As reported yesterday, the painting “April to December”—which depicts the real-life horror of aging—by Marc Davis is making a return to the attraction after having been removed when the portrait hallway was updated in 2005. According to Michele Hobbs, who managed the attraction’s refurbishment, the painting’s four-scene change didn’t work with the 2000’s technological update, which utilized two-slide changes. The painting, which Hobbs stressed is the original image just newly created with updated technology, is now placed around the corner from the portrait hallway where guests board their Doom Buggies.
The area surrounding “April to December” has been further filled-out, as it was previously only utilized during the Nightmare Before Christmas overlay. In addition to the painting and a mysterious door, guests will notice a new statue of a cat. This is a reference to an original idea for the attraction by Imagineer Xavier Atencio. In Atencio’s concept, the demonic cat would have appeared throughout the ride, searching for a soul to possess. The cat had elongated fangs and one red eye, as a reference to Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Black Cat.” The cat idea was discarded before coming to fruition, but it has finally returned in this statue form. “You’ll see this beautiful statue of this cat,” Hobbs said. “Maybe you’ll see red coming out of its eye. Maybe not.”
More details include new draperies and new props in the attic, including a dollhouse and trinkets belonging to Constance the bride’s late husbands. “What we’ve done is just gone through each of the scenes and added little tidbits and flavors of additional property to help support each of those ‘love stories,’ if you will,” said Hobbs.
In Madame Leota’s room, a wicker chair is now floating alongside the musical instruments. Although Hobbs says this design is not pulled from the archives, it may be a reference to Imagineer Rolly Crump’s concept for the room, which featured a chair that would come alive.
“There wasn’t any history to it,” Hobbs says of the chair’s addition. “That was something that Kim [Irvine] looked into. What would make sense there? What would work stylistically and creatively and be floating in the air? Why not a chair? Perhaps from the Mansion porch?”
Spider-web flooring in the Haunted Mansion’s entryway has been remade and the exterior of the building has been repainted with multiple shades of white meant to evoke shadows.
The pet cemetery has new landscaping which includes catnip, toad lilies, and more plants themed to each animal. Guests may also notice a slight garlic smell near a skunk’s tomb.
“We all love our beloved pets,” Hobbs said of the update. “What would you do if it was your pig named Rosie? You would decorate. We treated this as we would our own pets.” Roses, of course, surround Rosie the pig.
Finally, although there have been no changes yet, Hobbs did address the calls to remove the hanging body from The Haunted Mansion’s stretching portrait room. “It’s been discussed for sure,” Hobbs said. “It’s definitely something that we’re thinking about.”
It sounds like the rich lore and mysteries of The Haunted Mansion will only continue to grow as guests continue to be scared and awed by these new elements for years to come. What are you most excited to see on the refurbished ride? Let us know in the comments.