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Long-Forgotten: The Haunted Mansion as it Could Have Been

23 Mar

Long-Forgotten has a great piece today on rejected ideas for the Haunted Mansion. Some influences can clearly be seen on the finished product . . . and some absolutely can’t. I particularly enjoyed the one-eyed ogre version of Rasputin.

Hat tip: BoingBoing.

Two More December 2009 Disney Fan Meets at WDW

14 Oct

Celebrations Magazine just announced a little get-together during the Fest That Dare Not Speak Its Name:

Celebrations Magazine meet!! Sunday Dec 13, 2pm, France Pavilion’s Garden in Epcot!! Will you be there? Let us know!

Those Darn Cats has something cooking too: We’ll hold our third annual Girls Ride Out at Haunted Mansion on Sunday, December 13, at 10:00, conveniently scheduled between two meets from All About the Mouse also happening at Magic Kingdom that day. No, you don’t have to be a girl to attend. Yes, if you come in drag we’ll make a fuss over you and want pictures. And yes, I do believe the ladies rode first last time, but I’m not sure since I was acting like a teenager again, sitting in the back of the bus with the guys, talking too loud.

Have you heard of others? If so, post ’em here in the comments, or drop me a note!

Phantom Manor: Best. Mansion. Ever.

7 Sep

Phantom Manor at Disneyland Paris is hands-down my favorite Haunted Mansion at any Disney Park worldwide. The ride itself is quite a bit different from its US counterparts, with a ghost town finale entirely unlike the graveyard scene you’ll see elsewhere (though fear not, your favorite song is still there). The themeing is a bit different too, to suit its Frontierland environs.

DLRP Magic has provided a ride through video on YouTube; there’s also a higher quality version at their site.

One of my favorite things about Phantom Manor is the reduced presence of your Ghost Host. I seem to recall from a Tony Baxter Haunted Mansion walkthrough video that the decision to use minimal narration was prompted by a desire to make the attraction accessible to a multi-lingual audience, but ultimately it makes the attraction spookier, and focuses one’s attention more closely on the visuals, which themselves are often far creepier than anything the stateside Mansions offer. There’s still a playfulness to the happy haunts, but a scarier side too.

The entrance and exit queues may just be the best, most extensive themeing I’ve seen at a Disney Park. I could have lingered for hours taking pictures, reading epitaphs, and just soaking up the atmosphere.

All photos below are reduced-size; click on them for more pixels than you probably need, suitable for computer desktops or framing.

Phantom Manor at a distance

Phantom Manor entrance

Phantom Manor


A fountain in the courtyard, in the entrance queue

A fountain in the courtyard, in the entrance queue

Maintenance issue? Nope, excellent themeing.

Maintenance issue? Nope, excellent themeing.

Looking down on the courtyard from the entrance queue

Looking down on the courtyard from the entrance queue

Watching the sun set behind Big Thunder from the Manor's porch

Watching the sun set behind Big Thunder from the Manor's porch

The exit queue is even better than the entrance

The exit queue is even better than the entrance




Another tombstone

Saloon doors tombstone

Tombstone for miners

Hurry back, hurry back! Be sure to bring your death certificate

Hurry back, hurry back! Be sure to bring your death certificate

Haunted Mansion Hightops

29 Jan

Sure, it’s possible that these shoes wouldn’t solve all my problems, and might not even be all that great on my middle-aged, high-maintenance feet. But wouldn’t it be worth a try? (Hat tip: BoingBoing.)

Alas, I am not among the lucky few with tickets to the Haunted Mansion 40th Anniversary Event. And quite frankly, I’m still wondering why they couldn’t come up with a better name. The Grim Grinning Gala, maybe?

I am also still longing for a pair of the super-cool Oswald the Lucky Rabbit shoes, as well. But I don’t think they would’ve done real well on the ice rink that was my driveway this morning.

Aging gracefully, living in New England, and wearing cool shoes seem occasionally to be mutually exclusive. But I am not giving up the fight.

Haunted Mansion Counterstrike Ride-Through

26 Nov

If it’s possible for this to be any cooler, I don’t wanna know! They’ve even included the inevitable interruption by playful spooks.

You should not be surprised to know that I spotted this on BoingBoing, which also has links to more info.

Counting Down to MouseFest 2008!

