Monday, October 25, 2021

A Haunted Mansion Assortment

I don't have a much Halloween-related stuff handy for you this year. Luckily, the Dream Team (Irene, Bruce, and James) too some photos inside the Haunted Mansion. Yes, they used a flash, and that meant that hitchhiking ghosts followed them home, but at least we got some rad pictures.

First up is one of those cool mummified arm candleholders (torch holder?). The idea recalls Jean Cocteau's "Beauty and the Beast", the wonderful 1946 fantasy film. I'm unclear about what part of the ride you'd see this particular torch is seen, but the crypt opening (?) seems to have tree roots poking through from above.

Here's a scene from Beauty and the Beast.

Somebody was a fan of "Little Leota", the mournful (and tiny!) woman who encourages you to "Hurry baaaack!" as you are exiting the ride. As a kid this was one of my favorite things, and the wind rustling her clothing added a subtle detail that sold it.

At some point, I wondered if she was really supposed to be 18 inches tall, or if we were supposed to think that she was far away. But the fact that the bricks behind her are 1/1 scale pretty much answers that.

Of course the flash washed out the projected face of Leota Toombs (also the face of Madam Leota), revealing the featureless doll that was used. But the photos are still interesting!

And here's a shot of the exit sign as guests emerged from the crypt. I don't see many photos of this feature, and the little ghosties remind me of some of the concept art that I've seen from the Mansion.

MANY THANKS to the Dream Team!


TokyoMagic! said...

That first pic was taken just as guests exit their vehicles, but before they step onto the "speed ramp."

Fun HM pics, today! Thanks Major and the Dream Team!

- Tokyo Mutilator!

JB said...

Wow, these really are some interesting and unusual pictures. And we haven't seen very many from the interior of the Haunted Mansion (I don't recall seeing any here at GDB, off hand).

When I went through the HM, I too, wondered why Little Leota was so small. I enjoyed the effect but what's with the teeny tiny size? Then again, she's a ghost, and I suppose there are no size restrictions for ghosts.

Major, I saw the Cocteau film many years ago and about all I can remember is the scene you showed here; the hallway with the arms holding the candleholders. I recall that the arms moved to follow passers-by as they walked through the hall.

Thanks to Irene, Bruce, and James, and Major for some rare photos today.

- Juicy Braaains (An all-you-can-eat zombie feast!) (I know I've used "juicy" and "brains" before but I don't think I've used them together.)

K. Martinez said...

The first pic is my favorite.

Jean Cocteau’s Beauty and the Beast (pictured here) is a wonderful film.

I can see the Italian cypress trees from the old Tomorrowland entrance.

Thanks, Dream Team!

Killer Martinez OMG! They killed Kenny!


Major: I too remember during my early visits to the Haunted Mansion if “Little Leota” was suppose to be really little or or far away. I love histories of haunting and ghost investigations, and I’ve heard of apparitions appearing partially materialized or just body sections , but I don’t think I’ve ever heard of a documented appearance of a spirit in a smaller scale....,

And I’ve never seen a real 1840’s abandoned mansion with a SPEEEDRAMP in it either!!!

I know the collector who has that exit sign!! — At least the oval dished Insert!!

Thank you for sharing these images!!

Nanook said...

What a treat to see these unusual images - especially the first one.

Thanks to the Dream Team

Bu said...

Love the spooky creepy arm! I thought that someone had reproduced this as merchandise...but it looked kind of shiny and "fauxcollectible" to me...perhaps it just needed dust and spiderwebs. We were schooled to say that so much dust has been sprinkled over the Haunted Mansion over time that it would actually bury the attraction. Love them stories! Little Leota is one of the highlights of the ride. The Bear Country ice cream wagon was directly across from the exit so I would often hear "hurry baa aack" "Make sure you bring your...death...certificate...." for hours on end. That coupled with the bear snoring from the cave. You could hear it more clearly when closing time was approaching and less bodies (the live ones) were around. I'm not sure why you would have to change out that exit sign..looks perfectly fine to me. I'm not sure if I read on here or somewhere else that an upstairs room of the Haunted Mansion is where Donny Osmond got his "required" amount of school time in when they were filming that TV show with Kurt Russell et. al. I never got around to snooping around the Haunted Mansion- but there was a walkway that went from the ride load to the ride unload...there was a bathroom there or something (?)...I very vaguely remember it- maybe someone can chime in. I've never seen any of the holiday overlays they seem that they would detract, not enhance...but so many people love that what do I know!

Stu29573 said...

