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Sunday, September 07, 2008

Marty Sklar on the Haunted Mansion, 1964

Martin Sklar, currently Vice Chairman of Imagineering, has been with the Walt Disney Company since Disneyland opened in 1955. In the '60s, he was tapped by Walt to be a writer for WED Enterprises (among other responsibilities).

Sklar wrote an oft-updated manuscript for a Disneyland history book that was published back in 1964 which contained a preview of the soon-to-be-unveiled "Old New Orleans," or New Orleans Square. In this manuscript, Sklar describes the upcoming Haunted Mansion attraction:

"Nearby, overlooking the Rivers of America in Frontierland, the facade of an old southern-style plantation house has already been completed. It will be occupied several years hence. No frontier setting would be complete without its ghosts of another day. Disneyland's will not live in a ghost town; they will occupy a deluxe haunted mansion (sic).

"Here, the lonely ghost who seeks the companionship of 1,001 restless spirits can live in a domain of illusion and imagination. There will be spine-tingling built-ins that are sure to provide new life for even the most sagging spirits: fresh cobwebs daily, wall-to-wall creaking floors, stereophonic screams, cold drafts and midnight lighting all day long - plus an endless supply of guests on whom the inventive spooks can practice individual talents, from simple scares to supernatural shockers!"

Interestingly, when the book is revised for 1965, much of the language is altered to match some of the new effects created by Marc Davis (and shown on the Wonderful World of Disney Tencennial episode):

"Nearby, overlooking the Frontierland river, an old southern-style plantation house has already been completed, and it will soon be occupied by the world's greatest collection of - ghosts. No frontier setting is complete without its ghosts of another day; Disneyland's will live not in a ghost town, but in this deluxe Haunted Mansion.

"Filled with 1,001 illusions, this haven for restless spirits will cater to the mythological and to the metaphysical. Marble busts will talk. Ordinary-appearing portraits will dissolve into werewolves and evil beasts. Ghosts will move through solid walls. A museum will display weird statues, moving furniture and surprising mirrors."



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