Friday, June 19, 2009

Grim Grinning Ghosts Come Out to Socialiiiiize..!

This is my love letter to Disney's The Haunted Mansion.

I love that ride. It is my favorite in the park; there are several other rides I enjoy just as well, but the Haunted Mansion is the closest to my heart, I think, and when I die I fully intend to be the 1000th ghost that Little Leota currently advertises for at the end of the ride. I'm not even kidding.
Little Leota's holding a space for me; she and I have talked all ready.

The first time I got to set foot in the cursed Gracey mansion I was eleven years old. We lived in Tacoma, Washington, and the year before we left cool, wet Washington for soaked, hotter-than-hell Louisiana we went to California for the summer. My family is originally from So Cal (in fact it's funny when I go visit Cins in San Diego because I was born there and lived there as a kid. Most of the city is a stranger to me, but the occasional thing reminds me of childhood, and the over all feel of the place is familiar). So we used this month long trip as an excuse to see members of our huge family that's scattered all over the area. We went to the Hollywood Wax Museum (where my father used the Alien figure to SCARE THE HELL OUT OF ME, but that's a post for another time), as well as Universal Studios. But the highlight, of course, was the House of Mouse.

Actually, our timing was superb; Star Tours had just opened a few months before, so everyone was in line for that. I am not exaggerating when I say that we would ride Pirates of the Caribbean, get off, then run around and be the next people on board. It was aces. We approached the looming manor house that Mr. Gracey built, and in we went. I remember throwing my arms around my father and screaming when the doorless chamber went black; it was so scary but so good, and I think that's honestly where my love for the creepy and misunderstood started.

I love the portrait hall, which they have bettered in recent years; it used to just change slowly from benign image to frightening true image, but now the scary side only comes out when the lightening flashes. For a great telling of the origins of each person in the portraits go here: CLEEOCK, BEEOTCH! Great reads, and it sounds like the, heh, Deaditor of the site has an in with actual cast members, etc. It's going in my bookmarks, for certain!

This man is having a bad career.

Then we climbed in the Doom Buggies and I determinedly ignored Uncle Caesar's grim leer as we went past him. My father made fun of me for feeling bad for the grave digger, and the grave digger's poor, hungry hound dog. I like animals and don't like to see their ribs, okay? Someone get that puppy an animatronic steak!

Then there was the bride, her poor, broken heart keeping time waiting for her lost groom. I still remember how bloody red her heart was, through her wedding dress. Interestingly, a few years back the Haunted Mansion got a bit of a face lift. Nothing too serious, more like tightening up and improving some trouble areas. The bride was one of these, and she is now an axe-wielding black widow named Crazy Constance. She goes from holding a bouquet to holding a hatchet, and her dialogue chances from a litany of "I do"'s to "I did!". All of the grooms in her various wedding portraits are suddenly sans cabesa, it's pretty sweet. I certainly liked the forlorn bride, but Constance is also a welcomed addition; too bad we can't have both, huh? The previous incarnation of the bride is animatronic, but now she's back-projected and much more mobile, like Madam Leota and the singing busts.

Then it's to the graveyard, and our ghostly friends start singing "Grim Grinning Ghosts" in earnest. Wonderfully detailed scenes are everywhere, from ghosts playing teeter totter on a head stone to the mummy to the man walling himself in, it's all wonderfully macabre, just the way I like it!

Can someone tell me why the fuck I always get Phineas? It's NEVER Ezra or Gus. That fat spook is stalking me!

Then the hitch hiking ghosts come-- the first time I saw Phineas pop up in my Doom Buggy, I clawed my father's arm open on accident. Whoops! I was trying to have long nails for the first time in my life, and Dad's skin paid the price for that one.Finally, you meet little Leota who extends an invitation to join the mansion's crew after death, and then you're out in the blinding sun light of Anaheim again. If you're anything like me you have an immediate urge to loop right back around and get back into line, but I know my park compatriots would kill me if I did, so I resist, wait a few hours, and then drag them back for another go around!

Ghosts are my favorites of the spooky world, and I think that love was nurtured here as a pre-teen. The seeds were already there (I was occasionally a pretty weird kid), but this place made sure that frightening fruit was born! As a result I now collect ghosts-- figurines, I mean. I have a blown glass ghost from Disneyland (affectionately dubbed "Frenchie" because of his extended tongue), and try to get a ghost as a souvenir wherever I go. I even have a Haunted Mansion snow globe, the same as shown here:

It plays Grim Grinning Ghosts when you activate the button on the bottom. Currently mine just plays a horrible loud squeal of awful when you hit the button; I need a new watch battery for it. I also have both versions of the ride through on CD, as well as an AWESOME book on Gracey Manor.

From Halloween to Christmas the Haunted Mansion gets a Nightmare Before Christmas make over, and the denizens of Halloween Town try to make Christmas their own. While I have the ride through memorized, I sadly have not yet been able to go on the ride its self during this time of year. I'm hoping to change that, and soon.

There are two other versions of the Haunted Mansion-- it's slightly different (and in a different building design) in Florida, and it's completely different in Paris Disney. I someday hope to go on both!

So remember, make final arrangements now, if you should decide to join us. I already have, personally.


The Bear Family said...

I loved that movie!!! The ride sounds awesome. Hopefully someday I'll get to go to Disneyland as well. Great article Stacy!

Nojh said...

Oh man! Haunted Mansion is my /favorite/ ride at Disney! Favorite! Cindy always drags me everywhere but I always have to go the Haunted Mansion at least once (usually twice) before I collapse from exhaustion. It is so awesome!

I went as a kid once when I was really small. And the line was long so we waited and we were led into the atrium where they did the portrait ceiling rising thing and then the surprise and I just about died from fright right there! I think the only thing that kept me from demanding to leave was right there was that my Dad was with me, so I obviously couldn't back out.

The ride is so cool. I love ghosts. I love holograms. The place is a banana fudge Sunday of everything I like plus cherries!

I even love the movie they made based off of it. I just ignore Eddie Murphy and focus on the ghosts and everything is awesome.

I TOTALY did not know about the Nightmare before Christmas thing! I am SO going to go to that next time I visit SD during Christmas. Nothing is going to stop me!

I don't know if I've been to the one in Florida. I do not think so. But I want to. I doubt I'll ever make it to Paris but if I do, thats at the top of my list for attractions to go to. (Yeah I'm not much of a tourist).

Stac said...

Thanks, Evie! Great to see you 'round these parts!

Nojh: I'm the same way, I hit the Mansion at LEAST twice per visit!

I liked the movie, too, and for the same reasons! HA! I find the actual plot of the movie completely inoffensive; I just watch it for the Mansion and the ghosts! :D

If you hit the Mansion during the Holiday season, let me know how it is! I am dying to go, mwhahahaaa!!

I WILL see all version of the Mansion. This is my quest. I will not be stopped. And I speak a smattering of French. *cue musical sting*