Today in Disney History

Disneyland:  August 9, 1955
In Frontierland the Aunt Jemima Pancake House opens.  (Later to be renamed RiverBelle Terrace, the restaurant is Walt Disney’s favorite breakfast location when he stays overnight in the park in his apartment above the Fire Station on Main Street, U.S.A.)
 
Disneyland:  August 9, 1969
After two days of Cast Member only previews, the Haunted Mansion opens to the public.  The grand opening is heralded by a promotional blitz that include the “I Scream” Sundaes sold at Carnation Plaza Gardens, located in the Central Hub near Sleeping Beauty Castle.  The Haunted Mansion‘s facade is styled after many of the grand old plantation houses of the southern states, and was first built along the shores of the Rivers of America in 1963.  Shortly thereafter a sign was posted on the Mansion’s wrought iron fence announcing the coming attraction.  After  number of delays caused by the imagineers giving their undivided attention to the 1964-65 World’s Fair in New York, followed by the opening of New Orleans Square and the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction, the Mansion got underway once more as the imaginners refocused their attention back onto the concept that Walt Disney first introduced back in 1956.  The Haunted Mansion uses the OmniMover guest transportation system, first introduced in Tomorrowland in August 1967 in Adventure Thru Inner Space – an unbroken chain of ride vehicles that cycle guests through the attraction in “DoomBuggies” capable of an hourly capacity of more than 2,500 guests per hour.  The attraction is narrated by the Ghost Host, as voiced by famed character actor and voice-over artist Paul Frees (who also lent his voice to Pirates of the Caribbean two years prior).  Madame Leota, the medium in the séance room and the tiny talking figure at the end of the ride, is modeled after Imagineer Leota Toombs and voiced by Eleanor Audley, the same actress who gave Lady Tremaine from the 1950 classic, “Cinderella;” and Maleficient from the 1959 classic, “Sleeping Beauty” their voices.  The attraction is the second Disneyland attraction to go “beyond the berm” – taking guests from the main queue entrance area down underground and beyond the Disneyland Railroad tracks into a massive show building located “outside” the park before returning guests back into the park at the conclusion of the attraction. The organ used in the ballroom sequence at Disneyland was first used in the 1954 film “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea” as Captain Nemo’s organ.  
 
(The Haunted Mansion will go on to be duplicated in all of the other “Magic Kingdoms”
around  the world, and is the first attraction to be located in a different land in each park!   At Disneyland it is in New Orleans Square;  at the Magic Kingdom, it is in Liberty Square;  at Tokyo Disneyland it is in Fantasyland; at Disneyland Paris it is in Frontierland; and Hong Kong Disneyland where the newest Mansion is under construction, it will be located in an extension of Adventureland.  During construction of Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom, the Haunted Mansion was the first attraction to be fully completed and ready for operation thanks the imagineers’ decision to build duplicate sets while constructing the Disneyland originals.  And given the operational need at Disneyland, the famed Stretching Room is a functional elevator taking guests underground to then move them out and under the park’s railroad berm through the famed Portrait Gallery;  however there was no operational need for that process at Walt Disney World since the entire attraction is located far “inland”, away from the railroad tracks.  The same holds true in Tokyo’s park as well.  The very high water table in both locations also had to be taken into consideration since neither location would allow for moving guests that far underground (even with the Utilidors found at Walt Disney World), so the Stretching Room scene was altered.  At Disneyland the ceiling is stationary and the floor goes down – in Florida and Japan, the floor is stationary and the ceiling goes up – and guests then proceed into the inner rooms of the Mansion on the same level that they entered on.  Despite the high water table in Paris, the original Stretching Room concept was brought back for Paris by raising the entire facade onto the top of a hillside, therefore once more having an elevator taking guests down underground and again moving beyond the berm into the show building “outside” the park). 

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