Haunted Mansion at Disneyland park is one of the most treasured theme park attractions at Disney Parks around the world. It’s almost hard to believe, but this week those 999 happy haunts celebrate 45 years of welcoming foolish mortals to their beloved estate in New Orleans Square. To mark the anniversary of these grim, grinning ghosts, I’ll be your host as “The Magic of Disney Parks Storytelling” series shares the story of how Walt Disney’s masterpiece materialized.
As my fellow Disney Parks Blog author, George Savvas, explained in his excellent post this morning, the Haunted Mansion was years in development. Then, when Walt Disney passed away in December 1966, the team was at a loss for inspiration. Without their captain, conflict arose in the development team. One camp believed that the attraction should be atmospheric and scary, and the other felt that the experience should be fun and lighthearted.
A compromise was reached by the show’s writer, Disney Legend X Atencio. He structured the attraction into three acts:
- Act 1 focuses on the creepy environments, without actually showing any ghosts. When guests are asked “Is this haunted room actually stretching?” they are given a hint at the frights that wait for them around each corner.
- Act 2 begins as Madame Leota summons up the ghostly spirits, who would soon be visible. “Rap on a table,” she says, “it’s time to respond.” And soon, they do.
- The tour of the Haunted Mansion culminates in Act 3, where the happy haunts gather in the graveyard for a swinging wake and “grim, grinning ghosts come out to socialize!”
With this storytelling design, the entire team of Imagineers felt their visions were fulfilled. Within one week of the attraction opening, Disneyland park celebrated what was then the highest single day of attendance. Even after 45 years, the Haunted Mansion continues to blend horror with humor – filled with exquisitely detailed environments and memorable characters.
For more from “The Magic of Disney Parks Storytelling” series, visit the links below:
Most excellent post Tyler. The Storytelling series is one of the best from the Blog, and as HM is one of my faves in DLR this was great to read. And as for the story told here– what a masterstroke by X Atencio. Much thanks and Happy Haunting!
What happened to the daily emails that had all the blog posts on it? I used to get them and not it had been over a month that I have not got one.
You forgot about the black widow storyline just before the graveyard!