Final week Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion, the “delightfully unlivable” southern plantation that’s house to 999 comfortable haunts, turned 50. Patrick and I visited the “comfortable haunting grounds” to want it a spooktacular birthday.

The Haunted Mansion, a stately two story Greek Revival, antebellum mansion with white pillars in center and curling green wrought iron around the side.

Myself standing in front of a fountain surrounded by trees dripping in Spanish moss, wearing a black t-shirt with Madam Leota (a medium with her head floating in a crystal ball) and music instruments floating about on it, reading "Having a Ball" and a black full skirt.

Myself standing in front of a faux mausoleum at the Haunted Mansion, wearing a black t-shirt with Madam Leota (a medium with her head floating in a crystal ball) and music instruments floating about on it, reading "Having a Ball" and a black full skirt.

Myself standing in front of a faux mausoleum at the Haunted Mansion, wearing a black t-shirt with Madam Leota (a medium with her head floating in a crystal ball) and music instruments floating about on it, reading "Having a Ball" and a black full skirt.

Myself standing in front of a fountain surrounded by trees dripping in Spanish moss, wearing a black t-shirt with Madam Leota (a medium with her head floating in a crystal ball) and music instruments floating about on it, reading "Having a Ball" and a black full skirt.

Myself standing in front of a faux mausoleum at the Haunted Mansion, wearing a black t-shirt with Madam Leota (a medium with her head floating in a crystal ball) and music instruments floating about on it, reading "Having a Ball" and a black full skirt.

A purple and black sign hangs on the balcony of the Haunted Mansion reading "Celebrating 50 years of Retirement Unliving" The Haunted Mansion 1969 - 2019

Myself standing in front of a fountain surrounded by trees dripping in Spanish moss, wearing a black t-shirt with Madam Leota (a medium with her head floating in a crystal ball) and music instruments floating about on it, reading "Having a Ball" and a black full skirt.

Myself standing in front of a faux mausoleum at the Haunted Mansion, wearing a black t-shirt with Madam Leota (a medium with her head floating in a crystal ball) and music instruments floating about on it, reading "Having a Ball" and a black full skirt.

Myself standing in front of a fountain surrounded by trees dripping in Spanish moss, wearing a black t-shirt with Madam Leota (a medium with her head floating in a crystal ball) and music instruments floating about on it, reading "Having a Ball" and a black full skirt.

A pet cemetery out front featuring statues of various animals including a rabbit, front, pig and more.

Myself standing in front of a fountain surrounded by trees dripping in Spanish moss, wearing a black t-shirt with Madam Leota (a medium with her head floating in a crystal ball) and music instruments floating about on it, reading "Having a Ball" and a black full skirt.

Myself standing in front of a fountain surrounded by trees dripping in Spanish moss, wearing a black t-shirt with Madam Leota (a medium with her head floating in a crystal ball) and music instruments floating about on it, reading "Having a Ball" and a black full skirt.

Myself standing in front of a faux mausoleum at the Haunted Mansion, wearing a black t-shirt with Madam Leota (a medium with her head floating in a crystal ball) and music instruments floating about on it, reading "Having a Ball" and a black full skirt.

Myself standing in front of a faux mausoleum at the Haunted Mansion, wearing a black t-shirt with Madam Leota (a medium with her head floating in a crystal ball) and music instruments floating about on it, reading "Having a Ball" and a black full skirt.

Myself standing in front of a fountain surrounded by trees dripping in Spanish moss, wearing a black t-shirt with Madam Leota (a medium with her head floating in a crystal ball) and music instruments floating about on it, reading "Having a Ball" and a black full skirt.

What few might know concerning the Haunted Mansion is that the ghosts might have been having their “swinging wake” for for much longer. In truth, the concept for a “haunted home” attraction dates all the way in which again to the primary drawings of Walt’s concept for a theme park. To focus on the moderately turbulent historical past of the Haunted Mansion’s growth, the Disneyland Resort’s Disney Gallery showcased idea artwork and maquettes of among the ghostly residents.

