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Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion Exterior and trouble accepting new ideas

Disneyland's Haunted Mansion

In a story about Ignaz Semmelweis, the survival rate of children and their mothers, and handwashing included in his book “How to Fly a Horse,” Kevin Ashton points out that even in a “field as empirical and scientific as medicine… Creation is seldom welcome” (74 – 76). People need creativity and change, and they resist it at the same time. It’s part of the dichotomy of being human.

When Walt Disney wanted his imagineers to envision and create a haunted house for his theme park, they all came up with the same idea: a decrepit, run-down building that had ghosts. Walt didn’t like it. He didn’t want a run-down building ruining his pristine park.

According to Sam Gennawey’s “The Disneyland Story,” Ken Anderson, the original lead on the Haunted Mansion as we now know it, wanted to hide the run-down mansion behind trees native to Louisiana. Walt didn’t go for it.

Harriet Burns built three models for Walt to choose from. The imagineers put the pristine building behind the other two decrepit versions. Walt chose the beautiful building every time. He wanted guests to feel welcome in his park; that meant everything had to be clean and in good repair, even the haunted mansion.

Walt was working with some of the most creative people in the planet. Imagineers knew Walt, had experienced his success and demeanor first hand. Even when he told them, “We’ll take care of the outside and let the ghosts take care of the inside” (Surrell, Jason, “The Haunted Mansion: Imagineering a Disney Classic,” p. 13), they insisted on trying to convince him that a haunted house needed to look a certain way.

“Everyone expects a residence for ghosts to be run-down. But Walt was always looking for the unexpected,” (Genneway, p. 180) said Claude Coats.

When those who consider themselves creative and create for a living have trouble accepting new ideas and ways of doing things, everyone else has even greater problems to accept the changes that come with innovations. It’s okay. We just need to realize that creativity is just as necessary for the advancement of humanity as being wary of the change that it brings is. As soon as we can embrace our seemingly opposed sides, we can see they are working together to make us more successful, as long as we don’t let one win over the other all the time.

For more on creativity, get “Disneyland Is Creativity: 25 Tips for Becoming More Creative.” Order “Penguinate! Essays and Short Stories.” Preorder “The Haunted Mansion Is Creativity.” For more on the Disney Company, preorder “Penguinate! The Disney Company” officially releasing on April 14, 2019.

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The ABCs of Creativity: Humor

Bertha in the Elephant Bathing Pool

Edward de Bono says that humor involves the same kind of thought process that creativity does. You’re going along one direction and suddenly the punchline moves you in another direction. The same is true of creativity. People think the thought process is in one direction when someone takes it in another. The move to a creative solution looks like a leap to people outside the process.

Humor improves the business environment by taking down a person’s self-monitoring process. People build up walls to protect themselves and their jobs. These walls are made of monitoring and judging what they do and say. Humor takes down those walls and allows people to be more themselves. When inhibitions and self-monitoring are reduced, creativity can flow.

When Marc Davis joined the Disneyland designed team, he worked on the Jungle Cruise. When the attraction opened in 1955, it was a straight attraction. The skippers would take people through the displays as if they were real. Davis added humorous scenes to the attraction and to the spiel. Davis’ humor is what makes the Jungle Cruise a continually popular, classic attraction. Without Davis’ creativity, the Jungle Cruise may have gone the way of other defunct Disneyland attractions.

The more humor you engage in, the more creative you become. Just be sure that the humor gets others to laugh with you and not at them. Joining an improv group can help guide you to greater humor and creative heights.

For more on creativity, get “Disneyland Is Creativity: 25 Tips for Becoming More Creative” and “Penguinate! Essays and Short Stories: Becoming More Creative for a Better Life and World.” Preorder “The Haunted Mansion Is Creativity.

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Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion, Storytelling and Ken Anderson

Disneyland's Haunted Mansion

Walt Disney turned to Ken Anderson to work on the Haunted Mansion in the late 1950s. There had been other concepts before, usually one or two drawings and not much else. Anderson got to work and began coming up with stories for the mansion, which he referred to as the “ghost house.” Anderson came up with the design based on a building in Baltimore, and he came up with several different stories, especially suited for a walk-through.

