Because I slightly miscalculated the timing of the start of the Haunted Mansion series and its' intended duration vis the actual end of the month, and because the last part needs a lot of work before it is 'publishable', I'm taking a short break from the article series to post a few comments about the Mansion not exactly diagetic to my current endeavors.
A lot of ink has been spilled over the past few weeks over the Haunted Mansion's 2007 refurbishment, which has the remarkable qualities - minus a few unfortunate lapses in taste - of being respectful, tasteful, artistic, and better judged than the already pretty tactful 2006 reworkings of Pirates of the Caribbean - on either coast (!). A lot is new, a lot is different, and, remarkably, a lot is not. Weather that snazzy new Haunted Steps scene suffers the same fate as the warped mirrors removed in 2007 from El Rio del Tiempo remains to be seen, but I digress.
There are a few nice details (that aren't grossly overvalued remains of exit gates) that were lost in the refurbishment that are original to Walt Disney World which haven't been spoken of yet online in much detail, and as minor as these are, they do have historical value.
Back in 1969, the Mansion design team had a custom-printed, custom-flocked wallpaper pattern printed up for the Disneyland Mansion's entrance parlor, and they unsurprisingly did not fail to repeat the wallpaper pattern when they built the bigger sister version in Florida. Disneyland removed this wallpaper in 1995 when a lot of work was put into that version of the attraction (and in favor of a less appropriate modernist pattern), but Walt Disney World's Mansion retained the original wallpaper for many years. Pictured right is a frame still from Disneyland Showtime, the totally groovy 1970 television debut of the Haunted Mansion, and the same wallpaper pattern in Orlando's mansion over thirty years later.
One aspect of the attraction which has been lost over time is the fact that Liberty Square swoops seamlessly up to the attraction; with the addition of the new front gate in 1990 a discrete "property", accented by the later addition of a fountain, pet cemetery, and other clutter, was created. Originally the northward path in Liberty Square led inevitably to the Mansion's turnstiles, and the transition was accomplished through a series of two planters with nice, shaded seats under spreading oaks, as well as through the transition from Liberty Square's colonial style lantern posts to the Victorian, flickering gas lamps which line the entryway to the turnstiles.
The loss of this transition is also the loss of the breathing space between Liberty Square proper and the Haunted Mansion; the boundaries of the aesthetic style of the attraction has spilled out a hundred feet so now the Haunted Mansion, effectively, is rubbing right up against the visually unrelated Yankee Trader and Keelboat buildings. Those twelve feet of greenery and trees between meant that the Haunted Mansion was truly isolated, truly alone in ways it cannot be allowed to be today.
But a vestige of the original entryway was found in those flickering street lamps lining the 1973 green queue canopy, and the widening and lengthening of that canopy this year meant doom for those wonderful glass enclosures. Apparently an oversight in the design; they were sawed off to accommodate the new canopy, and topped with little decorative caps to confuse future generations of Walt Disney World fans. Perhaps a myth about them being the wedding rings of the bride's husbands is not far behind?
Finally, one of the better touches in the early parts of the show was this little table, chair, lamp and book on the other side of the doombuggies in the load hall, currently MIA. I've heard from friends that this little scene was once in the black space between Unload and Load, and the tableau fired my young imagination whenever I saw it. Hardly a crucial absence, but a lamented one.
Photos of updated elements courtesy of Kronos.
UPDATED RED ALERT ITEMS: Things I need photos of, recently deceased.
TRAGIC DEVELOPMENT!! Monorail Loading Platform, Contemporary Resort, 1971 - 2007
Disney has just removed the awesomely uncool 1970's clay tile planter full of faux plants which separated the escalator up and escalator down for 36 faithful years, and what's there in its' place is a whole lot of minimalistic nothing. This was one of the final holdouts of the Concourse's original southwest theme, and as more and more of the resort becomes minimal and vaugley Japanese styled, as it is today, the less and less sense that Mary Blair mural makes. I wonder when that'll be taken apart, smashed up and sold on pins, too.
Captain Cook's Food Court
News From Civilization, Polynesian Resort, 1971 - 2005
Robinson Crusoe's was a significant final holdout of the Polynesian Village of 1971 and primarily offered overpriced mens' wear in its' final years. It was located in what is now the arcade. Across the way, where there are currently spacious bathrooms, was a children's clothing store. Both were open air and remarkably untouched for 34 years. The 2005 opening of the large new BouTiki shop in the lobby made both of these outposts of the original Polynesian superfluous; Captain Cook's, originally a bar and then a food court, expanded and swallowed both up. Photo documentation of the last few years of all three of these locations desired.
GENERAL ALERT ITEMS: Probably lost to the sands of time?
Interior photos of The Golden Galleon or Princessa de Cristal, Magic Kingdom Caribbean Plaza
Interior photos of the Tricornered Hat Shoppe, Magic Kingdom Liberty Square
Interior photos any pre-1996 Disney Village Marketplace establishment - the older the better!
Have something you're looking for? Ask and I'll add it to the list!