Flashback – October 1971

Creep back in time to the opening of Disney’s Haunted Mansion.

We were called Orlando-land back in 1971, and the big news in the October issue was the opening of Walt Disney World, scheduled for Oct. 1. Of course because of deadlines, we could only speculate about some things—including Haunted Mansion:

“No secret has been more carefully guarded at Walt Disney World than what’s going on inside the Haunted Mansion,’’ we wrote, pointing out that three photos (one of them above left) were all that Disney had released “of the ghostly gambols inside the ominous brick and stone mansion that stands on a hill at the back of Liberty Square. Inside, they tell us, are 999 of the ‘happiest and most mischievous spirits in the world.’ More than 10 years of research and work have gone into creating the haunts, hobgoblins, ghouls and demons that come halfway back to life in this house of chills.’’ 

Two months later we had a couple more mansion photos to display. Although Editor Edward Prizer offered his assessments of everything from the Mickey Mouse Revue to 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, he confessed he didn’t quite know what to make of the Haunted Mansion: 

“The Haunted Mansion is the craziest thing I’ve ever seen. I’ve only been through once and can’t render a judgment. But I think first of all it must be regarded as a thing of beauty evoking the images of Edgar Allan Poe with a whimsical twist. This is the kind of ambiguity that lifts imagery to the level of art. Most people, I know, won’t see it in that perspective.’’

Then again, maybe they have. During the past nearly half-century, the Haunted Mansion has become one of Disney’s most beloved rides—there are versions of it at Disneyland (the original), Tokyo Disneyland and Disneyland Paris.

Check out A site called doombuggies.com, which has a mind-boggling array of trivia, articles and just plain unadulterated joy about the Haunted Mansion.

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