There was Captain Gore, who killed his bride when she found out that he was an infamously blood-thirsty pirate; she haunted him until he hanged himself. There was the Blood family, whose ancestral home where they all died was transplanted at Disneyland. Anderson worked on various effects and storylines within those concepts, including one with the Headless Horseman and naïve guides, but none of them worked for Walt. The Haunted Mansion resisted cohesive story-telling.

Instead, it needed to be more like the Pirates of the Caribbean, which wasn’t developed at the time Anderson was working on the Haunted Mansion. Walt told his imagineers to think of Pirates like a cocktail party. People wouldn’t be able to hear all of the conversations going on. This was a good thing because it meant that they would have to come back to see it again. That approach worked for the Haunted Mansion, too.

While the façade of the Haunted Mansion was completed in 1963, the attraction wouldn’t open until August 9, 1969. The years it spent in development and the amount of time the mansion stood empty only worked in favor of Disneyland where it opened to large crowds and earned the hearts of millions of guests.

Celebrate 50 years of the Haunted Mansion with us and preorder “The Haunted Mansion Is Creativity.” A wholly unauthorized look at the history of the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland and what it can help us learn about becoming more creative.

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Disneyland Attractions and Their Movies

Partners statue in Disneyland

Many Disneyland attractions already have movie attached to them. The Jungle Cruise will get its eponymous movie, starring Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt in 2020, though the boat designs were based on 1951’s “The African Queen.” The Indiana Jones Adventure has a series of films and a TV show based on the popular character; there are rumors of a fifth film in the works for 2021. Tarzan’s Treehouse is connected to Disney’s animated feature of the same name and was formerly known as the Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse; the Swisskapolka is still played in memoriam of the former incarnation. This leaves only the Enchanted Tiki Room as an attraction in Adventureland without a movie.

The Pirates of the Caribbean has had five movies based on it. A sixth one was scheduled but the writers walked out and Disney has yet to clarify whether the reboot will move forward. The Haunted Mansion had a terrible movie made about it and deserves a do-over. Tom Sawyer’s Island, based on the Mark Twain stories of Tom and Huck Finn with a pirate overlay, has a movie starring JTT and the tie-in to the Pirates of the Caribbean. The seasonal Davy Crockett Explorer Canoes have the surprise hit of the 1950s “Davy Crockett: King of the Wild Frontier,” which started on the weekly Disney TV show and moved to the theaters after it became so popular. New Orleans Square is pretty much covered unless you want to count the Blue Bayou or Club 33 as attractions.

Critter Country’s Splash Mountain is based on the never-to-be-seen-in-the-U.S.-again “The Song of the South,” and Winnie the Pooh has several films, and TV shows – most recently, “Christopher Robin.” The Country Bear Jamboree also got a movie; however, the film released after the show was evicted from the premises.

Over at Frontierland, the Mark Twain doesn’t have its own movie; neither does the Sailing Ship Columbia or Big Thunder Mountain. Big Thunder Mountain does have a series of comic books. The Golden Horseshoe Stage was designed by Harper Goff who also did the saloon in “Calamity Jane.” The Shooting Exposition is another attraction that is missing a movie. But does it deserve one?

Fantasyland is all about the mostly animated films of Walt Disney, which contributed to the TV show “Once Upon a Time.” From “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” to “Frozen,” just about every attraction has a movie to go with it. “Dumbo” and “Alice in Wonderland” are represented twice, and that’s not including the miniatures in Storybookland Canals. Even the Matterhorn is tied to “Third Man on the Mountain.” It’s a small world, however, does not.

Toon Town is also replete with films, or at least, the short cartoons of Disney’s past. Home to the Big Five, Toon Town also features nods to the Disney Afternoon with Gadget’s Go Coaster. “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?” provides the framework for Roger Rabbit’s Cartoon Spin.

Tomorrowland has its own movie, which was better than it was given credit for. The attractions in Tomorrowland mainly rely on “Star Wars,” “Toy Story” and “Finding Nemo for their themes. The exceptions are Space Mountain, the Monorail, the Astro Orbitor and Autopia.

Main Street U.S.A.’s attractions appear to be completely ignored by Disney’s movie making machine. Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln, the Penny Arcade, and the Main Street Cinema are all attractions without movies though Disney did distribute “Lincoln” in 2012. None of the vehicles on the street have their own films.

So, which of the attractions that do not have films should be made into a movie? Or is Disney going to need to create new attractions to find the next Pirates of the Caribbean franchise? Leave your comments below, include a possible plotline, just keep it PG.

