Tuesday, October 21, 2014

My Favorite Scary Stories

For someone who likes scary things, I am very far behind on my scary stories. I haven't read most of Stephen King's massive library, and most horror from the last forty years has gone completely under my radar. I keep telling myself that I can read horror stories outside of October, but it just doesn't happen. A lot of these picks are from stories I've read in just the last few years, but some are from my childhood.  These are in no particular order. These are just ten of the stories that I really enjoy or have scared me at one time or another.

1. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley.

I'll just say that I was pleasantly surprised that this story was so much different from the Universal classic film. This monster, or "Adam," talks and even waxes philosophically with his beleaguered inventor. The monster was not accepted by Frankenstein, so he goes about completely ruining his life. This book is deep and has some of the most disturbing lines from any book.

2. The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

This book was quickly adapted into a pretty decent horror movie in 1963, and was later remade in 1999, shortened to The Haunting. Spoiler Alert: It's not so good. Stick to the first one, or this book. The book deals with a paranormal investigator who brings a bunch of psychics into the house to discover its secrets. The book relies more on subtle terror, and makes you wonder whether there is actually any paranormal activity going on, or if Eleanor, the main character, is just imagining it because she's a crazy person.

3, "The Lottery" by Shirley Jackson

This ones a short story, and by far one of the most famous scary short stories of all time. The story involves a sleepy town in 1940's America that takes part in a ritual known as "the lottery." I won't spoil it for those who haven't read it, but rest assured that you will be uneasy by the end. Shirley Jackson's short story was included in a 1948 issue of the New Yorker and quickly became the most infamous story they have ever run.

4. And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

There are several other titles for this book, but they aren't exactly politically correct. More of a murder mystery than a horror book, but it's got the perfect mood and setting. Ten seemingly random people are invited to a remote island off the coast of England and are all accused of past hidden crimes through a gramophone found inside a large mansion on the island. Mystery and murder ensue! A classic, to be sure.

5. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

The Graveyard Book is the newest book on this list, and is probably my favorite. Yes, it's a young adult book, but it's near perfect in my book. Gaiman has a knack for spookier tales (Coraline, Sandman, and The Ocean at the End of the Lane), and this is his best. Partly modeled after The Jungle Books, the book follows Nobody Owens, a young boy who is taken up by ghosts in a graveyard after his family is murdered by the deadly order known as the Jack of All Trades. Spooky, touching, and heartbreaking all in one spectacular story. I can't recommend this book more. I listen to it every year for Halloween (it's narrated by Gaiman himself).

6. "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" by Washington Irving

A short story penned in 1820 as a part of The Sketch Book, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow is undoubtedly Irving's most famous story. In this early American classic, the lanky and stork-like school teacher, Ichabod Crane, becomes entangled in a battle for a rich, young woman's heart. Crane ultimately meets a mysterious end, though the reader is left to decide whether it was from the legendary "Headless Horseman, " or Crane's nemesis, Brom Bones. I do enjoy the book, but I do feel that the various film adaptations help bring the story to life.

7. "The Willows" by Algernon Blackwood

Considered by H.P. Lovecraft to be the finest supernatural tale in English literature, "The Willows" tells the story of two men traveling down the Dunabe river, all the time being stalked by a powerful and otherworldly force of nature. This short story is heavy on dread and unease. This is probably the most effective story in terms of freaking me out.

8. "The Veldt" by Ray Bradbury

Ray Bradbury has many short stories that deal with horror and the unknown, but his best is "The Veldt". Bradbury was famously disgusted by modern technology, as evidenced by Fahrenheit 451, and this story is no different. A family lives in a futuristic home where the children have a virtual reality room that projects images telepathically from their mind and project it into the room. The parents become concerned that the room is raising the children and attempt to separate them from it, but find out that perhaps the room is full of more reality than they thought.

9. "A Good Man is Hard to Find" by Flannery O'Connor

I had to read this in a literature class in college, and judging by the title, thought it was going to be a bore. Instead, it's a story about a family who winds up running into a serial killer and his band. It's a fascinating story, and proves once and for all that you should never take your grandmother with you on long trips. Less of a scary story, and more of a surprising, though-provoking evaluation of the human condition.

10. "The Green Ribbon" by Alvin Schwartz

This story has been around for many, many years, but my first encounter was from the children's book, In a Dark, Dark Room and other Scary Stories. There's a young girl that always wears a green ribbon around her neck. She meets a nice boy who asks her about the ribbon, but she refuses to tell him why she wears it. They eventually fall in love and get married, and again he asks, and again she refuses. They grow old together, and when she is on her deathbed, he asks her a final time and she finally tells him that he can remove the green ribbon. Then her head falls off. Yup. This scared the crap out of me when I was young, and is honestly still pretty unnerving.

