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« THEN AND NOW: Walt at Disneyland | Main | THEN AND NOW: MK Main Street, U.S.A. »
Thursday
May172012

The Haunted Mansion Like You've Never Seen It [Part 2]

Let’s go deep into the famous Haunted Mansion ballroom to spy on a few ghosts. Marc Davis designed this part of the ballroom to feature various ghosts entering the party from a coffin and hearse outside the mansion. See Part 1 here.

We go behind the scenes to see some of the process. Some ghost figures in these photos have their paint, clothing, props, and/or hair stripped off. You’ll notice these figures are mounted to a carousel-like structure.

This ship captain (not found in Marc’s concept) has a famous counterpart in Pirates of the Caribbean... the auctioneer!

Legendary Disney sculptor Blaine Gibson sculpted a number of human heads for Pirates of the Caribbean, Haunted Mansion, Carousel of Progress, Hall of Presidents, etc. Many of the same heads were used in multiple places. Blaine is also known for sculpting the Walt and Mickey Partners statue. Before working at W.E.D he did animation and special effects work on many of Disney’s classic animated features.

This fella can also be seen in the graveyard scene. Looks like his twin needs some serious refurbing (at least when this photo was taken). Across the river his same head can be spotted again in the blacksmith shop at Fort Langhorn, Tom Sawyer Island.

My oh my. This nice lady’s head makes another appearance in the very same room... but as a man. Old Caesar’s ghost sitting at the table has the very same headskin. She can also be seen in the line of wenches in pirates and other places.

Nearby grandmother reads a book in her rocking chair.

Look familiar?? Now we know where the Carousel of Progress Grandma ends up after she kicks the bucket.

A few of the ghost figures above got their start in this Marc Davis concept art. Although the horses were never added to this scene, a tipped coffin is clearly visible today. The butler with the guest list and the hearse driver never made scene either.

When lit correctly, the revolving ghosts don't appear to revolve in a complete circle. Only a portion of the circle gets light, leaving the rest of the circle invisible to guests looking down from their Doombuggies. This gives the illusion of a never-ending line of ghosts entering the room.

 

Related posts:

The Haunted Mansion Like You've Never Seen It [Part 1]
ABANDONED DISNEY: Haunted Mansion Hitchhiking Ghosts
Pirates of the Caribbean Like You've Never Seen It
Carousel of Progress Like You’ve Never Seen It
THEN AND NOW: Liberty Square [Part 1]
I Miss Paul Frees
Little Box of Treasures


Reader Comments (13)

Carousel of Progress Grandma = Rocking Chair Grandma?

Mind = blown!

Haha

May 17, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJeff Heimbuch

Great stuff! Keep up the great work! Love seeing parts of Disney World we'd never get to see like this.

May 17, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJeremy

Awesome. Just awesome.

I was 8 years old in 1969, and visited Disneyland late that summer. Only recently did I realize that the HM probably opened just before we arrived from Massachusetts! I can vividly remember those pop up faces on a wire in the attic, and I bet dollars to doughnuts I probably saw the mysterious hat box ghost too!

This attraction directly led me to get into art, and I've been teaching graphic design for 24 years. Recently had a nice email conversation with Rolly Crump, thanking him for the inspiration to become an "artguy". Thrill of a lifetime - when I sent him a little drawing I had done of the mansion's occupants, his reply - "you can draw!" And that was something I will never forget!

Maybe when I retire in a few years, I'll see if I can get a gig in Disneyland.

May 17, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterartguy

Thank you for posting this; Disney Imagineering never ceases to amaze me.

May 17, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKat

Wow this is some amazing stuff. TY so much!

May 17, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRyan

What I really like about this post is it clearly illustrates what the Imagineers were able to do with a fairly low-tech setup. I remember being in grade school and talking with other kids who had been to HM and all of us being amazed by the ballroom scene. "How do they do that?!? They appear and disappear in front of your eyes." And then the same group of kids trying to explain what they saw to other kids.

Don't get me wrong, I love newer rides like Mission:Space and Tower of Terror and I feel they take things further than they could in the '60s/'70s. It is incredible what technology can bring us and the experiences it can deliver.

But how many years did this relatively simple effect (Pepper's Ghost) leave us stumped? And to see behind the scenes like this really shows how low-tech the effects were but how great a job they did in selling the illusion.

May 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJohn

Too cool. My aunt used to tell me "well how do you know those ghost aren't real?". The props almost look scarier than the real thing.

May 18, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterphilphoggs

Great post! I would like to know more about the dancing ghosts in the ballroom next :)

May 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKaylin

I love this! Amazing how these seemingly simple figures become so mysterious and unearthly in the attraction. What a tribute to the Imagineers that spook up the place! Thanks for posting this great stuff. Seeing behind the curtain doesn't dilute the magic for me; it only adds another layer of enjoyment.

And do I see some spectral orbs in a few of those wide shots? I prefer to think the joint really is haunted!

May 20, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAlex G.

Regards for all your efforts that you have put in this.
Very interesting info.

May 22, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterforex

It's about time the Carousel of Progress grandma passes on! i mean, she was old at the turn of the century, imagine how old she is in the last scene. 200?

Anyway, great post! I love things like this! Keep up the Haunted Mansion posts!

May 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterEmily Oriotis

Supposedly, Gibson crafted those faces after people that attended his church. Or, so I've been told.

October 31, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKurt Miller

This site is GREAT and weirdly inspiring, ! I love sculpture / dolls / figures.
Very atmospheric.

July 4, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLorri R.

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