by: guide4wdw – Collin

The Haunted Mansion at Walt Disney World is one of those iconic attractions that has stood the test of time and truly developed with age! Some elements of the attraction have changed, while many others have faded away, but the classic mansion has a few “hidden” secrets that you may have never noticed! 

First, in the graveyard scene, be sure to look around and take note of the lighting affects of the scene. While it isn’t strikingly obvious, the backlit colors of each element of the scene actually develop the concept of dead versus alive. If you see something lit in a red hue, it refers to something that is still alive in the graveyard around you. In contrast, if you see something lit in all white, it was intentionally done so in order to portray the dead. Personally, I overlooked this detail for years. It’s not blatantly obvious, but once you recognize it, it truly helps to better develop the story the attraction intends to portray. 

While this next detail can’t be directly witnessed today, the Haunted Mansion experienced a change before it even debuted that you may not have been aware of. If you have experienced the attraction first hand, you undoubtedly recognized a few distinctly placed ravens throughout the on-ride experience. Today, those ravens simply add to the creepiness of the overall attraction, but at one point a raven was intended to be your guide as you traveled through the mansion. If it was not for a slight change in plans, your experience today wouldn’t feature ,”Your Host, Your Ghost… Host!”, but rather the aforementioned raven. 

When you finish your ride through the attraction itself, be sure to take notice of the pet cemetery as you leave the exit queue. The cemetery will be on your right and features a clever nod to Disney of days past (cue Mr. Toad!). However, we won’t get into that little detail today, but you can certainly read our post directly about the pet cemetery here: (“Hidden Disney”: The Overlooked Cemetery Outside of the Haunted Mansion)

Last but certainly not least, the actual illusion which creates the stretching room at the beginning of the attraction is slightly different that the rest of the Disney Mansions. Opposed to the traditional idea of what many guests describe as “being in an elevator,” the Disney World variation of the attraction is not a typical elevator but simply an illusion created  by the ceiling literally rising around you. The guest remains stationary while the room’s ceiling rises as a result of the attractions design. 

Bonus: When you look into the dining room from above and it appears to be a ghostly ball below you, if you look closely you’ll notice a pain of glass between you and the other room. It is extremely difficult to notice the glass if you’re not looking for it, but a faint reflection is often visible from a few distinct angles. This glass is used to make the illusion come alive by use of what has become known as the “Pepper’s Ghost” affect. From the guests perspective, the room appears to be full of holograms dancing and interacting with one another. Unfortunately, that technology hasn’t quite caught up with the idea itself so Disney got a little creative. 

As a result, they implemented “Pepper’s Ghost.” The affect itself is based on an original creation developed by John Pepper for a theatrical production to create a “ghost” in front of the audience. Disney borrowed the idea and built it into a large scale effect. Essentially, this is the same principle you’ve probably witnessed many times while driving late at night or while someone uses their phone as you drive in darkness. As you have probably witnessed first hand, in each of those cases, the light created on the inside of the vehicle displays on the glass skewing the drivers view as a result of the reflection from the light source. 

In many ways, the affect used for by Disney for the mansion is no different. Pepper created his affect by utilizing a figure below the audience to reflect a light on and create a reflection on a glass pain in front of the audience. It is a very convincing illusion, especially the way Disney used it. In Disney’s case, the actual animatronic figures that are used to create the reflections are actually out of sight of the guests in the “doom buggies.” That large piece of glass captures the selected images from the light and creates the “hologram” illusion. The typical guest will never notice this clear illusion, so the perceived image is accepted as incredibly advanced for it’s time. As you can imagine, guests have been stunned by this simple affect for generations! Now that you know the secret, be sure to impress your friends and family next time you’re in the parks!    

As you can see, there’s more to the Haunted Mansion that meets the eye! It’s a simple concept overall, but a marvel of ingenuity and creative design. While this attraction has become a fan favorite, Disney always seems to be testing and developing new ideas for the overall experience. Projections have been added, exterior details have grown into a complete cemetery experience, and there’s surely more additions on the way! For now though, we’ll always appreciate the Haunted Mansion and it’s surprisingly unique history! As always, the more you know, the more you can appreciate the time and effort put into every little detail that ultimately makes Disney so very special!      

So, what do you think? Have you heard of these “hidden” elements before? 
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