Friday, October 10, 2014

My Top Ten Defunct Rides at Walt Disney World

My wife and I will be attending the happiest place on Earth in just a few days, so I thought it would be appropriate to name some of my favorite rides that have gone the way of the dodo. I've been going sporadically to Disney World all of my life, from when I was just a toddler, to when I was in college. Disney is ever-changing, so you get a new experience every time you go. The last time I went was in 2007, so there has been a lot of new things done to Disney World, but that also means that there have been a lot of shut-downs. You can see why some attractions have shut down over time, either from being severely dated, or the characters aren't popular anymore. I'm going to showcase a few of my favorites. Be sure to click on the titles to watch the rides!

10. World of Motion

World of Motion was once housed in the Transportation Pavilion in EPCOT. It was a humorous look at transportation through the ages. The ride wasn't anything too special, but I always liked the animatronics, especially the cowboy scenes. It's an example of a classic dark ride, like Pirates of the Caribbean. Tons of great visuals, and it just has that feel of 80's Disney World. General Motors sponsored the ride for many years, but it started to lose interest in the dated ride in the 90's. They wanted something a little more exciting, and something that really shouted product placement. Disney agreed, and in 1999, opened the popular Test Track, where you got into a GM car and experienced what it was like for it to be tested. It's a great ride, but I hear they have redone it, so maybe Test Track will be on this list pretty soon.

9. Studio Backlot Tour

Studio Backlot Tour just closed a few weeks ago, and it's really too bad. Sure, it was a shell of its former self, but it was our shell! The Backlot Tour was an original ride in the park when MGM Studios opened in 1989. It originally was almost three hours long and involved both a riding portion and a walking portion. While popular, it took up way too much time for guests, so they turned it into a half an hour ride. The ride changed throughout the years, and I saw a few of the different incarnations. For the most part, you'd start with the short walking tour portion, seeing the "set" of Pearl Harbor with gunshots and exploding barrels. It was pretty cool, but mostly because they grabbed some guy from the tour and made him go into the boat while water hit it. You'd then walk through a prop warehouse and see props from Disney's recent and past films. Then you would board a tram, which would lead you to the infamous Catastrophe Canyon. You watched as a tanker would catch on fire and then a deluge of water came and splashed against the tram. I loved that part more than anything. After that you would see larger props from movies, or TV shows. I remember seeing set pieces from The Golden Girls way back in the early 90's. I also distinctly remember the Bulldog Restaurant from The Rocketeer being near the end of the ride. It was a fun ride, but the last couple times I went, you could definitely tell it wasn't doing well. The Backlot Tour is reportedly going to be replaced by a Cars based land like in California Adventure. The Backlot Tour still exists in Disneyland Paris.

8. Body Wars

Body Wars was a ride that was similar to Star Tours and most of the rides at Universal Studios. You sat in seats, watched the screen, and the seats moved with the screen. Sounds like it would get old, right? It doesn't. It's still fun to go on these type of rides. Body Wars was the most jarring of them, as you navigated your way through the human body. Think of it like a ride dedicated to Inner Space, but with less Martin Short. Body Wars was a popular ride inside The Wonders of Life pavilion in EPCOT. Wonders of Life was a whole building dedicated to healthy living and getting to know your body. They even had exercise bikes with Disney shorts being shown. Alas, it was not the most popular pavilion in EPCOT, plus it lost its sponsor in Metlife in 2001. The Wonders of Life pavilion, along with every ride or show inside closed permanently in 2007. The space is now used for the Food and Wine Festival each fall. Another notable ride inside the pavilion was Cranium Command, a ride similar to the also defunct ride, The Timekeeper, which was located in Tommorowland. Both had the audience watching both animatronics plus a movie screen.

7. Honey, I Shrunk the Audience

As far as I know, I haven't seen Captain EO, though I imagine I'll try it out on this upcoming trip. That being said, it wasn't too distressed when it was replaced by Honey, I Shrunk the Audience. I loved all the Honey, I Shrunk the Kids movies when I was younger, and this ride was no exception. It was an interactive 4D experience that was a fitting part of the Imagination! Pavilion in EPCOT. The floor moved and things seemed to spring out at you. It was great fun, but it couldn't last. After Michael Jackson died, Disney decided that they would bring back Captain EO, renaming it Captain EO Tribute. Honey, I Shrunk the Audience was closed in every Disney theme park.

