I’m a huge Disney fan. Specifically: Disneyland. I’ve only graced Disneyland Paris and Disney World once (so far). So my little write-up will be solely dedicated to Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion. One of the biggest differences I noticed was the exterior of both rides. Since DL’s Haunted Mansion is set in New Orleans Square, the exterior represents a Southern mansion, taking inspiration from inspired by the Evergreen House in Baltimore, Maryland. WDW/Magic Kingdom’s Haunted Mansion is part of Liberty Square and has a Gothic-revival style exterior.
Paranormal pop culture is a favorite subject of mine. While I’m looking for ghosts and *trying* to engage in spirit communication, there are those who have taken inspiration from this world and have created something incredible. From horror movies, ghosts in plays, to haunted houses, the paranormal has truly inspired some amazing stories. One of my favorite rides at Disneyland is The Haunted Mansion, or as I like to call it, “Spiritualism: The Ride.”
I didn’t have much of a chance to ride The Haunted Mansion as a kid because my household was super Christian and my mom thought the ride was something of the Devil. To give you an idea of how much of an issue this was, I wasn’t even allowed to read the “Goosebumps” books. There’s a reason I had to read my paranormal-related books in the public library.
Anyway, the idea for The Haunted Mansion dates back to 1951 when Walt Disney came up with the idea. It was originally thought of as a walk through haunted house. It was originally intended to sit at the end of Main Street, as Disney wanted the attraction to be that stereotypical haunted house at the end of the road. The idea was left untouched until 1957 when Disney wanted to expand New Orleans Square. What I really LOVE about the developmental story of The Haunted Mansion was that Disney visited the Winchester Mystery House with all of the stairs that lead to nowhere, the multiple rooms, random doors, etc. Given the final product at Disneyland and Walt Disney World, I see where the Winchester House served as inspiration. After tumbles, twists, and turns, the ride opened in 1969. There are so many blogs, articles, and discussions about the history, story line, characters, etc. on The Haunted Mansion that do a much better job than I do. Also, this isn’t a Disney blog.
I want to get down to what I love the most about the ride; Madame Leota and the séance.
Seriously, can we talk about how “dead” on this is?
Serpents and spiders, tail of a rat, call in the spirits, wherever they’re at!
Rap on a table — it’s time to respond. Send us a message from somewhere beyond…
Goblins and ghoulies from last Halloween, awaken the spirits with your tambourine!
Creepies and crawlies, toads in a pond, let there be music from regions beyond!
Wizards and witches, wherever you dwell, give us a hint, by ringing a bell!
Every time I read this to a group of paranormal researchers, spiritualists, and even skeptics, I ask them where the passage is from. I get answers ranging from a historical séance, something from one of Lincoln’s séance, etc. When I tell them it’s the script from The Haunted Mansion, the reaction is always amusing. From the tarot cards floating in the air to Madame Leota’s head in a crystal ball, I find it really interesting that the ride essentially starts off with a séance to summon the 999 happy haunts.
Here is a sample séance invocation from 1901:
‘There is a land where we all go,
Where never the frost or cold winds blow.
And friends remembered reunite,
where those who hate, forget their spite.
In glow, surround these gentle beings,
we call you now to bless our meetings,
Heaven’s promise, our spirits thrive,
So now for the living, let the dead come alive.
Greetings spirits, Speak now to us?’
From “The Spirit Speaks! Weekly Newspaper” 1901
~ Revised by Barbara Morris
As we pass by the ballroom in our Doom Buggies, we see ghosts dancing in a ballroom, a ghost blowing out some candles, and other ghostly images. It’s fairly well-known now that this effect was created using a technique called, “Pepper’s Ghost.” Ironically, this technique emerged around the same time that Spiritualism was really becoming popular in 1862. Spiritualism was reaching its peak around this time thanks to the Civil War and families left behind were trying to make contact with their lost loved ones. It was created by a scientist by the name of John Henry Pepper, and it involves a room hidden from the viewer that is illuminated and glass. What we see on DL’s Haunted Mansion are two rooms; one above the Doom Buggy and one underneath.
See this photo for more.
At the end of the day, we are finding more evidence of paranormal inspiration in our daily lives without even realizing it. In this case, even something located in the Happiest Place on Earth draws that connection, making the spooky a little more magical.