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Disneyland Article
How The Haunted Mansion Will Change When Disneyland Reopens
Orange County Register
Brady Macdonald
The 999 ghosts that call Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion home have been busy redecorating the classic dark ride attraction and the grounds surrounding the estate while the mortals were away during the yearlong coronavirus closure of the Anaheim theme park.

Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion renovation brings new draperies, carpet, wallpaper and decor inside the attraction and fresh paint and plants on the exterior. The Haunted Mansion will return with the April 30 reopening of Disneyland following a yearlong COVID-19 closure.

The beloved New Orleans Square haunted house ride closed in January 2020 for scheduled refurbishments after the “The Nightmare Before Christmas” seasonal holiday overlay was removed. The COVID-19 pandemic closed Disneyland in March 2020.

The two-month Haunted Mansion project called for refreshing interiors and exteriors and refurbishing some attraction mechanics along with lighting and mechanical work inside the ride building. No major visual changes were expected to be made to the attraction.

The Haunted Mansion was one of a few classic Disneyland that were undergoing renovations when the pandemic closed the park. In Fantasyland, King Arthur Carrousel has been refreshed and Snow White’s Enchanted Wish has been reimagined and renamed. Both rides will return with the park on April 30.

The Jungle Cruise will not return with the park as the boat ride undergoes major storytelling updates to remove negative depictions of native people. The existing version of Splash Mountain will return when the park reopens — with the planned “Princess and the Frog” transformation happening at a later date.

The 999 ghosts that call the Haunted Mansion home had a little help from Disneyland art director Kim Irvine and the Anaheim-based Walt Disney Imagineering team that worked on the attraction’s renovations.

A changing portrait that may be familiar to longtime Haunted Mansion fans will be rejoining the portrait gallery between the elevator and load station in the attraction queue. The “April to December” portrait shows a lovely young woman age instantaneously.

A folding room partition now hides the ride load area, encouraging riders to notice the “April to December” changing portrait before boarding their doom buggy.

The new dynamic portrait, which uses modern technology, is based on original artwork by Disney Legend and Imagineer Marc Davis.

A new cat statue next to the “April to December” portrait is based on discarded Haunted Mansion concept art created by Disney Legend and Imagineer X Atencio. One eye of the cat statue will occasionally glow red.

Eagle-eyed Haunted Mansion fans will want to keep an eye out for a new floating wicker chair in the seance scene, a dollhouse that has been added to the attic scene along with a smattering of trinkets belonging to Constance the black widow bride, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Imagineer Michele Hobbs, who managed the Haunted Mansion refurbishment, told the Times that Disney has heard complaints that the hanging scene in the Haunted Mansion stretching elevator scene evokes imagery of suicides and lynchings. For now, the scene remains unchanged.

“It’s been discussed for sure,” Hobbs told the Times. “It’s definitely something that we’re thinking about.”

The outdoor pet cemetery will feature subtle planting enhancements designed to reinforce the storytelling taking place in the attraction’s outdoor queue.

A memorial for a frog named Old Flybait — his tombstone reads “He croaked” — is now surrounded by lily pads. A tombstone for a pet skunk named Stripey — “Your presence will always linger on” reads his memorial — will be surrounded by Society Garlic, a purple-flowered plant known for producing a skunky smell similar to marijuana. A monument to Rosie the pig is surrounded by roses while a cat tombstone is flanked by catnip.

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