A sign in the left foreground reads "Welcome Foolish Mortals to the Happy Haunts Materialize Fifty Spirited Years of the Haunted Mansion" in the background a banner reads "The Disney Gallery Presents Happy Haunts Materialize"

Overall image of gallery featuring walls of concept art.

Two side by side illustrations that are similar but with minor yet ghastly changes. On the left a well dressed woman in 1770s attire leans on a pillar with a feather in her hand, in the other portrait a man is shown sitting within the pillar and the feather is now an axe.

In gazing upon a few of these photos you might discover that whereas the direct concepts didn’t find yourself within the attraction, lots of the smaller concepts did. For instance, the altering portrait above didn’t make it into the Mansion’s gallery, however she is an apparent inspiration for the 2006 revamp of the bride, when she was given a reputation, Constance Hatchaway, and whose elegant bouquet modifications into an axe.

In 1951 Walt Disney started engaged on concepts for his theme park, which he referred to as “Mickey Mouse Park” and it was to be located on an eleven acre parcel of land subsequent to the Studio in Burbank. An early piece of idea artwork by Harper Goff (who went on to design many parts of Disneyland) featured a rundown Victorian house overlooking a basic white steepled church with a cemetery.

When Walt’s concepts outgrew that eleven acre plot, he enlisted a crew to discover a new location for what he now referred to as “Disneyland” and the crew discovered Anaheim to be best. Within the new expanded theme park, the haunted home was located on the useless finish (pun supposed after all) of a residential road off of Most important Road USA. However, for one cause or one other, it simply didn’t occur.

After Disneyland’s preliminary success in 1955, Walt set to increasing his park, and in 1958 New Orleans Sq. was introduced, and it will lastly embody a haunted home. Earlier than New Orleans Sq. was constructed nonetheless, the tail finish of Frontierland already had New Orleans vibe, together with Aunt Jemima’s Kitchen with its elegant wrought iron, and the Swift Hen Plantation. In truth the road they had been situated on was referred to as New Orleans Road. Right this moment Aunt Jemima’s Kitchen is River Belle Terrace, however the Hen Plantation was demolished to make approach for the Haunted Mansion.

With the setting of the haunted home now within the elegant southern metropolis of New Orleans, it appeared extra acceptable to should be a mansion, and was then dubbed the “Haunted Mansion” However whereas the setting was within the south, the principle inspiration for the Haunted Mansion’s exterior got here from a northern house, the Evergreen Home in Baltimore, Maryland, inbuilt 1857, however in 1942 it turned a museum and a part of Johns Hopkins College. Imagineer Ken Anderson made a tough sketch of the brand new southern plantation and fellow Imagineer Sam McKim reworked it right into a portray. A shocking, however barely ramshackle antebellum mansion emerged from bushes lined in Spanish moss, however Walt wasn’t a fan of the deserted look of the mansion. All the pieces at Disneyland was vivid and clear, so he stated “We’ll handle the surface and let the ghosts handle the within.”

Now that the place had a setting and a glance, it was time for a narrative…and there have been many! One included a sea captain named Bartholomew Gore (or Gideon Gorelieu in one other model) and his bride, Priscilla. Their fateful story was informed by a maid or butler who guided company on a strolling tour via the mansion, and concerned Priscilla stumbling upon looted treasure, studying her husband was in truth Black Bart, a pirate! Drafts included Gore killing Priscilla in a wide range of methods, solely to have her ghost torment him to the purpose the place he hanged himself.

An illustration of a portrait gallery with ghastly images and leering statues.

Different odd concepts included a story that Disney tried to maneuver a “actual” haunted home with plans to revive it, nonetheless unusual issues stored occurring, so Company puzzled a “partially restored actual” haunted home. One other story included a one eyed cat who had a dislike for mortals.

An illustration of a green, one eyed cat.

One more concept concerned the Headless Horseman from the Legend of Sleepy Hole and a marriage between Monsieur Bogyman and Mademoiselle Vampire, with wedding ceremony company together with Dracula, Frankenstein’s monster, and the like. That is the concept the crew ran with once they selected to maneuver ahead with arising with the results for the attraction.

