Monday, March 21, 2011

Layout Overlap: Disneyland & Walt Disney World

Ah, there you are...

I would assume you'd be expect a post on the new queuing area at Walt Disney World since that's the big news in Haunted Mansion fandom right now. No, I am not going to dedicate a whole post to my oppion of the new additions, because I have not seen them myself and will not take a side on them until that happens. I am on the fence about the additions. That's about as much as I will dwell on this topic for now. Instead, my goal is to try and help the foolish mortals with more biased and strong, (sometimes vulgar) statements on what they too have most likely yet to see in person move on to a better state of mind. They aren't going anywhere, so you need to accept them much as I had to get over the addition of Jack Sparrow to my beloved Pirates.

I want to talk about something today that involves the slight differences in the attractions at Walt Disney World and Disneyland. As many know, the Walt Disney World version is slightly longer, and has a few extra scenes that aren't present in the Disneyland version. However, these scenes are very cramped into the layout. Bellow is the Walt Disney World layout:

(Layout by Tim McKenny & Foxx of

While the image presents the pre-Re-Haunting version of the Orlando attraction, it does still provide the accurate track layout. The only differences would be the obvious missing Grand Staircase scene, the new eyes in the wallpaper, the portrait hallway's new windows, the attic updates, and several slight rotation changes to the Doombuggies in the portrait hallway and the staircase area. But they won't hinder what I'm trying to get across.

So, as said, the scenes not present in Disneyland, but present in Orlando (& Tokyo) are The Servant Staircase, The ride-through Portrait Hall, The Library, The Music Room, and The Endless Staircase with the Wallpaper transfer scene. The Crypt is also a tad bit longer. You ride past Little Leota instead of walk. But because it's on the shorter side of the extended area, most wouldn't even count it as a real addition, more of a mandatory straight away to get to the unload.

Compare the Orlando version to the Disneyland version here:

(Layout, again provided by Tim McKenny & Foxx of

In Disneyland, you walk the Portrait Hallway, and the Busts from the Library are seen in that area too. The much more sophisticated pianist in the Disneyland attic is the effect presented in the missing music room. As for the staircase scene...

Well, that is were we need to look at what's the same. Bellow are the two layouts overlapping one another:

As you can see, the layouts virtually overlap at the middle of the Library scene and at the end of the Hitch Hiking Ghosts Mirror Room. When you board your Doombuggy at Disneyland, your on the same stretch of track used for the music room in Walt Disney World. So, this is where I'll point out that they have the same space to add the same scene in Disneyland, and infact, I'd say a tad more (not by much though.) The staircase scene was indeed crammed into Walt Disney World's attraction. It takes up a very very small amount of space. The same space is present at Disneyland, right after the buggies leave the stretch of track they load on. So they could essentially add the missing Library Scene into the loading area where the music room is at Orlando to fill that empty space and nix one of the missing scenes from the list. They could then add the staircase scene, and thus, another missing scene would be off the list too. Bellow is a lights on photo of the Disneyland Load area to give you an idea of the space:

Now, look at my feeble attempt to mark where the Orlando Layout would overlap this image:

The boundary of where the wall is at Orlando, marked by the red line, shows that there is an extra couple of square feet worth of floor space in Disneyland. The blue and black wall covers are the approximated areas of space that are the scenes at Walt Disney World if overlapped.

The problem with Disneyland is that the load area is way to bright. Compare to the pitch-black darkness of Walt Disney World, the void of space that is the load are is less then convincing, and a major area of unused room. Since the effect in the music room is already present in Disneyland, the best idea would be to ether make a larger library scene to fill the void, or add Phantom Manor's Grand Staircase entry. Of course, the later would make little sense if they had you enter the Walt Disney World Staircase scene right afterward.

Just wanted to get my thoughts out on this.

Also, the Walt Disney World Roller Coaster Tycoon 3 Recreation is coming along very nicely. I would expect it to be done by the end of this month, or somewhere in April. Just wanted to throw that information out there.

Anyhow, I'll see you all a little later...


Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Phantom Pianist...

Ah, there you are...

Today, we will be covering the phantom piano player; both the 1970's one from Walt Disney World's music room, and the 1990's one from Disneyland's attic. Let's start from the beginning...

When the Walt Disney World Mansion opened with the rest of the resort, it included several new scenes exclusive to the Orlando version due in part to the modified layout. One of those scenes was the music room, a dark parlor with a huge window overlooking a nightmarish moonlit landscape. Various instruments lay about the room, covered in dust and cobwebs. A huge grand piano sitting in the middle of the room plays on it's own, or so it seems at a glance. The moonlight from the window casts the shadow of an unseen anomaly pounding out a Rachmaninoff style composition of "Grim,Grinning Ghosts" across the floor of the room, which is covered in piles of sheet music.

Shhh! Listen...
Listen to the Orlando & Tokyo Music Room Piano:

The effect is accomplished via a GOBO, a type of theatrical "Shadow Puppet" of sorts. The shadow is projected via lighting onto the floor in synchronization with the music and the keys of the piano, which move on cue.

The effect is convincing to the eye, yet it's obvious that the stiff-elbowed shadow is not a real ghost. The effect is used in the Walt Disney World and Tokyo Mansions, as well as Phantom Manor in Disneyland Paris. The picture seen to the side shows the effect under proper lighting (If anyone knows whose photo this is, please let me know so I can credit them. I found it on my hard drive, but can't recall the origins of it.) The image under it is a press image from Walt Disney World, most likely taken before opening.

The effect improved like any effect could with thirty years time, and when it was brought to the Attic in Disneyland, it was much more impressive then ever before. I must say that the Attic Phantom is my favorite effect in all of the mansions. The photos to the side show the ghost under proper lighting, as well as the set (via flash) that the shadowy spirit is projected on. The effect is a projection obviously, but how the projection of the shadow is achieved is even more interesting. A person dressed in all black was filmed against a white backdrop, and that is how you get the unusual black projection.

Shhh! Listen...
Listen to the Bridal Chorus from the Attic Scene:

With much more fluid movement and the amazing appearance of being projected onto the uneven scenery surrounding it, the attic phantom is far superior to his older kin. However, the attic pianist is clearly playing his tune on a harpsichord, not a piano. The sound, however, is that of a piano...though to those who don't know what the difference is, (that is the majority of riders) this mistake goes unnoticed.

Bellow is a video comparison of the two. The footage of the Walt Disney World version comes from Martin Smith's amazing 2009 HD Hour-long tribute. The Disneyland attic footage is from YouTube user Pantheragem, who has the clearest HD videos of the attraction, as well as other Disneyland Rides on the Internet. Check them out:

I'll see you all a little later...