Hello, and welcome to this week's 'From The Mouth Of The Mouse!'
Each week, we spotlight a different Cast Member story to give you more insight into some of your favorite attractions, resorts, and movies from all over the Walt Disney Company.
Today's interview is with Constance, who works at my favorite Walt Disney World attraction, the Haunted Mansion!
Now, you may look at the name of today's interviewee, and ask yourself: "Constance? Haunted Mansion? That seems awfully familiar..."
And you would be right!
You see, Constance still works at the Park. While she kindly agreed to do an interview, she didn't want to get in trouble with the higher-ups. So, just in case, I've changed her name to protect her identity.
And since she works at the Haunted Mansion, what better pseudonym than the name of the resident Black Widow Bride herself, Constance Hathaway!
JEFF: How long have you worked at the Magic Kingdom?
JEFF: Have you always worked at the Haunted Mansion?
CONSTANCE: Gosh, it's now just over 25 years! I've been there for quite some time.
CONSTANCE: No, I've been all around the Park. But I've been at the Mansion the longest.
I started out as a ticket taker at the main entrance. I did that for about a year before being moved over into merchandise. I worked at Bwana Bob's in Adventureland for a bit, and then on Main Street, U.S.A. for awhile.
Eventually, I was shifted into attractions, because they were short-handed one day, and I've been there ever since.
I started in Fantasyland at the 20,000 Leagues unload. From there, I bounced around to almost all of the biggies, before eventually winding up at the Mansion. Like the 999 other happy haunts there, I haven't left yet!
JEFF: You must really enjoy the Mansion to have worked there so long. What about it do you like so much?
CONSTANCE: I absolutely love it. But what do I love about it so much? I could ask you the same question!JEFF: I know it's not required of you, but I do know that some Cast Members who work at the Mansion create an unofficial back story for their character. Did you?
I don't know what it is exactly, but it has such a different feel than the rest of the attractions do. We're all Cast Members at the Park, but the Mansion is one of the very few where you play a 'role.' You're supposed to smile everywhere as an employee, and when I started, the Haunted Mansion was the one place you weren't supposed to smile. You had to fit in with the somewhat dour surroundings, so being straight-faced and rigid were just part of the act.
I loved doing that. It sometimes felt like being one of the Royal Guards at Buckingham Palace, because some guests will try their best to get you to break character and laugh. Most of the time, I can keep a straight face and maintain my character, but sometimes I just can't help it. We'd all have a good laugh!
CONSTANCE: I did! I was originally a maid for Master Gracey, back before the Mansion turned into its current form. I was married to one of the butlers, and we lived together in the servant's quarters.
Unfortunately, I made the mistake of having a torrid affair with one of the kitchen staff, a cook to be exact. When my husband found out, he went mad, and killed us both in a fit of rage and jealousy. I've been spending my afterlife trying to make up for my mistake, and earn my husband's forgiveness. But rumor has it that he flung himself into the nearby river, never to be seen again, living... or dead.
JEFF: I love that sort of stuff! You guys really go out of your way to make your characters come 'alive', even though few will ever hear these stories.
CONSTANCE: I don't know what happened to it, but there used to be a book we kept of everyone's stories. Aside from just ours, we also created unofficial biographies for some of the Mansion's more famous residents.
There's a website I found not long ago that has a few of them, but nowhere near as many as we had in the book. It was fun to come up with this stuff. It made the job, and who we were, more real to us!
JEFF: Aside from that, is there anything else you do that isn't required of you?
CONSTANCE: When working in the stretch rooms, we will sometimes scream real loud when there was a break in the narration. It would be different every time, and not for any particular reason. It would just scare the hell out of guests, and give them a nice little fright to start their ride.JEFF: How do you feel about the new queue?
We, or at least I, try not to do it when there were younger children in the crowd, so as not to scare them, but there were a few times when I didn't notice them. I hope I didn't scar them for life!
We also used to make sure a fresh, red rose was on Master Gracey's headstone almost every morning. It's been sort of a tradition for years. I don't know who started it, but one of us always tried to remember to bring one in. Now that they moved it into the new area, we haven't really done it as much.
The guests, though, have been seeing it for years, so they kind of took it upon themselves to start leaving their own roses. I thought it was pretty cool for them to carry on this Cast Member tradition.
CONSTANCE: You know, there has been a lot of debate about it that I've read online. Many people feel that it ruins the mood and the setting of the whole attraction. The Mansion starts off pretty spooky to begin with, and then about halfway through it turns into the more goofy (no pun intended!) get-together of all these ghosts.
I've heard people argue that the new queue throws the goofy stuff at you too soon, and ruins the flow of the attraction. But, to me, I think it adds to it. First off, it's optional. You don't have to go through it, so if the purists don't want to see it, they don't have to.
Second, it does present the funny stuff early. I think that'll help a lot of young kids who don't want to go into that scary old mansion see that it's really not so bad. They see all this funny stuff going on, and they get into it. They can interact with the tombs, play the piano, answer riddles - it gets them interested, and I like that a lot.
So, my thoughts are, if you don't want to see it, don't go through it!
I also like all the new headstones and tombs that they added outside with tributes to the Imagineers.
And I like how they embedded an actual ring in the concrete. For years, there was an old pole that had been cut away, with a small part of it left in the concrete. People claimed it looked like a ring, and that it was the Bride's ring which she threw out the window when her husband left. That was an unofficial story for years. But now, the Imagineers put an ACTUAL ring in the ground, making the story official. I thought that was cool, too!
I'm still not 100% sold on the new Hitchhiking Ghosts. But they are growing on me!
JEFF: Any secrets you can tell us that we don't already know?
CONSTANCE: I'm sure it's stuff that you already know, but for the sake of everyone else...well, they aren't really secrets, but there are a couple of things you should look out for.Thank you, Constance, for sharing with me. I'll be sure to say hello the next time I visit your, um, lovely home!
When you first get into your Doom Buggy, be sure to look up the staircase before the portrait hallway. Lots of people miss it, but there is a family portrait there and another floating candle holder.
Oh, and hang around for a few seconds before leaving the stretch room. The gargoyles giggle every once in awhile.
This isn't something you can really see, unless you need special assistance getting on the ride, but the Cast Members Only door near the ride exit has a board where keys for the mansion's many rooms were hung. Each hook is labeled and once had a key under it. Over the years, though, the keys slowly disappeared, and now only a few are left. Not many people besides Cast Members ever see that!
Don't forget come back each week to hear more of the magic directly From the Mouth of the Mouse.
If you are, or know, a Cast Member who would like to share some of their stories and possibly be featured right here on MiceChat, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I'd love to hear from you!
Jeff also writes a MiceChat column titled The 626. We invite you to check it out!
Jeff also co-hosts the VidCast Communicore Weekly on MiceTube.
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