It was reported to me last night (Tuesday, February 22nd) that the Hitchhiking Ghosts at Walt Disney World's Haunted Mansion have been, well...put into refurbishment. Of course, the main point here is that the ride is still operation.
Let's go back a few years. In spring of 2006, the 50th Anniversary of Disneyland prompted a number of changes to the Anaheim Mansion. Rumoured additions included the now present "Floating Leota", the updated attic with the "Black Widow Bride". Other rumoured enhancements included the addition of the five "husbands" of the new bride in the seance circle in some form or another, the return of the great "Hatbox Ghost" and "Interactive Hitchhiking Ghosts". They have yet to materialize, nor does it appear that they will at any time in the near future...at least in Anaheim...
(Yes, they have cleared out the coroner in the attic for Ol'Hattie, but with the constant talk of his role in the 2012 film, it is likely that they will wait until later to reintroduce him if they ever do.)
So in 2007, Walt Disney World's Haunted Mansion received what I have heard was a much needed refurbishment. Of course, this refurbishment would go on to be known as the "ReHaunting" due to the massive amount of enhancements and new additions that ended up materializing. Now, we know what made it into the Mansion by the reopening in September 2007:
- The Updated Disneyland Attic Scene
- The New Grand Staircase Scene
- Enhanced 3-Dimensional Audio Effects Throughout the Attraction
- New & Enhanced Lighting Effects
- The New Bat-Eyed Wallpaper Scene
- Disneyland - Style Portrait Gallery Scene
- Floating Madame Leota
A great number of minor changes where implemented as well, but the major additions are what is important in the context of this post. A number of other enhancements to the attraction that were rumoured to be in the works (or documented an accounted for) but never actually materialized. These included:
- Again, the return of the Hatbox Ghost
- Having the Gargoyles narrate the entire Stretching Room scene
- Exterior projections of some sort
- "Interactive Hitchhiking Ghosts"
Of course, some thing take time to materialize. A number of things have materialized, or are beginning to as of this post, that were not present when the mansion re-opened in 2007. These include:
- Additional Safety "Elements" at the exit, a 'Pointing Green Hand'
- A New "Interactive" Exterior Burial Ground
If this post would have been typed up a day ago, the list above would be as you see it. However, Yesterday evening, I was informed (as I previously stated) that changes have already begun to take place once again at the mansion. The infamous Hitchhiking Ghosts of the Haunted Mansion are being updated in some way, shape, or form. The amazing thing is, once again, Disney has found a way to "enhance" a major piece of the attraction and keep the ride operational.
I would assume that anyone reading this knows the basics about the Hitchhiking Ghosts. But for anyone who doesn't; here is what I will explain for you myself: They are three robot ghost characters that are followed by an effect that showcases the rider in a "Doombuggy" with one of the three of them via 3 large mirrors. If you really need more detail, go here to learn about them.
So recently, the AA's and the stick-puppets have been taken from view. They have been covered with black sheets. On these sheets, a computer generated animation of Gus, Ezra, and Phineas are shown. Since the mirrors have been covered up, the ghosts glide across the black sheet instead of hopping into your car. The animation is pretty neat, you cam view it here, with more information and a report. Thus, it seems the "Interactive" Hitchhikers are on their way. These animations are more then likely, "Place holders". They are not the finished product. The are there to keep the scene interesting while it gets a major overhaul. I have no clue exactly what we will get once it is finished, but here is what I have heard is "being tested":
- An On-Ride Photo Opp. That will take the picture of you and the Ghost in the car so you can buy it for $15.00 or so at a gift shop.
- Body-Mapping Technology like the Nintendo Wii and XBox360 Cash in that will be used to allow the ghost to "Interact" with you...
So, here is how I look at it: I think we will see more advanced AA's with Projected faces similar to Buzz Lightyear in the Attraction at Tommorrowland, or Constance to some degree. Much more movement then the old 1960's AA's could provide. I don't think we are going to have the ghostly-go-round anymore. I assume the mirrors will be projections to some degree, of course, with your refection in it. With digital mirrors of some sort. They don't need any sort of flash to take your picture. But I don't really know. I can only guess at the moment. Until then...
...I'll see you all a little later...