1:54 AM - WDW 2007 recap - Haunted Mansion
A few interesting things from our Walt Disney World visit this past week:
The new Haunted Mansion is fantastic. It's finally better than the Disneyland version. Now, because of the extra scenes, it should have been better from day 1, but Disneyland's started getting updates and enhancements ten years ago that the Florida version just never got. Back in the mid-late 90s, the Florida version moved the singing busts in the graveyard to a laserdisc projection system, but the audio would drift and not sync with the background music -- and it remained that way, still messed up nearly a decade later when I visited in 2006. Just amazing that they wouldn't fix something as major as that (it was a mess of sound, that's for sure).
The new stretch room audio is amazing -- and, notice that when the door closes, there is audio for that, though none of the big website reports I've read mentioned it. Very nice.
The removable of the portrait hallway is kind of a bummer, since it was unique to the Florida version. Versions of several of those portraits now line the wall behind the doom buggies, but if they are the same ones with "eyes to follow you," it doesn't work. They aren't illuminated so the effect is lost. (I'm thinking they may have been redone prints, without the sunken in eyes.) In it's place is a new hallway with the storm windows on the left and portraits on the right that change with the lightning, finally giving FLorida the load area scene that only Disneyland had. Nice.
The new stairway scene is great -- it's hard to believe that was just a darkened void with some spider webs before. You can watch footsteps walk up and down the stairs, blowing out candles and lighting up others. Sadly, just weeks after opening, the projection of the steps on the left side was already off causing the effect to be spoiled (which is how I figured out they were projections).
Candles have been updated in many places as well -- they are a type that uses a flickering element as well as a moving "flame" effect so it looks very convincing. I ran across these a few years ago when researching fake candles after Disneyland got the Haunted Mansion Holiday overlay. The DL candles used multiple LEDs with a flickering patter than looks REALLY good, but these moving ones look arguably better since they move like flame, not just flicker like flame. For the life of me, I can't find the link now but if I do, I'll post it later.
UPDATE: Here is the link
I was trying to find.
The Leota sequence is like Disneyland's now, though the candles are updated and I've read it's using a different technique to project her face. At Disneyland, I believe it's a large front projection where the face image of the projection moves in sequence with the floating ball. You can see a dark square outline of the projection area on the wall behind it. In Florida, no such outline, and I've read they are using a rear projection technique, possible the fiber optic system that Disney has a patent on. This was first used int he USA by Leota at Disneyland so her table could "wobble" (though they later switch back since it wasn't as bright). Buzz in the Buzz Lightyear queue also uses it, and I think it's used in one of the overseas park (probably why it was first developed). This would mean they had to bring a fiber optic bundle down to the floating crystal ball but I guess that's doable. It looks great, regardless.
No extra audio in this sequence was added, like at Disneyland in the doorway hall and the Leota room.
The new attic is like Disneylands, though there may be some differences. Two days at the park the portraits were doing nothing -- just headless grooms. The final night I saw it work and it worked great. The new bride has been the subject of great speculation on how it works, but to me it seems to be nothing more than a form with a projection -- head and arms are simply projected on it so it looks like a real figure, but it's not. The second and third viewings still make me think this is just a basic projection. Still, pretty nice, but nothing groundbreaking like I originally thought.
For the rest, just basic cleanup everywhere which really helps.
But why did they not fix the audio after the stretching rooms? There's a bit of dialog that used to play there, saying something like "and now a carriage approaches." You can hear it at Disneyland but it's been missing in Florida for at least 10 years that I can recall. There is a planter on top of a large box on the right past the chicken exit where the Doom Buggies roll out. Years back, you could listen and hear the audio playing VERY QUETLY from that box. Maybe it still is? Maybe they just didn't realize it was broken?
Overall, a great update -- the only arguable things now are the extra dialog that California has that Florida doesn't.
One last audio note -- Florida has some different edits in the Ghost Host speech. I'm not sure if this is still the case, or if they are using the same cut as Disneyland. I'll have to listen to my recordings and compare. There used to be a "hmmmm?" edited out and maybe a line moved, for some reason. That always bugged me -- why was that done? I'm sure there was a reason...
More later...but I'm happy to report the Mansion is in the best shape I've ever seen it in, even with the missing dialog in the load area. (And no annoying fake Ghost Host english/spanish altered dialog right as you get in, like in California.)
To be continued...