Disneyland's Haunted Mansion ride opened in 1969, which meant it was being designed and constructed at pretty much the same time as Walt Disney World (WDW) was. It was clear this attraction was something special, so the Imagineers reused all of the molds and plans for the original ride and built a version in Florida that opened with the rest of the resort and the theme park in 1971.
(Now, technically, the resort is "Walt Disney World" and the theme park is "The Magic Kingdom" [and yes, it does matter – I'm that anal and referring to the park as Disney World is a major pet peeve]).
The mansion façade was totally redesigned from a New Orleans Garden District style home in California to a Pennsylvania Gothic style mansion in Florida and the ride was slightly reworked, including a much more extended opening, but it is essentially the same ride and as such has become just as popular as its west-coastian sibling.
The first thing one notes when looking at this playset (which was released by the Disney Company itself, and is an exclusive to its WDW resort) is that it is totally off-model. The closest thing would be the blue roof, but even that isn't accurate. The actual mansion's brick exterior is one of its trademarks, so of course the exterior walls on the toy are a pale gray. Yeah.
Another big trademark is the V-Shape made by the wings of the building, angled forward from the door, which, again, is totally ignored on this piece. The raised base is similar to the actual mansion, though not nearly as spacious or angular as the real thing.
On the toy, there are four coffin-shaped buttons that trigger different sounds when pushed, as well as cause two LED lights, one green and one red, to blink in the windows next to the front door. The sounds are a couple lines of Paul Frees' narration for the ride and some atmospheric sounds or something. None are very clear or of high-quality reproduction. At least the sculpt maintains the awesome greenhouse on the mansion's side.
Turning this beast around we find a split in the bland back wall that opens to reveal the actual playset (a chunk of ceiling is removable, as well, for better shenaniganry).
Yes, shenaniganry. There is a moveable staircase that can either lead up to the second floor or be swung all the way out for easier play. Stickers all around attempt to recollect (I dare not say "recreate") scenes from the ride.
Sculptural features include two griffins by the steps to the working front door that manage to look at least a little bit like the ones that the riders pass by on the ride; the popular library scene (one of the "extended features" at WDW's version) complete with stickers of the famous staring busts; and the famous fireplace with portrait of Master Gracey from the Mansion's entry room. There is also a sculpted curtain that can be raised to access the hollow interior of the aforementioned greenhouse.
The "curtain" also acts as a cover for the portraits above from the popular Stretching Gallery room. As the "curtain" is pushed down, the full portraits are made visible, just as on the ride. Also on the second floor is a wall with a portion that can be pushed back to reveal a "ghostly" image of one of the "staring busts," which recalls... no scene what so ever.
For accessories there are three small, glow-in-the-dark versions of the Hitchhiking ghosts as well as a sofa, a chair, a coffin, the 13-hour grandfather clock, and a circular table with a yellow ball on it that is undoubtedly supposed to be Madame Leota. All of these accessories are very... so-so.
All in all, this set is really only for true Mansion fans (that need everything Mansion), kids, or customizers. I, myself, bought a second playset to repaint into the accurate colors. This thing is a cute idea and for $25, an okay collectable. If only there were a playset of the much cooler looking, vastly superior, Disneyland Mansion... yes, if only...
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