Saturday, January 19, 2013

The Theatricality of Disney: The Haunted Mansion

Here I am in Florida, visiting my parents.  We are all huge Disney fans, and no trip to the Sunshine State is complete without a day at the Magic Kingdom.  One of the reasons I love going to Disney World is the sheer theatricality of the whole experience.  I mean, the workers are all "cast members" for Heaven's sake!  But also, each attraction is like a separate show - and I'm not even talking about the shows and parades, I'm talking about the rides!

One of my absolute favorite theatrical experiences in the whole park is The Haunted Mansion.  It appeals to all of my "Broadway senses."  I love dark humor and intelligent puns.  I love a well-presented story line.  And I love that all of the effects and tableaux are geared toward presenting that story, not overwhelming it.

Here are several views of the manse.

I haven't been to the park in just over two years, so there is something new (to me, and relatively, as it opened in 2011) in the "pre-show," all of the build up to the actual attraction.  There is a side-trip you can take while you are in line, through the cemetery.  There are a series of comical busts, with very funny plaques, which, if you read the center one first, makes you realize there is a bit of a mystery surrounding the deaths of this entire family.  A little further on, there's a musical mausoleum, that plays different instruments sounds depending on which instrument you touch.  My favorite "grave site" is where a sea captain is buried in a tub of brine (he's allergic to dirt!) which is leaking, and can't, apparently, keep him down - so he occasionally belches bubbles and squirts water at passersby!

The guy in the middle killed his whole family.
But why?  And how?

A lot of the fun of The Haunted Mansion experience comes from the cast members themselves, dressed as mansion servants, and who are "dying to serve you."  The implore you to move up in line, "filling in all of the dead space around you, and lining up side by side."  When you step into the mansion's "first act," the door-less stretching room, cast members tell you they've "been...dying, uh... living for our visit."  The main story, of course, is that we are touring the home of 999 ghosts, and they are looking for the 1,00th guest.  Could that be one of us? And "the show" ends with a ghost hitching a ride out into the world with us.  The cast member that sees you to the door, looking both relieved and disappointed, notes that he's "glad we made it out alive."  Even as you leave, the show isn't over until you leave The Haunted Mansion grounds, as you walk past another mausoleum, a pet cemetery, and a horse drawn hearse, complete with a ghost horse.

We brought home the tall guy in the middle!

Would that Broadway way shows are as carefully plotted, cast and executed!

Photos from the "Inside the Magic" website.  It was cloudy today, and my pics didn't turn out very well.  No copyright infringement intended.

To find out more about The Haunted Mansion and other Disney attractions, check out this great site: HERE.



No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...