Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Haunted Mansion photo op - Your Head Here

Last week the Haunted Mansion added something new to the exit area of the attraction: a photo op location, sized for children, to let visitors become a "living bust".

Alas, it was just a test, and by Wednesday it was gone again.

The reaction from many online fans had been positive, because the new element is designed to appeal to kids. They felt like they are "part" of the Mansion now. There are similar photo-op locations in other places, most notably the stockades in Liberty Square which invite you to put your hands and head into the holes as though you're a prisoner.

There are detractors, too, though, who point out a few things;

1. Stockades are fine and all, but they are real things from the real world and thus fitting for Liberty Square. Where in the real world are there headless busts there only for picture taking?

2. The busts and the inscriptions continue the "cartoony" tone set by the new queue at the entrance to the Mansion last year. Some purists object to the Mansion feeling fake and fun, when the usual (historical) way the Mansion unfolded, it was ominous and scary at first, and only later - at the very end of the ride - is it revealed to be cartoony rather than scary. Putting the fun elements into the preshow effectively alters the entire flow of the ride.

However, the new photo op occurred at the exit, so the ride was over, and thus there's no need to worry about the ride's "tone."

In general, I think the new photo op was a good thing. People are generally excited by "little stuff" like this, and I just don't see that it harmed much, while it did bring happiness to the folks who want to use it. Win-win, I thought.

In other news, this past weekend they also added this plaque outside the main doors of the Mansion (the Leota tombstone is to your left as you're looking at these doors):

The FastPass Plus machines remain, though they are covered up since the test is over. Once all the new stuff starts, we are likely to see no more "choice" in the fork in the road. Only the FastPass users will take the direct route, and everyone else will go through the extended queue.

Lastly, here are pictures of the Mansion interior "just because." Sometimes these things are hard to shoot!

Kevin Yee is the author of numerous independent Disney books, including the popular Walt Disney World Earbook series and Walt Disney World Hidden History.