Phantom Manor Photo Tour & Review
Phantom Manor is a ride in Disneyland Paris’ Frontierland that is essentially their take on the Haunted Mansion attractions found at Disneyland, Walt Disney World, and Tokyo Disneyland. (Hong Kong Disneyland has Mystic Manor, which shares some bloodlines with Haunted Mansion, as well.) Phantom Manor has a story that is quite different than Haunted Mansion, but the story takes place in many scenes that are also found in the Haunted Mansion. The Stretching Room is there, the Seance Room, and the Ballroom, among other places.
Phantom Manor was our favorite attraction in Disneyland Paris (with Frontierland being our favorite land), so we experienced this attraction a lot, giving me plenty of chances to photograph it. I’ve noticed that it’s probably the Disneyland Paris attraction about which most Disney fans are curious, so I thought I’d throw together a blog post with a photo “ride-through” of sorts. I’ve already shared my Phantom Manor review and a bit of background in our trip report, so it won’t cover everything.
Here’s just enough backstory so that you can understand what’s going on in the photos below: Phantom Manor was built on Boot Hill by Henry Ravenswood after he struck gold (and became rich) in Big Thunder Mountain and founded the Thunder Mesa Mining Company, which was a boom for Thunder Mesa (Frontierland). His daughter was Melanie Ravenswood; she’s the Bride in Phantom Manor. The ground was supposedly haunted and Ravenswood was warned not to build there, but he did anyway, and was killed in an earthquake caused by evil forces. Or something.
On Melanie’s wedding day, an evil Phantom appeared at the manor and hanged her husband-to-be (you can see both in the Stretching Room when the ceiling is illuminated). The Bride, unaware of this, went about the wedding day as normal, waiting for him. She continued to wait, thinking he’d show up eventually. As she grew old waiting, the Phantom invited his dead buddies into the Manor to party. And that’s what guests see…
There is some seriously extensive backstory for Phantom Manor and Frontierland in general, and this just scratches the surface and reduces it to its most basic terms. For further reading, see Doombuggies.com’s Phantom Manor page and Ravenswood Manor for info about Frontierland in general.
Photos don’t do the attraction justice (and it’s really difficult to photograph this ride), but for those interested in Phantom Manor, it should be a fascinating look at the attraction. Of course, given the nature of the article, there will be spoilers.
Unlike the U.S. versions, about which Walt Disney is famously quoted as having said, “We’ll take care of the outside, and let the ghosts take care of the inside,” the exterior of Phantom Manor is dilapidated. In fact, it bears a striking resemblance to Bates’ Manor from Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho. Since Phantom Manor is set in Frontierland’s “ghost town” of Thunder Mesa, the reason for the look is that a distinguished mansion simply would not have thematically fit. It works in Liberty Square and New Orleans Square because these lands are otherwise gorgeous, idealized visions of their source material. Frontierland is typically not idealized, especially not in Disneyland Paris.
Here are some photos of the exterior of the Manor. As you can see, it lends itself to black & white:
The queue for Phantom Manor is outside, with some cover here and there. The queue takes guests through a stroll of the grounds of the Manor, winding past a gazebo with a tea setting and music box, a fountain, statues, and some decaying structures.
This area isn’t exactly photogenic, but here are a few photos of it, anyway.
At the time of our visit, the Stretching Room seemed very similar to the ones in the US parks, with the exception of the narration being in French. We don’t speak French nearly well enough to have been able to understand any of the narration, but interestingly, a reader sent me an audio track of the original English narration used for a short time when the attraction opened in 1992. This narration was recorded by Vincent Price, and is exceptional. It’s similar to the US versions, with some phrase-changes that make a big difference to anyone who knows the Haunted Mansion script by heart, but would probably be inconsequential to a casual guest. There is a much greater focus on lost youth and beauty, which makes a lot of sense given the story of Phantom Manor. If you don’t mind spoilers (or have already seen Phantom Manor), I highly recommend Martin’s Phantom Manor ride-through video with the original Vincent Price narration.
Here are some photos from the Stretching Room:
With regard to the Portrait Gallery, Phantom Manor is similar to Disneyland, in that you walk through the Gallery as part of the pre-show queue as opposed to riding through like in Walt Disney World and Tokyo Disneyland. The highlight and biggest difference here is the huge portrait of the Bride at the end of the hall.
This encompasses a variety of distinct areas in Phantom Manor, from the Endless Hallway to the hallway with the piano player to the narrow hallway with rattling doors and the clock. All of these scenes are very similar to the Haunted Mansion, and seem to build suspense for the first big scene in the attraction, the Seance Room.
