45 years at the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World on this date: October 1st, 2016 and it’s surreal and on how much of this milestone and achievement in the course of the park’s history in how far it has came. As many Disney fans like myself that we know all this is the happiest place on earth but, they are a few opening day attractions that opened up on the official date of October 1st, 1971 and one of them is the Haunted Mansion.
In this post we are going to be focusing on the Haunted Mansion and not because it’s my favorite attraction that I am truly passionate about but, some historical background attraction information and my personal thoughts in how I became attached towards this truly Imagineering classic at Liberty Square at the Magic Kingdom.
Roy O. Disney dedicating the opening of Walt Disney World at the Magic Kingdom towards his brother Walt of the Magic Kingdom in October 1971.
Before we dive in we need to go back in time towards the original Haunted Mansion at Disneyland in Anaheim, California. As many of us know this where the idea and this original creation kick started all of the other Mansions worldwide even at Walt Disney World. Walt Disney himself was the driving force and all hands on deck for making the Mansion come to life. By the time attraction opened up August 1969 because the project was on hold because of the 1964 New York’s World Fair and left the facade and show building just standing on a hill. Walt Disney didn’t see the opening of it because of his passing in December 1966 and the company was defiantly at a stop and didn’t know where to continue since the lost of Walt was the lead man and direction of making the Haunted Mansion come to life.
A early photo taken at Disneyland on August 1969 of the Haunted Mansion two years prior towards the Magic Kingdom Mansion in 1971.
So this brought the question towards the rest of “WED” team before it became Walt Disney Imagineering for the Florida project to built the next Mansion in Orlando, Florida. Now I am not going to mention all of the history of the Haunted Mansion at the Magic Kingdom but, some brief historical background of the attraction.
Walt Disney showing off his next plans for the “Florida Project” in this famous photo for where it was going to be located in Orlando, Florida. However his vision never came to life because of his passing in December 1966 but, Walt’s employees kept towards his word to finish the Florida park.
Now for some brief historical background of the Haunted Mansion in how this all got started to bring the Magic Kingdom Mansion at Walt Disney World to life. According towards author and former Disney Imagineer, Jason Surrell in his novel of “The Haunted Mansion: Imagineering a Disney Classic” in his section passage of his novel of “From A Disneyland Original To The Magic Kingdoms” that predated the opening day of the Magic Kingdom in October 1971 for the origins of the attraction as quoted by the following:
“By the time the attraction began to gain some momentum in 1967, earth already had begun to move in the swampland outside Orlando, Florida, for Walt Disney World (or Project X, as it was known within WED). The East Coast resort was slated to open in October 1971 and the desicion was made early on to include the Haunted Mansion at Magic Kingdom Park at Walt Disney World.” (pg. 36)
“Since the two attractions were scheduled to open within less than two years of each other, Imagineers decided to make two of everything from the start. The duplicate interiors were constructed simultaneously, with one set going straight to Disneyland and the other put into storage until the show building in Florida was ready to receive it. However, once again there was the question of where the building would land on the map.” (pg. 36)
Now what separates the two Mansions between the West and East coast resorts is the architectural style and outer facade of the buildings and outdoor queue lines. The original Mansion in New Orleans Square was more focused on Southern plantations houses in the Antebellum-Era and gain inspirations such as the Shipley-Lydecker House in Baltimore, Maryland in which the Imagineers owe there respects to gain inspiration for building the Mansion at Walt Disney World. It has been claimed that the Imagineers gained there inspiration from the Harry Packer Mansion which is a Dutch Gothic, Victorian-Era which serves as a AAA Diamond Hotel according towards Doombuggies.com.
The Harry Packer House in Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania built in 1874 which serves as a AAA Diamond Hotel.
