Posted by on November 30, 2008

What do you get when you mash up the American historicist fantasy of the home with the haunted house house, destination leisure, videogames and an insatiable taste for post-modern irony?


This video provides a walkthrough of a Counter-Strike mod simulating the famous recreation in Disney World’s Magic Kingdom of the equally famous original facsimile haunted house in California’s Disneyland (The Disney World version is set in Liberty Square rather than New Orleans and oddly features a Tudor manor facade with ornament pulled directly from the chess board).
What to make of this? Well a few points come to mind and deserve some sort of integrated theory at some point:
  • The haunted house is a popular form of American myth
  • There is a specific form of haunted house that is distinctly American, although tightly tied to the Gothic revival in architecture of the early 1800 and conindicing with the rise of Gothic horror literature (such as Shelley’s Frankenstein in 1818).
  • The original Haunted Mansion shows the link to architecture is more tenuous than that to literature (since the Disneyland building looks like an antebellum mansion with a strong Greek revival portico and nothing of the Gothic).
  • However, the Disney castmembers who acts as guides in the ride model their behavior after dour Victorian maids and butlers.
  • Part of the fun of a Disney park is that it obviously plays with being real, while remaining childish and intentionally not real.
  • Which leads to a twin facincation with its reality/unreality that transfer through to a virtual recreation inside a game engine.
  • The video viewers facincation is, in part, a marveling at the level of detail that went into the recreation of the Mansion as a 3D model. An equal part of the attraction is reliving the ride in simulated form, recognizing detail that makes the artificial recreation feel more real.
  • The unifying principle of the Disney Haunted Mansions and Mansion simulations relates directly to their visibility–how much they look like amusing, stsylized version of places that only ever existed in imagination and literature.
Finally, I should point out, there are many more of these ride recreations. Ride simulation remains a healthy culture!
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