Asked by gatheredrosebuds
I’m as annoyed by its existence as the next park snob. Why does a single franchise merit an entire land to itself, why is it this particular franchise, what does it have to do with the “California” theme, and so on.
All that said, it’s a masterpiece. For every nitpick I think of, my subconscious responds with a, “Yeah, but…”
"Mater’s spinners are painful and that song is a goddamn war crime."
"Yeah, but it’s a junk yard that’s so well themed that I actually want to spend time in it."
"It’s weird enough that we’re riding around in gigantic tires, but why on Earth are we riding them horizontally?"
"Okay, but that ride system is as much fun as you’ve ever had."
“‘Radiator Springs Racers’ is…I mean, I don’t even know what it is. It’s just…uggh.”
"True, but the animatronics are jaw-dropingly apt, the ride system is more satisfying here than it is in ‘Test Track’ and adapts the film into a ride more successfully than ‘Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey,’ and the little kid beside me who was petrified at the Load Dock clearly loves this ride more than he loves his mother."
None of which excuses the content.
Normally, I hate the argument that cartoons are “just for kids,” but ‘Cars’ is an exception. It’s a half-baked pie comprised of low-hanging fruit. It’s designed for the same sort of demographic that immortalized ‘Transformers.’
Everyone with a modicum of taste raised an eyebrow at it. Chances are, that includes most of the Imagineers who adapted it into the park.
Which, to me, represents a rare artistic achievement. Think of a franchise you hate. Got one in mind?
Okay, now adapt it into a theme park land. Not a cynical one, either. It’s gotta be the truest, most fun land it can possibly be. If it doesn’t have food, figure it out. If it doesn’t suggest two hours’ worth of background music and an alternate Christmas playlist, that’s your job, too. And so on.
All that said, I know this isn’t the prickly response that one expects from a snob who’s been asked about ‘Cars,’ so let me end on a darker note.
To me, the most emblematic part of Cars Land is near the end of the queue for ‘Radiator Springs Racers.’ After walking through one of the most magnificently, painstakingly immersive queues ever constructed, we pass a gas station, and this gas station is called “Butte Gas.”
We exit one of the most magnificently, painstakingly immersive queues ever constructed—not with a whimper, not with a bang, but with a fart joke. It’s the sort of nihilistic joke that amused me back in high school—“All that perfection, leading up to scatology. Rather like life, no? Kill urself lol”—only it’s preceding a Disney E-ticket instead of on my LiveJournal.
While I admire Cars Land as much as anything built in this current theme park renaissance, touches like “Butte Gas” keep me from liking it, and would keep me from grieving, on the off-chance that it’s ever demolished.
My family loves Disney World. This year they decided to purchase year passes to the parks and visit every few months. Among our favorite rides to go on is Pirates of the Caribbean. And that’s where… we met… him.
Meet #Vince, the guy my family loves taking selfies with in Adventure Land. Last I saw him, he was working the Pirates Of the Caribbean ride as a line manager.
I believe when we took this picture, the context was basically that we were trying to get a picture with ourselves, and he mentioned that he never got selfies with the patrons. So, we did the natural thing and got a selfie with him as well (Thankfully it was a really slow night at the time).
Then the ridiculous happened.
We took another selfie with him during the Rock Your Disney Side 24 hour event. it was hurried and everything. But we had to get another picture with #Vince. He was extremely nice and I don’t think he remembered us, but we remembered him.
Its now becoming a running tradition that we find him and we get a picture with him. I really think more people should do this as well. We love you, #Vince, and hope that your time at Disney World is the greatest. And that you never grow tired of us taking selfies with you as long as you’re there. @rak1954, thanks for the pics and sending me the latest one done today.
To Cast Member followers, if you know this guy or want to know him, you should totally find him and tell him about this post, please. AND GET A SELFIE AND SEND IT TO ME.
The tale of one of my most photogenic crew mates!
Asked by enkblogs
I have just read through it, and thank you for sending the directions to the piece anew! I in general hesitate to ‘critique’ the theories of others, as don’t wish to be dismissive on accident if I happen to disagree - in the world of the Disney themed attraction, I have my own viewpoints of course but never been one much to directly attack a discourse by other person (the final product - being an attraction, show, special effect, etc - of course is something I will analyze and state my feelings of bluntly in some cases, but try and resist back-and-forth insisting of the view of another is wrong or invalid).
