a haunting from the sixties


I am very surprised to be a finalist for Singapore Blog Awards 2013. Being chosen for the Lifestyle category was a greater surprise. Finalists are to write a blog post on something about or someone from the 60s that inspires them. There are just too many possible topics and perspectives for this themed challenge – a personality or famous figure from the 60s, something about the 60s lifestyle, something from the 60s, and the list goes on.

Cover Photo: Artwork of the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland (© Disney)

Dejiki.com has always been a niche blog, covering themed attractions and other things I am (or was) interested in along the way. I blog for leisure and don’t expect to win any award. I am totally happy if my Singapore Blog Awards 2013 journey ended with just the finalist title. I am (still) very flattered, to be honest, but I can’t see myself asking family, friends and readers to vote for me every day. Neither can I write something for the sake of writing, especially topics which I do not have a fierce passion for. 1960s is obviously the most significant era for Singapore, but I’m not the right person to tell the tale. Well, I thought of writing about something close to my heart and relevant to my website. So the entry for the themed challenge will be all about The Haunted Mansion.

Yes, it might seem silly to write about a haunted house (or more accurately, an attraction designed to be like a haunted house) but the Haunted Mansion has influenced how Dejiki.com was developed.

The Haunted Mansion, 1969 (© Disney)

Quick Facts: The Haunted Mansion

The Haunted Mansion is an attraction at several Disney parks around the world. The first Mansion was built at Disneyland Park (Anaheim) and it opened in 1969. It was a project that took 15 years before it saw the light of day (Walt Disney worked on this project but he passed away years before the ride opened). Initially designed as a haunted house walkthrough attraction, the Haunted Mansion became an indoor dark-ride (with a short but memorable walkthrough pre-show of about two rooms and a corridor before the actual ride).

There are a total of three Haunted Mansion attractions in the world: Disneyland, Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World and Tokyo Disneyland. A spin-off attraction, Phantom Manor haunts Disneyland Paris. It is a close kin to the other Haunted Mansions, with the same ride technology and similar effects, but takes a different form of narrative and artistic direction. I enjoy the dramatic and somber orchestral music from the Phantom Manor, which highlights the Manor’s uniquely tragic storyline and the emotional shadow that engulfs the rooms within.

Mystic Manor at Hong Kong Disneyland is also considered a “Haunted Mansion” by some theme park enthusiasts, but I disagree. It deserves to stand on its own and remain as an exclusive experience within Mystic Point at Hong Kong. Mystic Manor is heavily inspired by the other Haunted Mansion attractions and even have some subtle nods to the Haunted Mansion and Tower of Terror (Tokyo DisneySea).

It is unclear if another Haunted Mansion (or spin-off attraction) will be built at Shanghai Disneyland. Unfortunately, the park’s blueprints and released information so far suggest that it will not have a Haunted Mansion when the park opens in 2016.

The Haunted Mansion (© Disney)

Foreboding Influence

I started learning about the Haunted Mansion more than 10 years ago, months before a family vacation to Japan. Tokyo Disneyland was our last stop for that trip. Tokyo DisneySea was still under construction – but the Mansion wasn’t there, anyway. The happiest day (of the trip) finally came, but I learned at the park gates that The Haunted Mansion was closed.

Back in those days, the web wasn’t as pervasive – so ride closure information wasn’t available online (or I simply had no idea then). I remember spending the day at Tokyo Disneyland distracted – especially while walking past the Mansion’s entrance.

So when I came back, I started going over the web. I went to read up about the ride. I found almost every video and audio file back then, even going to obscure file-servers on IRC channels. There wasn’t YouTube in the early 2000s, so video and audio files were not as easy to find as today. Good thing the ride had (and still has) a strong following. A lot of cast members and theme park enthusiasts visit the Mansion often to capture all of its rich details – photos, sound effects and audio loops. Many of them had websites running – all full of media files for any Mansion fan.

Over the years, I have learned a lot about the Mansion: The history of its development. The artists, designers and engineers. The stories that are and stories that were. The effects that were removed. The lyrics of Grim Grinning Ghosts. The story and concept of each scene. The layout of the show building. “Do not pull down on the safety bar, please”. Every effect used in the Mansion. How they work. Differences between this Mansion and that. Haunted Mansion Holiday overlay.

I had the opportunity to visit the Haunted Mansion in Tokyo Disneyland again (and thank goodness, it was open). I sat through the entire ride, knowing the experience from a tediously-curated library of texts and rich media. To be more accurate: low-res, dimly-lit videos and photos. It wasn’t ideal – akin to watching a magic show knowing how everything works – but theprior knowledge of the Mansion gave a rare and deep appreciation for its creators, and also, creators of the fansites. I was also able to enjoy all that the Mansion has to offer, since every small detail could no longer be missed. When I came back, I could flip through my bookmarks and visit my list of websites – virtually revisiting the experience again.

When I decided to start a (proper) blog back in 2011, it was influenced by my experience of vicariously touring the Haunted Mansion(s). Having a major theme park (and other notable attractions) in Singapore and nearby countries meant that I could do the same thing – offering readers from anywhere a piece of the experience. I decided to blog about the parks, attractions and events, with great detail and a lot of photos, so that readers may virtually walk through (to some extent) rides and exhibitions. And even I do that very often – I keep up to date with the latest attractions thanks to the vast online communities – churning out trip reports and high-definition Point-of-View (POV) videos which are very easy to find and share today.

Even in an era where air travel is becoming much more affordable (to some destinations), we can’t always drop our lives and go to places. We don’t have time to travel everywhere and do every single thing we want. Online media will not substitute being at a place or event – but until we are where we want to be, it is the next best thing.

On a side note…
Needless to say, my exposure to the Haunted Mansion in my teen years has developed into a penchant for horror-themed entertainment – be it themed attractions or video-games. This is why I enjoy Halloween Horror Nights (and basically, all Halloween scare events) so much. And of course, I’ve grown fond for all sorts of theme parks.

And that is how The Haunted Mansion, a theme park attraction from the 1960s, has greatly influenced the way I write on Dejiki.com.

The Haunted Mansion at Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World (© Disney)

Hurry back…

Here are some of my favourite websites (then and now!) to read, watch and hear about the Haunted Mansion and Phantom Manor attractions. SPOILER WARNING! The sites are filled with detailed information that will unveil the Mansion’s secrets.

The definitive Haunted Mansion tribute site, featuring a lot of media (and secrets revealed!)

A very immersive Phantom Manor tribute site.

Haunted Dimensions
Features 3D models (digital and paper kits) of the Haunted Mansion and Phantom Manor

Not really a Haunted Mansion fan website, but this site has a lot of flash games that lets you play “ride simulations” – that is, to control and manage rides as if you were a park castmember. Phantom Manor is available here.

Note: This entry is written for the finalists’ themed challenge for the Singapore Blog Awards 2013 – Nanyang Optical Best Lifestyle Blog.

Haunted Mansion artwork and photographs © Disney
Phantom Manor photograph © Disney

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3 Responses to a haunting from the sixties

  1. Hilary Leighter June 9, 2013 at 5:08 pm #

    Hi Nicholas

    Very best of luck to win the Award! I love your Dejiki posts – you are the only blogger I subscribe to.


  2. weekiat June 10, 2013 at 8:54 am #

    congrat nicholas! I enjoy your posts very much and good luck for the award. =)

  3. Michael Lau June 13, 2013 at 2:58 pm #

    Same here… the haunted mansion was my favourite ride as I love the music, animatronics and special effects or illusions used… thats also why I started with spooky stuffs and slowly I begin to like Halloween events… Anyway congratulations, continue with the engaging and interesting posts.

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