Rolly Crump and Yale Gracey went wild for one 12 months attempting out numerous results and arising with new concepts. However on the finish of the day, Walt didn’t care for lots of them, and that the attraction was a stroll via (particularly after the moderately lackluster efficiency of the Sleeping Magnificence Fort stroll via), so the undertaking stalled, regardless that development on New Orleans Sq. started in 1961, and by 1963 the outside of the Haunted Mansion was accomplished. Nevertheless attentions had shifted to points of interest for the 1964-65 New York World’s Honest.

Quickly, Marc Davis, Claude Coats, and X. Atencio joined the Imagineering crew for the Haunted Mansion, and so they discovered recent inspiration with the brand new art-form Imagineering created, Audio-Animatronics. Audio-Animatronics first debuted in 1963 with the Enchanted Tiki Room, but it surely wasn’t till the World’s Honest {that a} human had been totally realized, with Nice Moments with Mr. Lincoln, and shortly dozens of latest concepts involving using Audio-Animatronics had been created.

An ghastly sculpture of a woman in a hooded gown with long flowing sleeves. Her face is dark, but her heart is show beating from under her dress, she holds a candle.

An illustration of a man pointing to a floating skull, a woman looks on with her hand near her face.

A small sculpture of a dog, like that in the graveyard scene of the Haunted Mansion.

An illustration of a grand ballroom with a pipe organ being played by a shadow, a band with instruments played by skeletons, and many floating skulls about.

An illustration of of ghosts crawling out of their above ground crypts.

A small statue of a man in 1770s attire sitting with a cup of tea.

An illustration of a New Orleans style graveyard with looming tombstones and above ground crypts.

An illustration of of a woman, headless, but holding her head in her arm, her other hand holds a lit candle. She wears a white dress.

In the meantime Rolly Crump had been arising with weird new concepts, and Walt favored them a lot he needed so as to add a “Museum of the Bizarre” space to the mansion, however finally the concept, like so might earlier than it, was scrapped, though a few of Crump’s concepts, corresponding to a chair that has a face, discovered their their approach into the ultimate attraction. Crump additionally drew up a colourful room for a fortune teller, together with many banners, like those hanging within the gallery.

Overall image of the gallery, featuring concept art on the wall, a display case with small sculptures within, above hang two banners, one of the Eye of Ra, the other features a hand wrapped in ribbon with a rose in the center.

Whereas the mansion received its medium/fortune teller in Madam Leota, her area wasn’t as colourful as Crump’s unique artwork. Nevertheless, the picture of the hand wrapped in ribbon with a rose did made it into the park ultimately, when Crump obtained his window on Most important Road, an honor for individuals who have been influential on the Disneyland Resort. His coffin clock that he designed as a part of the Museum of the Bizarre is featured as nicely.

A window with a gold hand with ribbons wrapped around it, and a rose in the center. Text around it reads "Fargo's Palm Parlor Predictions that will Haunt You Bazarr, Whimsical & Weird Designs to Die For Roland F. Crump Assistant to the Palm Reader"

Regardless that there have been loads of new concepts and new instructions, the undertaking stalled but once more in 1965 when Walt targeted on transferring his World’s Honest points of interest from New York to Disneyland, together with finishing Pirates of the Caribbean, and a revamp of Tomorrowland.

Walt took viewers who tuned into The Fantastic World of Disney behind the scenes of his attraction concepts for New Orleans Sq., displaying off idea artwork and fashions, together with interviews with Davis and Crump, who confirmed off fashions of his “Museum of the Bizarre” gadgets that will by no means make it into the Mansion.

New Orleans Sq. opened on July 24, 1966, however with no points of interest. A teaser signal was constructed by yet one more Imagineer, Marty Sklar, one which Disneyland reproduced and hung outdoors the Haunted Mansion in honor of the 50th anniversary.

Out front a replica of a sign that appeared after the construction of the exterior building, reading "Notice! All Ghosts And Restless Spirits Post-lifetime leases are now available in this Haunted Mansion don't be left out in the sunshine! Enjoy active retirement in this country club atmosphere - the fashionable addres for famous ghosts, ghosts trying to make a name for themselves...and ghosts afraid to live by themselves! Leases include License to scare the daylights out of guests visiting the Portrait Gallery, Museum of the Supernatural, graveyard and other happy haunting grounds. For reservations send resume of past experience to: Ghost Relations Dept. Disneyland Please! Do not apply in person."

