Since my running blog is built upon my love of the Haunted Mansion at the Disney Parks, I found this trick that is used in the attraction, and thought I would share it. Pretty neat stuff!
The experience: The Grand Hall plays host to a dinner party, complete with birthday cake, music and dancing ghosts that seem to glide gracefully around the dancefloor.
How it works: This is one of the most famous Disney effects of all, but the company didn’t invent the technique. In fact, the “Pepper’s Ghost” illusion is based on a term coined in the 1800s by a professor of chemistry at the London Polytechnic Institure.
The ghosts that you see dancing and celebrating in the Grand Hall are actually animatronic figures in black rooms above and below the mezzanine that your Doom Buggy is on. There is a gigantic pane of glass between the riders and the Grand Hall. A light source shines on the animatronics below, which reflects them off of the glass and makes it appear as though they’re actually in the Grand Hall.
You can even test this method for yourself, by following the steps below:
- Take a small to medium sized box and line the inside with black material.
- Place a light-colored object in the box.
- Remove the glass from a picture frame.
- While standing behind the box and holding the glass a couple of feet in front of the box, use a flashlight to shine light into the box (a second person makes this all a bit easier, so get help if possible).
- Your object will be reflected in the glass in front of you! Now, imagine a tiny track of buggies passing in front of that pane of glass and you’ll get a clear idea of how Pepper’s Ghost works for the Haunted Mansion.
At 30 by 90 feet, the Haunted Mansion has the largest Pepper’s Ghost setup in the world. The Disney team actually made a mistake when setting this scene up. The dancing animatronic figures were created to have the men lead but, when reflected in the glass, the women lead.