Monday, August 20, 2012

Between Books - An Unofficial History of Disney's Haunted Mansion

Cover of An Unofficial Guide of Disney's Haunted Mansion
Jeff Baham in An Unofficial History of Disney’s Haunted Mansion explores the history and legacy of this beloved Disney attraction.  Baham provides a history including the ride’s origin and development.  He highlights the role of Imagineers such as Yale Gracey, Rolly Crump, Marc Davis and X Atencio and Legends like Paul Frees in evolving Walt Disney’s original concept for a walk through haunted house into the ride we have today.  Baham guides his readers through the attraction noting the history or background of the gags and theming that entertains the mansion’s guests including the mechanics of the Stretching Room and how the Pepper’s Ghost effect work.  Baham also includes a chapter on Haunted Mansion themed merchandise.  Additionally there are several text sidebars placed along the main text to provide additional context or guest and cast member stories; ranging from what is WED (WED Enterprises the precursor to Walt Disney Imagineering) to stories of special merchandise events.  Throughout the book are sprinkled numerous photos from the Haunted Mansion itself or related to the attraction’s effects.     
It is an understatement to anyone who has listened to Baham on the Moustaliga podcast to say that he is a Haunted Mansion expert.  He loves this attraction and this book along with are two ways he shows his respect for this attraction.  An Unofficial History of Disney’s Haunted Mansion is both easy to read and enjoyable.  It helps provide depth to a classic attraction that is a must ride for any visitor to Disneyland or the Magic Kingdom.  If I could improve any one aspect of the book it would be the pictures.  They are all black and white and at times not as clear as one would desire.  But we have to remember this book does not have a major publishing house behind it, which likely led to the lower quality photographs.  Jeff Baham in An Unofficial History of Disney’s Haunted Mansion provides us a fitting tribute to the Haunted Mansion, while showing the high quality work a devoted Disney fan can produce.      

1 comment:

  1. Jeff Baham's book about the Haunted Mansion is the most detailed book ever written about a theme-park attraction.,,and it contains a flagrant error. In the forward, Imagineer Rolly Crump says that Jeff "really did his homework." Not so. Walt Disney was born at 2156 North Tripp Street in the Chicago community of Hermosa. When Walt was four, the family moved to Marceline, Missouri. When he was ten, they moved to Kansas City. On page 3, Jeff wrote that Walt, after serving with the Red Cross during the first World War, "returned to Kansas City, Missouri---his hometown." Such an egregious mistake is inexcusable! What possible explanation can he have for misidentifying the birthplace of such a world-renowned man?