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Wednesday, April 16, 2003

Greetings, Foolish Mortals,

Finally - the Haunted Mansion book (by WDI Imagineer Jason Surrell) is offered for presale at Amazon! Buy it early, and get a full 30% off the cover price. This is THE book you've all been waiting for - 128 pages of Haunted Mansion glory. Here's a quick link to the book:

Buy the Haunted Mansion book here from for 30% off!

Yesterday I was able to tour the sets of the Haunted Mansion movie. They are extravagant, ornate, beautifully detailed and immersive, to say the least. The enormous foyer is filled with rich carved wood, inlaid marble and fascinating (yet somewhat eerie) statuary. The ballroom likewise, with a huge pipe organ surrounded by two massive weaving stairways and a walk-in, working fireplace.

Everything is there: endless corridors of doors, the atrium/conservatory, the attic (and be sure to look for the bride's dress!), Leota's seance room, and of course, the immense graveyard, which is centered around the Gracey Family Mausoleum, an ornate stone crypt hosting hundreds of Gracey decendants... some of whom are dying to get out...! Walking through the crypt was fascinating, with enormous stone brick work and intricate cast iron suited to the boggy Louisiana setting that the Mansion is based upon. And walking through the attic was a treat as well, though it was hard to make a path through all of the 19th century boxes, bottles, baubles, and general dusty cobwebbed clutter.

Special effects artist extraordinaire Rick Baker created some spectacular denizens of the Mansion for the film with some totally new and unique techniques. Production Designer John Myrhe, fresh from his Oscar win for Chicago, is hard at work creating a special, haunting look. And cinematographer Remi Adefarasin (Band of Brothers) has lighting effects up his sleeves that will give the production a ghostly glow.

And best of all for true Mansion fans - all of your favorite characters are there (well at least for now; I can't guarantee what will or won't hit the cutting room floor.) Be on the lookout for your favorite of the 999 happy haunts! For more information about the sets, and a look at the concept art, visit

That's my report from the set, though there will be regular updates on the film's special FX, costumes, and secrets as the release date nears! And here's a secret scoop: There's a good chance that after production, the sets may be moved to an exhibit at either Disney MGM in WDW or California Adventure at Disneyland, so that you may be able to see them for yourself! Stay tuned for more possible info on that development.


-The Chef
Regarding the Haunted Mansion "teaser trailer" floating around the web:

There've been "mixed reviews" (to put it kindly) on the original Haunted Mansion teaser trailer that was released on the Counry Bears VHS and Tuck Everlasting DVD. Perhaps you've heard of it: it features a disco version of Beethoven's Fifth and cartoon ghosts flying into each other, or something like that. A highlight, however, is Corey Burton's imitation of Frees' Ghost Host as the teaser's narrator.

Nevertheless, the teaser doesn't square at all with the immense, intricately-detailed sets, and Rick Baker's very cool, very creepy graveyard denizens - both of which I've seen first hand on a tour of the set. So I questioned an Exec. Director over at Buena Vista Pictures marketing about the teaser.

"The HM "teaser trailer" you are referring to is in fact a home video piece that was NEVER meant to be viewed by the general public," he said. "We produced this material to target kids, and it is only being distributed on children's videos. You'll notice that piece is found [in various places on the web] in a downloadable format. In other words, we aren't hosting it. I would love it if you would let the fans know the real teaser trailer is coming soon. This piece was released long before any film had been shot."

By the way, the real teaser most likely will be enclosed with Pirates of the Caribbean on July 9th. It will be widely available online on that date, and there'll probably be a deal with aol or msn to premiere the trailer a day or two earlier via their online services.

Just passing on that bit of info...

-The Chef