Obviously, with the Mansion, a lot of ‘struggle’ between backstories - some dating back to 1954 - as well as creative teams and overarching concepts occurred. Walt seemed to favor something simple, in later years, during the Pirates project and NoS being built: a tour of the retirement home for ghosts and the fact there’d be a ‘museum of the weird’ for even more haunted artifacts before or after the show. How much he wanted a solid a-to-b plot at that point for the ride is a mystery and totally unknown.
The experiential/observable tug of war aspect of the attraction is honestly not a concept I had considered before, but not without merit. I think the observable story is very slight, or should be - they’ve tipped their hand at Disneyland more than necessary with all the business about Constance and making her definitively the woman in the stretching portrait who gave her husband the axe, and far more damaging, the ‘interactive’ crypts in Florida linking to characters inside the attraction for sake of puns and ToonTown style kiddie appeal, plus the doubling down on the ‘bride’s ring’ and Master Gracey things being intertwined. Little Leota and the Ghost Host definitely ‘see’ us as guests and playfully threaten us - but I never really viewed that as being some big plot to get a new ghost that is essential to the narrative. It’s a ‘accidental’ find for what they might talk to us about and involve the visiting theme park guest in an organic way, that makes sense in overarching progression of experience.
I’ve always swung to a simpler point of reference: the 1969 release of Story And Song From The Haunted Mansion LP record, which predated the actual ride opening. It describes nearly beat-for-beat the 1969 attraction, complete with Hatbox Ghost as he was intended to be seen, with a ‘story’ of a couple of teens getting soaked out by the rain one stormy night and inadvertently embarking on a tour of a ‘typical’ haunted house. Mike and Karen are led on by an unseen voice through the house (foyer, portrait room, upstairs halls, seance circle, ballroom, attic, down to the graveyard) and see many ghosts and specters before they escape just as dawn breaks, and their ghostly ‘tour guide’ bids them farewell and invites them to come back any time. No mention is made of the hitchhiking ghosts in particular on the record - that was a surprise intended to be kept for the attraction experience I daresay.
As a result, I’ve always viewed the finished Disneyland attraction as mimicking basically, you being the ‘teenager’ or lost person who happens to enter the Mansion one dark and stormy night. It’s a fixed temporal point, could be happening in 1915, 1969, or today. You are given a tour of the home: entertained, threatened and ignored at various points, and certain spirits do respond to you being there, while others are seemingly ‘fixed’ in repeating their hauntings, or are poltergeists/nonhuman entities or so forth. The maids and butlers and the vehicles are gracefully handled ‘necessities’ of theme park operations and don’t matter in terms of what little story is to be found. You enter most likely in daylight, but get inside the house a little ways and it’s thundering and nighttime - just like the record. You are taking the archetypal haunted house tour, and that is as in-depth as it goes. There are hints of course of history for certain ghosts, if they died there - the hanging man, the coffin-trapped ‘thing’, Constance or the old eerie bride (Emily, if you like), some of the tombstone poppers in the graveyard - but some are just there because that’s where the party is. But unlike the scripts dating back to Ken Anderson in 1954, the ‘point’ of the tour isn’t a special event or related to the back story of one particular ghost - a wedding, for instance, or the drama between the sea captain/pirate and the young bride he murdered, or the Headless Horseman, or any other related element. You see the house and the grounds, and a variety of spirits and illusions, who would be there anyway even if you were not - some notice you, some don’t. You get the impression they likely party in the graveyard every night. The HHG’s again are a subtle requirement of the theme park experience - the desire to end the attraction with a notable, talked-about gag - married to a well-known ghostly trope (the vanishing hitchhiker), and are a bit outside the experience of a general tour of a haunted house, but don’t cause it harm at all by inclusion.
So, those are my basic reactions to the ‘war’ between types of story inside the Mansion - and sorry for rambling nature of it!
Lilly’s response to my essay about the Haunted Mansion, which I very much appreciate.
What’s the harm in rambling when it’s full of this much insight?
Have you had a Crocodilian today?
Here’s one of the most revolting GIF Stories in Disney.
