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I adore the Haunted Mansion, donít you? I ask you, how could anyone resist that gorgeous old house, planted so serenely in its delicious decay in New Orleans Square? Itís my favorite attraction above all others and it doesnít matter to me which Disney park in the world I am in, the Haunted Mansion, or in the case of Disneyland Paris, Phantom Manor, is an absolute must.
In the course of writing this column I have received requests to write about last yearís Haunted Mansion event but to each one, I replied that I could not. I wasnít in the "columnist mode" back then. I hadnít taken any photos of the event and I couldnít remember many details other than the fact that the evening was quite wonderful. In the light of that, how could I possibly do even a fair job?
Recently however, a friend acquired a video of that nightís events and as I sat watching it at her house, my memory was refreshed and I realized I could now share with you Dear Readers, what that night was like.
But before I lapse into times past, you must allow me one tiny indulgence. You see, after my little group of friends watched the video, we had but one burning desire...
To be where there are no windows and no doors...
And on that night, as it so often does, something magical happened. A Haunted Mansion cast member took pixie dust from a dusty old urn upon a cobweb- encrusted shelf and sprinkled it all around making a magical moment for this particular guest.
There were five of us all together. We made a mad dash to Disneyland and arrived at the new Mickey and Friends parking structure just before fireworks. Even the burning desire to see things explode could not keep us from our true mission. When you need to ride the Haunted Mansion, you need to ride the Haunted Mansion NOW!
We boarded the train at Main Street Station in an effort to avoid the masses exiting Disneyland after the nightly fireworks show and sidestep navigation through the rest of the masses gathered around the Rivers of America to watch Fantasmic.
First stop... New Orleans Square. The Mansion loomed in the short distance. After holding our breath as we briskly walked through the smoking area to the Mansion (can I tell you how much I hate that the lovely fountain area near the Haunted Mansion is always filled with lung clogging, cancer causing, smoke?), we made our way up the steps of the Mansion to the entrance. What timing! We walked right in. For someone with but one thought...to ride the Haunted Mansion...this was bliss.
A cast member in full Mansion regalia was in attendance. "Welcome ladies and gentlemen. Drag your bodies on in." He looked quite wonderful in his top hat and played his part with great aplomb. I do so love it when the cast member "acts" and oh, did he act. His "English" accent was ever so appreciated. He waved his gloved hand elegantly and directed those of us clinging to the walls "To drag our bodies to the dead center of the room for the best view of the portrait gallery."
Just as we were settling in, a rather rowdy group of folks decided to join the throng. At first, it was not bothersome. People do like to enjoy themselves, donít you know, and I am understanding of that. But their rude behavior, nasty manners, and utter disregard for every other guest in that stretching room quickly became a rather large annoyance.
I tried to ignore and just enjoy.
The cast member, who for the sake of this tale will henceforth be referred to as Jacob, tried valiantly, but unfortunately he tried in vain to get these unruly guests to show a little consideration for the rest of us. I hate this kind of behavior. Itís not cute. Itís not fun. Itís inconsiderate and obnoxious and the folks displaying this rude behavior were old enough to know better.
The doors to the stretching room slammed shut locking us in a room with no windows and no doors and a gaggle of horrid, nasty, excuses for people. The room stretched. The portraits grew. The Nasty Excuses wailed, pushed, shoved, and screamed at ear shattering decibels completely ruining the ride for the rest of us.
Now mind you, I have been on the Haunted Mansion more times than I can count. It was not a matter of major importance for me to have a pristine experience, as I could and will, come back yet again more times than I can count. But I ask you Dear Readers, what about the first time guest? Pity that poor person who is there having his (or her) virgin Mansion experience ruined by the inconsiderate rudeness of Nasty Excuses.
Finally, the loud and obnoxious wailing subsided, the Nasty Excuses poured out of the stretching room into the gallery with the changing portraits. My friends and I stayed back against the walls of the stretching room to permit the Nasty Excuses to put as much distance between themselves and us as possible.
It was at this point that the pixie dust shimmered down upon us. I sometimes wonder why it is that wonderful things happen to me. They do all the time. Little magical moments just appear, for no discernable reason. I do not ask for them. They just come.
Most of the guests had by now departed the stretching room and still...we hung back. Jacob approached us. "Stay here," he said.
"Would you like to do that again? Would you like to ride down as you should?"
We were incredulous. Yes, of course we would. Did he mean go back up and come down again?
"You shouldnít have to put up with rude behavior. Stay here, Iíll be back in a minute and then I will take you back up so you can ride as you should. And if anyone asks you what you are doing here, tell them that I, Jacob, told you to wait here." With that, he turned and swiftly vanished down the changing portrait hall.
Well, Dear Readers, we were a little stunned. What, after all had we done to deserve this special and kind consideration? More importantly...
We were going to get to ride back up and see the portraits shrink and then ride back down again without an elevator full of ruffians.
As I boarded my doom buggy, I thought to myself, this is just wonderful, like a random act of kindness, a nice surprise. My doom buggy glided toward the griffin-flanked staircase and a gloved hand reached out to lower my safety bar. I looked up, "I trust that was a little better this time?"
"It was Jacob. Thank you ever so much."
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