Friday, August 9, 2019

The Haunted Mansion's 50th Anniversary!

Today is the 50th Anniversary of Disneyland's Haunted Mansion! We'll celebrate today, by looking at a couple Haunted Mansion souvenirs from my personal collection, as well as a couple of my personal home videos.

The Haunted Mansion Secret Panel Chest was sold exclusively, in the Magic Shop on Main Street and Merlin's Magic Shop in Fantasyland:

The sides and bottom of the box were made up of tiny inlaid wood squares.

There are small sections on the side panels of the box that can be moved in succession. There are seven moves to make altogether. After the first four moves, the top panel can be slid open to reveal a storage compartment below.

A diagram showing the solution to the "puzzle" was included with the box. Sliding that top panel over (Step 5), allows a panel on the side of the box to lift up (Step 6), revealing a drawer in the very bottom of the box, which can be pulled out (Step 7).

These two sets of GAF Pana-Vue Slides were sold at the park, in the seventies and early eighties:

The back of the slide strips listed some other Disneyland Pana-Vue sets, which were available for purchase.

The captions on the Haunted Mansion slides are as follows:

Set One - "Mansion of Mystery"

"Ghostly Hallway"

"Seance with a 'Head' Medium"

"A 'Spirited' Organ Recital"

"Caretaker and Dog"

Set Two - "Singing Statues"

"Spooks Play a Haunting Refrain"

"Old Friends with Grave Problems"

"Phantoms of the Opera"

"Beware of Hitchhiking Ghosts"

In the late 1990's, a friend of mine knew one of the cast members who worked in the Haunted Mansion. She let us stay in the "Stretching Room" after all of the guests had exited, and "ride it" back up to ground level! I shot this video of the experience. Note how it returns to starting position much faster than it moves when it's in "show mode."

And here is footage that I shot in 1997, of the "Changing Portraits." This was before the April/December portrait was removed and replaced with the portrait of "Master Gracey" from Walt Disney World's and Tokyo Disneyland's Haunted Mansions. WHY DID THEY DO THAT? I don't get it! It made about as much sense as taking out the old bride in the attic and replacing her with the current monstrosity of a bride (no pun intended.....and that's not a compliment either!)

Happy 50th anniversary to Disneyland's Haunted Mansion!


Anonymous said...

And the crowds came! A day or two earlier, CMs were given the opportunity to the attraction. We could go on an extended break, walk over in our costumes to see the attraction. The excitement was high since the facade and the promise of its opening had been announced (and delayed) since the mid 60s. KS

MRaymond said...

Love this. God only knows what happened to my Panavue slides, not only from Disneyland but quite a few National Parks.

TokyoMagic! said...

KS, I can imagine how exciting that must have been to be among the first ones to go into the Haunted Mansion. Do you by any chance remember seeing the original Hatbox Ghost?

It must have been pretty exciting just working at the park around that time!

TokyoMagic! said...

MRaymond, I'm glad you liked the post. I bought quite a few strips of the Pana-Vue slides from Disneyland, back in the day. I remember seeing them at other places like Knott's Berry Farm and Movieland Wax Museum, but never picked them up anywhere else. Oh, there was one exception!. I was at the Farmer's Market in Hollywood, back in the eighties, and there was a camera shop which had what was obviously "old stock." They just happened to have a Frontierland "strip" that had pics of the Mine Train Thru Nature's Wonderland (long after it had already been removed). They also had a Fantasyland "strip," which contained a pic of the Fantasyland Pirate Ship, with the Chicken of the Sea Mermaid still attached to the bow! Of course, I had to buy those!

MRaymond said...

My dad bought the Panavue slides when he knew he couldn't take a better picture. He had a few sets that came with a cassette tape or record that you played while you showed the slides. It narrated and explained what you were seeing. These came from the National Parks.

I inherited most of them but they were lost when all my slides from the 70s were lost by movers. I had well over 300 slides from Disneyland and Knott's, mostly Disneyland. The combined Panavues were an additional 200 slides (all nicely arranged an carousels (remember those)

TokyoMagic! said...

