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  1. #46

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    Re: The Haunted Mansion did NOT officially open August 9th

    This seems like the right thread and the right timing to re-introduce this photo. The surprising LACK of media hoopla surrounding the HM opening, which Todd describes, probably explains the dearth of publicity materials. He is correct that the newspaper coverage, including reviews that appeared after the ride opened, just recycled publicity photos that Disney had sent out in the Spring.

    So you look in vain for opening day photos and such. Well, almost. Take a look:



    I am fairly certain this is a grand opening photo from the 12th of August. I get to that conclusion by a circumstantial argument, so it's not airtight. But consider:

    1) The copy of this photo that Davelandweb has is stamped "August 1969." The Haunted Mansion: Mansion publicity photo, August 1969

    2) It's not staged. Do you see the CM in the center, facing left? He's at the turnstyle, prepared to collect tickets. That's where they did it in the old days. If you were a professional photographer and you were setting this shot up, would you put him in? He adds nothing to the ambiance and only makes people ask, "Hey, what's that guy doing?"

    3) It's a special occasion. They've got CM's posted like sentinels out front. They don't "waste" CM's like that under normal conditions, but for special occasions they sometimes do that.

    4) The people are not waiting for their turn on an already-open ride; they are waiting for the ride to open. How can you tell? With even the slowest moving line, the overwhelming majority of the people will be facing in the direction of movement. Here, hardly anyone is facing left. The situation is static. The ride hasn't opened yet.

    5) There are no children in the line (maybe a teen on the far right). No one knew yet if the HM was "safe" for little kids.

    6) This is a very professional photo. According to Todd, the Aug 9 opening just happened with no fanfare at all. The Aug 12 opening, however, was announced, at least to the press. This photog was probably working either for Disney or for some local media outlet.

    If you add it up, the most likely conclusion is that this is a scarce relic, an opening day photo from August 12, 1969.

  2. #47

    • 8-9-69 Changed My Life
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    Re: The Haunted Mansion did NOT officially open August 9th

    Here are some pictures I've never shown before taken that first week the Haunted Mansion was open in August, 1969:


    My best friend Mark Smythe (L) and myself ready for our big adventure.


    The long awaited creaky gates to the ghostly temple are open!
    You knew this was for real: There was a sign telling you to remove
    one of your precious E coupons!
    These pictures were taken by me with my Kodak instamatic camera.


    Here's the original graveyard during opening week. I just love it.


    The graveyard was located right where the line turns toward the berm
    at the end of front yard behind the red brick walls next to the train station.
    The crypt door in the rear is still there long after they removed the graves
    to unfortunately make more lines. Wouldn't it had been great if
    they restored this graveyard? The names on the tombstones are the
    WED artists who created the attraction. Grandpa Marc is Marc Davis.


    Here's several views taken by this 11 year old kid. My family went sometime between Wednesday thru Friday that opening week (my older brother thinks it was Friday), in any event, happy birthday old friend! What great memories this past week has brought back.
    Last edited by ToddHackett; 08-11-2009 at 10:52 PM.

  3. #48

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    • Skeevy Ray Vaughan
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    Re: The Haunted Mansion did NOT officially open August 9th

    Wonderful Todd!

  4. #49

    • 8-9-69 Changed My Life
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    Re: The Haunted Mansion did NOT officially open August 9th

    Thanks, ashee. Hard to believe eight years later I would be working down on the riverfront in front of the mansion on the Mike Fink Keel Boats.


  5. #50

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    Re: The Haunted Mansion did NOT officially open August 9th

    Those old photos are great, Todd!!! Thanks for sharing them!
    AKA doombuggy
    1974 - 1983 WDW day trips * 1992 WDW off site * 1994 WDW Contemporary * 1997 WDW off site * 1997 WDW Polynesian * 1998 DL PAC * 1999 DL Disneyland Hotel * 2000 WDW Coronado/Port Orleans * 2001 WDW off site * 2002 DL Disneyland Hotel * 2002 WDW/Happy Haunts Ball * 2003 WDW Riverside * 2003 WDW Happy Haunts Ball * 2004 Moved to Orlando * 2006 DVC Member * 2006 DLR * 2007 Pirate & Princess Party * 2007 DVBR * 2007 OKW * 2007 VWL * 2008 GCH * 2009 BLT * 2009 AKV * 2010 OKW * 2010 SSR * 2010 DLP DLH * 2011 BLT*2011 AKL*2012 BWV*2014 Aulani


  6. #51

    • De la Terre la Luke
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    Re: The Haunted Mansion did NOT officially open August 9th

    Great vintage photos Todd, I love seeing old shots of Disneyland!

  7. #52

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    Re: The Haunted Mansion did NOT officially open August 9th

    Quote Originally Posted by ToddHackett View Post
    Here are some pictures I've never shown before taken that first week the Haunted Mansion was open in August, 1969:


    My best friend Mark Smythe (L) and myself ready for our big adventure.


    The long awaited creaky gates to the ghostly temple are open!
    These pictures were taken by me with my Kodak instamatic camera.


    Here's the original graveyard during opening week. I just love it.


    The graveyard was located right where the line turns toward the berm
    at the end of front yard behind the red brick walls next to the train station.
    The crypt door in the rear is still there long after they removed the graves
    to unfortunately make more lines. Wouldn't it had been great if
    they restored this graveyard? The names on the tombstones are the
    WED artists who created the attraction. Grandpa Marc is Marc Davis.