6. Back to Neverland

I had completely forgotten about this video until I did some research for this list. At MGM studios, inside the Art of Animation tour, the beginning featured a video starring Walter Cronkite and Robin Williams. Robin Williams is turned into an animated lost boy for an animated short called, "Return to Neverland." It's very comical and just another example of Robin Williams work at Disney World. The Art of Animation now has a video starring Mushu from Mulan. I enjoyed the old one better. I liked the old tour better, too. After they got rid of the actual art department from that building, you don't see anyone working on animation, which was most of the fun of the tour!

5. Star Tours

I will be the first to admit that I have not yet experienced the new version of Star Tours, but I have no problem being mildly upset that the old version is gone forever. Star Tours is in Disney's Hollywood Studios (aka MGM Studios for the purists), and has been a popular ride throughout the park's life. The new version, Star Tours: The Adventures Continue, has been in place since 2011. Unlike a few other remodels, guests tend to like the new Star Tours. Again, I haven't ridden it yet, and I may love it, but the original holds a special place in my heart. I had the Star Tours poster in my bedroom for I don't know how many years. The ride was, and still is a motion simulator, with the first incarnation focusing on Star Wars VI: Return of the Jedi. The new version, on the other hand takes place between Star Wars III: Revenge of the Sith, and Star Wars IV: A New Hope, and features better special effects. I can kind of see why they updated the ride; it's like having a sequel to one of the films. Hoping this one is more Empire Strikes Back, than Attack of the Clones. The original Star Tours still exists, but only at Disneyland Paris.

4. Mr. Toad's Wild Ride

Mr.Toad's Wild Ride, located in Fantasyland, was probably one of my favorite dark rides, just because of the all the zaniness. Like all the other themed dark rides, it was short, but sweet. One of the best things about the ride was that it was dedicated to a not very well known Disney film. Disney has done a fairly good job of keeping the lesser known movies out of the park, but this ride was an exception. Then, it went away, to be replaced with a sub-par Winnie the Pooh dark ride. The statue of Mr. Toad that used to adorn the entryway of his former ride is now in the pet cemetery. Fitting, isn't it? Mr. Toad's Wild Ride still operates in Disneyland.

3. Kitchen Kabaret

OK, so Kitchen Kabaret wasn't the best show at Disney. It was actually pretty corny, but I loved the songs as a kid. I can still sing "Veggie Veggie Fruit Fruit." "Meat Ditties," which was a vaudeville type act, was also a favorite. Kitchen Kabaret was located inside The Land in EPCOT. The purpose of the show, filled with animatronic food, was to share with kids the importance of eating healthy. Yeah, I didn't care, there was a slab of ham and an egg telling jokes. That was good enough for me! It was replaced in 1994 by Food Rocks!, which was basically the same thing, but in my opinion, not as good. Food Rocks! lasted ten years and was then replaced by the massively popular, Sourin'.

2. Journey into Imagination

Journey into Imagination is still technically around, but has gone through a few "facelifts." I'm talking about the original ride. Yes, I have experienced all three, so I can judge them all. Now, the new version isn't terrible, but doesn't have the same heart as the original. The second version, on the other hand, is the worst. I love Eric Idle, but you can't replace the original characters with Eric Idle and expect people to be happy about it. The first, and best version involved the Dreamfinder, an awesomely bearded man in colorful clothing, who was assisted by Figment. Figment is a small purple dragon that helps the Dreamfinder demonstrate what imagination is. The ride was just a ton of fun as a kid, though it could be scary at times. You know which part I'm talking about. Figment is probably my favorite Disney Park character, and I still even have a stuffed version of him at home. The ride brought back Figment, who had only a small cameo in the second version, and also the song "One Little Spark," which was written by the Sherman Brothers. The Dreamfinder is still missing in action.

