Things You're Just Supposed to Know

Most of the time, Long-Forgotten assumes that readers are already familiar with basic facts
about the Haunted Mansion. If you wanna keep up with the big boys, I suggest you check out
first of all the website, Doombuggies.com. After that, the best place to go is Jason Surrell's book,
The Haunted Mansion: Imagineering a Disney Classic (NY: Disney Editions; 2015). That's the
re-named third edition of The Haunted Mansion: From the Magic Kingdom to the Movies (NY:
Disney Editions, 2003; 2nd ed. 2009). Also essential reading is Jeff Baham's The Unauthorized
Story of Walt Disney's Haunted Mansion (USA: Theme Park Press, 2014).

This site is not affiliated in any way with any Walt Disney company. It is an independent
fan site dedicated to critical examination and historical review of the Haunted Mansions.
All images that are © Disney are posted under commonly understood guidelines of Fair Use.

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Saturday, October 8, 2016

The Berm Graveyard Rises From the Dead

.
(pic: optimistzero)
It's baaaaaack.
Consequently-so-are weeeeeeeee.
Why-are-we-talking-in-this-Poltergeistish waaaaaaaayyyy?
I don't knooooowwww...


Something big has happened at the DL Mansion, so we must needs weigh in on it. The graveyard that occupied the berm at the Disneyland Mansion for nearly thirty years and has been gone for sixteen reappeared in late August of this year. (You can read all about the old berm graveyard HERE and the original "family plot" that preceded it HERE.) Both of those old posts have been thoroughly updated as of November 2016.

I've been given to understand (albeit from watery, second-hand sources) that the fact that the new graveyard debuted with the Haunted Mansion Holiday overlay signifies nothing. The thing was ready to go and would have gone in earlier if they had had the time.





The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

The Good: "The Great Eight"

All eight of the stones that occupied the original family plot in 1969 have been reproduced (plus four new ones, discussed later). Those eight originals have been affectionately known as the "great eight" for some time ("for some time" = since 10 o'clock yesterday morning). The new epitaphs are identical to the old and the designs are similar.

This move can only be greeted with applause by HM purists. It echoes the respect for tradition that made the new Hat Box Ghost last year such a tasteful and welcome addition (for most of us, anyway). Unlike the wretched 2011 queue in WDW, this one does not keep nudging you and squealing about how cool the HM is. It is simply putting back something that never should have been removed in the first place (the berm graveyard), and it goes one step further by bringing back the tombstones that were eclipsed by that same berm graveyard. Here is a good example of a shout-out to HM fans that is contextually justified, fully in keeping with the imaginary world of the ride. It makes complete and immediate sense even if you know nothing of the berm's previous history or have no prior acquaintance with the ride at all. Compare this to, e.g., the raven on the organ pipes at the end of a crypt in the Orlando queue. There is no contextual justification for the raven to be there; it's only there because it's a "Haunted Mansion icon."

This team gets high marks for efficiency, restoring at one stroke and in the correct place both a missing thing and the thing it replaced. 

I figure the best way to review the new iterations of the great eight is in a side-by-side display of old and new, an approach greatly facilitated by Mr. Gregg Ziak. Bless his heart, Gregg did the following two things recently, and at almost the same time: (1) he published a glorious set of old photos he had of the original 1969 family plot, and (2) he took some fine new photos of the new graveyard and posted those. You will note a heavy debt to Mr. Z in much of what follows.

(left: Gregg Ziak; right: John Frost)

Vic Greene was a Disney architect who did a lot of work on the HM. Thanks to the photograph below (unknown to us until Nov 1, 2016), we now know that the Cousin Victor stone went up onto the berm when the original family plot was removed in 1970, along with Phineas Pock and Wathel R. Bender (and possibly one, or at most two, others).

(©Disney video)

Greene's grandkids have been hoping for a long time to see a really good photo of this tombstone, and now their patience has been triply rewarded: Two old photos and a new headstone in the park.

