Monday, October 05, 2009


Good evening, darlings, and thank you for reading. Welcome to The MonsterGrrls' 31 Days Of Halloween for 2009 (should you be just joining us) and welcome also to the first of our Haunted Mansion Mondays. This venerable institution is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, so today we shall enlighten you on the history of this fine old place.

When Walt Disney first began conceiving Disneyland, artist Harper Goff sketched an old haunted house on a hill overlooking Main Street as part of the concept drawing. Though this house never became part of the Disneyland that opened in 1955, a New-Orleans-themed area was planned shortly after its opening that contained a thieves' market, a pirate wax museum and a haunted house walkthrough. Imagineer Ken Anderson was assigned to work on the haunted house, and his first concept sketch of a distended antebellum mansion was met with praise by other Disney artists but panned by Walt himself, who did not like the idea of a run-down house within his clean and sparkling wonderworld. (As Walt said, "We'll take care of the outside and let the ghosts take care of the inside.")

The exterior of the Mansion was completed in 1963, but the Mansion would not open for another six years due to several story conflicts and Disney's heavy involvement in the 1963-64 New York World's Fair. With Disney's death in 1966, the Mansion underwent a massive redesign. Designers Marc Davis and Claude Coats were in constant disagreement over whether the Mansion should be scary or funny; in the end, designer X Atencio stepped in and combined both men's work to create a frightening and shadowy old house that nonetheless harbored a company of silly spooks and comical creeps within its aging walls. The walkthrough idea was abandoned when the Omnimover system used in Disney's Adventure Thru Inner Space ride at Tomorrowland was added to the Mansion and renamed the Doom Buggies. Built in such a way that the viewer can only see what is in front of him, and able to rotate a full 360 degrees, the Doom Buggies were a significant evolutionary stage for the Mansion.

On August 12, 1969, the Haunted Mansion was opened to the general public, bringing in record crowds. The attraction was so popular that when Disney expanded to build theme parks in Florida, Tokyo and Paris, the Haunted Mansion was included. It was an opening-day attraction in 1971 at the Magic Kingdom in Florida, and would become the Phantom Manor for Disneyland Paris. Clearly, this stately manse continues to hold much fascination for all its guests (one of which was a certain Mad Scientist of our acquaintance), and we MonsterGrrls are delighted to salute the Haunted Mansion. Cheers to all the Grim Grinning Ghosts within!

Do return next week for our next installment of Haunted Mansion Mondays, and of course, we hope to see you tomorrow for The MonsterGrrls' 31 Days Of Halloween. Why, it's almost as if your cadaverous pallor betrays an aura of foreboding...

Bethany Ruthven