1. Maelstrom

This ride was by far my favorite in EPCOT. I'm very serious. I know it's a dumb ride, and a lot of people are making fun of those who are upset about it closing, but it was a classic. The trolls, the oil rigs with the storm in the backdrop, the vikings; this ride had everything! It was super short, which was a bummer, but they made it look like you were going to tumble backwards off a waterfall! Awesome! Plus, you could see the riders from the outside. The gift shop was even more fascinating, with the giant troll hanging out in the middle. Alas, Maelstrom closed just a few days ago. If it had only stayed open another week or so, I could have ridden it one last time! Oh well, the memories are there, and they are good ones. Maelstrom will be replaced by a Frozen themed ride. There is a ton of outcry about this. While there are plenty of movie characters floating around the World Showcase, there aren't any rides that are specifically dedicated to one movie, though the newly refurbished ride in Mexico is basically a ride about Saludos Amigos and The Three Caballeros. I give that a pass though, as those are educational movies more than anything. Frozen is not, however, and that kind of throws off the whole feel of the World Showcase. Norway isn't Norway anymore, it's Frozen land. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy Frozen, but I have to side with my Disney World brethren on this one; Disney is making a mistake and I shutter to think what they will do to the rest of the Showcase.

So there you have it. There's my top ten list of rides that I miss. Here are a few that didn't make the list, but are honorable mentions:

Monday, September 29, 2014

Disney's Haunted Mansion: Part II

The Haunted Mansion has become a favorite ride for many park attendees over the years, so much so that Disney built it in every park they operate. There is a Haunted Mansion in the Magic Kingdom inside Disney World, and also a Haunted Mansion in Tokyo Disneyland. There are two more version of Disney's Haunted Mansion in the world, but they go by different names. Phantom Manor is in Disneyland Paris, while Mystic Manor is in Hong Kong Disneyland. So what are the biggest differences between the rides? Well, every attraction is almost exactly the same, except for Mystic Manor and Phantom Manor. Phantom Manor is considered the scariest of any of the rides, featuring a lot of differences from the original ride, including different portraits for the stretching room, and way more appearances of the Bride. The architecture of Phantom Manor is Western Victorian. Mystic Manor is part of the Haunted Mansion family, but barely. It is closer to a ride based on The Adventurer's Club in Pleasure Island than a Haunted Mansion ride. OK, so that's not completely true, but it certainly feels like it. The story in this house is that you are visiting Lord Henry Mystic and his monkey Albert, who have just discovered a mysterious music box said to be cursed. Albert opens the box, ala Abu in the Cave of Wonders and everything in the house comes alive. The spirit of the Haunted Mansion is in this ride and there are winks here and there to the original, including some of the same changing portraits, like the Medusa. This ride just opened, and it honestly looks pretty cool. If you don't plan on going to Hong Kong anytime soon, then you can watch a POV video here. The architectural style of Mystic Manor is Victorian.

The Haunted Mansion in Tokyo Disneyland looks almost exactly like the Haunted Mansion in the Magic Kingdom, outside and inside, so I won't compare those two. Disney World's Haunted Mansion is a Gothic building, and is was purposefully made to look creepier and more run-down than Disneyland's Mansion. Don't get me wrong, the mansion still looks good, but the webs, cemetery, and long grass add to the mystique of the Mansion. Probably one of the most famous parts of the Haunted Mansion is the Stretching Room. Funny enough, this was created as a necessity for the Disneyland version. To get to the actual ride, guests have to go down a level, but Disney ideally didn't want the guests to notice. So, they created the Stretching Room, where portraits seemed to stretch to show ghoulish sights, though it's just a glorified elevator. Guests then go down a long hallway where they see various changing portraits, from a cat-lady, to a knight on horseback. They are then able to finally get on the "Doom Buggies" and see all the happy haunts. The Disney World's Haunted Mansion needed no such elevator ride to get guests to the loading area. The Stretching Room was very popular, so they decided to instead have the ceiling go up to create the same effect. In both mansions, the actual ride is not inside the literal mansion, but inside a building behind it. You can only see this building if you ride the monorail, otherwise they've hidden them pretty well. The queue for Disney World's Mansion has been re-done recently, so you're bound to be entertained as you wait for the ride. Probably the only other big difference between the two is the audio that plays during the ride. The Ghost Host for each ride is voiced by Paul Frees, though the audio is abridged for the Disney World version. One leg up that Disneyland's Mansion has over Disney World's is its transition to Haunted Mansion Holiday, where the Mansion is completely turned into a Nightmare Before Christmas themed ride starting in October. Tokyo Disneyland also takes part in Haunted Mansion Holiday. I've watched footage of that edition of the Haunted Mansion, and though I love Nightmare Before Christmas, I love the original ride more.

