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"The Unauthorized Story of Walt Disney's Haunted Mansion"

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Captured on Tape

The secrets of the Haunted Mansion - revealed!

The Haunted Mansion has been an icon in popular culture since the day it opened. Disneyland has made the landmark haunted house available for various televised media reports and entertainment shows, commonly in some sort of promotional push for the park, but also in acknowledgment of the impact the Haunted Mansion has made on the public psyche at large. Enjoy the following samples of the Haunted Mansion as it has been presented on video over its history - and if you have some sort of taped Haunted Mansion media that you'd like to add to the DoomBuggies library, let us know.

Introducing the Haunted Mansion: Disneyland's Tencennial Celebration

In 1965, Disneyland celebrated its first decade with a number of events, including a special "Disneyland Tencennial" television show. In this show, the first "Disneyland Ambassador" was introduced to the world in the person of Julie Reems, a young woman who had worked as a tour guide at Disneyland before being named "Miss Disneyland Tencennial" and being awarded the "ambassador" role. The show consisted of Walt Disney himself taking Reems on an extensive behind-the-scenes tour of the WED design departments, where she (and the rest of the United States) were shown previews of upcoming attractions to be installed at the park, such as the Haunted Mansion.

Walt Disney and Marc Davis introduce some conceptual art for the Haunted Mansion to Disneyland Ambassador Julie Reems.

Our "house of illusions"

In this segment, Haunted Mansion fans will get to see Marc Davis introducing some of his classic sight gags to Reems, as a somewhat befuddled Walt watches on. When this clip was shown at the Haunted Mansion 30th anniversary event at Disneyland in 1999, fans laughed affecionately at most of Walt's lines in this part of the show, as he forgets the name of the "Haunted Mansion," and as both he and Marc introduce a prim and proper Reems to some rather unsavory details that were being planned for the Mansion. You can see this segment and the rest of the tencennial show on the Disneyland Treasures: Disneyland DVD set.

Disneyland Showtime: The Osmond Brothers and E. J. Peaker tour the Haunted Mansion, hosted by Kurt Russell

On March 22, 1970, after the initial buzz over the Haunted Mansion had started to set into the public's awareness,  Disneyland hosted a television show from its grounds all about the Mansion, which was the first show to come directly from the park in over three years. The show was a musical variety hour produced by Ron Miller, who had produced or co-produced dozens of Disney television shows and feature films over the course of the '60s and '70s.  The musical element of the show included Kurt Russell (above, in red, with the Osmond Brothers) singing "Sugar Sugar," the Osmond Brothers singing a medley from "Hair," and ingenue E. J. Peaker singing "Walking Happy." Peaker had impressed Miller in the role of Minnie Fay in Gene Kelly's filmed version of "Hello, Dolly!"

Donny Osmond and son at DisneylandStar power

Hollywood beat reporter Stan Maays, in a column he wrote in 1970, reports that the show was originally going to be called, simply, "The Haunted Mansion," but executives weren't convinced it would be as commercially successful a title as simply "Disneyland Showtime," which capitalized on the fame of the pre-existing "Disneyland" television show. Nevertheless, the show does "star" the Haunted Mansion, though Peaker got most of the headlines when the show was aired, as up-and-coming actresses often do. "They wanted a recording artist at first," Peaker told Maays, reportedly amidst a flood of animated gestures. "I honestly think I was too old for it," Peaker continued. Peaker, who at the time was appearing fairly regularly on The Tonight Show as a favorite of Johnny Carson, plays herself in the role of a startled guest experiencing the Haunted Mansion for the first time rather convincingly, even if the part did not really require tremendous effort. Above, at left: Donny Osmond and his son revisit the Haunted Mansion in 2007, more than 37 years after the television show first aired. (Visit OsmondHeaven to see another clip of this show in which Kurt Russell introduces Peaker to the Osmonds.)

Watch Kurt Russell, the Osmond Brothers, and E. J. Peaker take a look behind the scenes and a trip through Disneyland's Haunted Mansion in these three consecutive excerpts from Disneyland Showtime (1970).

