A Ghostly Library, and the Music Parlor
You're being watched...
After being tucked into your Doom Buggy by your Ghost Host, guests to the Walt Disney World and Tokyo Disneyland Haunted Mansions will pass a sinister gallery of portraits. Originally, these paintings, which seem to be following your every move with their eerie, glowing eyes, were installed in the gallery, but in 2007, Walt Disney World replaced them with the changing portraits found at Disneyland, and moved a few of the origianl portraits to the Doom Buggy queue area. Many of these original portraits, such as the two pictured below, were inspired by sketches by Marc Davis.
The eyes were cut out of the original portraits, and the eyeballs were set behind the plane of the painting and backlit, giving the impression that they were moving and following the viewer. The next generation portraits now in place, which replicate the portraits at Disneyland, are digitally animated, and flash from one image into another as thunder and lightning strike from outside an adjoining window.
Passing this gallery, guests are next ushered past a library riddled with unseen ghosts, shuffling books to and from their shelves with unseen hands. Finally, the Doom Buggies pass a Music Parlor with a piano being played by an unseen ghostly presence... unseen, that is, except for a shadow on the floor of the ghostly pianist cast by the moonlight shining through the window behind the piano. But let's step back and take a closer look at the Library.
Unseen spooks share ghost stories
On the shelves among the books are various marble busts of the "greatest
ghost writers the literary world has ever known," which are similar
to the busts found in Disneyland's Portrait Hallway. Also like Disneyland's
busts, these seem to turn and follow your every move.
The dimly-lit library set is actually composed primarily of a mural depicting wall-to-wall bookshelves. The entire scene, from the wood shelving to the actual books, is actually a large painting which appears very realistic under the ride's dim lighting.
There are actual three-dimensional busts in the walls, however... though those busts are actually inverted by the same method used in Disneyland's Portrait Hallway. This effect causes the busts to seem to turn toward and follow each Doom Buggy that passes.
Various shelves in the wall also have real book props attached to black rails, which push the book props in and out of the simulated shelving, making it seem that invisible hands are moving the books around.
Secret methods of the Imagineers
Some of the books are scattered around the floor as an apparent result of the supernatural activity, and a few of them seem to walk along the floor, unassisted. In the photo to the left, you can see the track in the floor that carries this animated tome back and forth mechanically, making it appear to be carried around by an invisible ghost.
In this rare photo taken from behind the library wall mural (right), it is apparent that this library bust is actually protruding toward the camera, and away from the opposite side, which is the direction the bust is viewed from. White paint coats the translucent surface, ensuring that although light can penetrate the shape, there won't be any apparent translucency when viewed from the front.
The Library's Narration
Since the Walt Disney World Haunted Mansion opened in 1971 (a mere two years after Disneyland's attraction), it was in production side-by-side with Disneyland's ride. The short extra bit of narration (in which the Ghost Host refers to the "greatest ghost writers ever known") was actually recorded with the tracks recorded for the Disneyland Haunted Mansion.
By the wayif you were to check out some of the real books used as props from the Walt Disney World Haunted Mansion's library, you might be led to believe that a lawyer was haunting the halls. Among the titles of the law books that sits on the dusty shelves are Corpus Juris (which is translated to "The Body of Law") and Modern Legal Forms. There are also some medical books in the collection as well.
The Music Parlor: An invisible pianist tickles the ivories
The Music Parlor proved to be a succesful scene, so it was also later installed into Disneyland's Haunted Mansion, in the attic. However, unlike Walt Disney World's version, in which the piano plays a dramatic version of Buddy Baker's theme song to the Haunted Mansion, the Disneyland attic piano plays a mournful version of "The Bridal March," cleverly timed and arranged to merge sonically with Baker's theme song, as it is sandwiched between the Ballroom and Graveyard scenes, both of which feature the theme song prominently.
The Music Parlor serves a few purposes. First, it lends the first hints of the ghostly presences that will end up coming together for a "swinging wake" as guests move through the attraction. By beginning the show with presences that are sensed but not actually seen, the ride can build its guests' anticipation, making the big reveal of the actual supernatural beings (in Leota's Seance Circle, and most dramatically, in the Grand Ballroom) that much more dramatic. Second, it also gives the attraction a literal means by which to replay the theme song, further emphasizing the theme, which carries through the entire attraction.
The screaming man in the spider's web: Did he ever exist?
Early in the days of the Haunted Mansion, rumor has it that there was a scene somewhere near the loading area at Walt Disney World's Haunted Mansion that showed a man trapped in a giant spider's web. While DoomBuggies.com has not yet discovered tangible proof of this claim, there are witnesses to the spectacle. Magic Kingdom Haunted Mansi0n Cast Member Shawn Potts delivers this account: "Long ago when the Magic Kindgom first opened, there was a man trapped in the spider web to the right of the Doom Buggy path, near the Grand Staircase. However, it was felt that this effect was too scary, which was probably due mostly to the fact that there was a hideous screaming sound that accompanied the effect. The man's figure was stashed under an Omnimover motor in the graveyard, and was often used to scare maintenance men. By the way... scaring each other was a very common pasttime for Cast Members at the Haunted Mansion..."
However, another second-hand account of the man in the web offers slightly different details. According to DoomBuggies forum member "RobotWolf," the man in the web "did indeed make it to the grounds at WDW, but according to my trainer he was never installed. He was still there when I worked there - circa '86, stashed in one of the concrete pits beneath an Omnimover motor. A neat bit of trivia to be sure. But I, personally, am glad that he was never used... wrong type of gag for a Disney attraction."
It should be noted that official records which document each sound effect utilized in the Mansion do not mention the scream of the man in the web, although there is some evidence on certain schematics that such a prop did exist.