Monday, July 18, 2011

I Spy Something Ugly; Eyesores with No Excuses

Ah, there you are...

There is quite a lot of news to report since the last post. First off, video footage of the legendary Hatbox Ghost has surfaced. View the amazing video by Disney History Institute here.

Second, S&FS's digital download of "Splash Mountain: The Unofficial 22nd Anniversary Collection" has been released. You can find the link to it on our Facebook Page, as well as the terms of use for downloading it. Third, I will finally be making the pilgrimage to Disneyland Paris to experience Phantom Manor this August. Expect a huge review of the Manor, the park, and my vacation afterward. Now, onto today's post...

I've been interested in doing a post about a number of certain elements in Disneyland's Haunted Mansion for quite some time now. The problem has been getting pictures of them. I'm not able to visit Disneyland like so many lucky people are on a regular basis since I live on the opposite side of the United States. Thanks go out to Robert Padilla for taking pictures of these elements for me on request. Now, I can finally explain...


An Innocent Mansion-Virgin. We have All been Once in our Lives

In order for the significance of these elements to be understood, it needs to be stated that I grew up on the east coast, and that the Walt Disney World Mansion was my first. It was February of 2000 when I first stepped into the foyer of the Orlando Mansion. I was a boy of only 7 years old. Second grade. I heard for the first time, the unforgettable voice of Paul Frees.

"Is this Haunted Room actually stretching? Or is it your imagination? Hmm?"

Knowing what I know now, and how I looked apoun the effect of the room stretching around me as a 7 year old then, I'm happy knowing that at one point in my life, the magic that so many other experience in the mansion to this day was magical to me at one point in my life. Those of you who read this blog are the same people who spent hours on Doombuggies.com when you first discovered it, spoiling the magic and educating yourself in the technical aspect of the attraction, just as I did in late 2000, or 2001. You bought the 2003 Jason Surrell book and know it front to back, yet still look at it once a week. You bought the updated edition in 2009 and still look at both copies. You know how each effect is accomplished, and the differences between the Mansions. Being a Mansion fan means you know that pixie dust is just a bunch of smoke and mirrors; and yet, that really doesn't matter to you, because you love the attraction so much...

I know for some Mansion fans, the fact of knowing doesn't ruin the magic within. As a child, I was amazed by the attraction at Orlando. I have three rides on the mansion that I must cherish. Because not only did I sit with each Hitchhiking Ghost on my first three visits, (First was Gus, Phineas, and then Ezra; Every Mansion fan should remember their first HHG) I was also innocent to the technical work going on around me. In 2008, I made the journey to Disneyland in California. My last ride on the Orlando Mansion was in October 2003 (Halloween to be exact) and my memory was a bit blurry. I knew that the tricks behind the effects were well concealed at Orlando though...



"Is this Haunted Room Actually Stretching?" No; it's Clearly an Elevator

Well, the original Anaheim mansion was a bit of a let-down for me. While the original Pirates was much better than the Orlando counterpart, the opposite could be said in terms of the Mansion. Even with the Haunted Mansion Holiday Overlay covering up things that I've been told are usually not covered up, *cough-Loading Area-cough-Warehouse Building-cough-of doom-cough-cough* the magic that hardly wavered in Orlando after knowing "what did this" and "what did that" seemed to have been crushed under-foot here in California. The Stretching room is the start of this. The visual is all I needed to back this post:

I want to know how in 40 plus years of operation, this horrible scar on the quality of the show presented has not been addressed and fixed. While any mansion fan will tell you that the California and Paris Mansions (Manors) have elevators in them, this dead giveaway is more then I think my innocent 7-year old self could have taken. Look at it! This shot was taken for me on request by Mr.Padilla, showing the doors to the portrait hallway while halfway open. The doors open to reveal not only an exit, but a huge ugly black wall! Don't tell me nobody could paint that wall! It's bad show!

The amount of visible black walls in Anaheim's Mansion is painful. At least Orlando has been good about cleaning up these unsightly warehouse walls with wallpaper, even if they are near impossible to see in the fitting darkness that is missing from Anaheim in recent years:

If they wallpaper an entire wall behind the line of view in Orlando, why can't something as painfully "there" as that black wall be covered up? Paint a wooden pattern over the black to match the missing wainscoting. Or better yet, you could paint a convincing mural (like the ballroom set) of an unfinished passage wall, with rats, cobwebs, and beams similar to those in the attic. Something this bad should not have remained untouched for 40 plus years. It's blatantly obvious that your in an elevator once those doors open up that high. While the effect was intended to disguise an elevator, it's much more convincing as a stand-alone effect in Orlando. That wall needs to be covered ASAP. Walt would want it done!

UPDATED - After visiting Disneyland Paris in August, I discovered that they have covered up their version of this wall with a wainscoting pattern. If they did it there, why can't they do it at Disneyland? Come on guys! Fix it up! Walt wouldn't want something like that.

I'll See You All a Little Later. This Way, I Won't Have to Explain the Garage Door

I've spoken elsewhere about why the Anaheim mansion, out of all the mansions, needs to be dark inside. Because so much is just covered in black paint to mask it's existence in a ride that's show designates the location to be older then what technical gadgets lie within, the darkness is crucial in the experience. Beyond the ugly wall in the stretching room, darkness can mask nearly all of the other eyesores that made themselfs known during my visit due to the increased lighting during the Holiday overlay. But at least one more element rears it's ugly head, even if it were dark. This shiny monster is another eyesore without an excuse as to why it's remained out in the open all these years without being covered up.

   If you don't know where this door leads to, I wouldn't be completely surprised. You're really not even supposed to; but because the Haunted Mansion online fan base has so much media in their hands, which includes full blueprints for the ride, it's not really a huge secret. It leads to a big open workshop that houses a lot of discarded mess and Doombuggies that need repairs. It's a backstage area; and you though the attic was a mess...

However, just because we can't see what's inside doesn't mean we should see the ugly door that guards the Mansion's real pack-rat paradise. It's shiny, so it will reflect off of even the dimmest of lights. Paint it black! Or replace it with a black door if you can't paint it! (I don't know if the door rolls straight up, or if it coils around itself) The garage door was invented in 1921 by C.G. Johnson, a good while after the mansion's story-line "end of life in the house" period began. There should not be a garage door in the mansion that is visible to the public, because they were invented after the mansion's last owners vanished! If your not an Anaheim Mansion regular, here is a diagram to show you were this shiny show-scab is in the mansion:

I can't complain about the entire attraction for it's lack of darkness which ruined a lot more then I could list, because Haunted Mansion Holiday added extra light that really shouldn't be in the ride. But these two elements would remain, even when Anaheim learns to turn down the lights. They need to be fixed! Heck, put a curtain up over the metal door!

UPDATED: Thanks to S&FS follower Alexandre Grancoin-Vinet, I can give you visual proof that the Walt Disney World Garage door has black paint on it:


And at Disneyland Paris, there is no garage door, instead, we have a recessed wall, that could possibly be some sort of door, or might just be a wall; it's not like your supposed to know there's a door to a warehouse room there anyway, so whether it is or isn't really doesn't matter, because it doesn't interfere with the show quality. If your a Phantom Manor regular or have any idea if it is a door though, please comment and let me know, because I like to know stuff like that, even if it's of little importance. Here is the visual, take in August 2011 by your's truly:


I feel obliged to address these minor elements. They are scars on a show that could be drastically improved on with a little less light, and a bit more cover-up. They need to be addressed because they are interfering with the quality of the show! I'll see you all a little later...
S&FS