"In order to make the Graveyard scene a true showstopper, [songwriters X. Atencio and Buddy Baker] did everything they could to give ["Grim Grinning Ghosts"] an even more other-worldly quality, including detuning the instruments and recording the music backward and combining it all the final mix.”— Jason Surrell, the Haunted Mansion: from the Magic Kingdom to the Movies
photographer: Mr Giflocation: Walt Disney World
An ineffective GIF Story from the Little Mermaid dark ride.
Look at Eric’s face! You could get thrown out of a brothel with an expression that gooey! He’s ready to kiss her, and there’s nothing stopping him from doing it, so why isn’t he?
…um…well…because then the ride would end too soon?
It works even less in person, because every so often, Eric and Ariel will lean forward to kiss, but then decide not to. Why?
…um…well…because Ariel has bad breath but Eric forgets every few seconds…?
The simplest solution I can think of: place Scuttle in a tree, squawking along with the music…right by Eric’s ear. Then, whenever Eric leans in to kiss Ariel, he registers Scuttle’s squawking and its kills the mood, and the cycle begins anew.
Terry Rossio, “Nine Pieces of Eight"
There you have it. Not even the screenwriter who voluntarily put his name on Pirates of the Caribbean Four Colon On Stranger Tides likes the Jack Sparrow’d ride.
Walt Disney explaining the upcoming Haunted Mansion attraction. From the Disneyland 10th Anniversary Special (1965)
Walt, setting us up for the Haunted Mansion's presentational story.
Midway Mercantile, at the exit of Toy Story Midway Mania, has a large selection of Disney*Pixar-themed plush, costumes, games, and other toys.
So you went on and enjoyed the ride. Now comes the “ohhhhhh…” portion of the story as you finally understand the whole thing.
Exiting into the upper balcony of the Midway Mercantile, you find a small walled off desk and chair. On the floor is a small box, not unlike the one you saw in the loading area. On the front of the box are the same words “Midway Games Play Set”.
You probably then realize that this was the box the ride “came in” and the little box next to it looks like the box Mr. Potato Head came in. While realizing this, though, one may wonder as to how they got there in the first place.
The story behind this little office is that this is the office of the owner of the Midway Mercantile, and that he bought the ride to bring business to the area.
so we’ve traveled back in time to a Victorian boardwalk
where a shop owner tried to boost his property value
by buying a toy set
a toy set
a toy set
fortunately this toy set not only came to life
in front of humans
even though that’s against the toy rules
and produced an infinite amount of ammunition
including cream pies
but it also enlarged
several times larger than the shop itself
and grew cast members
and ride vehicles
and a queue
so that’s where the ride came from
and this is meant to be the “ohhhhhh…” portion of its story where we finally understand the whole thing
Imagineer Morgan Evans, Disneyland, World of Flowers
Didja have to brag about it, Morgan?
Look at all that trimmed fat! Aesthetics in action, and not a single DVD commercial to be seen.
One hates to sound shallow, but I think I’m only attracted to World of Color when it’s on a diet.
Abe Lincoln droid.
LINCOLNBOT: Sir, the possibility of successfully seceding from the union is approximately 3,720 to 1!!
JEFFERSON DAVIS: Never tell me the odds!
Okay, that is upsetting. And no, I’m not even talking about the beloved characters who’re colonizing Walt’s pants.
"The Greatest One-Man Show on Earth…invented Disneyland, [the beloved characters who’re colonizing his pants, and] the New York World’s Fair?” Wow. What an uncomfortable way to beg this question:
Here’s Walt’s answer:
“You know, I was stumped one day when a little boy asked, ‘Do you draw Mickey Mouse?’ And I had to admit I do not draw anymore.
“‘Well, then you think up all the jokes and ideas?’
“‘No,’ I said, ‘I don’t do that.’
"Finally, he looked at me and said ‘Mr. Disney, just what do you do?’
“‘Well,’ I said, ‘sometimes I think of myself as a little bee. I go from one area of the Studio to another and gather pollen, and sort of stimulate everyone. I guess that’s the job I do.’”
…and here’s Sinister Walt’s answer:
Asked by enkblogs
"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.’"
What’s more, he finds (some) merit in the theory that we’ve died.
I think entirely that the ‘you die’ fan scenario is hot air, short version.
As for why so softly - it’s not a thrill ride, that’s the normal doombuggy vehicle speed, and you tilt backwards to look up at the night sky and raven and spooky trees because looking forwards would mean you see…..nothing! (the back of the vehicle in front of you and darkness, which is boring).
Essentially, it’s a stand in for walking down a set of stairs. The Mansion experience is a story which requires a conveyance out of practicality for getting anything resembling a proper amount of guests through the ride in an hour to meet operating capacity. You’re not supposed to think of the vehicle, really, as part of the experience of the story, hence why it is so nondescript - flat black, not decorated. It’s the same exact shape as the AtomMobiles from Inner Space, not a custom design for the Mansion.
Furthermore, the early record released coinciding/a little before the Mansion opened (story and song from the Haunted Mansion) relates exactly the experience guests have inside and tells about the young teenage couple walking upstairs to the second level to see the endless hallway and the rest, then out a broken window onto a widow’s walk from the attic, then down a flight of stairs again to the graveyard. There are no corresponding stairs themselves in the ride because that’s a concession to practicality of vehicles, but the ascent to the hallways is indeed flanked by wooden bannisters from the loading area, and metal ones line the ramp downwards from the attic.
Simply put, the whole thing about ‘you die!’ was a fan concoction at some point because it sounds good and people looking too hard for ‘secret knowledge’ when there’s plenty of obscure Mansion trivia and imagery that actually exists - the sensationalistic/’dark’ being associated with Disney draws more attention. I have read basically every interview with Mansion principles in the E-Ticket magazine (Rolly Crump, Ken Anderson, Marc and Alice Davis, X. Atencio) and scripts and summaries by those who didn’t live long enough to be interviewed in the ‘modern’ fan scene (Claude Coats, Yale Gracey) and no one mentions the symbolic death thing, not even once. It’s not in Jason Surrell’s definitive book either.
If people enjoy the idea, more power to them, but it’s a simple fact that was never intended or implied on a scripted or design level by the Imagineers and writers who actually conceived the Mansion - there’s zero evidence to support that was the intent at any stage.
"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….’"
Personally—I’m a structuralist, so I’m more interested in interpreting the text than I am in guessing the author’s intent—and I think the Mansion supports the idea. And while I admit that none of it is set in stone, I can’t imagine that it’s a coincidence that we enter a graveyard on our backs.
It’s not like they had to fit the ride into a building that already existed, or built the ride and then realized at the last minute that there was no scene linking the attic to the graveyard. It was all made from scratch, and it would’ve been just as easy to build a staircase that would lead us downstairs.
A sign that hung outside of the Haunted Mansion while it was under construction,
written by Imagineer Marty Sklar.
"Walt mentioned the [Haunted Mansion] project during an interview with the BBC in London, as he expressed his sympathy for all of the ghosts that had been displaced from their ancestral homes due to the London blitz during World War II and new construction to make way for modern housing. He then announced that he planned to build a sort of retirement home at Disneyland for all of the world’s homeless spirits. ‘The nature of being a ghost is that they have to perform, and therefore they need an audience,’ Walt said.”— Jason Surrell, the Haunted Mansion: from the Magic Kingdom to the Movies
Wow, Walt. Too soon.