New Orleans Square

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New Orleans Square is located between Adventureland, Frontierland and Critter Country. The two main attractions here, The Haunted Mansion, and Pirates of the Caribbean are two of the most popular attractions in the park. Waterfront entertainment featuring Fantasmic! through the holiday season, and various live musicians in the dining and shopping areas make this one of the more popular lands in the park.

In late September, Haunted Mansion Holiday takes over Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion.

Dining experiences like The Blue Bayou and Cafe Orleans offer table service dining, while quick snacks can be purchased from a variety of locations.

View of the restaurant from inside the attraction.
The Blue Bayou – A Restaurant inside the Pirates of the Caribbean Attraction

Above the Pirates of the Caribbean queue is the Disneyland Dream Suite, which was a daily prize given away during the Year of a Million Dreams campaign in 2008. It occasionally hosts special guests in the park. A secret elevator entrance gives guests private access to the Suite.

Disneyland’s Pirates Lair, formerly Tom Sawyer’s Island, features fun daytime activities for children of all ages. Caves, climbing and exploring will keep children entertained. Simply take a raft from the Rivers of America dock, leaving every few minutes.

The Disneyland Railroad will take you to other destinations in Disneyland (other stations are located in Mickey’s Toontown, Tomorrowland and Main Street USA.

Don’t miss the all-new Fantasmic! Recently upgraded and featuring an all-new dragon finale,  this fantastic show has never looked or sounded better. Stake out a place along the river early if you intend to watch the first show of the evening – watching later shows simply means moving in at the conclusion of the show.

The Haunted Mansion / Holiday

Now Open, Haunted Mansion Holiday overlooks the Rivers of America, and is located near Splash Mountain. Your “Ghost Host” takes you through the mansion with 999 happy haunts (but there’s room for 1000, any volunteers?). Even after more than 30 years, still an enjoyable attraction with some amazing special effects. Guests first make their way through a small foyer, then enter a  gallery, which begins to “stretch” and lowers. Guests then walk down a hallway with changing portraits and board “Doom Buggies” and are taken through hallways with creaking doors, through a séance with Madame Leota, a haunted ballroom, a haunted attic, and finally through a graveyard where “grim grinning ghosts come out to socialize”.

The Characters

The original Mansion characters were designed by Disney Imagineer Marc Davis, who is also credited with the Pirates of the Caribbean and It’s a Small World, and others. Your “Ghost Host” is the voice of the late Paul Frees, (who also did the narration for the original Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln, and Adventure Thru Innerspace, among others, pictured right),  with the talents of  Thurl Ravenscroft singing the lead vocals to “Grim Grinning Ghosts”. (A theme which is repeated throughout the attraction). The music was written by Buddy Baker, and the lyrics and much of the original script was written by Disney Imagineer “X”. Atencio (Francis Xavier).

Madame Leota, a disembodied head in a crystal ball, is the face of  Leota Thomas, (an artist working at Disney Imagineering during the construction of the Mansion in 1960’s, and was originally just a “stand in” to test the special effec)t. Imagineers were so impressed with her performance that they kept the original and thus, “Madame Leota” was born. The voice of Leota is the voice of Eleanor Audley, who Disney fans may remember was the voice of Lady Tremain in Cinderella and the equally evil Maleficent in Sleeping Beauty.

Frequently called “Little Leota”, the figure at the conclusion on the ride features the original voice of Leota Thomas. For Haunted Mansion Holiday, the face and voice in the crystal ball is Kim Irvine, the daughter of the late Leota Thomas, who now works for Disney Imaginearing.

Wonder who those Singing Busts are? The singing busts are the following men: Thurl Ravenscroft (Pictured, left), Chuck Schroeder, Bob Ebright, Jay Myers, and Vern Rowe. Thurl is the only member of ‘The Mellomen’ who originally sang the vocals, and the other men featured were simply used because of their easy availability.

They were recently paid tribute in film version of the Haunted Mansion as the singing busts. They were originally to have the facial features of Paul Frees, Thurl Ravenscroft, Blaine Gibson (sculptor for WED) and were voiced by current members of the Dapper Dans at Disneyland.

Thurl Ravenscroft passed away May 22nd, 2005.

Pirates of the Caribbean

This attraction, the centerpiece of New Orleans Square, is, without a doubt, the most detailed and intricate attraction the Disney Imagineers have ever created.

Boasting a cast of 67 human figures, 55 animals, and numerous animated props, The Pirates of the Caribbean is one of the most entertaining attractions in the park. Riders board flat bottomed boats, which at first float through a quiet bayou, then plunge into the depths of the pirates lair. Forbidden treasures and the first hints of a curse magically transport you to the actual events to witness the pirates ransacking a small Spanish coastal village, and the eventual fiery finale.