At first I thought I had accidently clicked on Long Forgotten! It seems that the Dream Team only took flash pictures after they actually exited their Doom Buggy, so I'm saying that doesn't break the rules. So there!
I read somewhere (probably from HBG2 over at Long Forgotten) that Little Leota could be a nod to the fairies and nature spirits of European folk-lore. As you know, they tended to not be the cute little harmless tricksters that we now regard them as, but rather pretty darn dangerous and terrifying! They also tended to be rather small.
It seems as good a theory as any.
In practical terms, I think she filled a need to creep up the exit a bit more, but in a very restricted space. Very effective!
By the way, originally she wasn't a bride, but more a ghost hostess. She seems to have shifted now to matrimonial leanings. The hostess makes more sense, especially considering her spiel.
Thanks, Dream Team!

Scary Terrifying Undead and "29573"...that came up on a Ouija Board!

Anonymous said...

Of all the years working West Side...I never worked Mansion. Except one time when I found myself scheduled there for a weekend. So I dutifully changed costumes and dressed in the Mansion outfit. When I walked over, I had to ask where the back office was. When I walked in the office the foreman said he never knew I was trained on the attraction. I told him I wasn't! After a quick call by him over to supervision, I was sent back to Wardrobe and finished my shift on the JC. Fortunately no reprimand. I probably would have been sent to the 'Shooting Gallery purgatory' if it had been open! LOL KS

Major Pepperidge said...

TokyoMagic!, thanks for the info about the first pic!

JB, I’d hoped for more HM photos in this batch, I guess Bruce or James really liked Little Leota though! I’ve posted only one or two interior HM photos in 15+ years, most vintage attempts came out too dark or blurry. I liked that Little Leota was small, it was a cool concept, and the fact that we were moving past her on the speedramp would destroy any illusion of her being far away I guess (that and the fact that we have stereo vision). It’s been years since I’ve seen the Cocteau film, but I remember thinking that it was really amazing.

K. Martinez, yes, I think the first one is my favorite too. I wish I had more HM photos! Are the cypresses near the crypt exit former Tomorrowland cypresses??

Mike Cozart, I am also interested in reports of ghost sightings, although I admit that I am not much of a believer in ghosts. Much like Bigfoot or the Loch Ness Monster, I want to believe! That 1840s speedramp is just like the kind that Lincoln used when he was a child. You can tell ME who the collector is, it will just be our little secret!

Nanook, I figured I needed to share at least *something* spooky for late October!

Bu, I know that various artifacts from the HM have been sold as merchandise, and I think you might be right about the arm/sconce. I’d be fascinated to know the thinking behind Little Leota… clearly they wanted one last illusion or gag before guests left the ride, I wonder if there were other equally weird ideas. Wow, I don’t think I ever noticed hearing Leota outside the ride, but maybe if the conditions were just right. I’ve seen props from the park in auctions that looked perfectly fine, I’ve always wondered why they didn’t keep using them. Maybe there was some minor change that isn’t apparent to us mere mortals. I used to know somebody who told me about his time working behind the scenes on both “Pirates” and the Mansion, I was so jealous.

Stu29573, I like seeing old photos of dark rides, so I guess I can’t complain too much when I find pictures where the flash was used. What drove me crazy on the HM is when people would wear glow necklaces and all of those light-up doo-dads at night - they would all reflect in the glass of the ballroom, which kind of spoiled the illusion. I also wish people could stay off their phones for three minutes while in the stretching room! Thanks for the tidbit about Little Leota being a nod to fairies and nature spirits, I think I have read every article on “Long Forgotten”, but somehow I forgot that. There’s too much info! Ha ha. With her veils and bouquet, she sure looks like a bride, but you’re right, that doesn’t make much sense in that situation.

KS, I don’t understand why you would have been reprimanded, you were just doing what they told you to do! It’s not like you just wandered in to the Mansion on your own without permission. I’m on YOUR side!

Irene said...

I know I was fascinated by Little Leota, not sure about Bruce or James. By the way, I never went to the Park with them as that was a guys trip and little sisters were probably not welcome (even though by the dates the photos were taken I was in my late 30's or early 40's) LOL

For some reason I do not remember that arm/sconce. Perhaps I was too busy looking at where I was going so I wouldn't trip getting out of the buggy or fall down on the moving sidewalk!

Great photos you chose to share today. Happy Halloween. I'm hoping we see vintage kids in vintage Halloween costumes this weekend!!!

Kathy! said...

Photos of my favorite attraction on GDB; these are rarer than ghosts’ teeth! I agree that we can forgive flash photos being taken on the way out. I like LL’s lavender rose bouquet and ribbon. Thank you Dream Team and Major for some spooky fun.


