A few weeks ago, I was browsing the shops in New Orleans Square when I spotted a book I had never seen before. The Haunted Mansion: Imagineering A Disney Classic features the mansion and our three favorite hitchhiking ghosts on the cover. It took me maybe two seconds of flipping through the pages to know I had to buy it. And now that I’ve finished it, I can give a full review!
This book has two distinct sections. The first half details the initial development of the attraction, from concepts to construction. You’ll get to see SO many concept art images and construction photos, and learn all about the internal conflict behind the scenes throughout the design process.
The second half of the book talks through all of the different Haunted Mansions throughout the Disney parks. You’ll learn why each looks the way it does from the outside, and how the mansions blend into their respective lands. Then, the book takes you room by room, explaining the spaces in great detail and highlighting differences between each mansion.
In between, you’ll also get details about ride mechanics (like the Doom Buggies), learn more about the holiday overlays (in Disneyland and Tokyo Disneyland), and see detailed photos of the various parts of the mansion. Imagineering A Disney Classic doesn’t just tell you the story of the mansion; it invites you in for a grand tour of every room and corridor.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
From the book sleeve:
Jason Surrell is an author, screenwriter, creative director, and former senior show writer for Walt Disney Imagineering. His credits include Star Tours – The Adventures Continue; New Fantasyland at the Magic Kingdom; the Marvel areas at Disneyland’s Innoventions (Iron Man Tech, Thor: Treasures of Asgard, and Captain America: The Living Legend and Symbol of Courage); Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor; Raiders of the Lost Jedi Temple of Doom: A Fan Film of Epic Proportions at Disney’s Hollywood Studios; Symphony in the Stars: A Star Wars Fireworks Spectacular; Star Wars Weekends; The Great Movie Ride; Walt Disney: One Man’s Dream; The Magic of Disney Animation; show concepts and ship names for the Disney Dream and the Disney Fantasy; the long-term creative visioning and master planning of Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Disney Springs; and the recent enhancements to the Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean at both Disneyland and Walt Disney World.
I absolutely love this book! The Haunted Mansion’s origin story is quite complicated, and this book does a great job of breaking down all the different conflicting ideas and how they ultimately shaped the design of the mansion tour. I also found it fascinating how the mansion has been tailored to fit seamlessly in different lands across the various parks.
My favorite part of the book is the room by room walkthrough. Even if you’ve been on this ride a hundred times, you’ll probably still spot something new in the photos, or find out some new trivia about visual tricks or theming. It’s also cool to read about how each room is slightly different from park to park, since you’d assume that all the mansions are largely the same (but not quite!).
If you’re at all into the Haunted Mansion, you should definitely read The Haunted Mansion: Imagineering A Disney Classic. It’s not too long (132 pages), and includes tons of images, so it doesn’t take too long to read. It’s a must for foolish mortals and happy haunts alike.