Thinking deeply about a subject is part of becoming more creative. If you like Disney, a great place to start to think deeply and improve your creativity is with “Disneyland Is Creativity: 25 Tips for Becoming More Creative.” Preorder “The Haunted Mansion Is Creativity” for a more in-depth analysis of my favorite ride. For other articles related to Disney check out these links.

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Disney Crowd Survival Guide: Quick Tips

Main Street USA Christmas

For those who don’t want to read the long version, here are the quick tips for dealing with crowds at Disneyland:

  • Put down the phone!
  • Step to the side.
  • Don’t spread out.
  • Find the empty areas:
    • Sneak peeks at Tomorrowland
    • Movie theater on Main Street, U.S.A.
    • Critter Country
    • Tomorrowland Skyline Terrace
    • Former boat dock near the Matterhorn
  • Say “Excuse me.”
  • Say “I’m sorry.”
  • Stay hydrated.
  • Eat something.
  • Be patient.

Click if you want the longer version. Click for more on Disneyland.

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The Disneyland Crowd Survival Guide

Partners statue in Disneyland

Disneyland attendance keeps going up, and even with increased prices and annual pass block out dates, there’s just no sign of attendance really slowing. It used to be that cast and fans could count on a slow down during the school year; that’s no longer the case. (Check out “Cleaning the Kingdom” to see how the expanded programs have affected maintenance.) With the slow periods getting shorter and farther between, it pays to be prepared with a plan for dealing with the crowds.

Aside from the increasing popularity of the park and its newest additions (Galaxy’s Edge, anyone?) bringing in more people, the individuals in the crowd are taking up more space. Americans are getting larger. Guests are using more wheelchairs and ECVs, and strollers now come in double-wide or double-long versions. All of this results in greater difficulties in maneuvering and the greater likelihood that you will run into someone.

The first thing to remember is that EVERYONE(!) is trying to do the same thing you are, and they have the same over-arching goals – have fun and get away from the cares of the world. They may have different smaller goals, like see all the characters or ride Haunted Mansion 999 times, but in essence, they are you and vice versa. No one is actively trying to keep you from accomplishing your goals.

You WILL run into someone. Someone will also run into you. How you and the other person react to the situation can make all the difference to improving the experience or causing an issue and not letting anyone have any fun. Disneyland is full of distractions: lights, details, characters, the castle… the list is long and diverse. Throw in a heaping helping of smart phones, texts and selfies while walking or driving a wheel chair, ECV or stroller, and you have a recipe for disaster and possibly dangerous collisions, especially as night falls and people become more tired lowering their reaction times.

Fortunately, most of the time, people bumping into one another won’t result in injury. A step on the back heel that causes a bruise may be painful and result in a “flat tire” or a blown-out flip flop. However, as long as no one gets truly hurt, there’s no need for throwing shade or exchanging dirty looks – even if the other person doesn’t apologize. When you take on an attitude of animosity toward someone or toward his or her actions, you hurt yourself and your ability to have fun far more than you hurt the other person. Walk it off, and like Elsa, let it go. (Easier said than done if you’re tired, hot and/or hungry.)

When a stroller or wheel chair are involved, the pain can be greater, but it’s the ECVs that can wreak the most havoc. If you’re in charge of maneuvering any of these vehicles, pay attention. You must actively scan more than the immediate foreground because people who are walking will believe they can cut in front of you. They will overestimate their abilities, and you will hit them. Some people in front of you may change their mind and come to a sudden stop, you must be prepared for this, or you will run into them. (It happened to me.)  If you’re in an ECV, this could mean a trip to the hospital for the person you hit.

Regardless of how you’re getting around the park, put away the distractions. Do not text, call, iPad, iPhone, App, use an etch-a-sketch, read a paperback or anything else while you’re moving. Simply walk or navigate your vehicle and that’s it. If you’re doing it right, it will take all of your awareness and leave no room for the latest cat video on your social media feed. (If it’s that important, you’re friends will tag you, and it will be there when you get back online at your next stop.) Only use your electronic devices when you are stopped and to the side of the street or walking area away from the intersection or any openings.

There are times when you will want to stop in the middle of the street. DON’T. Unless you’re trying to get a scenic shot of the castle, somewhere in the middle of Main Street, U.S.A., do not stop in the middle of any walking area. Move to the side and let those behind you continue on unimpeded. Do not stop in entryways or on ramps.