Part of the reason, or most, depending on who you talk to, that the Haunted Mansion is so popular, is because of the notable haunts. There are many versions of the story behind the Haunted Mansion, but the original story involved a sea captain named Captain Gore, who built the mansion to house himself and his wife, Priscilla. After he was finished, he had to go back to sea, and told his love that he would be back someday, but warned her never to go up in the attic. Her husband had been gone quite a long time, and she grew more curious about the contents of the attic. She went up to explore and found inside some trunks evidence that her husband was actually a bloodthirsty pirate. She didn't have time to react, as she was promptly killed from behind. It was her husband back from the sea, though in his rage in finding someone snooping in his stuff, he didn't realize that he had just murdered his own wife. In his grief, he went to the entrance hall and hung himself from the rafters. The Ghost Host is none other than Captain Gore, and the Bride in the attic is Priscilla. The story has been changed, with the Bride being changed to Constance and her identity changed to the woman in the Stretching Room who has murdered each of her five husbands. The Ghost Host's portrait can be seen in various locations inside the Mansions, and look like a menacing,gaunt-looking man with a noose hanging around his neck. Perhaps the identity of Master Gracey has caused the most confusion. The names on the tombstones are for the most part named after Imagineers and their family. Most who saw the name Master Gracey figured that that meant Gracey was the literal master of the house, though Disney meant it as the title of a young man, or boy. The confusion was so widespread that it slowly became canon, culminating in the Haunted Mansion movie having the owner of the house being Gracey. Disney has by now accepted this as canon now, and Gracey is now the owner of the house, not the Ghost Host. Though not intended to be any character in particular, the portrait where a young man slowly changes into an old man, and then into a skeleton, became Master Gracey because fans willed it to be.

Madame Leota is probably one of the more popular and well known characters inside the mansion. Though she appears for just a few seconds in the ride, it a memorable span of time. The new Haunted Mansion store in Disney World will have many of it's wares featuring Madame Leota. Favorite portraits inside the mansion include the five changing pictures, including a cat-lady, the Black Prince, the Flying Dutchman, Master Gracey (based on The Portrait of Dorian Gray), and a Medusa. The Sinister Eleven portraits are found throughout Disney World's Mansion, and include the Ghost Host, the April-December Woman, and characters based on historical people like Jack the Ripper and Rasputin. There are many, many more characters inside the Mansion, but the most recognizable are the Hitchhiking Ghosts. Each were never given names, though fans didn't mind making up their own. There is Gus (Prisoner), Ezra (Skeleton), and Phineas (Traveler), and together they have become the Haunted Mansion's mascots. They appear near the end of the ride and seem to hitch a ride with you in your Doom Buggy. The one haunt that you won't see inside the mansion is the legendary Hatbox Ghost. He was first installed in Disneyland in the attic next to the Bride. His head was supposed to disappear and re-appear inside the hatbox. The Imagineers couldn't quite get the effect to work, so they had to get rid of it. Rumors still come up that the ghost was too scary for the ride, but most people buy the official story. The Hatbox Ghost has become such a hit with fans of the mansion that Disney finally added pictures of the spook in the Corridor of Doors inside the Disney World Mansion. Guillermo Del Toro is a huge fan of the Haunted Mansion and is currently developing a movie based mostly around the Hatbox Ghost. I can almost guarantee it'll be better than the Eddie Murphy version.

There are a few quirks with the two American Haunted Mansions. In the Disneyland Mansion, there is a giant spider on the glass in front of the ballroom scene. Doesn't seem to unusual, right? The spider, along with what appears to be a web, is in fact Disney's cheap way of covering up a crack in the glass allegedly created by a child hitting it with a rock from a slingshot. It's very hard to see, and you have to be looking for it. People are strange, and they think that it's OK to do whatever they want if their dead relative wished it. People ask all the time to have their ashes dumped inside the various Haunted Mansions. Each time someone does, they have to stop and clean it up, so don't do it! The urban legend surrounding the first instance at Disneyland claims that a boy's ashes were strewn around the inside of the ride, and now the boy haunts the Mansion. The ashes thing is probably true, but not too sure about the real haunting. When you leave Disney World's Haunted Mansion, you may notice that there is a Pet Cemetery on the left hand side. It's very small, but it has a few cute tombstones. If you look all the way in the back and to the left, you'll see a tombstone for none other than Mr. Toad from The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad. Why is he there? Well, Mr. Toad's Wild Ride was a popular dark ride in Fantasyland inside the Magic Kingdom up until 1998 when it was replaced by a Winnie the Pooh ride. Disney took the Toad statue above the ride and placed it inside the pet cemetery as a tribute to a fallen ride.

