An ominous-looking mansion set adrift in the marshy distance? A ghastly figure hanging in the attic rafters? Ethereal organ music playing to an “empty” ballroom? A ghostly bride beckoning? These, foolish mortals, are some of the all-too-familiar experiences Disney fans have come to expect and embrace in the Haunted Mansion attraction.
Debuting first at Disneyland Park during the summer of 1969, this family-friendly fright-fest has entertained Disney Parks guests for nearly half a century, leaving lasting impressions of the shared and “supernatural” experiences found within its creaking walls.
The Walt Disney Archives has shared several story sketches from the development of the attraction with D23, showcasing some instantly recognizable show elements. These images and more will be a part of the upcoming D23 Disney Fanniversary 2014 series of events.
This far-off vantage point showcases an exterior view of the Mansion structure, completed in a different style than what was eventually built by Walt’s Imagineers.
This sketch represents the attraction space that would eventually become the famed “stretching room” gallery. Note not only the familiar haunt “hanging” around, but furniture atop a transparent “floor” above guests’ heads.
One of the most recognizable “happy haunts” from the Haunted Mansion is its “house” organist—seen here in an early sketch.
A ghostly bride has been part of the myth and lore of the Haunted Mansion from very early on in the attraction’s development. This “dreadfully” colorful sketch helps highlight just that!
These works of art were likely created in the late 1950s or early 1960s, during early development work on the Mansion. “When an attraction is as popular as Haunted Mansion is, it’s quite a feat to find rarely seen materials to share for its anniversary,” notes Rebecca Cline, Director of the Walt Disney Archives. “The Archives staff members were very excited to rediscover these wonderful drawings in our files recently, and we deemed this a perfect occasion for sharing them. The colors and designs of the four sketches help establish a definitive sense of ‘mood’ and ‘space’ for the attraction—moments that theme park guests have come to love. The best part is that these vivid renderings are from early scripted ideas that ultimately (in one form or another) wound up in the final attraction.”
Be sure to check out D23 Disney Fanniversary Celebration, rolling into a town near you this fall. And, as they say—look alive—for upcoming show details!