Phantom Manor is back. After 16 months of closure, speculation, rumours and announcements the iconic Disneyland Paris attraction has finally reopened. For dedicated fans and regular guests alike the wait has been eternal.
The refurbishment project for the Frontierland dark ride may well be the most expansive and ambitious cleanup in DLP history. A wide variety of new additions and changes have been made all throughout the eerie tour of Ravenswood Manor. Some elements have also been removed, meeting their mortal fate by the progression of time and Imagineering.
In this four part series each and every detail regarding the Phantom Manor refurbishment will be identified and showcased. Being such a hardcore super-fan of the attraction and experiencing its new look for myself I’ve gone through every aspect of the Manor to find what’s new, what’s different and what’s gone.
For this part I will be detailing every change, addition and removal of props and effects inside Phantom Manor’s pre-show. This means everything from the moment you enter the grand doors of the house, through the Stretch Room and into your iconic Doombuggy.
If you missed part 1, be sure to catch up and find out all that has changed to the exterior of the attraction by clicking here.
A word of immortal wisdom for the cautious… This article (and entire series) goes into detail about everything there is to know about Phantom Manor post-refurbishment. That is to say, there will be spoilers throughout its entirety like an endless hallway of secrets.
If you do not want to learn anything about what is new, gone or different from the attraction, turn back now. Once you have experienced the Manor’s returned we’d be dying to have you back. For the curious souls left, have a frightfully good time…
CHANGE – Foyer Portrait
As you return inside the walls of Phantom Manor and into the Foyer, one change will become immediate in the corner of the room. The old framed mirror, which would on command materialise the image of, Melanie Ravenswood, is gone.
In its place is a new piece, a rectangular framed portrait of Melanie and her father Henry Ravenswood, donning their iconic bridal gown and a black caped suit respectfully. The pair have been painted on the street of Thunder Mesa, the menacing appearance of Phantom Manor in the background.
As the foreboding voice continues from seemingly nowhere, the image changes before guests eyes. The portrait becomes one telling a tale of old glory. The house is shown in its original Ravenswood Manor state. Melanie now sports a blue dress, while Henry transforms into a cleaner, happier version of himself.
NEW – Foyer wallpaper and lighting
The other visual addition inside Phantom Manor’s foyer is a brand new wallpaper design found in the upper regions of the walls. Although still in the Victorian style very reminiscant to the rest of the house, the walls appear weathered and beaten. Wood and plaster now seeping through age and neglect of the room.
Just as how the portrait of Melanie and her father transforms within the foyer, so too does the wallpaper to reveal a time of old glory for the room. Clever lighting now showcases the walls to a former dark yellow. This transformation also unveils a dark, purple fabric draped behind the new portrait, joining the vibrant red curtains seen around the front windows.
CHANGE – Vincent Price’s voice returns
Originally announced during the Disney FanDaze panel with lead Imagineer to the Phantom Manor refurbishment Tom Fitzgerald, the legendary Vincent Price audio recorded shortly before the actor’s passing has returned to the attraction.
Found within the Foyer, Stretch Room and Corridor of the queue, Price’s iconic spiel is accompanied in English by a version in French. Each line is taken in turns said first by the horror genre legend, then translated into the Disneyland Paris native tongue.
Though most of the audio appears, some lines originally found in the 1992 spiel have been cut. One example such as the reference to Melanie being “lovely, isn’t she?” In their place are several new lines alluding to the several story changes. It is not confirmed yet whether these are original, previously unused audio from the recording session with Vincent Price or merely a sound-alike. I am however inclined to believe the latter is much more likely.
Interesting to note too, the original French voice over done by Gérard Chévalier appears to have been totally replaced. The new French voice is currently unknown.
NEW – Sound effects entering Stretch Room
As the mysterious doors to the Stretch Room open and you are guided to enter by the accompanying Cast Member, new sound effects have been added between set pieces. The clanking of metal and sound of pulling chains can be heard emitting around the room. The sounds continue until all guests have entered the room and the doors are closed, allowing the next part of the experience to begin.
As of yet the narrative driven origin for these sounds remains unknown.
CHANGE – Stretch Room portraits
As part of the major story changes made to the attraction all of the original stretch room portraits found in Phantom Manor have been removed and replaced. Now inside the iconic room you will find four paintings featuring Melanie with each of her late suitors. As the room begins to stretch, Melanie ‘vanishes’ from each portrait before their untimely demise is revealed.