The new stone is a good example of how the overall designs faithfully reflect the contours of the originals without slavishly reproducing them. It also displays prominently a feature common to every stone in the new set but never seen in any outdoor HM graveyard previously: they're designed to look old. They've got cracks and gouges and worn, ragged edges. In this, the new berm graveyard conforms more closely than any of its predecessors to what is seen in the graveyard inside the ride, whether or not this was done intentionally. (And before someone says it; yes, I know, it also happens to be closer to the Phantom Manor approach, but big whoop, I doubt that means anything.)

This could be kind of a big deal, conceptually. The stones of the original great eight looked new, in keeping with (1) the graveyard's placement and (2) the familial language used on them (Grandpa Marc, Cousin Victor, Brother Claude), both of which unmistakably identified that little graveyard as a private burial plot tied directly to the house's history. The berm graveyard that replaced it, on the other hand, was more ambiguous in this regard. Was it also supposed to be seen as the Mansion's private family plot? The persistence of familial vocabulary pointed in that direction (Cousin Huett, Brother Dodd, Brother Dave), but in spite of that, it's probable that many people saw it as part of some random old graveyard that happened to be nearby, like the public cemetery "back there somewhere" that provides the venue for the show's climax. Indeed, I expect some people assumed the berm tombstones were part of that very cemetery, spilling over the top, as it were. Whatever the case may be, it must be admitted that the decrepit look of the new berm tombstones is more congenial to such a reading than anything that preceded it.

Next:

(left: ©Disney; right: Ziak)

We now know that Ken Anderson intended to make use of Wathel Rogers' mechanical genius already in his 1957-58 plans for a Disneyland "Ghost House," so he was not new to the project when he earned his tribute on the front lawn. Appropriately, that beautiful close-up photo of the original on the left was taken after it had been transplanted to the berm. It would have been cool if the new one had been placed in exactly the same location, but alas, it doesn't seem so, although it's difficult to determine that location precisely. What about that lower-case "r" on "rest"? A mistake? Hardly. That comes from consulting and following the original blueprint for the original stone:


Next:

(both pix from Ziak, taken approximately 47 years apart!)

This is a tribute to Claude Coats, of course, another Imagineering giant with relatives always on the lookout for this sort of thing. WDW has always had a Brother Claude, and the old berm graveyard at DL had a very similar stone inscribed with "Brother Dodd."

Next:

(left: ©Disney; right: ITM video)

Pock is another transplant up onto the berm from the great eight. You will recall that this one isn't a tribute to anyone but just a funny name the guys came up with and used in connection with the HM in various and sundry ways. They even considered it as a name for the Mansion's "Lord and Master" at one point. After only a year or two on the berm, Phineas disappeared and was not seen again until the name showed up on a new stone in the 2011 WDW queue area.

Phineas Pock is my personal favorite, the stone I remember best from my own first visits
to the HM in 1969. For some reason it also seems to be the one most photographed:

(that's Ziak's new old photo in the lower right)

Next:

(left: Eddison Esteban; right: Ziak)

Rolly Crump's tribute stone is the only one of the great eight that has never been retired from service. It still sits in the graveyard scene inside the ride. Let's not hear any griping about the duplication, kids. The interior graveyard is loaded with duplications already, remember?

Next:

(left: Ziak; right: ©Disney video)

The other oldie I remember best is this tribute to Marc Davis (something I of course did not know it was at the time). Once again, the differences in lettering (the design of the "G" and the "M") are due to the team's faithfulness to the original blueprint:


Next:

(right: Ziak)

As always, I have to cheat when it comes to Yale Gracey's tribute stone. I've never found a good photo of the great eight original, although you can see part of it behind Grandpa Marc in the previous photo montage. Directly above, I've substituted for old-new comparison the original Gracey stone from WDW, which had a slightly different design than Disneyland's. The indented name on the new one is actually more faithful to the DL original than any of the WDW versions.

Last:

(right: ITM video)

As you already know if you've read the earlier posts (and may have already known even before you did that), X Atencio's tribute stone ended up in his back yard and is still there today, making it relatively easy to acquire photos of this original member of the great eight. What's with the "T" on "REQUIESCAT"? Well, it wasn't there on the original 1969 blueprints . . .


. . . and it wasn't on the original stone when it was in front of the Mansion . . .

