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The Unauthorized Story of Walt Disney's Haunted Mansion: Second Edition Paperback – December 12, 2016
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Top Customer Reviews
Part Two is called, "The Experience." I found this part to be far more interesting. This portion of the book explains the guest experience--how things are laid out, what the guest sees, how the ride actually works in practice. We find out exactly how fast the cars move (and that they slow down a tad in winter.) The initial chamber the guests enter is actually just a disguised, high-capacity elevator. I also enjoyed the discussion about how many of the spooky tricks actually are done, such as the "hitchhiker" ghosts, and the room that seems to go on to infinity. And wouldn't you know it? The spiritist, Madame Leota is actually Leota Toombs, who was working for the Disney company, and trying out her costuming and model skills on other attractions.
The editor of HAUNTED MANSION did an excellent editing job. I didn't see any obvious flaws. Extensive end-nodes document the citations. Also, the links in the Table of Contents work properly. There is also an appendix called, "Needful Things," which discusses, among other things, the various marketing plans related to the Haunted Mansion.
√ All in all, a well-written, thorough history and analysis of this great ride. Being a former Disney employee, I enjoyed reading about this ride. Next time I see that seance scene, I'll look for Madame Leota. Recommend!
For forty-five years, the Haunted Mansion has delighted Disneyland visitors with its curious blend of spooky atmosphere and bewitching humor. It is one of the park’s most popular attractions, and incarnations of the ride appear in every Disney park, from the Magic Kingdom in Disney World in Florida to the Disney resorts of Tokyo, Paris and Hong Kong. But the path that led to the mansion was rocky and full of unanticipated twists, as multiple visions of a proper Disney haunted house competed to make it into the ride. In this new book by Doombuggies.com creator Jeff Baham, the evolution of the Haunted Mansion is explored in rich detail, from its first appearance as a tiny sketch on the first map for Walt Disney’s proposed theme park through several incarnations in the 1950s and 60s that eventually coalesced into the attraction that opened to the public in 1969. Along the way, key Imagineers are recognized for their contributions, secrets of special effects are revealed, and a room-by-room walkthrough reveals changes that have been made to the Mansion’s scenes and story over the years.
Of all the rides in Disneyland, the Haunted Mansion is definitely my favorite. Other haunted houses rely heavily on gore and on live actors jumping at you, which makes them overwhelming for a weak-stomached person like myself. By contrast, the Haunted Mansion successfully creates a gothic atmosphere that feels classic and creepy, scary without crossing the line into frightening. Making a family-friendly ghost house without crossing the line into cheesy or childish is difficult, and one of the things I most enjoyed about "The Unauthorized Story" is the author’s exploration of what creative decisions were made by the Disney Imagineers to achieve this balance.
The book also explores the Haunted Mansion from a technical perspective, explaining how certain effects are achieved (no holograms, folks!) and the impact changes in technology have had to the ride. For example, a character called the Hatbox Ghost was only in the Mansion for a few days, right after it opened, before he was pulled because of his special trick wouldn’t work in the ride. Madame Leota, a medium whose head rests inside a crystal ball, used to sit stationary in the center of a table, but new projection technology now allows her crystal ball to float around the room as if guided by otherworldly forces. A ghostly bride has had her appearance and her story dramatically altered with each upgrade to her attic room. It’s truly fascinating to fans of the ride.
If I had to quibble, I do wish that there were more pictures in the book. One glimpse at the book’s title explains the relative scarcity. Unauthorized Story = not published by Disney = big bucks to use official Disneyland photos. But this is a book for fans, and I imagine that most readers will already be familiar enough with the ride that pictures aren't necessary.
This is a must-have book for fans of Disneyland, and a necessary read for anyone who has ever wondered just what “Imagineers” do as they develop new attractions for the Disney theme parks.