October 7, 2015

Design Detail: Phantom Manor

Disneyland Paris' incredible Frontierland has to be among the Imagineering's greatest achievements when it comes to combining thrilling attractions, thematic consistency, and beautiful eye candy! (If you appreciate it now, you'll only even do so more once all those changes come to Disneyland in preparation for Star Wars Land. And if you've heard all the rumors out there about the proposed new attraction in Frontierland for Florida's Magic Kingdom, think it through and realize similar changes could be on the table. It's not for the classic but unbuilt Western River Expedition either.)

I've been blessed to go to Disneyland Paris three times and in three different seasons. (Search the blog for trip reports.) After each visit, I left in awe of what was designed by Tony Baxter and his team. What they all accomplished- and this Frontierland was headed up by the gifted but recently deceased Imagineer Pat Burke- is the greatest incarnation of the Wild West since its earliest days and the creation of Nature's Wonderland in the California park under Walt himself.

Oh the pain a father can cause!

As for the manor itself, from various angles and distances, the detail reads well, contributing to the eerie and sad story of the Ravenswood family. The manor rises majestically over the Rivers of the Far West with Big Thunder Mountain Railroad within sight but just out of shot from the fort which protects the inhabitants of the town. Phantom Manor's tale of greed, lust, and an out of control father who was not happy with his daughter's husband to be, doesn't just serve as a story of woe, it gives Frontierland an energy and atmosphere that guests can feel. The other castle style parks may have their own take on the American West but this park stands above them all. It's like walking into a book by author Louis L'Amour!

The top photograph in the dead of winter was taken by my during our third trip. Much to my chagrin, unfortunately, back then all the effects inside the manor were not working, making the hour plus long wait somewhat frustrating. However, I was thrilled to be seeing an original take on the Haunted Mansion and not the Nightmare Before Christmas overlay. Certainly with Disney's greater financial interested in the French resort, we can guarantee that the manor will be restored to its fully decrepit state.

(Art copyright The Walt Disney Company. Photograph copyright Mark Taft.) 

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