(Ziak)

. . . and so it's understandable that it's not been put on the new stone either. We have already seen that the WDI team used the original blueprints for reference. What apparently happened is that X (or someone else) painted the "T" on the stone after it moved to X's back yard. There are a number of photos around showing it after it has already been back there taking a beating from the LA smog for many years, and in some of those the "T" looks like it's fading away:

(main pic: Carrie Vines)

This alteration from REQUIESCA to REQUIESCAT became official when a Francis Xavier stone was created for the original WDW graveyard:


Incidentally, that WDW stone was on display at the Disney Treasures exhibit in Simi Valley a few years back:


In fact, both forms are correct. "Requiescat In Pace" ( = Rest in Peace, R.I.P.) is the usual formulation, but on occasion "Requiesca" is also used. According to reader Ann-Kathrin Wasle in the Comments, it's simply the imperative form ("Rest [in peace], bud, and that's an order"). Whoever it was that convinced X his stone was irregular or ungrammatical was simply mistaken.


The Good The Meh: The Four New Stones

Along with the great eight come four new stones, deferentially located two to the left and two to the right. Forgetting their placement for the moment, let's decode what's on them. As you might expect, they are new tributes to new Imagineers, members of the team responsible for the overall project high-fiveing each other. On the far left:
Julia Shrub
Such a Good Sport
When People
Would Tease Her
For Being So
 
(pic: optimistzero)

The tombstone was too short to squeeze the last word of the epitaph on to it, get it? Anyway, this is a tribute to Julie Bush, a WDI landscape architect. Julie is, and I quote, "responsible for design and site construction oversight for all Disneyland Resort area development capital work and rehabs." [I typed it, but don't ask me what the hell it says.] "She led the Area Development design of Disneyland's 10-year Resort-wide paving plan, New Tomorrowland and the Rivers of America projects. Julie also works closely with the on-site Horticulture and show maintenance teams on show quality issues."


Next to Shrub is this new one:

Aqui Descansa
Bradford Clemente
Demaisiado
Beber
De La Fuente

 (ITM video)

Brad Clemens is a Senior Show Set Designer at WDI and used to be a Facility Designer at Disneyland Resort. Beyond that, I know nothing about this guy, and I don't have a picture either. The stone translates loosely: "Here lies Bradford Clemente. Too much drinking from the fountain." I imagine the grape cluster at the top is there to tell us which "fountain" they mean.

Collect all the photos of this one you can, kids, because I'm betting this stone will be out for repair or replacement as soon as they realize that they've essentially written the Spanish equivalent of "to much." It's DEMASIADO, not DEMAISIADO. (More on this when we get to "The Bad.")

Skipping across to the other side, on the right, we have a double tombstone:

                                                                           In Final Rest                      Loyal  Friend
                                                                             M. Dibjib                          Esteban Pine
                                                                            He Had To                           No Longer
                                                                             Eat That                                Has To
                                                                          One Last Rib                       Wait In Line

(pic: optimistzero)

"M. Dibjib" is Michael Dobrzycki, a Concept/Graphic Designer at WDI. This guy has an impressive resumé: “Michael Dobrzycki is an accomplished painter, carpenter, puppet maker, and sketch artist whose work has been featured in more than a dozen children's books and small press publications over the last few years. In 2001, Michael was inducted into the Disneyland Entertainment Hall of Fame. He received a master's degree in illustration from California State University, Fullerton, and holds bachelor's degrees in both art and history from Whittier College. He is currently a visiting professor at Whittier College. Michael lives in Whittier, CA.”



I'll bet some of you Forgottenistas already have one or another of his books:


In contrast to all of this, I have very little information about Steve Pinedo ("Esteban Pine") and no photograph. He's a WDI Design Administrator (another hat he wears or has worn is "Creative Design Services Manager"). For this latest project, he was apparently the Show Coordinator.

Unlike the other new ones, the final new tombstone is not hard to decode at all:

RIP
Cam Irving
Probably
Should've
Thought of
Swerving

(Gregg Ziak)

This is obviously for Disneyland Art Director Kim Irvine, already familiar to many of you as the daughter of Leota Toombs and daughter-in-law of Dick Irvine, Imagineers heavily involved with the original HM, of course. Kim has herself done some HM work over the years. She was involved in the pet cemeteries, and she generously loaned out her face for use in producing new Madame Leota mask models, since her facial planes are uncannily close to her mother's. Her resumé is a long one. (She founded the DL Imagineering office in the early 80's, worked on the updated Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln and It's a Small World refurb, et cetera. Google if you want more info on Kim. Note: In the original post I mistakenly said that Kim was the daughter of Leota Toombs and Dick Irvine. Oops. My apologies to Kim and other family members. Thanks to reader Tom Morris for alerting me to the error.)


