Today I have had the great pleasure of interviewing James H. Carter II, host of the Creepy Kingdom Podcast and a fellow Disney enthusiast. James is currently working on a documentary examining the history of The Haunted Mansion and the people who love the attraction.
Craig Thayer: Tell us James, what is your first memory of The Haunted Mansion?
James H. Carter II: I remember the very first time I rode the attraction. It was at Disneyland and I was either 10 or 11 and I had no idea what I was getting myself into. My earliest memory would be walking down the hallway after the stretching room and not knowing where we were going yet and being amazed by the changing portraits.
CT: What is your favorite scene within the Mansion?
JHC: My favorite scene in the Mansion is definitely Madame Leota’s room! Even though there is not much going on in that room, I am obsessed with Leota. The combination of Eleanor Audrey’s iconic voice and the stunning face of Leota Toombs keeps me captivated every time I’m in that room. My second favorite would be the ballroom because no matter how many times I ride through this scene I always see something new.
CT: You’ve announced some amazing people that will be in your documentary. Is there anyone you are going to interview that has you geeking out?
JHC: I wouldn’t say that geeking out is the right phrase but I am super excited to speak with all the people that have agreed to be in the film. I can’t wait to hear their stories of how the Mansion has impacted and/or influenced their personal and/or professional life.
CT: What is the second most interesting fact you have learned in your research (save the first for your documentary)?
JHC: This isn’t really about the fans but I did recently learn that on Disneyland Paris’ version of The Haunted Mansion, Phantom Manor, the original voice of the English Ghost Host was Vincent Price! I would have loved to have heard that!
CT: Do you feel that The Haunted Mansion opens the door to horror for people?
JHC: Definitely! I totally feel that The Haunted Mansion was probably a lot of people’s first exposure to anything dark or creepy. And once you are exposed to it you probably know right away whether you like it and want more or you don’t like it and want nothing to do with it!
CT: How do you feel about the many additions that have been made to the mansion over the years?
JHC: Part of the magic of The Mansion is that you have cutting edge, state of the art technology next to very old illusions from the 1800’s and they flow together seamlessly! I personally love the additions! Whether it be the upgrades to the changing portraits and the return of the Hatbox Ghost in Disneyland or the animated hitchhiking ghosts in the Walt Disney World Mansion, I think they have made the attraction better.
CT: Since starting the Kickstarter last month, how have you gone about getting this project off of the ground?
JHC: Lots and lots of planning! We put out an open call for Haunted Mansion fans to email us if they were interested in appearing in the documentary. From there we figured out where most of the people are and based on that were able to come up with a travel and production budget.
CT: What is the most surprising response you have received while working on this project?
JHC: Someone had emailed us explaining how The Mansion helped them get over their social anxieties! I thought that was amazing that this attraction had actually changed someone’s life for the better!
CT: How far reaching do you plan on making your documentary (can we expect to hear about The Museum of the Weird or The Haunted Mansion Holiday)?
JHC: While the focus of the film will be on the fans, we will be touching on where the concept of The Haunted Mansion came from which was Rolly Crump’s Museum of the Weird. We will also be discussing what the Mansion has evolved into; such as, the Haunted Mansion Holiday – The Nightmare Before Christmas layover Disneyland has every year.
CT: In your opinion, what makes the Haunted Mansion a great attraction?
JHC: I think The Haunted Mansion is a great attraction because like I mentioned earlier, old school and new school technology blend seamlessly together. For a child, it’s dark enough to wet your appetite of the macabre but not too dark to scare you away. Operationally it has high ride capacity due to the use of the Ominmover System and certain scenes such as the Ballroom or the Attic have so much going on that you can find something new each time you ride.
CT: What about this attraction would you like to see Disney emulate in future attractions?
JHC: I think they should emulate how immerse The Mansion is. I also would love to see an E-Ticket dark ride that is based on an original concept and not an already existing intellectual property.
CT: Lastly, do you have any other dream projects in the works?
JHC: While “Foolish Mortals: is taking up most of my time these days, I do plan on writing a “creepy” tour guide for Walt Disney World and Disneyland!
Thank you so much James for taking time out to answer our questions! If you would like to know more or if you are interested in donating to the Kickstarter you can do so at the following link:
You can also follow Foolish Mortals on Facebook at Foolish Mortals: A Haunted Mansion Documentary, on Twitter at @FoolishMortalsD and Instagram at foolishmortalsdoc.