Families will want to spread out and walk side by side. A group of six people quickly becomes a wall that blocks everyone else from getting where they want to go, especially when the children are holding the parents’ hands and running out to as far as the parent’s arms will extend. If possible, walk like the animals of Noah’s ark, 2 by 2, to allow others to pass.

As the sheriff at Radiator Springs says, “Whoa! Slow down. You aren’t racing, yet.” Great words for getting around Disneyland. SLOW DOWN! Rushing from attraction to attraction will lead to more accidents, and you’ll get tired more quickly. Pace yourself. Take in everything Disneyland has to offer by walking at a comfortable pace. This may seem like a contradictory recommendation, but slowing down allows you to be more predictable, which allows others to make better decisions. It also gives you more time to compensate for the other people on the route while mitigating possible damage from collisions and cluing you into the things that others may miss in their headlong search for the next great attraction.

The two most important words for anyone trying to get through a crowd are “Excuse me.” Don’t try to wheel your vehicle or self around a group that may or may not know you’re there. (They don’t know you’re there even if they all looked at you and wished you a merry unbirthday.) Your ECV horn is also useless. People don’t listen to electronic noises anymore (even if it’s their ring tone). There are a lot of other sounds competing for attention, and horns get lost in the cacophony. Slow down, say “Excuse me” and wait for them to move. If there’s nowhere for anyone to go, don’t bull your way through, just go slower.

The second most important words are “I’m sorry.” Sure, you can shorten it to “sorry,” but the “I’m” takes responsibility for the mistake. Far too few people are willing to take responsibility in the real world, don’t be that person in Disneyland. Even if it’s not your mistake, a well-placed “I’m sorry” can defuse a situation that may otherwise go sideways. Do not assign blame! “I honked, and you didn’t move” is no excuse for running into someone. Acknowledge the mistake and apologize. (This is not legal advice; it’s human decency advice.) If someone bumps into you, there usually isn’t any malice or intent in it. Even if there is, you shouldn’t let it get to you and ruin your vacation.

For those who get annoyed with crowds, it’s important to schedule time to get away. This may mean going back to the hotel and enjoying the room, a nap or the pool. It could mean visiting a less crowded space in the park, like near the Wishing Well or the former boat ramp across from the Matterhorn on the “it’s a small world” side. Critter Country has expanded its Hungry Bear Restaurant footprint and, when it gets colder, it benefits from fewer people riding Splash Mountain.  The movie sneak peeks also tend to be less crowded places, especially when a film has already debuted. Check out the cartoons on Main Street, U.S.A. Do some shopping earlier in the day. Or just grab something to eat at one of the upscale restaurants (as long as you’ve booked a reservation). Some tours offer special parade seating, and the Tomorrowland Skyline Terrace, a dining option for the fireworks, is a great place to get away from the crowds.

People can be one of the joys of going to Disneyland. With the right attitude, good people watching skills, an increase in patience and a plan, your Disneyland trip will be even more amazing. Click for more on Disneyland. Check out the quick tips for crowd management. Leave a comment if you have any advice on dealing with the crowds when you’re at Disneyland.

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Fantasmic! at the River Belle Terrace

Everyone loves Fantsmic! Water, video projected on water, fire, fireworks, special effects, magic, and a catchy tune make this one of the most popular attractions at Disneyland. Even after more than 25 years, people stake out their seats early and cause traffic problems on the Rivers of America to see Mickey’s imagination run wild as he faces off against some of Disney’s scariest villains.

More colorful than years before, Fantasmic! 2018 features new segments and a tighter script (especially the Jack Sparrow segment). While Mickey and the Sword of Truth no longer face Maleficent in dragon form (instead, he vanquishes her as the sorcerer’s apprentice), the whole show is well-produced and choreographed.

The best seats in the house (of the mouse) aren’t necessarily in the front at the edge of the Rivers of America where spectators are likely to get wet. Instead, the River Belle Terrace offers an elevated view above the crowds and away from the water. This dining package includes a lanyard and a menu full of great food to choose from. Better, you don’t have to stake out your seats because you’ve reserved them far in advance.