You may have noticed that I haven't said yet what I think of this four-stone addition. For moi,
they're meh. The stones aren't terribly objectionable per se, but I've got two complaints.


Firstly, I think the boot-hill epitaphs are pretty mediocre efforts. The counterparts in the 2011 WDW queue are actually much better. Seriously, guys, "Should've"? And the rhythms are there but don't fall into place as immediately and effortlessly as they should've (at least for me). There's also the embarrassing misspelling on the Spanish-language stone. Should've put in a bit more effort here. On the other hand, someone may argue that misspelled epitaphs are a Haunted Mansion tradition: "Uncle Myall" at WDW (never used at DL) misspells "Memoriam" as "Memorium," and with regard to "a man named Martin," at WDW it says that "the lights went out on this old Spartan," but his twin on the old DL berm said that "the lights went out on his old Sparten" (!!!).

Second, nothing against these guys, but none of them had anything to do with the original ride. Do they really belong out front alongside the great eight? They strike me as much more akin to the tombstones inside, in the graveyard scene. As we know, those tombstones are also sly tributes to various and sundry Imagineers, some lower level, some higher level. It seems to me these new ones would have been more appropriately placed there and frankly would have been more fun.

Those aren't deal killers for me, but this next one is.


The Bad: Once Again, Impossible Gravesites


I realize that the WDI teams at the various parks operate independently of each other, but nevertheless I would think that before embarking on a new project you'd want to check out audience reaction to a very similar project recently done in another park. When the 2011 WDW queue debuted, one of the criticisms was that in their geekish zeal for epitaph tributes the Imagineering team there completely forgot that these epitaphs are found on tombstones, not plaques. They put their "Francis Xavier" and "Grandpa Marc" stones high up in a narrow planter much too small to have actual bodies buried in it. Apparently in reaction to such criticism, project leader Pete Carsillo unconvincingly tried to explain to guests during personal tours that the bodies were buried down below the walkway where people pass in front of the stones.

Well, even that lame explanation won't work this time. There is literally, quite literally, no possible place where a body could be buried beneath or adjacent to either the Julia Bush or Bradford Clemente stones. They are mere inches from the wall in front of them and mere inches above existing concrete crypts that are already occupied.




Have we really reached the point where "Hey look, a gravestone! But wait a sec, where's the grave?" is an example of "thinking too much"?

You want irony? In the case of Julia Shrub, this absurdity is intended as a tribute to a landscape architect! As they say, you can't make this stuff up. Gad. I'm choking on my spittle here.

And there is a similar problem with the new Cousin Victor stone. It's inches from the wall in front of it. Where's the body? THE VICTOR STONE NEEDS TO BE PUSHED BACK. (I'm withholding judgment on some of the others since photos can be deceiving and I can't yet be positive that some of them are also too close to the wall.)

Look, you WDI guys. You're going to have to pull out the Clemente stone anyway to fix the spelling error, and the switchover from HMH to classic Mansion is coming up in a few months. There's your opportunity. FIX THIS. Please. Pretty please? With buckets of sugar on it? It's embarrassing.

PS: The easy fix? Put big urns on them.* Shrub already has a design that would easily modify to allow it, and Clemente has to be redone anyway.



The Ugly: What a Sorry Sight

Some of what follows is WDI's fault, but a lot of it isn't. Let's just say it: the new berm graveyard is visually unappealing, to put it as kindly as possible. All you have to do is compare it with a photo of the old graveyard and the argument is over, QED.


Says it all, says it all.

Well, the bothersome HMH decorations are cluttering things up. Maybe it would all look better without the pumpkins and lanterns and dead vines evidently put there to conceal the wiring. The problem is, we DO know what it looks like without those, since the first photos of the new berm were taken by people peeking over the fence before the HMH decorations went in, and it really doesn't look that much better.