The look and the tone/sound of “little Leotta” is almost a direct lift of the funeral hostesses at the Whispering Glade Cemetery in the 1965 dark comedy THE LOVED ONE (1965) one of my favorite films of all time. Even some of the narration is directly lifted from those film hostesses “ hurry back if you should decide to join us....” The film is a must see! With Rod Steiger as Joy Boy .... Los Angeles top mortuary make up artist and Liberace as a casket salesman! Tons of other celebrity appearances too. The film was a expose on the insane business practices and theme-park like operations of the real-life FOREST LAWN CEMETERY - who tried to sue the films producers and where furious as everyone knew EXACTLY that “whispering glade” was suppose to be Mega-Corporation Forrest Lawn. The movie was supposedly born in retaliation after its creator was denied burial service because they were Jewish - a scene that is also in the film.

There’s nods to Disneyland in the film as well with themed viewing chapels and themed gardens and burial areas complete with a computerized central control center monitoring music, lighting, doors for weddings, funerals and tours!
Johnathan Winters plays double characters ;the powerful business owner of the giant cemetery as well As his less successful twin brother who manages a cheap pet cemetery secretly owned by the mega cemetery company.


Correction: the film’s creators RELATIVE was denied burial at Forrest Lawn ...

Animator /Imagineer admitted that the little Leotta was inspired by the cemetery sales hostesses in the film THE LOVED ONE.

Stu29573 said...

You're right, Mike!
Also, if you look at the Colin Campbell illustration of the Caretaker and cemetery gates, there is a name plate on the right column. Although the writing has been pretty much erased, enough remains where you can just about make out "Whispering Glades Cemetery." Just about...but not quite. Is it a coincidence? I don't think so!

JG said...

Wow, Major! Thanks to you and the Dream Team for bringing these to the internet, which is forever (unless you stop paying your bill).

Sorry I am late, busy Monday.

Little Leota is definitely a strange manifestation. and a perfect ending to the ride. As Stu noted, she was not originally a bride, or ever explicitly connected with Leota Senior, or any narrative at all. The figure's dress has gone through evolution over the years to connect her more definitively to other features in the attraction. I think this is a mistake, but whatever. They didn't ask me, although they should have.

Long Forgotten has the definitive exposition on the figure, but there are a couple points that would be worth repeating here.

Her size is reflective of both great distance, and diminutive stature, simultaneously and alternately, as you choose to perceive her.

There is an unplumbed infinite dark chasm between her and our moving viewpoint on Lincoln's speedramp, c.f. Luke 16:19–31, the story of the beggar and the rich man, which describes the vast gulf between heaven and the Other Place, "afar off" and a "great gulf fixed", so she could be in either place (depending on our destination, which makes you think!)...

..or both at the same time, and distance makes her smaller, or...

she is not a ghost at all, but a spirit of wisdom like the Sybil of Cumae, a mortal who wished for immortality, and was granted it, but forgot to ask also for eternal youth, doomed by Apollo for her temerity to spend eternity in withered old age, reduced to the size of a homunculus and imprisoned in a bottle for the sport of the wanton boys... her fate is recorded in the Satyricon of Petronius >>

"Nam Sibyllam quidem Cumis ego ipse oculis meis vidi in ampulla pendere, et cum illi pueri dicerent: Sibylla ti theleis; respondebat illa: apothanein thelo."

"I have seen with my own eyes the Sibyl hanging in a jar, and when the boys asked her ? What do you want?? She answered, "I want to die".

Petronius, Satyricon

The ambiguity of the original character with potential connection to so many rich veins of myth and legend which may or may not be intentional seems to me far superior to trying nail down "this is a young Leota" or "this is the bride from the attic", etc. Ambiguity helps us write our own (potentially terrifying) story to the Mansion, while a script just helps sell merch. But that's just me.

Sorry to rattle on so...


Stu29573 said...

You're right, JG. I've always said the only people that benefit from "backstories" are the folks in merchandising. I'm a member of a couple of Haunted Mansion groups on FB and it both amuses and saddens me when they get all excited talking about what is or isn't "canon" to the ride. If I respond at all, it is to point out that 1.Master Gracie isn't the master of the house, and, in fact X regretted making that stone. The Ghost host is the hatchet man, NOT the aging portrait in the foyer at WDW. 3. The only ghost that has a name is Madam Leota. (with the possible exception of Caesar) The rest is bunk and hokum.
There, I said it!

JG said...

Stu, the only part of the Mansion that rattled me as a kid, and still does today, is that little figure at the end.

It's all fun and games up to that point, and then, I begin to think about what she says... ...and the escalator ride is very very long then, somehow.


Bu said...