Mercifully, the vehicles in Dinosaur are so fast that we don’t spend much time watching these lizards suffocate each other. Still, imagine breaking down here, and watching this scene for a solid minute.
please you guys just die already
Beware of hitchhiking ghosts!
I love this as a GIF Story.
You guys could’ve walked wherever you’re going, by now!
John Hench, Designing Disney
Fellow cast members: please, remember what it was like when you visited a Disney park for the first time.
How it was familiar, yet different. How many simple things couldn’t be taken for granted any more.
How high your expectations were set, and how they inspired you to dream up even higher expectations. How easily the words, “They should…” leapt to the front of your sentences.
How exciting and confusing it was. How many “dumb” questions and behaviors it provoked from you.
You were a family member, coming home for the first time.
Well, you live here now, and we’ve got newcomers at the door. Let’s look after ‘em.
Concept art of exiting the Haunted Mansion’s attic,
painted by Collin Campbell.
"According to the official WED summary of the ride, released in the summer of 1969, you exit the attic window, then you ‘suddenly ‘fall’ backwards off the roof,’ and then you ‘descend past grasping, demon trees.’
"Some people have interpreted this as a fatal fall, so that you are now one of them as you make your way through the graveyard jamboree. But the ghosts still ignore you, except for the popup ghosts, who are still trying to scare you, and nothing the Ghost Host says later on suggests a change in your condition. Why you survive the fall unharmed is not explained. One supposes that the same force that compelled you to move through the house (represented by the doombuggy) buoyed you up safely as you softly descended.
"I only bring that up because there is yet another way to read this portion of the ride. Normally, I am cool toward Freudian interpretations, but I have to admit that they work rather well here, so maybe this time there’s something to that approach. The house is the womb in which you have gradually been prepared for entry into another, different world. You fall through the birth canal (and all that dark underbrush, heh heh) and miraculously land unharmed, borne up safely by invisible hands, and now you’re in that other world big time. Ta da, you’ve been born. If you hold to the ‘death’ interpretation of the fall from the attic, this Freudian interpretation plays right into your hands.
"I’m not saying I fully buy into any of this, and I bring it forward with reluctance, because if you give them Freudians an inch they take a mile. ‘Yeah, yeah, that’s gotta be it! And notice that the first person you see is a ‘caretaker,’ and why is there no bathroom or bedroom in the Mansion? And…well, you KNOW what Constance and her hatchet are all about, don’t you? DON’T YOU?? And….’"
— Long-Forgotten, “Into the Dark Forest”
The Haunted Mansion: an attraction so evocative that guests have been deducing its fictional history since it opened in 1969.
Who owns the house? Is it the Ghost Host, or Master Gracey, or—hey, are they the same person? Does the Bride push us off of the balcony, or is it a coincidence that we enter the graveyard on our backs? Why are the maids and butlers loitering in the Stretching Room when there’s a mansion’s worth of cobwebs that need dusting?
It’s a ride full of open-ended questions, and its fandom has been trying to answer them for decades. Most of the resultant fanfic it is convoluted, much of it is harmless, and—for better or worse—some of it has been canonized.
This belief is nonsense, but it’s a dangerous breed of nonsense: the kind that prevents progress. If we hope to see more attractions like the Mansion, it’s crucial to understand what its story is, why it’s easy to miss, and why the ride is still fun if we miss it.
If you’d like to understand it, I recommend reading my new essay!
"Once upon a time, a turnstile was removed near the exit of the WDW HM. An anchoring pipe inside of it was sawn off at pavement level. One day, someone looked at it and thought it looked an awful lot like a ring.
"And that was it. Magic. Lightning had struck. Fans began thinking it was the bride’s wedding ring, flung down from the attic and embedded in the ground. Everyone would make a point to go look at it as they exited the ride. Doombuggies.com put up a sticky post telling people how to find it. Cast members either went along with the gag or scolded guests and told them it was NOTHING. There’s nothing there. Will you forget about it please? It’s just a pipe. Of course, this only added to the mystique. This was a bit of Mansion magic definitely off the menu. An accidental piece of hardware that, due to its freak location, was able to tease and coax the most stubborn imagination into thinking it was a ring, even when you knew it was not a ring. It became a sort of tribute to the Mansion from its fans, a gift back.
