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Ken Anderson's Test of the "Haunted House" at Disneyland: "Headless Horseman" Proposal

Most fans of the Haunted Mansion know that work on the project began years before the attraction opened. During conception, the Mansion was planned to be a dilapidated manor combining traits from New England with French accents more common to New Orleans. The following report, "The Haunted House - Test Instructions," was written by Disney veteran Ken Anderson in 1957. The theme for the planned "Haunted House" was the movie Ichabod and Mr. Toad, featuring the ride of the Headless Horseman.

To see the entire layout of Anderson's proposed Haunted House, click here.

The Haunted House at Disneyland: Test Instructions

Prepared by Ken Anderson
October 16, 1957

Following is a continuity and a list to be accomplished in our tests on Stage Matte.


Commence with a windy moonlit night with the reflection of the moon in the bayou beyond the graveyard.

The clouds will obscure the moon and distant flashes of lightning and sounds of thunder will next be heard. While the sky is darkening, the ghostly apparition of the Headless Horseman will fade into view or appear from behind a distant tree and gallop toward the graveyard and house from right to left foreground. He will disappear behind some trees to the left, but the sound of his horse's approaching hoofbeats will continue to grow louder. Suddenly, he bursts into view in the courtyard just outside the windows and gallops across from left to right... reining to a noisy halt just out of view below the balcony on our right. His cape is the only part of him we need to see at this last crossing, since the shrubs will obscure the horse. His cape must match in color and value with the previous projected mirage. Next, a bolt of lightning against the sky and a werewolf's howl signal the appearance of the ghosts rising from the tombs, first one, and then two, and more, until ghosts are materializing from the earth around the tombs as well as the tombs themselves. Finally a blinding flash of lightning fills the room and dazzles the spectators, while a tremendous thunder clap ends the scene. The room illumination will increase at this point for the benefit of the spectators so they may see to exit. The room will be illuminated with about 3 to 4 foot candles for case of entrance and exit, and as the spectators settle into place to view the scene, the room illumination will decrease to 0 or 1/2 foot candles (see lighting notes). This illumination at the start and end of each scene will be accompanied by ghostly marching music. (See music notes).



a. 1st part is projection with Ub's special loop projector using Kronar based film. b. 2nd part is flourescent jap silk cape on a wire frame and moved by an aluminum arm from above past the windows. Match the color to the projected image.


a. Projection by slides on scrims. 1. Experiments to be made by Wathel for Ub on panning projectors and placement of projectors in relation to scrims and cyclorama. Also try arc hanging on scrims to give effect of ghosts getting closer to viewers.


Starts with a stormy moonlit sky...the moon reflected in the bayou is to be accomplished by the actual reflection in a water pan below the cyc. The stormy clouds will be by slide projection on the neutral sky background and will obscure the moon. The flash lightning and the lightning bolt will also be by slide projector. Test for diarama as well as Haunted House.


Use multiple fans to blow moss and tree branches and to ripple the water and reflections. Try letting scrims blow a little to see if ghosts are improved by it.



Two wall lamps of the old fashioned bracket type with opaque globes to obscure light sources as globes instead of candles. Cause globes to flicker. The  ceiling will be the major source of illumination and will be indirectly lighted by considering the light source as coming from an imaginary room or attic above. To this purpose the ceiling will be mostly broken lath and exposed joists with occasional slabs of old plaster still hanging on. Above this will be slabs of plastic and possibly angel hair to diffuse the light. Flourescent light above should be colored to appear very eerie. The product called Cinemoid and described in my report on Nela Park should be tested and come in real handy here for obtaining the proper colored flourescent light effect. There should be about 1-1/2 to 3 foot candles of illumination in the room created by the combination of indirect light from the ceiling, and a few small recessed inky spots plus the several bracketed wall lamps. The wall lamps should softly flood the ceiling so contrast is killed. The general level of illumination must be controlled by reostat so it can be brought down to about 1/2 foot candle or even less after the room is occupied. Small recessed spots may help illuminate the floor in critical places. Treat them as if the light was coming from outside through broken chinks in the wall or from some other room.


There is to be a blinding flash of lightning fill the room and will be accomplished by either a bank of strobes on multiple switches, or some variation of this with mercury vapor lamp and shutters to be decided on by best possible effect. All room lighting should dim in conjunction with storm darkening sky on exterior.


Any illumination necessary here will be only to augment the realistic effect of the moonlight and will be added as needed.



Paint over all neutral gray tint with floor darker than walls and ceiling lights than walls. Try many and various textures and uses of Phosphorescent green paint on walls so they will continue to glow after lights dim. Also try black light on an invisible flourescent paint on one wall. Paint the balcony ceiling and floor and railing black. Paint the closest cutout bushes dark dark bottle green and black. Gradually grade the successive layers of cutouts down to a much fainter grayed green for the farthest line of trees. Paint a line of distant trees on the cyclorama a pale gray. Cash Shocky is in possession of a floor paint which glows after energizing and this should be tried on the floor.



Also tree cutouts and ornate wrought grill and railing to be executed as discussed with Ken Brown and Bill David.



Both distant to accompany the visual distant bolt of lightning on the cyclorama, and close up to go with the brilliant flash which fills the room.


Galloping hoofs and whinny sounds from horse to follow the Headless Horseman as he is projected moving across the cyclorama...then increasing on an arc and approaching closer to anticipate the reappearance of the spectre as he reverses directions and crosses the windows close up. Also test voices of ghosts and Thunder Todd AO on same circuit of speakers.


To increase in proportion to the visual effects. See disc B 3854 in my room. For more information contact Lee Carmichael and Herb Taylor. Use creaking shutters and werewolve's howl from record. 3a. A rush of air on the spectators as the Headless Horseman passes the windows.


Play spritely march to accompany crowd movement of visitors into room and exiting room. Use tune from Disney cartoon "The Skeleton Dance" - see disc number B 753A Prod. 4065-042-7047 in my room. For additional information contact Lee Carmichael.


Test mobility and reaction of crowd of 40 people. Room is constructed with flexible platforms to aid large group to see. It can be set up in various ways and tested for ease of vision and movement. This should be tested in cooperation with Doc Lemmon. March music will accompany the entrance and exit of group and illumination of the room and floor is to be at maximum level for crowd progression. When crowd is stationary dim the lights as described in "Lighting." Music March ends when crowd is stationary and starts again as crowd exits.



Test to consist of lighting an individual occupying the room... first in a normal level inky light... then changing to black light and eliminating the inky light. Meanwhile illuminating in black light the flourescent ghost on the opposite side of the transmission mirrors so he is an equal density with the reflection of the individual in the room.

End of transcript

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