On December 15, 1966, Walt handed away. The world misplaced an amazing storyteller and showman, and the crew engaged on the Haunted Mansion misplaced their man with the ultimate say on artistic selections. Pirates of the Caribbean opened the next 12 months and was an immediate hit. Due to that success, which included principally concepts from Marc Davis and Claude Coats, it was their concepts that moved ahead for the Mansion. Nevertheless, there have been tensions, was this to be humorous or scary? Davis favored humorous concepts whereas Coats favored darker and creepier concepts.

Davis got here up with the stretching portraits and quite a lot of the humor seen within the trip. One concept that partially made it into the attraction had been his ghosts on a see-saw. Initially it was to be a visible pun, the place solely the highest ghost could be seen, and the one on the backside had disappeared, seeing one ghost after you noticed one other. Davis selected a king and queen for the concept, and whereas the royal pair teeter and totter at this time, the gimmick didn’t pan out, and each are seen within the attraction’s graveyard on the identical time.

A small statue of a king and queen on a see-saw.

Inside the Haunted Mansion - ghosts ride a see-saw.

Picture Supply: My classic postcard assortment. See extra right here.

By this time the entire monster wedding ceremony concept had been tossed out (solely traces left, a bride, and enormous get together occurring within the ballroom) and had been changed by vignettes designed by Davis and Coats, and it was left to X. Atencio to string all of them collectively. He settled on Coats’ extra scary photos, which featured no seen spirts, for the primary half, then Company entered right into a seance with a medium, the place after Company are lastly in a position to see the spirits as they’ve heard the Company’ “sympathetic vibrations.”

Atencio linked every scene collectively although a narrator, which was initially suppose to be a raven, however as a result of his dimension, he was usually missed, however that’s the reason a raven is discovered all through the trip. Then the only alternative was made, a disembodied voice, the Ghost Host. Along with the narration, Atencio additionally penned the tune “Grim Grinning Ghosts.”

An illustration of a raven outside a window with dark trees behind.

Now that the ultimate artistic selections had been made, how had been they going to maneuver folks? Gracey toyed with a ship concept, after the successes of it’s a small world, and Pirates, with folks transferring via the Mansion partially submerged within the bayou, however the alternative for what’s now referred to as the Doombuggie got here from the longer term…The Omnimover was developed for Tomorrowland’s attraction Journey via Internal House, the place it was referred to as the Atommobile. It allowed numerous Company to maneuver constantly, creating for a excessive capability attraction, and the automobiles might transfer 360 levels.

All of those behind-the-scenes struggles meant the general public was left to their imaginations as to what was taking so lengthy! One rumor that circulated was that the trip was simply too scary! So scary in truth a reporter died of a coronary heart assault and the entire thing needed to be revamped! However actually it was simply quite a lot of distraction, arguing, and technical difficulties. The doorways to the mansion lastly creaked opened on August 9, 1969, and The Fantastic World of Disney gave audiences across the nation a entrance row seat to see it on TV, along with getting a peek behind the scenes at Imagineering, with Kurt Russell enjoying host.

Fifty years later, the Haunted Mansion continues to be simply as spooky and enjoyable because it was again in 1969, whereas nonetheless in search of that 1000th ghost!

Myself standing in front of the Haunted Mansion, Myself standing in front of a fountain surrounded by trees dripping in Spanish moss, wearing a black t-shirt with Madam Leota (a medium with her head floating in a crystal ball) and music instruments floating about on it, reading "Having a Ball" and a black full skirt, holding a sign reading "50 Years of Frightening Fun"

Any volunteers…?

Outfit
Scarf: ???
Shirt: Disneyland
Skirt: Pinup Woman Clothes
Bangles: Right here and there…
Tights: Goal
Footwear: Re-Combine

Sources
Completely satisfied Haunts Materialize. The Disney Gallery, Disneyland, Anaheim. Visited 9 August 2019.
Surrell, Jason. The Haunted Mansion: From the Magic Kingdom to the Motion pictures. New York: Disney Editions, 2003. Print.