Today we explore the history and Real Origins of the Haunted Mansion
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Almost everyone knows that “The Haunted Mansion” was not one of Disneyland’s opening day attractions. In fact, the ride was open more than 10 years after the opening of the park. So it’s surprising to know that the haunted mansion was one of Walt’s first planned rides.
Actually, Walt began planning this attraction 20 years before the park’s opening!
To know why we need to go back to the days where Disneyland was not being planned yet but an idea for an amusement park called Mickey Mouse Park was being created.
Mickey Mouse park was designed to be a small, family-friendly park located at Disney’s Burbank animation studios. This park was never built of course, but many of the ideas and plans for it had a huge influence on the design for Disneyland.
One of these ideas was the Haunted Mansion.
Back then, the attraction was called Church, Graveyard and Haunted House and it was supposed to celebrate the classic Haunted House attractions that already existed in amusement parks throughout the world.
The idea was that every small town had its City Hall, its Drug Store, etc and they also had a house at the end of the street or up a hill that everyone thought was haunted. So, they were going to create a small town, with a path at the end of the main street that would take guests through a Church, a Graveyard and finally to an “Old House on the Hill”.
The original haunted house attraction was envisioned as a walkthrough attraction, in which guests would see various haunted scenes throughout the house.
But again, this park was never built, and when Disneyland was being planned, the haunted house project was put on hold, even though Walt still had this attraction in mind.
Disneyland opened in 1955 and there was no Haunted House on sight. Walt was postponing it until the park’s expansion.
And two years later he was ready for this expansion. So he went straight to Ken Anderson’s desk, tapped him on the shoulder and asked him to start working on the ride.
As we said earlier, when the Haunted Mansion was first thought of, it was supposed to be at the end of Main Street, this didn’t work out in Disneyland, so it was moved to Frontierland.
But, while Ken Anderson continued working on the ride, Walt thought of a new land for Disneyland. New Orleans Square.
And that gave Ken the great idea and inspiration for the mansion. He thought that New Orleans Square would be the perfect place for an old Southern, abandoned mansion at the end of the bayou.
So, using a catalog of Victorian decorative art and architecture for inspiration for the outside of the mansion, Ken created the initial designs of what would later become the Haunted Mansion’s facade.
Ken was also in charge of coming up with the story and the experience inside of the walkthrough attraction and he was greatly influenced by his experiences at the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose.
He visited the Winchester Mystery House to take notes of everything. From the size of the tour group, to the time it took to complete the tour, so he could have a better idea on how to keep the crowds flowing inside the Mansion.
He also believed that a strong story for the mansion was very important because first of all, storytelling was one of the elements that had made Disneyland’s dark rides different from other amusement park dark rides and not only that, but a story was also necessary so guest would move in order through the ride rather than stay in one place and clog up the flow of traffic.
He came up with 4 different stories for the mansion.
The first of these stories was created so that the haunted mansion could be somewhat linked to the Pirates of the Caribbean museum that was also being planned for New Orlean’s Square…
I SAID JEAN LAFFITE!
Who said that?
IT’S ME (NAME)
Hey! ____________ What are you doing here?
I HEARD ABOUT THE LINK BETWEEN PIRATES AND THE HAUNTED MANSION AND CAME TO TALK ABOUT JEAN LAFFITE!
Oh ok… that’s a pretty cool theory and all but we’re talking about 1957-1958, that theory didn’t exist at that time yet.
But why don’t you help me out and tell the 4 stories that Ken Anderson came up with?