Kids and adults obsessed with Disney’s classic attraction, The Haunted Mansion, can now bring the magic of the afterlife home with them. From Disney Parks and Disney Press comes a hardcover children’s picture book with new, original artwork that takes you through the mansion’s many dark corners while reciting the lyrics to “Grimm Grinning Ghosts.” With a bonus CD featuring the haunting melody, it’s a perfect souvenir to remember that time a ghost followed you home.
Illustrator James Gilleard provides the illustrations in this 32-page full color book. Your tour begins in the stretching portrait gallery and Gilleard’s artwork has recaptured the brilliance of many of Mark Davis’s designs. Harkening back to an early concept for the attraction, the black raven offers a consistent through line with his presence on each page.
My first question when I saw this book was “Which version of The Haunted Mansion is this?” Disneyland’s mansion exterior is on the cover, but I assumed the interior would offer a mash-up of the Disneyland and Disney World versions. Disneyland purists will be happy to hear that this is 100% Disneyland’s mansion, while Florida vacationers may be said to find that the rooms exclusive to that park are missing (no library, conservatory or endless staircase).
The attention to detail is wonderful, including the varying carpet and wallpaper patterns and some of Rolly Crump’s curious furniture designs. In a nod to the past, Madam Leota is featured resting on the table and floating above it on two pages devoted to the seance scene. The attic scene also features the Hatbox Ghost at the start of the scene as originally planned, rather than at the very end where he exists today. And in case you were wondering, his head is off his shoulders.
The CD is housed in an envelope affixed to the inside cover and features the 5 minute 30 second classic that has been on every Disney Parks compilation album since the attraction debuted. The lyrics by X. Attencio provide the only text found in the book, a fun way to recreate the experience of The Haunted Mansion. And my favorite spoken moment of the attraction, Little Leota’s farewell, grimly graces the final pages.
Who do I recommend The Haunted Mansion picture book for? Literally anyone. I greatly enjoyed the detailed artwork as an adult fan, but this book also offers a perfect opportunity to introduce kids who may be too afraid to step inside into the wonders that await if they can muster the bravery. And for those who’ve already entered a Doom Buggy, a wonderful way to remember the 999 happy haunts they encountered that day.