. She was there when they opened the Haunted Mansion. I think you might be interested in this. And it's a photograph of the, of the hat box ghost in the attic. And if it wasn't for, I've heard, I've had Disney, even Disney, the archives contacted me for a copy of that because they didn't, no one has had a picture of it inside the Haunted Mansion.
They, they didn't actually believe it actually was in inside when people could ride it up until a couple of years ago when, you know, a few years ago when it went on to do muggy. So yeah, it was there. Yeah, I would guess days, maybe a week, you know, no one knows, but not long enough for a lot of people to say, Oh yeah, I saw that.
So it couldn't have been that long. And, um, but that's, that's the perfect basis for, like you're saying, for a new story. Some what 45 years later. So, um, yeah, they did a great job and you know, the new the new hatbox ghost is Not even remotely. Yeah, you know, it's based on the kind of look of what Mark Davis created But it looks a lot more, you know robust and like a character than the original one probably did and They really hit that out of the ballpark I mean I don't know a single person that told me they saw that and didn't think it was the most amazing thing they could have ever
Yeah, it's an incredible effect.
Um, to this day, and I think that you're right. I think it helps, um, complete the story. Keep that, that mystery and the legend of the mansion going on. Um, you know, look, it takes 18 years from, you know, Walt's original ideas. Six years after they build the building. $7 million in, in $69, which is like 45, $50 million today.
To finally get this opened, uh, from a a Walt Disney World perspective, it was one of the very few, or maybe the only attraction created both for Disneyland and Walt Disney World at the same time. So on our side, on the Walt Disney world side, this was like the first attraction that was ready. And they basically had it done, lock the door, and then kept it closed for a year because.
They worked on it so early, because they were sort of building it, um, almost simultaneously with, with what they were doing from Disneyland, and I think when it does finally opened in, in Disneyland in August of 69, right, we're celebrating the anniversary of this month, um, the guest response was, you know, there were technical issues, some people wanted scarier, some people were disappointed, some people, you know, didn't understand the funny part, but I think they, as, as guests, they eventually were able to very quickly reconcile The scary and the funny and understand that this haunted mansion was not like, you know, a scary house.
It was exactly what Walt wanted, which was an attraction that families could ride and
enjoy together. Yeah, I couldn't say that better myself. Definitely, um, you know, definitely it was a success. And, yeah, I mean, there's always going to be people that say this or say that. But, um, critically and as far as most of the, you know, The reviews from the 69 that I've read and people talking about it in newspapers and, and that kind of thing.
I think, um, you know, it was widely hailed as, as one of the most amazing things Disneyland had ever done.
Yeah. And, uh, you know, I look, there's obviously so much more about the mansions. There's so many more legendary imagineers that worked on it. We never even talked about Blaine Gibson or Harriet Burns or some of the other people.
That worked on it. Uh, the continuing legacy of the mansion. I don't mean the eddie murphy haunted mansion movie. I mean Whatever happened to the guillermo del toro movie that he announced. What was it in 20? Um, yeah, which, which didn't the image that they used on the promo poster have the hat box ghost on it?
It did. And he, you know, I've, I've actually spoken to Guillermo del Toro very, very briefly about this. Um, and you know, I mean, he. He is a huge Haunted Mansion fan. I think he would love nothing more than to work on a Haunted Mansion movie. He did a lot of preliminary work creating a character of the Hatbox Ghost.
I know Doug Jones, who he uses a lot in a lot of his movies and things, was kind of fitted in a costume of sorts, you know, to kind of. Learn to be a hatbox ghost and try to discover the character. So, you know, they got to that point That was probably for a pre production con, you know Ideas and that kind of thing whether or not this will ever happen.
No, nobody knows, you know, how movies are It's you know, especially a studio like Disney The movies they make now are based on Years of marketing and how, how can we roll this out? And while we have to do all these animated films for the foreseeable future, where we're making those as live movies, and we have a couple of pirates movies in the works and star Wars, so, you know, you can almost feel it being on whether it's the best idea in the world or not.
Kind of on, on a holding pattern, waiting for the superheroes to clear out of the way, maybe, you know, you know, I don't know, but, um. He wants it Guillermo wants to do it. So I have my fingers crossed. I mean, that's the best I can say I think
there's a lot of people that would want him to To make this movie and only the way the Guillermo del Toro could but look Jeff There is there's still so much more we can talk about the mansion We could you know talk about almost like a virtual tour walkthrough and some of the other myths and and stories about it Maybe we'll revisit the mansion again in the future.
I would love to have you come back and chat on this some more
Sure, I'd love
to, I'd love to do that. In the meantime, I know that they can find you at doombuggies. com Your book is called the... Now wait, I have... I literally have four different versions of books that you've written. I've got The Secret of Disney's Haunted Mansion, like, two different thicknesses of that.
I've got The Unofficial History, The Unauthorized Story. Which is the one that is
currently available? Okay, so let me, allow me to clear this up for the listeners. So yeah, maybe this was, so I had written a couple convention chatbooks that I didn't really mean to be that big of a deal. You know, just to kind of have something to, to, To distribute, you know, for fans of The Haunted Mansion, and I was doing convention talks and things.
Really, I've only written one book, and it's, it's progre progressed along a scale. So all of those books have the same material, and more, and more, and more. Until you get to the book I published on Theme Park Press a couple years ago, and that's called The Unauthorized Story of Walt Disney's Haunted Mansion.
Um, it's in its second edition now, but it's, you know, the same book, just with, I added 5, 000 words last year, and pumped it up a little bit, and um... It's now, yeah, yeah. I, I think if you are interested in the Haunted Mansion and in wet Imagineering back in the day, a little bit of intrigue about some of the conflicts between the Imagineers, um, I think you'll like this book.
I love this book. It's, I love it so much. I have four different versions of it. Um, and, and you've got great stories in here. You've got, uh, what I love is that you have a lot of your own personal interactions with. Uh, some of the people that you've spoken to over the years. You've got photos, you've got diagrams.
I will put a link in the show notes to where they can get this on Amazon. They can also obviously find you at DoomBuggies. com. Uh, anywhere else they could find you online or on social?
Uh, yeah. So, well, my, my Twitter is DoomBuggiesWeb. So you can, you can follow DoomBuggies on DoomBuggiesWeb. We're on Instagram, also on Facebook.
Facebook page for June Buggies, um, and I also, you can hear me every Monday on the Mousetalgia podcast. So, um, first listen to Lou, then you can check us out if you want. Um, and that's, yeah, that about covers it. Awesome.
Yeah, the, you guys over at Mousetalgia have been doing great stuff for a long time. I have been referring and recommending you, um, especially if you are a Disneyland fan.
I think nobody does Disneyland the way you guys do. I will put links to all this stuff in the show notes this week. Uh, Jeff. Chef, Chef Jeff, whatever you prefer to be referred to, uh, thank you so much, it's only, it's taken us way too long to do this, I promise it won't take nine years before we do it again.
It has been too long and it's been my pleasure, thank you Lou. Thank you buddy.
Ah, there you are, and just in time, there's a little matter I forgot to mention. Beware of hitchhiking, ghosts...