(pic by Dusty Sage for MiceAge)

The real culprit is all that new fencing and the brick wall ruins. But that's not WDI's fault. The fences are there for safety reasons—not the public's safety but the safety of Disney employees. (It's the same kind of thing that gave us that horrible new outside track on the Alice in Wonderland ride.) The brick walls I don't understand. They don't make any sense as part of the graveyard and don't seem like safety features. Retaining walls? Whatever they are, I'm sure that aesthetically, the Imagineers can't be happy about the way it all looks compared to what was there before, but they had to make lemonade out of the lemons handed to them.

But thank heaven, the nightmare is over. No more parade of grisly news reports of employees injured or killed on the HM berm. In recent years the total number of serious injuries here has risen to a number just barely less than one. Obviously, something had to be done.

I wish that were all there is to say, but it isn't.

Micechat reader sourdough made a good point a few weeks ago. The Imagineers missed an opportunity here to use forced perspective effectively. The tombstones in back should have been smaller, to give an illusion of size and spaciousness. To which I would add: ALL the stones seem too big to me. Compare the "Good Old Fred" stone in the old photo with the Pock stone in the new. They're similarly designed and in roughly the same location. Isn't Phineas noticeably larger, and in fact too large? Did the team's concern for legibility override their basic aesthetic sense here? Not good.


In Conclusion...

A real mixed bag, sorry.

By the way, before I crawl back into my cave, I should note with appreciation the large number of new readers the blog suddenly picked up a few months back. Ironically, since the blog went into a state of hibernation, traffic has never been higher. The last post celebrated our millionth visit, a point reached after six years. Only nine months have gone by since then, and already we've added almost 700,000 new hits.

Take care.


*I will add here, that if by some chance Disney decides adding urns would be a good idea, I do here state that I do not ask nor will I seek any future remuneration for the idea. I'm offering the suggestion freely.



40 comments:

  1. When I was a kid I never knew the headstones were tributes. It's nice to see them make a return.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Another great read, I really hope they do go in and relocate some of them once HMH is done.

    ReplyDelete
  3. To clarify the Latin: Yes, Requiesca is correct as well, but it signifies the imperativ (the plural would be Requiescant). While Requiescat means "he shall rest", Requiesca signifies the order "you shall rest" or simply "rest(!)".
    So yes, the original form is indeed justified.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ah, I knew someone would put the matter to rest. Thanks!

      Delete
  4. A little side note about the fence, I'm almost positive it's removable, Back when they first put it up, I saw it completely removed during a few trips, but then it returned and has stayed up (presumably) ever since. I wonder if OSHA is to blame, Similar to the emergency railings on Screamin' staying up all the time?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We'll have to wait and see, I suppose. The fencing itself is handsome enough stuff, but I can't believe anyone thinks it looks better with the fencing than without it. By the way, we may recall that during the 90's they put in (or were made to put in) some equally dopey-looking fencing between the old pet cemetery and the exit crypt complex.

      Delete
  5. Bless you for coming back. Hurricane Matthew ruined 2/3 of my house last week, so seeing a new Long Forgotten post was a genuine glimmer in the darkness.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm SO sorry to hear, but glad you weren't hurt. I hope you had time to save some of your things.

      Delete
  6. The fence is a good idea. This used to happen:

    http://vids.disneyfans.com/video/160x120/DL_Rule_Breaker_160x120.mov

    Sorry about the small size. I posted that video online back when folks were still mostly on dialup and couldn't handle bigger files ;-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. On the other hand, I'm told (by an insider) that the fence is indeed for the safety of employees, not the public, and people apt to do the sort of thing you see in the video would still be able to do it with the fence there anyway.

      Delete
    2. Always true! At least now they can't say "I wasn't supposed to go there? There wasn't even a fence!" ;-)

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  7. Glad to see the "grave" stones back. I agree that the clutter around them detracts greatly from the overall scene.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Re: Requiescat
    Before I read the above post explaining the grammar, I thought it might be a nod to musical "hep cats".

