Spectral Assistants

As Walt Disney World reopens today – hopefully, with no major Covid-19 spread – I wonder if the Haunted Mansion will be available for guests to experience. It’s one of the classic attractions at both the Orlando and Anaheim theme parks.

My aunts lived in L.A., so the first time I went to Disneyland was 1972. I don’t remember much about that visit, except the Haunted Mansion. I’ve visited the two Disneys many times since, and always find the path to the house with ‘999 happy haunts.’

A few weeks ago, listening to another ‘Stuff You Missed in History Class’ podcast, I learned Walt envisioned a Haunted Mansion as early as 1951, and made it part of the original plans for Disneyland. The Imagineers, however, struggled to bring it to reality, and Walt vetoed many potential versions, including one of a rundown building. Disneyland opened in 1955, and finally in 1961, it seemed they had things figured out.

However, Walt‘s priorities shifted. Ever ride the PeopleMover in Tomorrowland? That’s straight outta the 1964 New York World’s Fair, where Disney had several exhibits. Focusing on those delayed the Haunted Mansion until 1969. If you visit you’ll notice there are two parts: the first half has knocking doors, tombstones and other scary things, then the Doom Buggies take you through lighthearted fun. Seems Disney folks couldn’t choose which of two final plans to use, so they did both.

Eighteen years passed from Walt’s ‘let’s do this’ idea until it came to fruition. Think about that the next time you’re frustrated your team isn’t executing on your vision. Maybe you should provide a Ghost Host to escort them on the journey.


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