"Not many years ago, the idiots at WDW removed the ‘ring’—in a fit of pique, one supposes. You can’t buy magic like that, but it wasn’t an official WDI product, so death to it. Now Carsillo, in sympathy with the fans (which is to his credit), has put a real ring in the pavement of his queue."
— Long-Forgotten, “Decadence”
"…artworks do have an objective, independent existence, and whether by luck, ineptitude, stupidity, subconscious impulse, or the influence of the Muses, they can give an impression shared by a large number of people that the artist never consciously intended, a perception in some cases so compelling and widespread that resistance is futile. ‘Everybody knows’ that painting X means Y. It’s a fact on the ground, and there’s not a damn thing the artist can do about it now.
"There are at least two cases where something similar to this has occurred at the Haunted Mansions: the ‘bride’s ring’ at WDW that was nothing but a cut-off pipe, and the identification of the man in the Dorian Gray-like painting as ‘Master Gracey.’ So strong was the popular presumption that those two interpretations were correct that WDI eventually caved and gave its blessing to both. So once in awhile it can happen that authorial intent is sidelined or superseded. In the case of the ring, meaning was created where no one had intended to say anything at all. People ‘made something out of nothing,’ and that Thing eventually prevailed over the naysayers.”Long-Forgotton, “Stroll Around the Grounds Until You Feel at Home, Part Two”
Also known as an exercise in Haunted Mansion minutiae, story ideas that won’t die, and the ‘problem’ with self-referential design in modern Disney parks.
Since 1971, Magic Kingdom’s Haunted Mansion has featured a portrait of a mysterious ghostly ‘sea captain’ in their attraction rather prominently.
Many theories have swirled around this character, and many for good reason - early Imagineers both rendered him in concept art form (by Marc Davis, below):
….and in written treatments and full-scale mockups for the Disneyland version of the attraction, as explained here by Rolly Crump, interviewed by doombuggies.com:
“There was one gag that Yale and I came up with. We developed the whole story for that room. It was a Sea Captain’s room. That’s where he lived. He had killed his wife, a bricked her up in the fireplace. He drowned out at sea. As the story goes, he would periodically come back to his room. We actually had a full scale mock-up of this on the soundstage to show Walt. You’d see the curtains blowing. You could see the ocean off in the distance, the waves breaking. You could hear the cry of a coyote or wolf. We had a lot of special effects that we’d put into that. Then all of a sudden, this skeleton with a rainslicker and hat holding a lantern appears slowly but surely in the middle of the room. We actually had a shower that was coming off of him onto the floor. It looked like water was running all over the floor. It was one hell of an illusion! As he kind of turns and looks around the room, you see her ghost skeleton appear behind the bricks - and all of a sudden she comes flying out! She has a white silk outfit on, she raises her arms, and with her mouth wide open, screaming, coming right at him - they both just disappear.”
This ‘sea captain’ character was reputed to be the owner of the Disneyland Haunted Mansion in some circles and early treatments, and a notorious pirate/smuggler to boot, who murdered his wife when she found out his dark secret and stashed her body in the attic (hence the mournful, creepy bride lingering in a dark corner of the ride’s attic scene). A nautical spyglass on the Mansion’s balcony and the weathervane of a sailing ship added to this theory, as well as the appearance of this character entering the grand ballroom scene (in a backstage photo):
So, one way or another, the ghostly sea captain has long been woven somewhere into the fabric of the Haunted Mansion attraction at both stateside parks. This came to a head when he was ‘officially’ written into the supposed story of the attraction with Magic Kingdom’s interactive queue in 2011.
Unfortunately, the interactive queue was far from subtle - working in overt references to harmless-but-scant-known characters from 1950’s drafts of show scripts for the Mansion like Bueregarde the Butler and the one-eyed black cat - alongside rather cheesy, Toon Town-style elements that made noises or moved when whacked by the inquisitive hands of small guests, or loudly played grating audio of a decidedly silly sort. And so, the tomb above debuted with several overt references to the ‘sea captain’ in the painting indoors - his distinctive hat, the sea star clinging to the side tenaciously - and a suitably old-fashioned, interesting name. All that is acceptable certainly and the crafting of the tomb itself is a bit Addams Family in style for being outside the Mansion where nothing overtly ‘ghostly manifestation based’ had been placed for most of the years of operation, but interesting enough to look upon.