    ReplyDelete
  9. So glad to see you back! My various thoughts:

    — Another thing that bothers me is the various Spanish-sounding tombstones: besides the grammar-disdaining all-Spanish one, there's also 'Esteban Pine'. All of this seems very odd to me. The Mansion is supposedly from New-Orleans, which has no Spanish roots at all, and all the character names associated with Mansion-lore have been English (with the understandable exception of both Leotas) or, on occasion, French (Emily De Claire, Jean Lafitte). What went through their minds?

    — On the other hand, since I remain a believer of the theory that the Mansion has been moved to Disneyland as in the old show scripts, the odd placements of the stone markers isn't that much of a problem. Sure, I'd prefer it if there was room for the bodies, but it's easy for me to just say: the ghosts decided to move their tombstones a little to allow for better scaring potential (they don't care about their earthly remains anyway, they ain't using those ol'things no more).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "Esteban Pine" is just Steve Pinedo flipping the language on his own name. The Spanish-language epitaph is, I'm sure, for the benefit of guests who speak Spanish much better than English: day trippers coming up for Mexico and so forth. They deserve at least one joke they can understand off the cuff, don't they?

      Delete
    2. The rationale for incorporating some Spanish is obvious enough. There is, after all, a bilingual safety spiel, because Spanish is the first language of many DL guests. Thematically, it doesn't bother me to see it in the graveyard, despite the Old New Orleans setting. Historically, I imagine there was sufficient Spanish-language traffic through there via the Caribbean to explain the presence of Hispanic domestics or in-laws (or outlaws) during the period of the Mansion's fictional setting.

      Delete
  10. Brilliant insights as always, professor. While I'm sure that the five imagineers honored with new headstones are fine, talented, handsome and hard working guys and gals, it seems to me that someone recently made a more lasting and indelible addition to the mansion, a fellow by the name of Daniel Joseph. Here's my epitaph (free of charge and worth every penny): "Joseph Dante, Ran his final three card Monte". There you are, WDI.

    ReplyDelete
  11. As a kid, I always thought the old graveyard was absurd-looking too. Who buries their family members on a short, steep embankment? I realize they didn't want to eat up a lot of real estate at DL with a proper cemetery, but still...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hadn't thought much about it, but actually, cemeteries on fairly steep slopes are not unheard of:

      http://s2.photobucket.com/user/danolson/library/sloped%20cemeteries?sort=3&page=1

      Delete
  12. There's also new tombstones in the old wheelchair entrance Pet Cemetery......one is of a GIANT crypt supported by a upside down elephant. T A C K Y!!!

    -Mike Cozart

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, it's for "Penny the Elephant." It's a new vent that for some reason they had to build for the nearby train. Disguising it as a crypt was clever enough, and since it's in the pet cemetery something animalistic was necessary. I can live with the design of the columns if I bear in mind Victorian eccentricities like elephant foot umbrella stands, but the trunk is simply awful.

      Delete
  13. I think Kim was a good idea- the others I could take or leave.
    As far as the WDW abomination goes, I saw it in person this past December, and it's just as bad as I imagined. Actually, it totally wrecks the feel of the attraction. On a semi-related note, I didn't like the new computer generated hitchhiking ghosts at the end. In theory, they should have been great, but they came off as cheesy and silly. Still, no one ever asks me...

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  14. I'm so glad to have you back, and good job. I'm glad to see not all is 'forgotten'

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  15. It Nash come to my attention that there is a alternate audio for the haunted mansion. Do you know anything more about that I've listened to it but I was wondering why they didn't use it?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm not sure what you're referring to.

      Delete
  16. Might it be possible to explain the lack of space to contain the 'bodies' by claiming the stones had been removed from their original resting place in an unsuccessful cemetery move? The deceased could have fully decomposed leaving no remains left to relocate?

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    Replies
    1. What kind of "successful move" could they have hoped for but failed to attain? Someone put a pair of tombstones where there is no place for a grave anywhere near them.

      Delete
    2. I imagine maybe on this steep slope in the deep south, after several years of rain and neglect, the tomb stones have slid down the slope and away from their original locations... maybe.

      Delete
  17. I recently went on a walk through of the mansion. Stood in the ballroom, looked at heaps of details. It totally blew me away! I saw so many fascinating things on this tour through the mansion, and noticed so many from your blog. Thanks for sharing information with all of us people who are crazy about the mansion and want to know more!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It has been a dream of mine to walk through the haunted mansion like that! How was it? Would you mind sharing who showed you around?

