Since I was old enough to walk, my favorite theme park attraction in all the world has been The Haunted Mansion in Walt Disney World (Orlando, FL). Despite all the project turmoil and personal tragedy its creators endured, the mansion ended up a masterpiece of atmosphere, detail, and fun, the hallmarks of classic Disney. Filled to overflowing with clever gags, eerie characters, and evocative music, millions of people have made their way through this retirement home for the dearly departed since it opened in 1971 (the original opened at Disneyland in California two years prior).
It was also the perfect way to introduce young'uns to spooky concepts. The place was just unsettling enough to be interesting, but once you got through to the end of the ride, you realize that all the ghosts (at least, all the ghosts you come across) are a jovial sort who just want to have a good time, and there's no real danger. Outside though, the brick and mortar looms over guests like a living thing, and the wolf howls don't help to ease your sense of fear.
For 40 years, the mansion remained largely unchanged. Oh sure, there'd be audio tweaks, and they did add a new bride to the attic, but for the most part all 999 happy haunts kept themselves to themselves, waiting for us inside. That is, until this past April, when Disney employees (I refuse to call these jokers Imagineers, they don't deserve the title) made huge, expensive, and idiotic changes that forever altered the vibe of this once-great attraction.
|The day the mansion died.|