Phantom Manor is Disneyland Paris’ version of the Haunted Mansion. It is neither better than nor inferior to its cousins around the world. It’s simply different. And these differences make it very intriguing for those of us familiar with the original version.
Phantom Manor has a more complete storyline than the Haunted Mansion. It goes something like this.
Henry Ravenswood made his fortune in the Big Thunder Mountain gold rush. With his money he built an elegant Victorian manor high atop a hill, overlooking the town and mine that made him rich.
Ravenswood was very possessive of his only child, Melanie. When Melanie became engaged to a local miner, Ravenswood swore he would stop the wedding at all costs. But before he could enact his plan, an earthquake struck Thunder Mesa and Henry and his wife Martha were killed. Melanie survived.
Locals believe that the Phantom, who now inhabits the house, is actually the dead Henry Ravenswood and he killed his daughter’s intended from beyond the grave. You can see the groom’s dead body hanging in the “stretch room.” After the death of her fiancÃ©, Melanie wandered the manor, dressed in her wedding gown, for the rest of her life and after.
I’ve read several possibilities as to what building Phantom Manor was modeled after. One prospect is the cartoon house in the Charles Addams drawings.
Or the Edward Hooper painting, House by the Railroad.
Maybe the Fourth Ward School House in Virginia City, Nevada.
But I think it looks most like the Psycho House, which also sits high atop a hill. What do you think?
Ravenswood Manor, now Phantom Manor, was built in the better part of town. Its entrance is near the Silver Spur Steakhouse, which was a fine gentlemen’s club. You enter the estate at the bottom of the hill and pass through an iron gate. Here you see me with two of the staff in 1993.
As you ascend the hill, you pass by a lovely gazebo. The table inside is set for tea and you can hear the faint sounds of a music box playing from within.
You continue your way up the hill and through the gardens, eventually reaching the porch and front door. From here you get a sweeping view of Thunder Mesa and Big Thunder Mountain.
You then enter an anteroom before proceeding to one of the stretch rooms. Here we see three pictures of Melanie and another of her and her bridegroom.
When you exit the stretch room, you’re in a hallway/picture gallery. This floor plan is reminiscent of Disneyland, California. At the end of the hallway you can see a beautiful picture of Melanie dressed for her special day. .
The loading area has a backdrop unique to Paris. Instead of a wall behind the DoomBuggies you see a sweeping staircase.
The song “Grim Grinning Ghosts“ has been re-orchestrated and has a more formal and sometimes foreboding air about it.
Here’s an interesting bit of trivia. The ballroom dancers in the California, Florida, and Japan Mansions are all positioned incorrectly. The gentlemen have their right hand extended and their left hand around the ladies’ waists. This is backwards. In Paris, the Imagineers corrected this mistake. There is a reason for this oversight, but I’d have to give away Disney secrets to explain the whys and wherefores.
With minor differences, most of Phantom Manor is similar to the Haunted Mansion until you get to the attic. Here we see Melanie crying before a mirror. In the distance we can hear a maniacal laughter. As we continue onward, we come face-to-face with the Phantom.
As you descend from the attic you pass some macabre scenes of coffins and skeletons. In my opinion, this section of the Manor is scarier than anything in the American Mansions.
Most of what was the graveyard section in the Haunted Mansion has been transformed into a western “ghost” town in Phantom Manor. Here, the local residents greet you as you pass by.
The scene with the Hitchhiking Ghosts has been replaced with a floating skeleton pointing the way out.
Next to Phantom Manor is a decaying graveyard with obvious signs of damage from the earthquake. You can walk through this area and examine many of the headstones and crypts. The epitaphs here are slightly more sophisticated than their sillier counterparts in Florida and California.
Phantom Manor is every bit the classic attraction as the Haunted Mansion. I can guarantee that you’ll want to hop right back on and ride it again and again.
Next stop, Adventureland.