      Delete
  18. You're welcome, and love the nic.

    ReplyDelete
  19. I'm a native of Salem, MA. The entire city is basically a haunted mansion. We do have a cemetery outside of an old church in which the tombstones are too crowded to possibly have bodies underneath them. This is because they built the church in the space the cemetery used to be and moved only the stones and not the bodies to the front lawn of the church during the building phase. Obviously, that church is one of the many buildings said to be haunted in the city. What if the entire mansion is built on the old site of the berm cemetery and that's why it's haunted?

    -Mel

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  20. I've been a fan of your site for a couple of years and have to say your work is amazing. To take such an arcane subject as the history of the HM and continue to submit new found material after some 5+ years astonishes me (not to mention your depth of research and theorization).
    In the last few days I've reviewed all your blog posts since Long Forgotten's inception.
    One post I found particularly interesting was that of 'Webster' the skeleton in the spider web. This topic jogged an old memory from many years ago.
    As a child every year our family would vacation on the Florida coast. My father was a huge Disney fan, so when WDW opened in that state he had to be there as soon as possible (which would have been late spring/ early summer ’72).
    Of course, our favorite ride was the Haunted Mansion. After a few years of visiting the WDW and riding the HM, we began to have a reoccurring argument following each visit. Something was missing in the mansion. The problem was, neither of us could decide what feature had been removed or altered, however one thing we could always agree upon was that the feature involved the giant spiders near the staircase. Every time we rode through the haunted mansion, we would look carefully around as we passed that section but in the end we never solved the mystery (and if memory serves I thought they had changed the types or sizes of the spiders).
    Low and behold, after all these years; the answer popped into my mind while reading your blog - we must have seen ‘Webster’! Well I'm not absolutely convinced, I was only a child at the time and the mystery may have been something as simple as a new coat of paint on the spiders, but I can say with certainty that for a number of years we did argue that some feature had changed along the stairway/ spider web section of the ride. Could Webster have been viewed by the public as long as eight months after WDW opened?

    Anyway, I hope this little recollection might be of help to pin down a time when ‘the man in the web’ disappeared.

    PS - Keep up your excellent work!

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    1. Well, first of all, thank you for the kind words. I appreciate it. Secondly, so little is known about Webster that we cannot even postulate a latest-possible-date for his removal if he was there at all in the beginning. If he really was there that long, however, then almost certainly there must be photos of him out there somewhere, to say nothing about eyewitnesses who currently don't know or perhaps care that they saw something special that others would love to hear about.

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  21. Fascinating post as always. Two things: Kim Irvine is the daughter of Leota and Harvey Toombs, not Dick Irvine. Kim was married to Dick's son, George Irvine.

    Regarding Webster, I was at WDW on Oct 1 1971 and at the time already a 12-year-old Haunted Mansion fan from California. I rode it a couple of times and can tell you that if there was a Webster in the webs it was not at all perceivable, as I would have noted it. What I do remember is that the spiderweb scene was oddly garish in comparison to the rest of the HM, which of course was perfection, in my young opinion.

    Keep posting; what--are you running out of material?

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    1. Oops, thank you for pointing out the error. I've corrected it in the post. And thanks for the personal recollection of the WDW scene. Most of the testimony I've gotten since publishing the post on Webster has gone against him being there when the ride opened. As for material, yep. I've been publishing histories and mysteries faster than they've been coming to light. (Just witness the pace in our first year, when the virginal fields were ripe for harvest.) I don't want LF to degenerate into trivia-for-trivia's sake, so I'm in a state of hibernation between noteworthy finds these days.

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  22. HBG2, get a life and stop being negative and hateful of everything! 😡

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    1. Pity that the best irony comes from those deaf to irony. How may one compliment them?

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  23. I wonder if there's enough on Madame Leota to warrant an exploration. On the surface everyone gets the gag of "medium in her medium" and the visual joke of the blurring of her hair and archetypal crystal-ball mist, but there's some mythological precedent of "oracular head" characters that I'm sure she's descent descended from, with Mimir from Norse myth being just one of them.

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