Haunted Mansion Concept Art - Original painting - Dan Martinez - Van Eaton Galleries

Disney’s The Haunted Mansion Concept Art In Auction!

Friends, I know I am not in the minority when I say it’s hard to top Disney’s The Haunted Mansion. It was announced just last week that Van Eaton Galleries would be holding a very special auction. Entitled The Life and Career of Disney Legend Rolly Crump, it will feature artwork and items from his long career as an Imagineer. Including of course some rare Haunted Mansion concept art!
Haunted Mansion Concept Art - Van Eaton Galleries catalog cover

While it may have begun it’s life…or is that afterlife as the Museum of the Weird. There is certainly no denying that The Haunted Mansion has captured the hearts and minds of fans all over the world. The attraction was started in earnest in 1961, when visitors were given handbills announcing the opening year as 1963. The doors to The Haunted Mansion wouldn’t open to guests however until 1969.
Haunted Mansion Concept Art - View Master Reel

Rolly Crump was one of the two Imagineers, that Walt Disney approached to come up with elements of the attraction. Remember it had begun as The Museum of the Weird, so some ideas were gypsy wagons, haunted furniture, as well as man-eating plants. In fact back in 1951, an illustration was created by Harper Goff. Disney would go on to ask legendary Imagineer Ken Anderson to concoct a tale to match the illustration.
Haunted Mansion Concept Art - Harper Goff

From such humble beginnings, over the years the core of The Haunted Mansion would begin to take place. Jettisoning the idea of The Museum of the Weird it instead became the final resting place for 999 Happy Haunts. As well as becoming an attraction whose collectibles are greatly sought after. You do not have to take my word for it, just ask Guillermo del Toro if you need more proof.
Haunted Mansion Concept Art - Guillermo del Toro

Which is why this auction by Van Eaton Galleries is so incredible, friends. Take a moment and look over a few of the many objects being offered. How does an original spoon to celebrate the 1969 opening strike you? A rare collectible doesn’t quite cover it, right?
Haunted Mansion Concept Art - Ice Cream Spoon - Van Eaton Galleries

Or perhaps you would be more interested in some of Rolly Crump’s original illustrations for the Candle Men concept?
Haunted Mansion Concept Art - Candle Man - Museum of the Weird - Van Eaton Galleries

Maybe a signed print of the concept by Crump for the Gypsy Wagon?
Haunted Mansion Concept Art - Van Eaton Galleries - Gypsy Wagon

A huge thank you to Van Eaton Galleries for the images used in this article. As a matter of fact you can follow any of the links to the auction site yourself. In addition you can look through through or even order a catalog for The Haunted Mansion concept art auction.

Want to go a little deeper than the auction of that Haunted Mansion concept art? Why not listen to Rolly Crump discuss the attraction’s creation yourself?

[Via] The Walt Disney Family Museum

Freedomland U.S.A.

Do You Remember The Freedomland U.S.A. Theme Park!

Just when I thought I discovered all there is about pop culture history, a bit of information comes my way that I have to share. FREEDOMLAND U.S.A.! I have to shout, because this is something awesome, spectacular actually.

Cornelius Vanderbilt Wood wanted to make a theme park in the north east of the United States to rival that of west coast’s Disneyland. Oddly enough, he had a hand in the creation of Disneyland. He was hired by Walt Disney and is responsible for finding the site to build Disney’s theme park. A few years later, Wood split from Disney and founded Marco Engineering. He would go on to help create Magic Mountain, Pleasure Island and the big one, Freedomland U.S.A..

Freedomland U.S.A.

(Magic Mountain was a theme park Wood opened in 1958)

Wood’s idea was a theme park based on different eras & locations in United States history. He acquired about 200 acres of land in Bronx, New York. The land used to be a landfill which goes to show that cool things can come from garbage.. On a side note, Wood designed the shape of the park itself to look like the United States, without Alaska and Hawaii. On June 19th, 1960, Freedomland U.S.A. was opened for business.
Freedomland U.S.A.

The park featured seven areas of attraction. 1) Little Old New York set in the late 1800’s which had a horse-pulled trolley, a recreation of Macy’s first department store, a brewery sponsored by Schaefer, and a deli. There was 2) The Great Plains set in the 19th century with a replica of an Army stockade known as Fort Cavalry, an apartment sponsored by Borden featuring Elsie the Cow, a merry-go-round powered by mules, the Pony Express which was a ride that took you to the next area of the park, 3) The Old Southwest. There’s a recreation of a gun fight, a Mexican restaurant, an underground train ride through mines, and a herd of cows with a cowboy. Another part of the park was dedicated to 4) Chicago in the year 1871. That year is significant because of the Great Chicago Fire which is featured in this area. Guests and actors help put out a fire using 19th century equipment.
Freedomland U.S.A.

5) San Francisco in the early 1900’s featured a Chinatown, several places to eat, a simulation of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, and a boat ride. There was a 6) New Orleans section of the park which allowed the visitor to go through Civil War battle grounds, a pirate-themed boat ride, a maze where the walls are mirrors, a bunch of rides one of which was through a simulated tornado. The seventh area was called Satellite Future. The focus here is on space and science from a rocket control room like what you would see at NASA, a moving sidewalk, a simulated rocket flight, and something called Moon Bowl which was a stage that many performers did their thing. Who? How about Bobby Darin!? And Bobby Rydell, the Everly Brothers, Brenda Lee and Patti Page. Whoa!
Freedomland U.S.A.

So what happened to Freedomland U.S.A.? It was simply not making a profit. Every year it was losing more money than it was making. I’m no expert, but I’m guessing that being it was a theme park in the northern part of the United States, it was a seasonal attraction. Unlike Disneyland which is in sunny California, Freedomland was only open from May to October. That’s six months of without revenue. Sadly, it stayed in business for only five seasons and in 1964 shut down.
Freedomland U.S.A.

When I hear stories about places going out of business I always ask, what happened to all the stuff. Much of it was simply destroyed, some rides were sold off to other parks, but there’s something from Freedomland U.S.A. that is still in one piece today; The Canadian which was the steamboat used in the park. According to a 2008 article in the New York Post, it’s docked in Port Chester, New York. It’s also been modernized, so while the shape remains the same, the exterior has a more modern look and it is now called The Showboat.
Freedomland U.S.A.

Check out the videos below to see what how fun Freedomland U.S.A. was to the visitors of the park.

[Via] All Classic Video

[Via] Hugo Faces