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Arts and Entertainment

Documentary Explores The Fan Culture Of Disneyland's Haunted Mansion

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Of all the attractions one might visit at Disneyland, the Haunted Mansion seems to have the most diehard devotees. Filmmaker James H. Carter II has been working on a documentary that explores the fan culture surrounding the Mansion, with interview subjects that include actors, artists, home haunters, cosplayers and even some of the Imagineers themselves. Carter is currently in the final round of funding, and if all goes well, anticipates having a completed film by March of 2017. Carter grew up in Southern California, spent a number of years in New Jersey, and then moved to Huntington Beach specifically to be closer to Disneyland. In part, this was because in 2013, Carter began a podcast called Creepy Kingdom that explores the spookier tales and elements of the family-friendly park and films.

As Carter was led deeper down the rabbit hole of Haunted Mansion fandom, he found it fascinating that a single attraction could affect so many different types of people, and in so many different ways. For some, it's professional: the ride has inspired horror filmmakers, haunted house creators, costume designers and artists. Others have been moved by it on a personal level, relating to the creepy characters on a level they were unable to achieve with the more mainstream princesses and heroes of the same universe.

“There are a lot of fans of horror that love the Haunted Mansion that are not necessarily Disney fans, and I tried to figure out why. The conclusion I came up with is that for most horror fans, or the ones I’ve spoken with at least, is that Haunted Mansion was their first exposure to anything macabre or creepy, and you either hate it, or you gravitate towards it and keep seeking it out,” he said. “I find that element very interesting.”

He found the fans by putting out an open call on Creepy Kingdom, the selected interviews based on the submissions he received. While they haven’t traveled to all the necessary areas to complete all of their interviews, he does have quite a variety of folks lined up. Interviews include legendary Imagineer Roland Crump, who is largely responsible for the Mansion’s aesthetics and design, and former Imagineer Jason Surrell. Diana Vick is a Seattle woman who creates beautiful costumes and art, some of it inspired by the Mansion. In one image from the documentary, she is seen clad in a spot-on recreation of an outfit worn by Gracey, an Attractionistas doll created by Disney. Also appearing will be the founder of Bats Day, the annual ‘goth’ day at Disneyland, as well as people who have decked their home out to look like the attraction.

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Due to Disneyland rules, none of the documentary will be filmed at the actual park, but many of the interviews do take place in the worlds of the interview subjects.

To learn more about the film or to support their final round of fundraising, you can visit their GoFundMe here or watch their campaign video below.

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