Boundless Realm: Deep Explorations Inside Disney’s Haunted Mansion by Foxx Nolte
A deep dive into various details of Walt Disney World’s Haunted Mansion attraction, written by a former cast member and author of the excellent Passport To Dreams Old and New blog.
So, a Making of The Haunted Mansion book, then?
Absolutely not. The author goes out of her way to make clear that this is about the Magic Kingdom version only, and that the book won’t repeat material found elsewhere.
Like having a long conversation with a knowledgeable theme park obsessive. The tone is about 60% academic, 40% personal accounts and opinions. Goes through each part of the ride from queue to exit, putting it in context of the overall attraction, and explaining how certain effects work (and sometimes, speculation about how the effects were intended to work). Puts the ride in context of the rest of the park, the history of haunted house rides, and to some degree the history of themed entertainment. This is an unabashed love letter to the Magic Kingdom’s Haunted Mansion.
Like having a long conversation with a knowledgeable theme park obsessive. The sections about the history of dark rides and haunted houses had a lot of information I hadn’t known before, but I had trouble seeing how all of it was directly applicable to the Haunted Mansion itself. Makes a lengthy, adamant, and convincing case that WDW’s mansion is a seaside house instead of its commonly-assumed Hudson River Valley setting, which is a detail that I stopped caring about halfway through. Often seemed overwritten, which reminded me uncomfortably of when I’ve gone on at obsessive length about an insignificant detail of a movie, song, or theme park attraction.
You can’t fault the level of research and knowledge in this book, although you have to be at least as big a fan of the attraction as I am to really enjoy reading it. This by nerds, for nerds, unreservedly and unashamedly.
I kept feeling like much of this material might be better suited to blog posts. Again, I’ll recommend the author’s Passport to Dreams blog. The most recent entry, “The Mall as Disney; Disney as the Mall” is particularly excellent.