Since Liberty Square was focusing on the themes of America’s original thirteen colonies and areas of settlers in the lower Hudson Valley part of New York with settlers like English, Dutch, and, German and according towards Jason Surrell’s novel about the design and influence for the Magic Kingdom Mansion that:
“The final design incorporated a number of strong Gothic design elements typical of per-Revolutionary New York’s lower Hudson River Valley, including arches thrusting upward into the stone and brickwork common to the English Tudor Style. This particular style of architecture is referred as Perpendicular Style of its use of strong vertical lines, which enhance the sense that the Mansion is towering above you, tall and forbidding.” (pg. 37)
Also another difference that separates the two Mansions on both coasts is the queue lines and part inside of the show building. Magic Kingdom’s Mansion is kept quite the same like Disneyland’s but, the only difference was the endless staircase in the Magic Kingdom Mansion and the interactive queue line through the graveyard that was built in 2011 and Disneyland doesn’t have a interactive queue. It was built to hold more guest capacity of the attraction and also something to interact for more a immersive and cohesive experience before riding on the Mansion at the Magic Kingdom park.
So that’s some of the historical knowledge in where the Mansion is today in Walt Disney World at the Magic Kingdom. Now transitioning towards my personal thoughts of how I became attached towards the Mansion still towards today.
Walt Disney was when I first visited in 2005 and heard about this attraction called the Haunted Mansion and was intrigue and interested about it. Since I was still young and from the look of the building that it scared me and didn’t go on it. The more braver and tougher souls when they got off the ride and I heard that it had ghosts, a bride ghost with a axe, and things popping up at you. As years progress and I frequently visited Walt Disney World more often and was a bit older that myself decided to give it another shot.
When I did I became absolute immersed and fell in love it and it wasn’t bad at all from my younger self telling me it was. I was in a different world, something that step outside from the realms of time and inside of a building that was captivating and telling me a story of what going on and trying to solve the puzzle and mystery behind the Mansion and wanted to know more.
This photo of me when I visited the parks back in 2012 and a background shot of the Haunted Mansion near Liberty Square/Frontierland.
Later on, my inner obsession grew about the Haunted Mansion fandom culture, researching about the Disney urban legend of the Hatbox Ghost, and what the Mansion meant towards Walt’s vision meant to me and becoming more involved with it. From researching and looking more about the attraction’s history and finding out that Walt did have a bit of a dark side inside of him because of the dark themes from his past animated films Sleeping Beauty’s Maleficent, Snow White, and so on.
Now here is why I am truly attached towards the Haunted Mansion for this innovated and artistic original attraction. My family several years ago was going through a tough time some years ago because my mom’s brother, father, and mother, passed away. This was a tough time for us and was a transition period that ended up cleaning up and preparing my grandfather’s house up for sale on the market. My mom took it the hardest with her dad and for myself who was semi-close with my grandfather at the time. The universal meanings of life and death in our lives are defined by our own personal thoughts and opinions that are entitled towards you and this is where it applies for the Haunted Mansion.
The statue busts that were designed by Blaine Gibson in the interactive queue that was built in 2011, one year later when I was there in 2012.
The Haunted Mansion no matter Disney park I am in either Disneyland or Walt Disney World plays that important factor of my moods of the times when I am sad and happy. This is where I believe that the Mansion reflects our times when we miss our departed friends or relatives who we really miss and cherish deeply in our lives that are in afterlife. Then again we embrace and keep those thoughts and memories because of the good and happy times when they were around in our lives.
The Mansion isn’t just some old attraction that some enjoy but, a canvas of life that the people we miss that they are part of happy haunts in our minds and hearts with us. Thus this is why I am personally attached towards the Mansion and you may call me a “foolish mortal” but, a mortal with pride, happiness, and thought that I see in my end with a beautiful creation that Walt and “WED” has created for everyone to enjoy.
Outer facade of The Haunted Mansion in where I mention early of that type of architectural style of “Perpendicular Style” to give that feel it’s towering over you.
So here’s to you Magic Kingdom and the Haunted Mansion, 45 years later and bringing other foolish mortals happy haunts and ready to materialize. These days attractions come and go in being replaced or updated but, nothing can be like the Haunted Mansion that was way ahead in it’s time between the 1960s and 1970s that influenced many other Disney attractions that we live and enjoy. The Disney magic will always be with me and I will be sure to “hurry back” for more.
For everything magical and Disney and towards 45 years of spooks and happy haunts, keep checking back here at Skywalkingadventure.com
-Brian Saeger (Owner of Skywalkingadventure.com)