So it’s that time of year again – mid October. Which means two weeks to Halloween. I wanted to write about a form of technology and digital media. So I am going to try and find the digital media and technology used to create Disney’s Haunted Mansion. After many changes, such as “The Museum of the Weird”, Disney’s Haunted Mansion styled as a New Orleans Antebellum mansion opened on August 9th 1969 on Disney Land’s New Orleans Square. The technology used in the building of the mansion seems dated today but at the time it was revolutionary.
One of the main ways Walt Disney and his creative team created his ghosts and ghouls was a technique called ‘Peppers Ghost’. This technique utilises special lighting and Plexiglas in order to trick the viewer into thinking that an object is appearing and/or disappearing
The glass, placed at an angle, reflects an alternative room which is built as a mirror image of the room the viewers are in. Disney’s Haunted Mansion boasts the largest instillation of ‘Peppers Ghost’ in the world. Unsuspecting viewers who are traveling on an elevated intermediate floor overlook a ballroom where the Plexiglass measures 27m long and 9.1m tall.
Various projections are also used in the attraction such as in The Seance Circle with the disembodied head of Madame Leota. Projections are used to create the illusion that Leota’s head floats around her crystal ball with musical instruments floating around her. Before this was introduced her head was fixed inside the crystal ball.
Created by Walt Disney Imagineering in 1969 audio – animatronics, this technology was used to animate robots and to allow these robots to move and make noises while being attached to whatever supports them. Audio – Animatronics are used in Disneyland Haunted Mansion and Disneyland Paris’ Phantom Mansion, an offshoot of the original Haunted Mansion. In the Phantom Mansion a lot of the ghouls and beasts present are created using audio-animatronics. From undead piano players to talking statues the Phantom Manor utilises audio-animatronics to the max.
As we can see Disney’s Haunted Mansion(s) utilise a variety of technology to scare it’s viewers. From simple illusions in the late 60’s to full scale audio-animatronics, the Disney Imagineers are constantly thinking of new technology to develop in order the scare a new generation. The technology I mentioned is only a small selection of the effects used. But then again it’s better to leave some things hidden. I will finish with a a short clip showing audio-animatronics in action in Disney’s Haunted Mansion.