The corn chowder is spicy, warm, and tasty. It hits the right spot during a cool winter evening in Frontierland, and it fills the belly and soul with goodness. The tater tots are spiced to be addictive. (As someone who isn’t a huge tater tot fan, I couldn’t get enough of them and found myself popping them in my mouth even after I was full.) The beef brisket was good, too. The showstopper, however, was the Maleficent dessert: chocolate and spice in a raspberry sauce makes it amazing.

The tables may be a little wobbly, and the seating area doesn’t have any heating elements, but the views are positively Fantasmic! And Early show viewers can stay to see the fireworks form the comfort of their table on the River Belle Terrace. Check out my Disneyland page.

From the 2017 show
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Disney Magic: Disneyland’s Pirates of the Caribbean Changes More Than the Red-Head

While everyone has focused on the controversial change to the iconic auction scene on Disneyland’s Pirates of the Caribbean, people have missed a subtler and more astounding addition to the classic attraction. In the cave as guests transfer between the world of the dead into the world of the living pirates, a skeleton holds treasure while hanging from a rope above a living octopus. Barbossa’s assault on the Spanish fort can be heard in the background as the guest’s ship glides by the skeleton.

But wait, it’s no longer a skeleton. The figure has transformed into a full-blooded pirate with flesh and hair! The effect may be simple to create, the result is still astounding. It was so surprising that I had to ride twice to make sure I saw what I did and other members of my party didn’t see it the first time either. So, while Scarlett, who is available as a funny, powerful face character in New Orleans Square, gets all the glamour, this other more low-key addition to Pirates of the Caribbean proves that Disney can still make magic!

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Controversial Disney: Pirates of the Caribbean’s Scarlett

The Pirates of the Caribbean auction scene, as presented in 2018, shows Scarlett going head-to-head with the Auctioneer in a sales pitch of sorts. The Auctioneer is trying to sell off Tiny’s egg-laying hens while Scarlett is trying to sell her rum. The pirates who are bidding want nothing to do with the egg-layers, but the Auctioneer refuses to give way and allow Scarlett to auction off the rum. This scene replaces the infamous “Take a Wench for a Bride” scene where the Auctioneer was attempting to auction off the overweight Tiny while Scarlett showed off her gams and the men in the audience shouted, “We wants the red-head,” as well as other more derogatory comments directed at Tiny.

This isn’t the first change that Pirates of the Caribbean has gone through. In 1997, the pirates stopped chasing women and started chasing food. Captain Jack Sparrow and his friends were added to the attraction in 2006 and beyond.

Those who deride the change in the auction scene as pandering to the political correctness miss the point of Disneyland entirely. Walt Disney, a man who had his fingers on the pulse of American culture for three decades, said that as long as there was imagination left in the world, Disneyland would never be completed. The same holds true for its attractions.

Walt Disney’s first goal was to entertain and make people happy. Pirates of the Caribbean was never about historical accuracy, or even, edutainment. Instead, it was about helping people be happier and allowing them to explore an extremely sanitized version of an historic population – pirates.

Those who wish to teach their children about the realities of pirating and a pirate’s life can use the Pirates of the Caribbean as a starting point. They can address the inaccuracy of pirates as depicted in movies and other forms of entertainment and how media affects the way people view those that came before. Pirates and their lives weren’t clean, friendly or fighting for justice. As the song says, they pillaged and plundered and rifled and looted; they kidnapped and ravaged and never gave a hoot about it.  So, for those who choose to go that route with their children, “properly warned ye be, says I, arrrr.”

Before shouting for the red-head, check out the new version and see if it fits the story line better. There is no slippery slope here. It’s just a chance to keep the ride fresh and accommodate the changes in American society and culture. Keep your ruddy hands inboard and embrace the magic of the new version. (And if you’re still concerned about the sanitized version of the pirates ride, do some research to see what Walt said about scalps in front of the Indian Village in Frontierland.)

Check out our penguins paying tribute to 50 years of Pirates of the Caribbean!

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Scenes from Christmas Time at the Disneyland Resort 2018

Partners statue in Disneyland

For my 50th trip to Disneyland, we celebrated Christmas, my mom’s birthday and my grandma’s 90th birthday. It was a great trip. Disneyland has the ability to bring out the child in all of us. Find out how being childlike can help you be more creative. Get a copy of “Disneyland Is Creativity: 25 Tips for Becoming More Creative.” Find links to other Disneyland related articles here. Have a Merry Christmas!