In 1961, Walt Disney triumphantly announced that the Haunted Mansion would open in 1962 or 1963. Located just around the river bend, the Haunted Mansion’s basic exterior design had already been finalized in 1961, though what would go inside the mansion was still undecided. Walt Disney assigned the interior design to Imagineer Rolly Crump who came up with an idea for a walkthrough attraction featuring haunted and bizarre artifacts.
The unusual “artifacts” would be presented as though the master of the house had traveled far and wide to build this collection. The artifacts themselves would be built by Imagineering and have unusual features that would surprise and enchant guests. A themed restaurant would also share the building, providing sumptuous meals in an unbeatable atmosphere.
Walt Disney, however, was not completely sold on the idea. Additionally, he had signed on to build several attractions for the 1964 World’s Fair. There just wasn’t enough time to design and build out the attraction, so the project would be put on hold. DISNEYLAND, however, was still planning to open an Indian themed village north of the planned Haunted Mansion site. Walt Disney was loathe to just have a plain path leading over to the Indian village and figured that since he already had a design for the mansion’s exterior he could just build the house’s exterior now and worry about the interior later. The empty building quickly sprang up, daring guests to imagine what might be inside.
To pique the interest of his guests, Walt Disney had a sign erected by the mansion’s front gate. The legendary sign would capture the imagination of millions of DISNEYLAND guests. What was inside that house? In 1962 it was just temporary offices. It would take nearly a decade for guests to finally walk though the front doors.