MRaymond, sorry to hear about the slides that you lost! I do remember the carousels and also the straight trays. I have a slide projector that takes both. I didn't realize there were Pana-Vue slides that came with narration. That's pretty cool!

K. Martinez said...

I really like the slide of the "Ghostly Hallway".

One of the things I always found interesting when looking at the Seance Room" slide is how barren and blank the walls are as evidenced by the photo showing more than you'd actually seen while riding the Haunted Mansion due to the light used to photograph the scene. Of course all the focus was on the table and Madame Leota in darkness plus the suspended musical instruments.

Thanks, TokyoMagic!

Andrew said...

Thanks for the posts and memories. I've always enjoyed the Haunted Mansion. That's really funny watching the Stretching Room move so fast. It's almost comical!

I didn't know yesterday was the 50th anniversary of Haunted Mansion, but I now realize that I did celebrate the occasion by riding a sub-par darkride at my local amusement park, Kennywood, called Ghostwood Estate. While it isn't anywhere close to experience of the Mansion, this ride has a reminiscent, "haunted house-style" fa├žade, as well as a creepy soundtrack. It's one of those interactive darkrides where you are given little laser guns to shoot targets and activate props. For what it is, I find it to be pretty good - but it can't beat the real thing!

TokyoMagic! said...

Ken, the one thing that always surprised me about the slide of Madame Leota, was that they made a pic available to the public, which shows the head inside the crystal ball, without the projection! They were able to take a pic of the singing busts with their projections on, I wonder why they didn't do it with Madame Leota? Maybe it has something to do with her head being located behind glass?

TokyoMagic! said...

Andrew, it's strange for me to watch that footage, even though I was there at the time. I was only able to do that, just that one time. I do wish I had been more steady handed with the video taping!

There is a park here in So. California called Castle Park (Bud Hurlbut used to own it!) and they have a "haunted" shooter attraction called, Ghost Blasters. It's amazing how many things they "borrowed" from Disney's Haunted Mansions. They have the dining room with ghosts seated around the table, the organist, and even hitchhiking ghosts at the end! I believe there is more, but that's all I can remember right now, off the top of my head. I need to do a post about that ride.....and that park, too!

Do you go to Kennywood often? Just curious!

Andrew said...

TokyoMagic, I visit Kennywood usually an average of about twice a year. I used to go more when my dad and I had a season pass, which was for a couple years, but at 40 minutes away, it's not exactly right down the street from me.

Chuck said...

Madame Leota looks like a shrunken head in that slide. Extra-creepy for me.

I also love how the guests waiting in line look like ghosts themselves with that weird, ethereal glow.

Sounds like some amazing finds at the Farmer's Market. It's always neat when you stumble on something like that in an unexpected place.

About 19 or 20 years ago, I was at the street market in Portabello Road (yes, that Portabello Road) and stumbled upon a chap who sold home movies, slides, and View-Master reels. An awful lot of his films were packed in plain, pink cardboard boxes with handwritten labels like "two men, one woman," but mixed in amongst that stuff was a souvenir Super8 reel of it's a small world with an early WDW logo on the packaging.

I opened the box and held the film up to the light to make sure it was what the box said it was (considering some of his other product lines) and then bought that mint-condition reel (along with a 1950s View-Master reel of Canterbury Cathedral) as quick as I could before somebody else did. I realize now that it was probably Disneyland or maybe even NYWF footage, but I didn't care.

Thanks, TM!

TokyoMagic! said...

Chuck, are right! Madame Leota does look like a shrunken head in that pic! I had a shrunken head (a plastic one!) when I was a kid. I'm not sure what happened to it. Unfortunately, I don't think it survived, like so many of my other childhood items did.

Did you have a projector that you could watch that "It's A Small World" footage on? And did you ever get it transferred to video or DVD?

Chuck said...

Yes to the first question, but no to the second.