This was the last attraction that Walt Disney worked on extensively before his death. It opened just one month after his death in 1966. (The attraction opened publicly in February 1967). Primary character design was headed by Disney veteran Marc Davis, with some of the costumes designed and constructed by his wife, Alice. Claude Coats designed the many lavishly detailed sets and exteriors in the attraction. Master Illusionary Yale Gracey provided the special effects used in the ride, primarily in the burning town sequences. Many of the audio animatronics figures were designed by animator-turned-sculptor Blaine Gibson. The dialog in the ride itself, along with the lyrics for the popular theme were written by animator X. Antencio.

Much of the show building exists outside of Disneyland itself, and boats must travel underneath the earthen berm that surrounds the park. (It’s a common misconception that Pirates is completely underground. The queue and boarding areas, as well as the Blue Bayou restaurant, exist on the 2nd level of the enormous structure where New Orleans Square resides. The interiors of the ride exist at ground level. The buildings you across the tracks near the New Orleans Square Railroad Station are actually false fronts hiding the huge show building.

Heading up the cast of voices for the theme, (listen below) is again Thurl Ravenscroft, (who also is featured in Disney’s Haunted Mansion, The Enchanted Tiki Room and The Mark Twain), joined this time by the Mellomen singing “Yo Ho”. If you listen closely in the ride, Thurl is the voice of the drunk pirate singing along with the theme. Other vocal talent includes Paul Frees (the Haunted Mansion ‘Ghost Host’), which voices many of the primary and secondary characters in the attraction. Johnny Depp voices the new Jack Sparrow audio animatronics figures (there are 3) and Geoffrey Rush voices Captain Barbossa.   When the attraction was updated a few years ago, additional  vocal work was done by Corey Burton (most notably the “stuffed pirate”) And lastly, the Jolly Roger, warning of impeding danger at the start of the attraction, is the voice of X Antencio, the Imagineer who also wrote the script. (who’s voice is often heard on the Haunted Mansion ‘breakdown’ spiel).

  Pirates of the Caribbean: The films!

The attraction has inspired legion a films of the same name; Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl has domestically grossed upwards of 400 Million. The film, starring Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom and Geoffrey Rush, had received a lukewarm response from critics at first, but the phenomenal success of the film has made it an instant classic. A huge World Premiere event at Disneyland on June 28, 2003and was repeated on June 24th, 2006, along with the opening of the newly refurbished and updated Pirates of the Caribbean, featuring new audio animatronics figures of Captain Jack Sparrow and Captain Barbossa. A similar makeover of the attraction at WDW’s Magic Kingdom reopens July 7th to coincide with the opening of the film.

Captain Barbossa

Pirates of the Caribbean Additions (Spoilers!)

3 audio animatronics figures of Captain Jack Sparrow have been added to the attraction. The first is visible in the Mayor Dunking Scene. Captain Jack is hiding behind a mannequin figure (see photo, left) The next is the Gluttony Scene where Sparrow peeks out from inside a barrel (this was a reworking of the original 1967 scene which featured a scared female emerging from the barrel). The final scene in the attraction which originally featured two pirates pushing their ‘loot’ up the final lift has been replaced by a seated audio animatronic figure of Captain Jack Sparrow singing a portion of the ‘Yo Ho’ theme.

Additional figures such as Captain Barbossa (played by Geoffrey Rush in the film, and voicing the character here) along with the ghostly image of Davy Jones (played and voiced by Bill Nighey), and Blackbeard, added with Pirates of the Caribbean 4.

The Disneyland Railroad

Hop on aboard for a trip around the Magic Kingdom. Along the way, you’ll experience the Grand Canyon, as well as a visit to the Primeval World. The Railroad stops in the following lands: Main Street USA, New Orleans Square, Mickey’s Toontown and Tomorrowland. The entire trip around the Magic Kingdom, with stops, takes about 20 minutes.

While waiting for the train, you’ll notice a station across the tracks. This was the original station for Frontierland. When construction began on New Orleans Square, the small station was relocated across the tracks. At that time, a new station platform was built (the current station). The remaining space was used for The Haunted Mansion.

For the 1949 film “So Dear to My Heart”, a small train station is featured. After filming was completed, Disney animator Ward Kimball took the set pieces to feature on his Grizzly Flats Railroad, his own personal railroad on his property. The set pieces were not built to last, thus Ward ended up building most of the station himself.

When money started to get tight for the building of Disneyland in early 1955, Walt asked for the train station back. Ward, who had spent quite a bit of money on the station at this point, reluctantly agreed. The station ended up being built from the plans that Ward still had, (photo, right) so Ward was able to keep his station

From the station, you’ll hear what appears to be Morse Code. It’s actually land-line telegraphy and it is Walt Disney’s Opening Day speech.

Tips for Parents

The Disneyland Railroad is a great place to relax, but beyond the Tomorrowland station is the Primeval World and Grand Canyon Diorama. The dinosaurs and scary music in this section may frighten small children. If you think they might be scared, try boarding the train at the Main Street Station and exit the train in Tomorrowland.