Oddly enough...or not oddly...if you were scheduled for something that you weren't trained for it was YOUR responsibility to let the scheduler know of the mistake, and did get reprimanded if you just showed up for something- even if you had nothing to do with it. I got severely reprimanded once for working ONE hour of overtime, because I was scheduled for it and I should have let the scheduler know I had more than forty hours of work. The scheduler was not penalized or even spoken to. I was told to stop counting money, that a lead (foreman) would take over and I was to leave right away as not to incur even a tiny moment more of OT. Things were hard core back then, and employees were held accountable in a different way than today's rules and regulations. They see it as all that time to change costumes, blah blah blah. KS was lucky he didn't get a bigger hand slap, or more. I'm thinking that was the late 70's when the term "foreman" was used. It later changed to "lead" since females were also "foreman". "Working Lead" was used in 1980, however....everyone was still saying "foreman" for a loooong time afterwards. This was before employees were more commonly referred to as "Cast Members", even though that term was used in employee (cast member) publications, etc. I think guests say "Cast Members" now too...which is totally odd sounding to me. I think I've gone down this street before.

Anonymous said...

It took place probably around 1975. And, yes indeed, I should have mentioned the assignment to the scheduler in advance. But I was secretly hoping to get trained as a result when I showed up. I had PPT-C status and thought I'd give it a try. As for the term 'Cast Member', we called ourselves ROs...or Ride in Ride Operations or just plain Operations. That meant you worked Attractions. KS

Major Pepperidge said...

Irene, funny, I probably would have taken my little sister, but we were both “middle kids”, so maybe we were closer than some siblings. I always thought I was the ideal older brother, but she claims that I was a brat to her sometimes! I do have one good vintage Halloween photo, and Sue has contributed some others from one of Lou’s office parties.

Kathy!, the weird thing is that I never even tried to take photos in the dark rides. I don’t remember if I just didn’t want to ruin the “magic” for everyone, or if I was just too engrossed by the attractions.

Mike Cozart, interesting, I’m not aware of “The Loved One”, though it must have been mentioned on the “Long Forgotten” blog? It sounds fascinating. Liberace, for gosh sakes! Automatic A+! It must be a wild movie, or at least that is what my impression is, based on what you’ve described so far. It’s always amusing to see a thinly-veiled reference to Disneyland in movies, especially from that era. It shows how much it had permeated the culture (or zeitgeist?).

Mike Cozart, Mr. Long Forgotten has pointed out several movie inspirations used at the HM, so I’m not surprised that The Loved One is yet another.

Stu29573, Wow, what an interesting detail! It CAN’T be a coincidence, that’s just too spot-on.

JG, Leota Toombs did the face/voice of “Little Leota”, otherwise I doubt there’d be a connection. It’s interesting to imagine what fans would have made of her if she’d been performed by somebody else. Sandy Duncan? Whoa, that analysis gets pretty heavy. Sybil of Cumae?!? Luke 16:19-31? Even a quote in Latin? BTW, I have always loved the word “homonculus”, it’s a good one that I don’t have many occasions to use. I agree, the ambiguity of “Little Leota”, and the rest of the mansion, is what made for so much speculating by fans. I absolutely hate it when the company tells us “Here is the story behind that character!”. Once the mystery is gone, it becomes uninteresting. But they never learn, do they?

Stu29573, I used to love reading people’s theories and stories on Disney park forums, they could sometimes really go off the rails. Some folks called them “tinfoil hat theories”, which I liked. I learned long ago that it was pointless to engage on those forums, people get angry, and you know… life’s too short. Master Gracey was merely a tribute to Yale Gracey (as you know), so weird that people took that and ran with it.

JG, hmmm, I think that for me, the beginning of the ride was the part that spooked me the most. Much suggestion, without a lot of actual ghosts (though there are some of course). I’ve read that that half of the ride is credited largely to Claude Coates, while the second half (with so many animatronics) is the Marc Davis half.

Bu, it seems very weird to me that the cast member would be the one who was reprimanded. Why not the supervisor (or whoever) who assigned the person erroneously? Don’t take it out on the person with no power. Funny that they were so hardcore about OT, but I’ve read similar stories before. We’ve all been trained to say “cast members” now, it’s just become the phrase that we have heard a million times.

KS, I’d like to believe that if an employee had an otherwise solid record, that they wouldn’t need to be reprimanded for something that seems so insignificant. To me, anyway, maybe I’m not seeing the bigger picture. Could you have requested to be trained for the Mansion?


Yes... LONG FORGOTTEN did confirm my mention of THE LOVED ONE inspiring some elements of The Haunted Mansion .... and Disneyland inspiring some of the movie THE LOVED ONE. He also added a clip of the movie’s Cemetery Hostesses and featured some of the movie dialogue Disney almost copied verbatim!