Here are some photos from these scenes:
Just as she does in the Haunted Mansion, Madame Leota appears in the Seance Room in a fortune teller’s crystal ball. Likewise, she chants various incantations and has tarot cards around a table. Some of her lines are in English, and some reference going to the wedding reception next. A favorite line of mine is, “Join now the spirits in nuptial doom, a ravishing bride, a vanishing groom.”
This is very similar to the Ballroom scene in the Haunted Mansion, except it’s a wedding reception here. The Bride stands on a staircase as guests enter with presents, and the Phantom stands ominously in an open window. It works perfectly as a wedding reception, and it’s really surprising how little is different about the scene to accommodate that shift in the story.
This is the attic scene in other versions, and is somewhat similar to those versions, except the Bride sits crying in front of a skull shaped mirror instead of being portrayed as a killer. Some materials online state that she’s now an old lady, but I didn’t notice that through her wedding veil. Perhaps my vision is just bad.
The climax of the attraction is definitely Phantom Manor, which replaces the Graveyard scenes in the regular Haunted Mansion. This starts with the Phantom digging graves, continues with your Doombuggy (seemingly) sinking into the ground and past skeletons, and entering a ghostly version of Thunder Mesa, dubbed Phantom Canyon. With its color palette and weird imagery, it feels almost like a nightmare hallucination. This scene is the greatest departure from the Haunted Mansion, bearing almost no resemblance to the original at all, except for the music and the presence of the singing busts.
Exit/Boot Hill Graveyard
The Doombuggies leave Phantom Canyon as the Bride (now a skeleton) points towards the exit. The standard “ghost follows you home” mirror scene occurs, with a skeleton above your Doombuggy. After unload there’s a mini-Bride.
The Boot Hill Graveyard is a dedicated area guests can visit after leaving Phantom Manor, and it includes various nods to the attraction’s roots and its creative team. My favorite is the “Hole in the Wallet Gang,” an obvious reference to the team that created Phantom Manor, and its spend-y ways.
As I said in my review, Phantom Manor is a very bold and ambitious move by the Imagineers to use one of Disney’s most iconic attractions as the framework for an attraction that is fundamentally the same, but radically different in execution and result. For that alone, I’ve got to applaud those Imagineers. It’s akin to making a sequel to The Godfather. If successful, you get The Godfather Part II, a great movie on its own. If you fail, you get The Godfather Part III, which is universally recognized as a flaming pile of goat feces. Some dedicated Haunted Mansion fans don’t hold Phantom Manor in too high of esteem, but if it didn’t share bloodlines with their precious Haunted Mansion, I’m sure they’d love it, too. For me, variety is the spice of life, and a great (largely) different attraction that is very well done is a definite win.
Have you experienced Phantom Manor? If so, what do you think of it? Share any other comments or questions you have in the comments!
So, do you ride a cart or something or walk by your feet in this ride?
When I went last weekend, they were running it on one “stretching room” (due to lower demand).
This gave me an opportunity to try the attraction a little differently – after being deposited at the lower level (well, not really the lower level, but I don’t think I’m spoiling it for anyone ;-)), let the crowd go ahead while you take in the pictures in the hallway. If you time it right, you can walk up and board a doom buggy with nobody ahead or behind you.
I’m not sure how feasible this is at the other parks, but this was a great way to do the attraction – it sent a slight chill down my spine.
Great write up Tom. We enjoyed it a lot. I love the “Wild West Ghost Town” feel. Awesome pics.
Great pics and really interesting report.
I remember reading one reason for the decayed look to the mansion is the language issue. In the states it’s nice and easy to put up a sign saying Haunted Mansion but this doesn’t work in Europe so the imagineers went with a decayed look to warn guests of what was inside.
Another favourite homage to the original mansions i love is the mayor of Phantom Canyon – he speaks some of the ghost hosts welcome lines & looks just like Dreamfinder from the original journey into imagination 🙂
Very interesting about conveying the nature of the attraction through the look. Thanks for sharing!
Gorgeous photos! I think this ride looks a little spookier than Haunted Mansion. The dog is definitely creepy!
Hai.. Wow superb images.. U are providing too good information which i dont know.. Thank u for sharing..
so how do you get these “difficult to shot” photos to look so great? What shutter speed do you typically use to compensate for the movement of the doombuggie? Really enjoy your photos!!
I was actually thinking the same thing! Since the doombuggie is moving, what shutter speed to you use?
You can check out the EXIF data for settings on each photo by clicking the “I” on the photo page. I change my settings for each photo based on the scene.
Wow! Thank you so much for sharing this incredible report. It has made my day much nicer. You gave me the chance to forget some problems that have been tormeting me and at least for a while I was able to get rid of bad thoughts and return to DLP and ride this great attraction.
Nice shots! I especially love the black and whites at the beginning!