"Ah, there you are! Welcome, foolish mortals; there's no turning back now..."
We left off right after the Bride's Boudoir scene; we have just crossed the line where the Mansion and the Manor go in completely opposite directions. Where as the normal Haunted Mansion would have us headed out onto the balcony looking down into the graveyard we will soon be venturing through, Phantom Manor lets us out of the house into a graveyard garden of sorts on the same level as the Boudoir. The Phantom reveals himself to us in full figure, right in front of us, for the first time in the ride. No longer hidden in shadow, he gestures toward an opening grave which the never-ending ring of carriages plummets into as he laughs madly.
We begin our descent into catacombs of Thunder Mesa. Skeletons are seen rising out of coffins the carriages plunge further down the tunnel into the ground. The music at first is played in a way that makes you wonder if the skeletons are going to harm us or not. We round a corner and find that the skeletons have no intention of doing us in, and are merely having a jam session of sorts as the wake from their supernatural slumber. The music goes from suspenseful to jazzy right on cue. The singing busts, pretty off cue (Thurl seemed to be playing a second too slow, and the 3 others were playing a second too fast) begin to sing our favorite song, set to an amazing new underscore. We pass by a skeleton playing the "Skull-O-Phone" before venturing out from under the ground into the big finish.
Phantom Canyon, the hellish ghost town finale is where many fans of the original mansion seem to have there problems with Phantom Manor. Gone is the extended performance of "Grim Grinning Ghosts" as sung by the many ghosts from creepy-old-crypts all over the world. The Pop-up ghosts and the many Marc Davis sight gags that cover the original finale of the Haunted Mansion are all missing. Some have a problem with this, but not me. For me, it was a breath of fresh air. Something that was completely tolerable, and in some ways, more than I was expecting it to be. Let's begin our journey through Phantom Canyon, looking at the many gags presented to us along the way.
The ghost town, as I said before, is a breath of fresh air. It doesn't go as far as Mystic Mess does in pulling away from the original Mansion concept. The whole point of Phantom Canyon is to show a more demented version of the earthquake that took the life of Henry Ravenswood, and created the legend of Phantom Manor and the rest of Frontierland.
We continue onward to the finale, where the Hitchhiking ghosts are replaced with the finale vision of Melanie Ravenswood; now a mere skeleton in a tattered wedding dress, she points the way out of the Phantom's demonic version of Frontierland. We proceed down a hallway with three ornate mirrors, in which the Phantom is seen one last time, creeping over the top of the carriage in one last effort to keep you in Phantom Manor for good. We then exit into the Manor's wine cellar, where we see what has been listed as Little Leota backstage according to ghost relations department. We then proceed out a shed on the side of the Manor back into the daylight of Frontierland.
I'll see you all a little later...