Tuesday, February 14, 2017

D&M Exclusive : The Mansion which Inspired HKDL Imagineers for Hong Kong Disneyland Mystic Manor

I'm a huge fan of HKDL Mystic Point and Mystic Manor, the ride became a classic from day one and i couldn’t say enough good things about it! Back in 2012 i did an article on Disney and more following an info provided to me by late Imagineer Pat Burke. Pat told me he had sent to Mystic Manor Imagineers team pictures of the old Glendale Sanitarium, thinking it could help as inspiration for Mystic Manor and that's what the article was about. You can read it HERE if you haven't read it yet and, below, a picture of the Glendale Sanitarium.

Now, last month, Christopher DiMattei who is architect sent me an email about this article, saying that i was wrong, that in fact the inspiration came from "acclaimed American architect, George F. Barber (1854-1915) concepts”, someone he’s a big specialist about, and Christopher was kind enough to add some pictures to show how Mystic Manor look similar to Barber Concepts. Here is what Christopher is saying about this:

"Acclaimed American architect, George F. Barber (1854-1915) was, what is now called, a “pattern book” or “mail-order” architect, in that, he published many of his designs in books and other publications, in an effort to market his services, and promote his “brand” of architecture.  Prospective builders of homes would often purchase his books or other publications, so that they could learn more about the construction process, and so that they could see what was available for home designs.  Once the book was in hand, the prospective home builders would usually engage in writing to Barber (via snail mail, of course), and begin the process of customizing a favorite design they may have selected from the Barber pattern book they purchased.  When the design process was complete George Barber would mail to his client, a set of construction drawings and specifications that the client could provide to a local carpenter or house builder, so that the home could be built, wherever the client happened to live.  This sort of thing happened thousands of times throughout the 1890’s and into the early 1900’s.  If fact, it happened so many times, that George Barber is perhaps America’s most prolific architect, having produced an estimated 20,000 sets of mail-order plans, throughout his roughly 25 year career (roughly 1888-1913).  I have been researching and documenting the vast portfolio of Barber’s architecture for many years now, and I have amassed quite a lot of data on the subject, and I have recorded over 2,000 examples of homes attributed to him.  This is how I came to recognize Mystic Manor as a stylized copy of one of George Barber’s published designs."

"So, with that, let me show you what I am talking about.  Check out the first picture ( picture above ).  As you can see, there is way more than a general similarity, between the two images.  The sketch on the right was George Barber’s front elevation that he published in his 1891 pattern book entitled “The Cottage Souvenir No. 2”.  In that publication, this design appeared as “Design No. 53”.  Many examples of this design were built by clients of George Barber.  My research has documented 22 examples of this particular design, built throughout the USA, some of which you can see in the second attached file ( picture below )."

Christopher added: "Now I’m not sure what WDI Imagineer Pat Burke told you, or where he got his information from, but the Glendale Sanitarium is not even close to looking like “inspiration” for Mystic Manor, when the George Barber design I have showed you today, is nearly an exact copy of the design used to build Mystic Manor in Hong Kong.  But I would be very curious to hear what he has to offer in reply, should you forward this info on to him.  Perhaps you can share that with me when you get a response?"

Unfortunately Pat Burke passed away two years ago, something that Christopher did not knew, so it was not possible to check with Pat. And it's at that point that i had the idea to ask directly WDI Imagineer Joe Lanzisero who was the show producer on Mystic Manor, as if there is someone who should know the truth, it is Joe!

Joe Lanzisero kindly answered to me, saying:

Hi Alain, Thanks for your inquiry.  Neither Pat Burke or Architect DiMattei are correct. We based the general shapes and forms of Mystic Manor off of the Carson Mansion in Old Town Eureka California. Carson Mansion was the work of San Francisco architects Sam and Joseph Cather Newsom. I also used the Carson Manor as inspiration for Goofy's house at Toontown in Anaheim and Tokyo. Thanks for coming to the source for the accurate answer."

And how look this Carson Mansion, you ask? Well, here are some pictures of it.

The next picture below is showing the inside of Carson Mansion.

Actually, the Carson Mansion has so many fans that one of them recreated it in CGI and here is the map he did of the inside of the mansion. I'm not sure that HKDL Imagineers really followed the same blueprint for the inside of Mystic Manor but i post the picture below anyway.

Now, according to Joe Lanzisero, and there is no reason to doubt Joe as, again, he was at the head of the Mystic Manor project, it's this Carson Mansion which served as inspiration and it does look indeed very close to Mystic Manor. Of course, the Imagineers didn't copied the Carson Mansion exactly 100% as it is, adding different elements here and there, not to mention the Russian looking bulbs at the top of some towers, which are pure Imagineering.

On the other hand i have to say that the Barber concepts sent to me by Christopher DiMattei look also incredibly similar to Mystic Manor. So where is the truth? Did HKDL Imagineers took their inspiration a bit from both Carson Mansion and George Barber concepts? Apparently the architectural style was popular early last century so it's may be not surprising that both Carson Mansion and George Barber concepts have reminiscences one from each other. Anyway, Mystic Manor is a true wonder which deserves to be discovered by any Disney fan so don't miss it during your next trip to Hong Kong Disneyland!

Pictures: copyright Disney and more, DR


Tom said...

This is so cool! Thanks for sharing!!!

Anonymous said...

Carson Mansion may have inspired the overall massing, but the details are clearly from Barber's designs, regardless of what anyone says - Tanzirian.

Mark Hickson said...

Great story!

Brandon said...

In any case, it's a beautiful structure and an even more amazing attraction! I'm kinda an architecture buff so I'm already looking to study this Victorian style!

Elaine said...

Absolutely amazing mansion that is truly a work of art. I live in a Barber home so found this very interesting, but mine is a much more modest Victorian. Thanks for sharing.