I have a variable-speed 8mm/Super8 projector I bought in college, and that variable speed ended up being extremely useful over in the UK. Their power is 230 volts at 50 Hertz (cycles per second) while ours is 110v/60Hz, so while voltage converters prevented any damage to any electrical equipment we brought from the States, anything that relied on the number of cycles per second to keep precise timing (things like clocks or film projectors) ran slow. I was able to crank up the speed to fairly closely approximate the right frame rate.

I later borrowed an old 230v/50Hz projector from our parish priest so I could watch films at the correct frame rate. It had been sitting in his shed for years, so I took the thing apart to clean all of the dust out of it. After I cleaned out the internals but before I put the cover back on the mechanical compartment, I fired it back up to make sure it worked (plus, I like watching "naked" mechanical stuff run to see how it works, and this had an unusual spring drove).

Unfortunately, I wasn't careful about what parts I touched, brushed up against something that wasn't grounded and ended up getting a nasty shock. If you've ever gotten a jolt from an electrical outlet, think of what that felt like...and then double it. I can still feel it in mt left hand if I think about it.

I need to seriously think about getting that film transferred. I wonder if anyone will be willing to do it since, despite its age and historical status, it's still © Disney.

Chuck said...

Sorry - "unusual spring drive" and "my left hand."

TokyoMagic! said...

Chuck, yikes! So they are serious when they put the "Do not remove back panel" warning on some electronics? I've been tempted a few times, but knowing what happened to you, will probably keep me from ever doing it!

Stefano said...

Thanks TokyoMagic!, for the 50th anniversary salute and especially for the Panavue slides. I stayed at the Disneyland Hotel in the 1970s and remember a shop there called Magicland; it was loaded with Park souvenirs including the slides, which were displayed on an illuminated carousel. I coveted them, but this is the first close-up look: scrumptious! The color seems a little richer than the 3D Viewmaster HM slides.

The floating candelabra in the Endless Hallway I consider the best special effect in Disneyland; if it is on wires, I've never been able to see them.

Madame Leota looks like the ghastly mummified head of Mrs. Voorhees in "Friday the 13th Part 2". In some photos (including the Viewmasters) the speaker broadcasting her soundtrack is very visible in the chair behind. I came across a Super 8mm film reel of the Haunted Mansion; the camera was not in sync with Leota's projector, resulting in a flickering image. Curiously this 8mm reel cut in shots of the model of the haunted ballroom, along with footage of the actual ride scene.

A week after the Mansion opened came that staggering attendance record of over 82,000 visitors. My math is no good, but considering the Mansion's hourly capacity, and with Disneyland open from 8am to 1 am, it seems a lot of people didn't get into the HM that day. But I think Disneyland that summer, along with Knott's and its just opened Log Ride, were at their zenith; we'll never see the likes of that era again.

Love that nifty panel chest; did you ever store ghoulish novelties in there?

TokyoMagic! said...

Stefano, I didn't keep anything in my H.M. Secret Panel Chest. How boring, huh?

I remember looking at the slide strips hanging on the illuminated display carousel in The Character Shop in Tomorrowland. I didn't start buying them until my aunt and uncle gave me their slide projector. From then on, I tried to buy a strip or two, every time I went to the park.

That's interesting that your Super 8mm film had footage of the actual model of the ballroom. I wonder if it could have been the same footage used for the Wonderful World of Disney episode, featuring Kurt Russell, E.J. Peaker and The Osmonds. Before they ride through the attraction, they do show close-up footage of the models for the various rooms.

I agree with you about Knott's and Disney being at their zenith. I actually went to Knott's last month on the Log Ride's 50th anniversary. I did not go to DL last week for the Haunted Mansion's 50th, because I didn't have an extra $350 lying around.....or whatever it is that they are charging now, for a one park/one day ticket!

Major Pepperidge said...

I’ve always wanted one of those “secret panel chests”, but was never willing to pay the prices. I like that yours still has that round sticker on the bottom. I have secret panel bank that my mom gave me, it looks like a little grist mill, and works in a similar manner to the Haunted Mansion boxes.

