Friday, January 20, 2012

Walt Disney World Vacation Report - January 2012

Ah, there you are...

   I have hinted on the Facebook page that changes are on their way to S&FS. Well, your just going to have to take that statement and make of it what you will. I won't be verbally addressing these changes any further, nor addressing exactly what they are. You'll have to take note and make that sort of judgment for yourself. Now, as they say, look alive, and we will take a look at my most recent vacation to the Mansion in Orlando...

(Panorama take by yours truly; you can enlarge it by clicking on the image)
   This report will be brief; there isn't as much for me to report on as there was in October, because not as much has changed. The last two Orlando trip reports can thank the 2007 Re-Haunting and the recent 2011 enhancements for being as detailed as they were able to be. (Although the October 2011 one was done up in brief, even though there was so much to talk about) However, given that the Mansion has been in a constant state of change since the Re-Haunting, there are actually a few new additions since my last trip; they are minor additions, but since this blog covers it's subject matter in a detailed way, new details; minor or not, are worth noting.

   The first of which are a number of new signs that adorn the interactive portion of the queuing area graveyard; the most notable being the one pictured bellow on the left, stating: Open for Visitation

   All of the signs share the same little arrow, which has sprung up in many different locations recently. This wavy little arrow made it's debut in the mansion as a late 2011 replacement for the goofy green glove hand that had been introduced in late 2010 to the exit crypt for safety concerns; and more than likely, because some guests are too confused to realize that they are supposed to exit at this point in the ride.

   I recall mentioning how this hand was rather chessey in my oppion after my January 2011 trip; it was either on here (the blog) or on the Facebook page, but I know I voiced my two-cents somewhere online. No matter where I did, somebody, somewhere at Disney must have heard me, and decided to replace this big, gloved hand with this arrow. Thus, this arrow is now used anywhere in the Mansion where direction assistance is needed.

  The second, and much more important addition is a new tribute in the cemetery to Harper Goff, the Disney artist responsible for drawing the first known sketch in 1951 of the "Haunted Mansion" for the Disneyland; which at the time, wasn't even opened yet:

   This tribute is part of another new addition that makes it much easier to communicate with Prudence Pock in her tomb. The plaque; which is duplicated on both sides of the window looking into the tomb where the book is located; has an attached microphone that you speak into so that Prudence can better understand you. The plaque reads:


   I wonder when a Buddy Baker tribute will materialize? I guess it's just a matter of time. Anyhow, I have come to enjoy spending ample time messing around with the decomposing composers tomb in the new interactive area on nights when nobody was around. I actually manged to get more wet playing that organ with it's mist-spraying effect then I did on Splash Mountain that same night! I will say right now that the next post will further analyze the interactive que and Hitchhikers, so we will not go any further with my thoughts about the que. So, let's look at the ride now...

   Nothing wrong here; The Mansion is a spectacular as ever; nothing I could spot that seemed out of place, or wrong. It was open the entire trip, and didn't break down during my stay at all, as far as I know. It's still darker then the Disneyland version inside, but the the lighting has increased just a tad since my last visit. Still, it's darker than my video camera can handle sometimes. Even with some increased lighting on the Caretaker; something that has been requested by a few people online; he is barely visible in this clip of the graveyard finale I shot. It's a major step up from nothing but his lantern being visible in my 2011 recordings though.

  NOTICE: Before you watch the video, I want to apologize for my terrible singing at the beginning; I sing along every time I get to that scene. Since I wasn't really paying attention to the fact that I was recording at the time, it's not really my best vocal take; I can sing way better, believe me. And I do shut up by the time we reach the Caretaker. Anyhow, watch just so you get a visual of how it looks on camera:

   Hopefully, the video will attract more attention to my blog from YouTube. Also, you can get an idea from this clip of what I did last January. In my desperate attempts to record quality sound loops of all the new vocals, I had to do this over 30 some times; you can imagine how much worthless footage I have that was recorded with intentions for the audio portion only. Note that you can indeed see more with your eyes on the ride than you can in my video. The human eye is a magical thing you know.

  I would like to mention that I had a few really awesome butlers and maids who really stayed in character. I also had one butler who gave me a good laugh by saying "Welcome to it's a small world" when he opened the doors. The I also managed to obtain access to the VIP hallway for my second straight trip, where I discovered the old bat-plaque servant quarters signs are residing at the moment. How did I obtain access again? Well, it's a good thing you asked, as this will transfer us into the next part of the report perfectly...

  I was lucky enough to take the Keys to the Kingdom backstage tour on my last day. I highly suggest the tour to anyone who reads this blog, and is obsessed with the Disney Parks. The tour not only takes you down into the utilidoors; (where I'd like to point out, there is a good old organ banshee head in a display case for Disney Imagineering in one of the hallways; though that might excite some of you Mansion fans. I was when I saw it that close; they are large then I thought) but it took the group on the Mansion at one point. I'm not sure if the Mansion is a standard part of the tour; we only rode that and Jungle Cruise during the 5-hour time frame. Anyhow, the tour was really amazing, and it filled me in on a number of things I had never heard of/noticed before. It also really renewed my appreciation and respect for what the company does on a whole. It takes a lot of effort from a whole lot of different people to keep that park running. Some of those people aren't as excited as I would be working there, but nonetheless, they are just as important in keeping the magic going every single day of the year. The tour also touched on plenty of other interesting things. Things that made sense. From now on, you might get to a point in one of my posts where I'll say something like "as I learned during Keys to the Kingdom" or something like that. The tour re-enlighten me to the reasons why the Disney Parks have always been such amazing places. It's the effort that goes into presenting the magic, and making guests believe they are in another world.

  I'll end this report on another note. I once again, had the pleasure of talking to and hanging out with someone during my trip. While they hadn't heard of S&FS before, I had fun getting to spend time hanging out with someone who was just as obsessed with the Disney Parks as I am. Hopefully I'll run into someone in November, or sooner. Guess what everyone? I'm a Walt Disney World annual pass-holder now!

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


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