    Here's several views taken by this 11 year old kid. My family went sometime between Wednesday thru Friday that opening week (my older brother thinks it was Friday), in any event, happy birthday old friend! What great memories this past week has brought back.
    Todd, these are golden. That queue graveyard is one of my absolute favorite lost items from the HM, and a photo of the "Cousin Victor" headstone has been a Holy Grail for a long time (okay, that's overblown; A Nice-Guy-Picks-Up-Litter Grail). Thanks!

    Oh yes. Any recollection of the now-infamous Hatbox Ghost?
    Last edited by HBG2; 08-11-2009 at 07:38 AM.

  8. #53

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    Re: The Haunted Mansion did NOT officially open August 9th



    A year later in September, 1970 when the park slowed down this now twelve year old got daring and took some pictures inside the HM with my flash on my Kodak instamatic. How edgy is that? I would saunter thru the gallery letting everyone pass me so my friend and I would be the last car of the group and hopefully no one would get pissed I used a flash.

    Above is a pic in the attic where the pianist ghost shadow now is. I was trying to take a pick of the flying bats.

    The hatbox ghost was probably my favorite figure in the HM. I got into a lively debate with Jack Janzen of the E Ticket trying to convince him that the HG existed. He even published a letter I wrote about it in the E Ticket years ago. Fortunately Chris Merritt found those pics to confirm it.

    The HG was positioned just right of the exit of the attic. The first time I saw the HG his face would disappear then would flash into the hatbox. The next time I saw it the effect didn't work right and I remember at one point his face was lit and the head in the hatbox flashed on and off. Then they painted his head black and the other head in the hatbox flashed on and off.

    After that he left and the bride appeared. And I remember he briefly came back and then was taken out once again in the early years.

    The hatbox ghost appears on the original installation blueprint which I have and is dated May of 1969. A pop up head was to be hidden between him and the omnimover exit, but I don't recall ever seeing that.

    I made a primitive copy of this ghost out of papier mache for my haunted house when I was around 13. I got a pair of my mother's nylons and made the hatbox out of that material, made a head and put it in there with a little flashing Christmas light. It was very effective.

    Maybe its about time to bring him back.

    Last edited by ToddHackett; 08-11-2009 at 10:47 PM.

  9. #54

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    Re: The Haunted Mansion did NOT officially open August 9th

    Splendid! There's so much misinformation around in "reliable" sources saying that the public never saw him that's it's good just to get another eyewitness to the HBG. The main thing I remember about him was his shaking right hand on top of his cane, like a very old man's. I used to mention this detail and even have documentation that I made the claim, and when it later turned out to be true that he did indeed have that animation, I had corroboration for my testimony.

    There is a wide array of evidence, circumstantial and under-the-table stuff, that indicates that HBG is indeed going to return. Hence my nic.

    The photos are wonderful.

  10. #55

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    Re: The Haunted Mansion did NOT officially open August 9th

    I spoke to Marc about it years ago and he said that the gag just never worked correctly. You'd think now with all the led and digital technology the effect could be stunning. I do remember he shook with the cane. But as a twelve year old I was focused on that hatbox effect and knowing i could make it at home.

  11. #56

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    Re: The Haunted Mansion did NOT officially open August 9th

    Those are awesome photos, Toddhackett!! I love seeing old photographs... especially of Disneyland. Thank you for sharing!!


  12. #57

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    Re: The Haunted Mansion did NOT officially open August 9th

    Quote Originally Posted by ToddHackett View Post
    I spoke to Marc about it years ago and he said that the gag just never worked correctly. You'd think now with all the led and digital technology the effect could be stunning. I do remember he shook with the cane. But as a twelve year old I was focused on that hatbox effect and knowing i could make it at home.
    Yeah. I've read others who said that when Marc was asked, he said that it just never worked right, so your report to the same effect is well-confirmed. We have another poster on another board who says he was there riding all day on August 9th, but there was no HBG. They had lengthy CM soft openings on the 7th and 8th, so no doubt they could see already that it wasn't working well. It looks like they had him in and out several times trying to get the effect to work, and finally gave up. That would be a reasonable speculation even without eyewitness reports. I'm feeling luckier than ever that I happened to catch him in action.

  13. #58

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    Re: The Haunted Mansion did NOT officially open August 9th

    To kind of put several topics to rest that were started here, allow me to state the following facts:
    1. I was the first person to enter the Haunted Mansion on August 9, 1969, just after 8:00 in the morning. The female CM at the foyer door told my girlfriend and myself that nobody else had yet entered the mansion that morning, so unofficially, we were the first, and since my girlfriend was afraid to enter, I took the first step!
    2. There was no hatboxghost in the attic that entire day. The only figure in the attic was the bride, and she was to the left of the doombuggy, roughly in the position where constance now stands, but perhaps a little closer to the window.
    3. That day, I bought the HM record, several postcards, the complete panavision slide set, and I also bought two HM mystery puzzle boxes with the "secret" drawer.
    4. That night, at closing, my girlfriend and I made sure that we were the last people to ride the HM, before they closed. We were the only people in the stretching room as we went down!
    5. I didn't get back to D/L until a year later, and was disappointed, as I wanted to buy a couple more of the HM mystery puzzle boxes, but they were not for sale anymore. I did pick up two more records (at 1.98 each, if memory serves).

    Greg Stone (First Resident of the Haunted Mansion)

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