Amazing that those Pana-Vue slides have retained their color; it seems like 99% of those have turned a vivid red.

Very cool that you got to ride the elevator back up! No many mere mortals get to do that.

It’s been so long since I’ve seen the regular Haunted Mansion - most of my most recent visits have been during the holidays, so Jack Skellington and company were there. I miss the original show.

TokyoMagic! said...

Major, I never thought about it, but I guess some people would have pulled that sticker off of the bottom, or maybe it would get scuffed up since it was on the bottom of the box. I haven't looked on ebay to see what's out there, but I wonder how many people still have the original instruction diagram? That's cool that you have something similar. It makes sense that someone (if not the same company that made them for Disney) would have manufactured the same thing, but in other forms.

Most of my friends hate the "Nightmare Before Christmas" overlay on the Haunted Mansion because between setting it up and taking it down, the "regular" Haunted Mansion can only be enjoyed for about 6 months out of the year. I used to go to Disneyland regularly enough that that never bothered me. And personally, I think they did a good job with it, considering that it is just an "overlay." See, I don't hate everything that's new/newer!

"Lou and Sue" said...

Thanks, TM! I just checked out your post today, for the first time, and love it! As a kid, I remember anxiously waiting for the Haunted Mansion to open. My cousin, Stu, who lived in California at the time, was the first one in our family to experience it and was all excited to tell us about it. The Haunted Mansion did not disappoint!

I love the HM original version and the Nightmare Before Christmas version (because it's different). The original version is best, though!

Remember those little tombstones that you hung on the wall - that Disneyland (and WDW) sold, that were about 5" x 8"? I have a couple of them boxed away somewhere . . . I need to find them now and hang them up somewhere . . .


TokyoMagic! said...

Sue, my family went to the park within the first month of the Haunted Mansion's opening. I remember the line being very long. I also remember being afraid to go inside. Unfortunately, my brother had a friend that had already experienced it, and he told my brother that "things jump out at you" on the ride. I didn't want "things jumping out at me," so my mom took me "to see the dinosaurs" on the train and afterward, we got a mint julep and waited for my dad and my brother to come out of the Haunted Mansion. By the following year, I had built up the courage to go on it and of course, I loved it!

I like both versions too, but I also like the "regular" Haunted Mansion the best!

I don't remember seeing those little souvenir tombstones for sale at the park, but I have seen them online. I wish I had one!

"Lou and Sue" said...

TM! You jarred my old brain when you said that your brother's friend said that "things jump out at you" - as I do remember the ghosts that popped up from behind the tombstones (in the inside graveyard scene) as scaring me and making me jump, each time they popped up. But, of course, I loved it and went back for more!

Your mom was sweet to take you on the train ride and get you the mint julep - so that you still could have a wonderful time!


JG said...

@Tokyo, thanks so much for this wonderful post with all the slides.

I still have my little Haunted Mansion box like yours. I never kept anything in mine either.

The slides are wonderful. We bought slides like this at different places, but I have no idea where they went. I can't imagine throwing them out, but may have happened by mistake.

I didn't get to ride the HM until almost a year after it opened. I remember the first view we had of the inside was from a Disney TV special, I think it was the Osmonds, or something like that.

I'm not a big fan of the holiday overlay, I've never enjoyed that movie. I OD on HM rides during the parades, on my last visit, I rode 4 times in about an hour, it was basically a walk-on. The new Hatbox Ghost is quite well-done. I agree that the bride and portrait changes are a mess. WED should just drop the idea of making a continuous story and let it alone.



TokyoMagic! said...

JG, the first view of the ride for many people, probably was when the Osmonds rode through on the 1970 Wonderful World of Disney episode, "Disneyland Showtime." Of course, I'm assuming that there was a commercial that ran on TV, when it first opened and that might have shown little bits of the ride as well.

Funny, I'm not a huge fan of the movie, The Nightmare Before Christmas. I don't dislike it exactly....I think it's "just okay." I actually like the overlay on the Haunted Mansion, better than I like the movie, itself!