The bride was a great character in the original Haunted Mansion when we knew almost nothing about her.... why she was there and The mystery of why her spirit was in the Mansion was a greater show element than the millions of dollars spent creating a massive overdone - over written bloated story of the “hatchet bride” ..... the early Imagineers understood the power of simplicity and refinement ..... and mystery : later imagineers are often untrained in technique and you end up getting cliche imagery like the bride over-coated attic or scary Skelton zombie “miniature golf” pirate displays or oddly ( and merchandise sales desperate) placed pirate overlays on things like Tom Sawyer Island .

Well THERE! I said it!

Stu29573 said...


"Lou and Sue" said...

Hey, is that a little fan to our left of Little Leota - seen best in the 4th picture? So that's what makes her gown blow in the breeze. (I also see a used tube of toothpaste, or something.)

Has Disney ever made a doll of her, with the voice recordings?? I think it would be a huge seller.

Little Leota definitely leaves you with the 'willies' as you exit. What a perfect ending.

Thank you Irene and the Dream Team, and Major, too. Love all the comments and info, also.

JG said...

Major, I’m sorry for the dissertation and complex quotes. After being jarred a bit by Little Leota as a kid, I encountered the story of the Sibyl in later reading and their similarity (to me at least) was so striking, I spent hours translating that passage myself, before auto translate and the internet to see what the Sibyl was saying. It just made a huge impression on both “kid me” and “adult me” that I was sure there was a back story to the Haunted Mansion homunculus that had nothing to do with the modern groping for a consistent narrative that literally no one wants.

She is there, based on ancient archetypes, as a final gesture of the original imagineers, meant to stir fears we didn’t know we had, not to sell tee shirts, key rings, plush toys, or coffee mugs.

Sue, yes the mechanism visible in the flash is either the fan or the projector, but I think the projector is lower down in the Unbridgeable Gulf.

Bu, KS, love the recollections, thank you.

Thanks for letting me drivel on. I love this post.


HBG2 said...

Since the question has come up in the discussion here, yes, there is plenty of ghost-lore precedent for Little Leota sized apparitions. They're usually fairies, but fairies are themselves often regarded as a specie of ghosts, and they often look very much like LL. For those interested, I've collected several examples in my "Little Leota" post at LF:

Major Pepperidge said...

Mike Cozart, well, I have no choice but to go back and read every post on “Long Forgotten” again! Almost as much fun as rereading issues of “The E-Ticket” magazine. I completely agree with you regarding the “new improved” story of the bride; I really do feel like the newer guys DO NOT get what makes the Mansion intriguing. “Let’s tell them a detailed back story!”. I think Tony B. has been guilty of this as well, look at that dumb “history” of Rainbow Ridge. It adds nothing to the experience for guests, in my opinion.

Stu29573, ditto!

Lou and Sue, jeez, I would have never guessed that that thing was a fan, but I am sure you are right! I’m looking for the used tube of toothpaste, where is it? SPOOKY! I am unaware of any Little Leota merchandise, but then again, I don’t really follow new merch. I like the old stuff ($$$$). It’s surprising how effective the Little Leota effect is, with the projected face, and “secondary animation” provided by the wind on the clothing. Brilliantly simple.

JG, no need to apologize! I was just overwhelmed by all the fancy references. Are you telling me that you translated Latin?? If so, holy moly. I barely deal with one language. Those ancient archetypes stay with us for a reason - they seep into people’s thoughts and souls, generation after generation. It’s pretty neat!

HBG2, thank you for the link, I will be sure to go to the link tomorrow (when I’m not so tired) and get reacquainted with the lore of Little Leota.

Omnispace said...

Best to get this comment in before the clock strikes midnight - and I don't mean that in a Cinderella kind of way...

I love everyone's comments on these photos, including ops discussions, and ancient Latin stories related to Little Leota. I think what makes her such a popular character in the attraction is that she is placed so close to the Speedramp that guests can have a very intimate experience with her. Her diminutive size makes her more a curiosity than a scary ghost. Also, the effects for her are so simple and perfect that even though she is very close, she's also appears very otherworldly and distant.

Scariest part of the ride for me as a kid in 1969: the ending of the Stretching Room scene. Obviously it was much more terrifying then than it is considered to be now. ;)

Anonymous said...

Major...yes, I could. But it was based on needs most of the time. I did pretty well with everything else so I couldn't complain one bit. Had a good record...had one discussion with supervision on an item but I did fine with them...especially with a sunken skiff in the JC and a Canoe in the River!! KS