Starting this week we here at The DisInsider I have decided to feature a different Disney Parks Attraction. What better way to start this than by first featuring The Haunted Mansion at Disneyland California. I chose this because the mansion will be celebrating its 50th Anniversary on August 9th and also because it is one of the best stories and history behind it.
When Walt Disney decided to build Disneyland he always knew that he wanted a haunted house as part of the park. He had originally had the idea of having the mansion as a walk through attraction and also wanted it located on Main Street USA. With the overwhelming popularity of Disneyland Walt decided that he would include the attraction in his new land that was being built called New Orleans Square. Walt had asked animator to come with up some ideas of the mansion and he had got inspiration from The Evergreen House in Baltimore and also The Windsor Mansion in San Jose.
In 1963, the mansion construction was complete and now all that was needed was an actual attraction, story, ride vehicle, etc. The Mansion sat for years without anything being done to it and no progress. It just had a sign outside the gate saying that it will be a resting home for ghosts in the future. The attraction was put on hold again as Walt and his team were part of the Worlds Fair and everyone was focused on that to show off Walt’s Its A Small World Attraction. Sadly, the progress of the mansion did not pick up steam until after Walt’s death in December of 1966.
There were two sides to the design team of Haunted Mansion. One led by Marc Davis who wanted a lighthearted family fun attraction and one led by Claude Coats who wanted a darker and scarier ride. This battle went back and forth for a bit until Xavier Atencio stepped in and helped come to compromise. They had decided to go with Coates scarier version and end with fun Davis’s version. X had gone back and taken all the input and put together what the attraction is today. He also wrote the entire script and the amazing song Grim Grinning Ghosts. This is a special song because it is written so that no matter where the song is you feel like you have not missed anything during it.
Walt really wanted a walk through attraction when he first started to design the mansion. The designers realized there was no way to make this happen because they would only be able to get about 150-250 people through per hour. To resolve this issue they looked at many options. They even thought at one point to make it a water ride and use boats like Its a small world. They finally agreed on the Doombuggies, they took the technology from the omnimover on the Adventure through Innerspace. This allowed designers to have about 2500 guests go through attraction every hour, making it one of the largest capacity attraction in the park.
After nearly 15 years of development, The Haunted Mansion opened on August 9th, 1969. For 7 million dollars, it immediately became one of the premier dark rides in the park and was a great addition alongside The Pirates of the Caribbean in New Orleans Square. The attraction has gone through a few changes since it opened in 1969. A few of the changes are, the removal and return of the Hat Box Ghost, the removal of the cast member as a knight in shining amour in the hallway and the changes to the bride as well. So Happy Birthday this week to one of the best and one of my favorite attractions The Haunted Mansion. Whenever you are in the park make sure you stop and say hi to the 999 happy haunts and remember, there is always room for one more.
Check out this video from our friends at Fresh Baked.