6 Oct

Okay, I know it’s still a couple months away…but I’m excited to let you know that the Those Darn Cats Podcast (of which I am a co-host and co-producer) is an Underwriting Sponsor for MouseFest 2008! We’ve got a page up on our blog with info for a couple meets we’re hosting, at Haunted Mansionand Finding Nemo – The Musical. We may even throw something together for Thursday morning, if enough of our buddies seem to be around that early (hey buddy, whatcha doin’ before MouseFest 101?). And of course, the MouseFest site is the ultimate authority for all the various meets that will take place that week…including (I’m sure) tons that haven’t even been scheduled yet.

Photo by my BFF

Photo by my BFF

I am very sad that my son (aka The Wachamacallit) won’t be coming with me, due to his demanding academic life. (I’ve been complaining about this for a while now….even rambled on about it on my Jentasmic! column in August.) But Pal Mickey will no doubt keep me company — he does tell a joke or two, from time to time.

Plus, I’ve heard that there’s no such thing as a solo trip to MouseFest. It’s still early October and already I’m having to make tough choices about which activities to partake of! I suspect I will not have much time to sit around and mope.

And besides, I could not even consider missing MouseFest this year! I cannot risk a repeat of last year’s Mr. Potato Head Meet, which is the sole post ever published here under the tag “bitter bitter bitter.” Nobody wants to see that happen again.

The Continuing Adventures of Those Darn Cats

19 May

My BFF Lisa and I have been busy lately! We’ve been releasing a few “lost” Those Darn Cats episodes (previously recorded for but not released on MouseGuest Weekly), and we had a super lot of fun talking about Star Wars with Bryan and Jonathan on the All About the Mouse podcast last week. And how cool is this: Apparently there is some sort of special magic about being a guest on AATM. Lisa complained on the show that she couldn’t go to Star Wars Weekends . . . and the very day after the show was aired, she found out she could! So yeah, you’re gonna have some TDC trip reports, I’m sure.

Tonight we released a slightly different kinda thing . . . a fresh new recording where we debate the acceptable limits of “public displays of affection” at Disney Parks, and argue where the line should be drawn. Everybody has their limits of course, and she and I disagree pretty strongly.

I’ll resist the urge to post about every single episode here, since I know many of y’all subscribe to our podcast RSS feed already, but I’ll continue to post here from time to time as things develop. We’re releasing segments pretty sporadically right now, but plan to get a bit more formalized over the summer (well, to the extent that either one of us is ever predictable!). And hey, if any of you podcasters out there want to give us a plug . . . Jonathan Dichter recorded an awesome promo for us! You can download it here . . . please let people know they can now find us at Thanks Jonathan!

Spaceship Earth Closing for Rehab July 9, 2007

27 Apr


MouseExtra this morning reports that has posted July 9, 2007 as the start date for rehabilitation of Spaceship Earth (details of the rehab available on The end date is still unclear.

In the short term, this is sad news . . . it means that many summer visitors to Walt Disney World will not be able to ride either Haunted Mansion or Spaceship Earth. As both of these are high-capacity attractions, it may also have implications for wait times on other attractions. However, both of these attractions are badly in need of work, so I’ll gladly take the inconvenience and disappointment now, in exchange for better ride experiences next time around.

Mooninites at the Haunted Mansion

5 Feb

Ray Keim’s Haunted Dimensions web site seems to have been struck by the same Lite-Brites that descended on Boston last week. Be afraid, be very afraid.

If you were taking a long nap, and managed to miss last week’s media blitz about Adult Swim ‘s marketing campaign bringing Boston to a standstill, Mr. Broke Hoedown (aka Collateral Damage) can bring you up to speed with a piece he wrote for Brandweek, Guerrilla Marketing Effort Bombs in Boston. His blog was among the wave of early reports connecting the mysterious “devices” to Aqua Teen Hunger Force.

And the Award Goes to . . . Haunted Mansion

3 Jan

The fan community has spoken, via the Walt Disney World Attractions Tournament: The best attraction at Walt Disney World is the Haunted Mansion.

Not surprisingly, the tournament ultimately came down to Pirates of the Carribean vs. Haunted Mansion. More surprisingly, Soarin’ made it into the Final Four, and the much-beloved Dumbo was eliminated in the first round.

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