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Disneyland Article
She Decorated Her Husband Home Office To Look Like Haunted Mansion

Haunted Mansion
Orange County Register
Marla Jo Fisher
January 11, 2019
January 19, 2019
Anyone who's ever been inside the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland might feel a sense of dejà vu when they walk inside Michael Collins' home office in Valencia.

That's because his wife, Donna, decorated it as a tribute to the Haunted Mansion ride, using artifacts she'd been collecting for 20 years. He went out of town for five days, and she completed the transformation as a surprise while he was gone.

Donna Collins' grandparents lived in Burbank and she remembers visiting the park from a young age. A lifelong Disney fan, she and her husband both particularly love the New Orleans Square district, with its vintage feel and classic rides such as Pirates of the Caribbean and the Haunted Mansion.

It's been nearly 20 years since she first bought prints on eBay of the famous stretching scenes that visitors see as they descend in the mansion's elevator, and, finally, after two moves, she had them unrolled and mounted on her walls, framed with period molding that matches the theme of the ride.

With only five days to complete the transformation from a 10-by-13 room that she described as a "beige box," she spent two days simply painting the ceiling, sponging Ralph Lauren metallic paint onto the molding, and then pale peach paint to reflect light and be easy on her husband's eyes while he used the computer.

Diligent research online led her to find Victorian floral wallpaper that matched the motif in the mansion's foyer on the Bradbury & Bradbury Art Wallpapers site, and she used that to set the scene.

Working quickly, she had an expert come in and install decorative molding on the walls and ceiling similar to the Victorian style ones found in the mansion, and hung a crystal chandelier she'd found that would provide enough light for her real estate appraiser husband to do his work.

She'd already scoured online auction sites for Haunted Mansion memorabilia, and is perhaps most proud of the tassels she acquired that were actually used there, thanks to a Disneyland employee who bought them for her at Company D, the employee store. Disneyland was refreshing the storm windows in the hallway along the walkway to board the Doom Buggies, and after replacing them, put them up for sale. Her friend saw them and gave them to her for her 50th birthday.

At a garage sale, she found an antique buffet and matching mirror with a tassel motif. Although the mirror's silver was damaged, she used a trick that Disney Imagineers also used - she added a spider-and-web decal over the damage, like one in the mansion's ballroom.

Getting creative, she used a bat wine bottle stopper as a curtain finial, and she also embroidered her own sampler to hang on the wall. It says "Tomb Sweet Tomb."

For their 24th wedding anniversary, Collins gave her husband a statuette of a Victorian bride and groom - with a headless groom - that had been made by a Disney fan. It matches the altered wedding photo she also had made that is on his desk.

Now age 53, she said she first visited the park at age 2, while growing up in Santa Clarita. She has original 8-millimeter film that her grandfather shot of Disneyland in 1961 - four years before she was born. The room was featured in a 2017 documentary called "Foolish Mortals" that focused on the eccentric fan culture that has sprung up around the Haunted Mansion.

Her husband loves the room. Her kids think she's a little over-the-top, but she doesn't really care.

"This is my thing," she said. Now, there are all those Pirates of the Caribbean mementos to worry about
Attractions Referenced

Haunted Mansion

Pirates Of The Caribbean

Lands Referenced

New Orleans Square

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