by Ray Keating
October 31, 2022
There’s a lot going on at Walt Disney theme parks regarding Halloween – indeed, for the two months leading up to Halloween. But for me, mention Halloween, Disney and related scary stuff, and I think of the Haunted Mansion.
And while the Haunted Mansion opened after the death of Walt Disney, it didn’t mean that Walt’s creative fingerprints couldn’t be found amongst the mansion’s dust and cobwebs. For example…
• The extraordinary success of Mary Poppins prompted renewed awe for the achievements of Walt Disney. While he enjoyed recognition of his talents, Walt distrusted an excess of praise. Among his associates, he responded with an expletive. In the presence of strangers, he was polite but uneasy. One noon he entertained a group of industrialists at his table in the commissary, and they were extravagant in their praise of Walt Disney. Donn Tatum recognized Walt’s discomfiture and tried to relieve the situation by remarking, “Well, Walt, there’s only one thing left for you to do, and that’s to walk on water.”
Walt’s eyes twinkled and he answered, “I’ve already tried that and it doesn’t work.”
His creative touch extended to everything, from a new cartoon feature based on Kipling’s The Jungle Book to a projected Disneyland attraction, the Haunted Mansion, to a musical film based on a Broadway play, The Happiest Millionaire.
- Bob Thomas, Walt Disney: An American Original
• [Walt Disney] had thought as well of a New Orleans quarter with a Haunted Mansion, and he had dispatched Herb Ryman and John Hench to the city to take photographs, which later became models for the attraction.
– Neal Gabler, Walt Disney
• On August 9, 1969, the doors of the Haunted Mansion first creaked open to ghoulish ghosts (and guests) looking for an unlivable home… The Haunted Mansion at Disneyland was the first major Disney attraction to open without the direct supervision of Walt Disney. Although Walt reviewed many early concepts and vignettes, he never saw the completed show. Construction for the Haunted Mansion attraction began in 1961 and the exterior of the attraction was completed in 1963. It was unoccupied until 1969 while Walt Disney participated in the 1964-65 New York World’s Fair and his Imagineers were re-tasked to work on those timely projects.
Ray Keating is the editor, publisher and economist for DisneyBizJournal.com; and author of the Pastor Stephen Grant thrillers and mysteries, and the Alliance of Saint Michael novels; and assorted nonfiction books. Have Ray Keating speak your group, business, school, church, or organization. Email him at email@example.com.
The views expressed here are his own – after all, no one else should be held responsible for this stuff, right?
Ray Keating is the author of the Pastor Stephen Grant thrillers and mysteries. Pre-Order Persecution: A Pastor Stephen Grant Novel. Keating says, “I think Persecution might be the most action-packed of any of the Pastor Stephen Grant books so far.”
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