So.. I was thinking.. what would an article about a "classic" attraction be like if it opened in today's glut of insider info, speculation, and discussion? So, I wrote up this little article. Would you want to go and ride this disaster? It's all in the spin.. I think Disney did it right "back in the day".
From the stories I've been hearing, the "Haunted Mansion" continues to look to be in trouble. WDI designed the building and it has been sitting there unused for 3 years! They can't even decide on if they want it look clean or run down. If they can't even decide on something as basic as that, can you imagine the confusion inside this attraction?
Initially, my sources tell me, the Haunted Mansion was supposed to be a walk through where you could explore different themed rooms on your own, but now, in order to maximize throughput (people per hour), they've decided to utilize a system of "cars on belts" (using what's being called an omnimover system and the carriages on the Haunted Mansion are being called "Doombuggies") to move you through the mansion. Nice idea, keep us under control and on your schedule.
From what I've heard about testing of the "omnimover" system, they can't even get that system worked out. Apparently it's very jerky and they have to shut the whole thing down whenever someone in a wheelchair or has difficultly getting into "Doombuggies" wants to ride the attraction. When the attraction stops (101s), they'll just play an audio snippet recorded by one of the Imagineers, X. Atencio, who designed the the attraction. They won't even spend the money to bring in a professional announcer! Folks, this is just piling up to be a disaster when, or if, it ever opens! I'm even told X recorded several other sounds that will be used in the attraction because "it's good enough".
One of the rooms of the mansion the folks at WDI was excited about was what's being called "The Ball Room" where a fleet of ghostly dancers appear to be dancing around in the ballroom. But, rather than using the advances in the audioanimatronics being developed for the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction for these ghostly dancers, they basically are using the same simple "still figures on a spin table" technology used to make the natives "dance" on the Jungle Cruise. Good to see they're advancing technology! From what I'm being told, it's somewhat convincing, but not nearly as good as it could be if they had the time and money to do it right. Sounds like this is one of those, ride it two or three times attractions to me. Doesn't sound like this one is high on the re-rideable list.
There are also conflicting stories about the backstory for this attraction. There are features in there that are rumored to be part of one side's of WDI's version of a backstory. But there are other designers feuding with that team and putting in their own backstory, causing the whole thing to be a horrible mess of story telling. One WDI insider told me,
"Some of the suits in TDA are so convinced this attraction will be a flop, they're going to hire cast members to dress up in costumes and stand in the attraction to try to bring some level of scariness to the attraction. This would be the first attraction that will rely on real humans to be integral to the story telling in the attraction, which shows the total failure and mess this attraction is turning out to be."
One insider at TDA emailed me this,
"Here at TDA, we're looking forward to gutting the Haunted Mansion and using the space inside for offices, workshops and warehouse space. There are plans on the board to convert the mansion building into a giant store, a west-side version of the Emporium. Those plans show an opening date for the store to be around 2010. Tell your readers to ride the Haunted Mansion shortly after it opens because it won't be around for very long."
So, pay attention to when this attraction opens and get there to ride it as soon as you can, because it sounds like it won't be around for very long. Sounds to me it's not only the buggies that are doomed on this disaster. What do you think?