Where the designers tread on infirm ground was the execution and ‘function’ of the crypt, compared with the original source it sprang from. Take a quick look back at the painting above that hangs inside the attraction, if you’d be so kind.
The wraith in it certainly looks ‘grim’ more than anything, with his cold, watchful eyes, and that tall whaling spear. One would surmise his ship had wrecked on a stormy sea, and he had drowned, a rather miserable and nasty death, and that hadn’t improved his ‘spirits’ (sorry) at all. He doesn’t look in the least bit like he is in the mood for fun, and all that matches with the discarded concepts of the character tossed back and forth in the design phase back in the 50’s and 60’s.
So, that brings us back out into the Florida sunlight and that 2011-era crypt. What does it do? It leaks (which isn’t bad), the purported corpse floating inside (is that his arm and leg sticking out? Or improbable statues of them?) occasionally rather drunkenly sings bits of sea shanties in a burbling voice (in a rather comical, rather than ominous) way and bubbles float out the top. (there’s a glimpse of it in this youtube video starting around the 5:30 mark) This alone is at odds with the supposed character promised and hinted at by all the past sources detailing him and worked on by classic Disney Imagineers, but there’s an even greater ‘mistake’ here. Let’s read his epitaph, carved into the large stone tomb:
'Allergic to dirt so he's pickled in brine/he braved the sea and all her wrath/but drowned on land while taking a bath’
And there’s the final issue at the bottom of this. The design of the painting hanging inside the Mansion for 40 years in Florida, which this tomb sits outside of, clearly showed a character who had died a grim death at sea. And when new Imagineers came along to add their stamp to this addition to the Mansion exterior, the entire purpose seemingly of the character’s backstory was outright ignored or overlooked for the sake of a silly pun and some bubbles/comical dialogue which are rather badly at odds (to me) with the experience to be found just steps away inside the classic attraction.
This seems to betray a base misunderstanding or willful neglect of the Mansion’s history or tone, at the same time as being added as part of the ‘playground-esque’ interactive area which was chock full of seeming homages to that very history and famous attraction it supposedly ‘honored’. And to judge by that, the design team in charge woefully lacked proper judgement in suitableness/appreciation of the ride that even allowed them to add their ‘playground’ to this classic Disney ‘spook house’ and gold standard amongst dark rides Walt Disney himself insisted upon and oversaw years of planning for. And that’s rather a shame.
All this, of course, remains firmly my opinion - people may enjoy the interactive queue for themselves and guests go through it every day and doubtless enjoy it. But to say there is no ‘double-standard’ or inconsistency going on with the design ethic and realization, to me, is flawed logic - I just hold Disney’s design staff and Imagineers to standards the company themselves set over the years, and the new graveyard at Magic Kingdom largely purely and simply doesn’t ‘match’ the classic attraction that ‘inspired’ it.
Asked by Anonymous
Oh let me see. Basically all of it…? The tomb of the sea captain that Disney itself installed out front in Florida is the most onerous of them, though, since a clueless ‘someone’ missed out entirely on the point of the character and significance to the attraction as they were supposedly paying homage to it, as I went into in the above link.
Extra shoutout to any theory that ties together the hitchhikers, Little Leota and ‘Master Gracey’ when they were alive though. Those are usually ridiculous.
For about two or three years, [the Haunted Mansion] was kind of a ‘dead duck’ really. These guys worked on it, but they couldn’t sell the idea the way they had it…all that work on a story bogged the Mansion down to the point where it just wasn’t done.
What I remember was Walt’s attitude about these rides at the time. He felt they were a medium where you gave experiences…a flash of this and a flash of that…everything within a subject matter.
I know that the Enchanted Tiki Room, for instance, was a place of great discovery for people. Here were people seeing something that they really did not expect. There was this element of surprise as first one object came to life, and then something else, and then the whole room was moving and singing.
That experience told me an awful lot about what these later attractions, like the Haunted Mansion, should be. Rides should be what people don’t expect them to be, and it doesn’t have a lot to do with continuity of story. […]
When we did Nature’s Wonderland, we didn’t have a story from beginning to end. What held the ride together were the animals and the interesting situations, and that made it work. That was what Walt believed and I never disagreed with him. He didn’t like the earlier direction [the Haunted Mansion] was taking when they were trying to tell a story.