All over the MAPO

But of course, Haunted Mansion fans are most interested in the Mansion's role in the show, and the fans won't be disappointed, thanks to Kurt Russell's behind-the-scenes look at the WED/MAPO facilities, and the Osmond's trip through the attraction. Upon the show's release, the Arlington Reporter-News published an article which said that "reports were that models of the house and spirits upon completion were not satisfactory to the late Walt Disney who sought perfection in everything - including scares. He sent everyone back to their drawing boards. The Mansion stood empty and foreboding for nearly nine years while Disney's Imagineers and artists revamped their thinking." While this is a gross oversimplification of the actual goings-on at the time, the column does go on to unveil some intriguing insight: "The major design problem was how to make the ghosts transparent when they had to have electronic gears in them to make them move. They were able to apply know-how gained during the New York World's Fair in creating the Haunted Mansion. It represents the most sophisticated refinement of the audio-animatronic system, which combines three-dimensional animation and sound through electronics." Watch the video to enjoy the Osmonds (and Ms. Peaker) take a tour of the new Haunted Mansion in this excerpt from "Disneyland Showtime."

Woody Harrelson guest stars in this clip from Disneyland's 35 anniversary TV special on NBC.

Disneyland's 35th Anniversary: Woody's lost love

In 1990, Disneyland celebrated its 35th anniversary with an NBC television special which had several guest stars experiencing various aspects of the park. Charles Fleischer (the voice of Roger Rabbit) was in just about every sketch featured in the show, playing roles such as Jungle-Cruise-guide Coconut Charlie (which featured Tony Danza as a rider) and one of the Haunted Mansion butlers who intimidated young Woody and his friends, which you can watch in this clip. Woody Harrelson guest stars as his character from "Cheers" for a few enjoyable moments.


More Creepy Clips from the Video Vault

Click on the screens below to play the videos and take a spooky trip down memory lane. You can enjoy a virtual tour, watch promotional clips, or sneak a peek behind the scenes with the lights on with our exclusive secret clips!
Look at the Grand Hall with the lights on in this quick video clip. Watch for the room-sized plate of glass that makes the ghosts appear!
Look at the graveyard with the lights on in this shaky and sneaky clip. Watch for the scrims that make the graveyard look foggy!
Join Chip and Dale in a quick trip through the Haunted Mansion in this clip from the 1991 "Day at Disneyland" souvenir video.
Watch a very short clip from a 1992 Magic Kingdom Club promotional video in which Columbus "disovers" Walt Disney World.
Ride through the Disneyland Haunted Mansion on the night of the 30th anniversary celebration, where surprises lurk around the corners...
Take a special night-vision ride-through of the entire Haunted Mansion attraction at Tokyo Disneyland! Enjoy!
Ride through the Phantom Manor attraction at Disneyland Paris in this night-vision video of the entire ride, from queue to unload.
See a brief clip of selected excerpts from the Haunted Mansion in this clip from the Walt Disney World Explorer CD-ROM.
Watch this Discovery Channel special ("On the Inside") on the special effects of the Haunted Mansion featuring Imagineer Tony Baxter.
Watch this television advertisement for Disneyland Resort from 2004 which features ghosts familiar to Haunted Mansion fans.
Watch this clip from a television special in which a young Drew Barrymore describes the terrors to be found in the Haunted Mansion.
Watch this clip from Sandy Duncan at Disneyland, a television variety special, in which Duncan and Ruth Buzzi attempt to rob the Mansion.
Watch this clip from a VHS Sing-Along Songs release that featured Halloween songs and this version of "Grim Grinning Ghosts."
Watch this Super 8 souvenir film reel sold at Disneyland and Walt Disney World featuring scenes from the Haunted Mansion.

Watch this clip from an NBC special featuring Elvira, Mistress of the Dark as she promotes her movie for a Halloween special.

The fun never ends...

Continue reading to find desktops and other downloadable accoutrements for your haunting pleasure!


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