The Unauthorized Story of Walt Disney’s Haunted Mansion, 2nd Edition by Jeff Baham
  Book Reviews    November 30, 2016     Eric Larkin

 

Seeing as you folks made our review of the 1st Edition of this book our most popular post ever, I figured I owed you a look at this freshly minted revision/expansion – yes, this haunted mansion book is actually stretching… 

This 2nd Edition includes more than 20 pages of new material, most notably: the return of the Hatbox Ghost, an expanded section on Haunted Mansion memorabilia and a detailed survey of the Nightmare Before Christmas Haunted Mansion Holiday overlay (so up-to-date, it even includes 2016’s brand new Sally figure).

But let’s linger a moment for you foolish mortals who have lagged behind…

Jeff Baham probably has the most comprehensive Haunted Mansion knowledge of any single person anywhere. For nearly 20 years, he’s had the fan central site Doombuggies.com (which right now looks endearingly old school, but is updating soon), and Disney has occasionally tapped him for insights and opinions on HM-related topics. He’s not an Imagineer or even in the theme park business; he’s just a superfan with a tempered obsession and an eye for detail. He’s the 1000th Happy Haunt. He’s the Ghost Host, in pre-rafters, corruptible, mortal state.

This impossibly dense but easy-reading history of everyone’s favorite (or maybe – Arrrrgh! – second favorite) Disney attraction reaches back into Walt’s childhood to speculate on the origins of his “haunted house” idea. It tracks its long, winding development – warts and all, with conflicting personalities and approaches. The original mechanisms & tricks and the technology & story updates are explored, with tons of interview clips and side-trips that fill in almost every conceivable question. The photos are black & white, which kinda sucks, but it’s the most legit Haunted Mansion book out there – and maybe even the best book about any single attraction. The thing with being unauthorized is that you do not have to hew to any company line. Not that there’s any actual dirt in this story, but still – you never get the sense he’s putting forth The Approved Image. This is especially nice when reading anything Disney-related. (Also see Richard Carradine’s The Park After Dark – about ghost stories from D-land.)

All of that was in the 1st Edition. Here en la édition deuxième, as the Phantom would say, you can learn, amongst other things, about the several versions of the Haunted Mansion Holiday score: pre-Elfman, post-Elfman. There’s a run-down of how much folks have paid at auction (scary amounts) for various ride artifacts, and which things you might want to put on your eBay Watch list. And yes, the Hatbox Ghost is finally back, after wandering the endless hallway for 46 years – but you already knew that, you Disney nerd you – did you know about the other lost Haunted Mansion character? I read the book, so I do.         I DO... 

I DOOO –

[whack]

 

For more of Baham’s shenanigans, check out Mousetalgia, and be humbled in your Disney nerddom by him and his friends.

If you’re a theme park design-type nerd,  check out the gang at the Seasonpass Podcast.

 

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