Boundless Realm: Deep Explorations Inside Disney’s Haunted Mansion is a new book from Foxx Nolte (author of the fantastic Disney theme park history blog, Passport to Dreams Old & New). I’ve been a fan of Foxx’s blog for many years, so when I heard she had written a book I could not wait to get my hands on it. The book explores the Haunted Mansion, or as the author puts it, gives “an enthusiast’s tour.” The book provides a look at the not only why effects, ghosts, props, and sounds are placed within the ride, but also how they’re achieved. For example, how does the “Again Man” effect in the foyer work? Simple, it’s a slide projector that bounces alternating images off of a mirror and then on to theatrical gauze. It’s a fresh and fascinating way to approach things.
The opening chapters spend just enough time touching on the origins of the spook house dark rides in early American amusement parks before moving on to the early history of the ride, and then moves on to the design of Liberty Square and how Haunted Mansion fits in to it. Mixed in with these stories throughout the book are tidbits about the author’s personal relationship with Haunted Mansion, such as childhood memories and her time working the attraction as a cast member at Magic Kingdom. I enjoyed hearing about the customs, such as a rite of passage that involved cast members throwing their work shoes in an urn on the ride on the last night of their employment. Also explored is why the Mansion has remained popular and so well loved with riders for as long as it has. I want to be sure to point out that this is not a series of dry academic essays. It’s a genuinely entertaining read from beginning to end.
I recommend Boundless Realm for any Disney theme park fan, especially Haunted Mansion fans who are ready and willing to learn more about one of the best attractions ever created. I guarantee even the most die hard fans will learn something new. It’s impossible to walk away from this book and not leave with a much deeper appreciation for the Haunted Mansion.
Note: A copy of this book was provided by the author. The author and publisher did not pay for, or receive copy approval of this post.