I haven't experienced any other Haunted Mansion than the one in Disney World, so my love is specifically for that ride. I have seen POV videos for the other versions, but I love my version the best. Hopefully someday I can experience one of the others ,but I wouldn't be too crushed if I didn't. All I know is that I'm too excited that I'll soon be riding one of the best rides in the whole world.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Disney's Haunted Mansion: Part I

I remember being very scared. So much so that I wouldn't let my dad take me anywhere near the Gothic style house. He must have really wanted me to experience the ride though, as he eventually convinced me that it would be fun. I must have been around 4 or 5, probably during the second trip my parents took my family to Walt Disney World. All my fear melted away when I finally did go inside and experience the masterpiece that is the Haunted Mansion. It filled me with so much wonder and it really wasn't that scary at all, in fact it was a lot of fun! Needless to say, I will be taking my children on this ride someday, and though they may be scared at first, I hope they embrace the ride just as I did so many years ago. My wife and I are leaving for Disney World soon and I couldn't be more excited. I love everything there, but my pilgrimage is always to the Haunted Mansion. I've ridden it up to three times in one trip. I don't think I've had the misfortune of seeing it under refurbishment while we visited. It wouldn't ruin the trip, but I would be seriously bummed. I know what you're thinking, that this "haunted house" ride shouldn't mean that much to me, but it does. I think it's a combination of things. The Haunted Mansion represents a unique part of my childhood. As far as I can tell, it introduced me to all things spooky. It showed me that just because something had ghosts in it, didn't mean it was scary. It could be fun! I embraced that mentality early on, and led to my love of Halloween. The ride also means a lot to me because I associate it with my father. I don't think I've ridden it with him since 2000, but it was our tradition when going to the park-- that and riding Pirates of the Caribbean. No one else in my family went crazy for it, so if anything my dad and I would ride it by ourselves, and a couple times in a row if time allowed. This ride is special to me, which is why I wanted to write about it. The Haunted Mansion has a ton of devoted fans. There's even a website dedicated to it, so I'm not alone in my love for it. Disney did something right with this ride. There's tons of information out there about the ride and its many different interpretations, so it's easy to learn more if you'd like. I'm just going to give a brief background.

The idea for the Haunted Mansion actually predates Disneyland, as Walt Disney had hired a bunch of Imagineers to help him come up with areas for his new park. One such Imagineer came up with a old broken down antebellum manor at the end of a crooked street leading away from Main Street. The idea was to have a whole land dedicated to New Orleans, and it would include a thieves market, a pirate wax museum, and a haunted house walk-through. So it's evident that they first intended the Haunted Mansion not to be something that you could actually ride, but just walk through. Who knows what that would have been like. Walt Disney liked the walkthrough idea, but hated that they wanted to make the house look dilapidated. Disneyland was supposed to be a nice place! He made the rule that the house could be whatever they liked inside, but the outside would look creepy, but not run down. This is in contrast to the other Haunted Mansions, which were designed after Walt Disney's death, they are notably less nice looking on the outside on purpose when compared to Disneyland's. Ken Anderson was responsible for much of the mansion's design, along with Claude Coates and Marc Davis, among others. Coates wanted the attraction to be more scary, while Davis wanted it to be a light-hearted affair, more in line with the rest of Disneyland. They both got their way, as you can see a noticeable shift in tone from the beginning half of the ride, to the latter half. The beginning has more spooky imagery, the stretching room, the hanging body of the Ghost Host, the rising coffin lid, and many other things. The latter half, starting after the ballroom scene, is a bit sillier, with the graveyard scene being filled with many goofy ghosts doing an assortment of gags and tricks.

The Haunted Mansion was announced in 1961, with a opening date in 1963, or so the handbills passed out to guests at the main gate were led to believe. This opening date would prove to be way off, as the Haunted Mansion didn't actually open til late 1969. So what was the delay? There was a lot of confusion on what was going to be in the ride, and how people were going to experience it. The exterior was finished by 1963, which was accompanied by a sign out front that promised an opening of the ride very soon. Rumors began to fly around about what was housed inside the mansion, with the most wild piece of gossip circling around it being Walt Disney's second home. The ride's design was heavily changed after the 1964-65 World's Fair, where Omni-mover technology was introduced. The Imagineers knew they had their new ticket to a hot ride. With a continually moving vehicle, guests to be spun and directed to look at certain things inside the ride, causing more chances for surprise. Though Walt Disney had liked his walkthrough idea, the Omni-movers were an improvement. After some redesigns after Walt's death in 1966, the Haunted Mansion finally opened in 1969, with it becoming a smash hit with park attendees. Stay tuned for Part II coming soon!