Saturday, April 7, 2007

Haunted Mansion 40th Anniversary - A Behind the Scenes Tour

It's Disneyland's Haunted Mansion 40th anniversary, and to celebrate this event we will have today a look "behind the scenes" of this beloved attraction.

First, the famous Sam Mc Kim painting of the exterior.

As everybody knows, Marc Davis designed most of the scenes of the Mansion, so let's begin by Marc's artwork, more or less in chronological order...

Here is the famous Hatbox Ghost Marc Davis rendering

...and another scene concept never used for the attraction.

WED special effects master Yale Gracey recreated in 3D Marc Davis scenes...

Please note that you can find the Dueling Portaits in big size on Kevin Kidney's site!

I also asked Imagineer Pat Burke if he had some untold story about the Haunted Mansion. Here is his answer!

"Disney Legend, friend, and co worker, Fred Joerger told me a few stories as he worked on the original Haunted Mansion. As you know Walt had been very sick with Cancer and passed away in December of 1966, before they could complete and open the Haunted Mansion. Fred said he and fellow Art Director Legends Claude Coates and Mark Davis, were hesitant to complete and afraid to open the Mansion to the public, as it was the first attraction on which they could not get Walt's official walk through and final approval. So this of course was a major reason for its delay. They wanted it to be everything that Walt would have asked for and approved. Seems like I remember a soft opening and then it was closed again for changes.

I was told some effects were deemed a bit too scary for guests back then. Sam McKim had shown me some of his original concept sketches which showed boats floating through the halls of a half floated, and flooded mansion much like the Blue Bayou themeing. I was responsible for the props and sets on the TDL Haunted Mansion and used Disneyland's HM as a guide. When Disneyland's opened the HM it had the best Victorian antiques in the attic scene. Over the years as antiques of the Victorian era increased in value, the great antiques slowly were replaced with cheaper substitutes. You know of course that the Nautilus pipe organ was added to the mansion after the 20,000 Leagues attraction closed at Disneyland.

Leotta Toombs had a funny story about when they cast her head for the famouse crystal ball scene. She said that at the studio they placed her head in a kind of a clamp to keep her pose steady. They applied a warm mold making wax to her head. She said it was a little too warm and slid down further forming a true capture or her bust! That was before plaster I guess, as I did later in college. Just a few funny memories from my coworkers..."

Most of the Haunted Mansion guests are always wondering how the special effects were done. Tne next videos will learn you (almost) everything about them.

The first video below is with Walt Disney himself presenting the future attraction surrounded with legendary Imagineers like Marc Davis and others...

The next one is from the Discovery channel and is a short walk-through with legendary Imagineer Tony Baxter. Tony don't reveal a lot of secrets in this one, but it's always a pleasure to see Tony!

This other 10 minutes video will tell you more about the history and the effects of the Mansion. And Tony Baxter, Marty Sklar, Bruce Gordon, sculptor Blaine Gibson, Wayne Jackson, and many other imagineers will show you much more of the "behind the scenes.

But it's this other 10 minutes youtube video that will show you the imagineers at work in the sixties, creating the ghosts of the mansion. This video is coming from Disney's tv show "The Wonderful World of Color" in which the Haunted Mansion made its debut.
The first part of it is with the imagineers and the second part is a ride-through with - guess who? - Kurt Russell and the Osmonds , and, yes, they were young at that time!

You can find much more renderings and the whole story of the making of the attraction in the great Jason Surell book - the best book ever written on the "Haunted Mansion" - a "must have" if you don't have it yet!

Artwork: copyright Disney

Videos: copyright Discovery channel and Disney

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