Each portrait depicts the follow new character and their fate:
Barry Claude – A suited gentleman stood in front of several oil drills, before revealing his position atop of a tree with a ferocious Grizzly Bear below him.
Ignatius “Iggy” Knight – A man donning Western businessman attire inside a mineshaft, revealed to in fact be standing atop of several boxes of dynamite – already ignited.
Sawyer Bottom – A suited fellow seen inside a factory only to found sat atop of a wooden log, edging towards a spinning buzz saw.
Captain Rowan D. Falls – A naval Captain stood in front of Frontierland’s own Mark Twain, revealed to be sat in a small rowing boat heading over a waterfall.
REMOVED – Hanging groom
A once integral part of the attraction prior to the Phantom Manor Refurbishment the groom has been removed from his only appearance within the attraction. Originally, Melanie’s husband to be would briefly be seen from the Stretch Room as lighting struck near the attic. Hanged by the neck as the menacing Phantom laughed maniacally.
In this updated scene, only the Phantom remains with the same iconic laughter of before. Interesting the noose, that was once the murder weapon to the groom victim, is still present. An intention directed to the guest?
NEW – Phantom Red Eyes
Throughout the attraction the titular antagonist the Phantom is of course seen several times by passing guests. Though never addressed as such his black suit and cape, top hat and silver skull head makes him an unforgettable character that haunts the walls of Ravenswood Manor.
A new physical feature can be added to his description, however. Each and ever appearance of the Phantom now includes the character with glowing red eyes found within his skull sockets.
CHANGE – Hallway artwork
Exiting the Stretch Room and continuing your journey through the Manor’s hallway more changes can be found. The changing paintings of old have all been removed and replaced. Four new pieces of artwork can be found:
The Cowboy – A man in the traditional Wild West get up is depicted on horseback. Through time the painting is changed to present both the cowboy and horse in skeleton form.
The Master – A traditional portrait of the house’s former owner and father of protagonist Melanie, Henry Ravenswood. He is dressed in a dark suit and top hat with his arms crossed. As the portrait changes, Henry is transformed into the iconic appearance of the Phantom. This marks the first and only definitive answer that Henry Ravenswood is now identified as the mysterious character.
The Duel – Two gentlemen in suits face back to back, pistols drawn for a tradition gun duel. Phantom Manor can be seen in the background placing the piece as set in Thunder Mesa. When the picture changes we see one of the men has turned early, shooting the other in the back.
The Ship – A grand ship is seen embarking on a voyage through stormy seas. When the painting changes over time, we then see the ship engulfed in flames. It’s sails ripped and hull beaten presumable by an attack.
CHANGE – The Following Bust
One of the oldest but most memorable effects in all of Phantom Manor, eagle eyed guests will notice just before entering their Doombuggy the bust of a head that seemingly follows them across the room.
With the refurbishment, the bust has been completely replaced and updated to give a much more effect and realistic effect. The former green and black appearance of the bust has been changed to a more traditional ceramic colour. The design has also been entirely reworked to a much more human face.
CHANGE – Doombuggies
Although not the most recognisable change from the Phantom Manor refurbishment, seasoned visitors to the attraction will immediately notice differences in the classic ride vehicles used to take you across the haunted homestead.
Upon taking your seat inside the black omnimover vehicle you will feel that gone is the hard, plastic bottom and in its place is padding. That isn’t the only change you will notice within the Doombuggy either as the once automatically dropping lap bar is now completely manual. A bizarre choice in 2019, this now means reliance on the Cast Member or the guest themselves to pull the bar down.
The reason for these minor but noticeable changes is quite clear: these are entirely new Doombuggies. Again this is something the majority of guests may not ever notice, but those overly familiar with Phantom Manor will note that front curve that once cupped the lower third of the vehicle is much shorter than before. This change suggests that these are an entirely different model of omnimover cars rather than modified versions of the 1992 buggies.
For the next installment of this series, we will be boarding our Doombuggy and taking you for a tour into Phantom Manor itself. Do join me in Part 3 as we discuss all the updates and alterations made to the true soul of the attraction, the show itself.
And as always, you can contact me with your thoughts and feedback on the other side… or as you mortals may call it, Twitter.