“Welcome foolish mortals…” These are the words that guests to Disneyland’s Haunted mansion have been greeted with for 40 years now. The Haunted Mansion, which was originally planned as a walk-thru attraction but eventually became what it is today, celebrated her fortieth birthday on Sunday.

The Haunted MansionI thought it might be a good time to take a look at how the Haunted mansion came to be along with some of the “behind the scenes” magic.

Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion as a ride-thru attraction officially opened in 1969. The “mansion” itself however was built in 1963 and would sit idle for 6 years until the actual attraction could be developed and completed. For years, many stories surrounded the grizzly looking mansion that sat quietly on the banks of the Rivers of America including that they were gathering the 999 ghosts that would eventually inhabit the mansion.

In all reality, Imagineers were really trying to decide what the attraction would actually be. What started out as a “museum of the weird” restaurant idea eventually evolved to a walk-thru haunted house. However, there was the problem of keeping things flowing so the attraction could serve a large capacity of guests. Disney’s involvement in the 1964-65 New York World’s Fair would further delay the completion of the project as well as Walt Disney’s death in December 1966.

After Walt’s death, the project evolved significantly. The Museum of the Weird restaurant idea was abandoned, and the walkthrough idea was replaced by the Omnimover system used in Adventure Thru Inner Space, renamed the Doom Buggy, a promising solution to the problem of capacity. Imagineers had been fighting the low-capacity nature of a walkthrough attraction for years, even going so far as suggesting building two identical attractions to get double the number of guests through.

Following are two videos discovered on YouTube, broken into two parts that tell the story of the development of this most beloved Disney attraction.

The video explores some of the history and the effects of the Mansion and includes Imagineers Tony Baxter, Marty Sklar, Bruce Gordon, sculptor Blaine Gibson, Wayne Jackson, and many other imagineers who will reveal some of the “behind the scenes” magic.


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