Part 3: Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion 40th Anniversary

HIST_DLmansionWith the loss of their great visonary, the Imagineers debated over the design concepts of the haunted mansion, such as whether the haunted mansion experience should be scary, or funny. In the end, imaginers Marc Davis (funny), and Claude Coats (scary), combined their ideas, so the ride begins with spooky sets and chilling concepts, and eventually becomes “a swinging wake”, full of silly spooks, and ghostly gags.

Finally, after years of planning the New Orleans Square Haunted Mansion opened its doors, on August 9, 1969.

During this time the Walt Disney World Magic Kingdom was being planned and constructed in Florida. So duplicates of each mansion prop and scene were constructed, with one staying in California, and the other going to Florida, to be stored until the WDW haunted mansion was completed.

LibertySquare_frontThe haunted mansion in Disney World was located in Liberty Square, and the façade reflects the Colonial architecture of the surrounding structures.   The façade is a mixture of Hudson River Valley, Dutch Gothic style, and of a particular mansion in Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania, called The Harry Packer Mansion.

The Liberty Square mansion was completed in time for Walt Disney World’s opening in 1971.

HISTtokyomansionAnother haunted mansion was built in Tokyo Disneyland.   It has the same architectural style as the Liberty Square mansion, but it is located in Fantasyland.   It also has been known to break Walt Disney’s “rule” of “taking care” of the outside, having a somewhat neglected appearance.

HISTphantommanorThe haunted mansion in Disneyland Paris, known as The Phantom Manor, completely ignores Walt’s decree, and returns to Harper Goff’s original concept of a ramshackle Victorian house on a hill.   Disneyland Paris, and The Phantom Manor opened on April 12, 1992.   This haunted mansion is l ocated in Frontierland, next to Big Thunder Mesa. Unlike the other Disney haunted mansions, Phantom Manor follows a specific story plot, of a jilted bride, and a phantom groom.


That’s the end of my three part series on the Disney Haunted Mansions. If you want the definitive history of the haunted mansions, I recommend that you purchase Jason Surrell’s excellent book, “The Haunted Mansion: From the Magic Kingdom to the Movies“.

Doombuggies.com is also a great web site dedicated to the Haunted Mansions!

Sources: History Text (haunteddimensions.raykeim.com)

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