Well, here we are, folks. Phantom Manor is back open (in AP Previews this week) and many Guests have already had the chance to experience the “re-imagined” attraction, including our team.
Phantom Manor is a beloved attraction with an opinionated fan base, and so it is normal that people will have a different take on the changes that were made. In order to give you an overview of what has been done and what Guests reactions have been, we’ve collected a number of opinions within our team and other Guests and here are the 10 most recurring points, presented to you pro/con style. (You can watch our full POV video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nRFTUl6txoQ)
Warning: contains spoilers!
- Vincent Price’s narration
What a treat! The restored voice over takes the story to a whole new level. Mysterious, intriguing, riveting. The Phantom is here, with you, and he has dark intentions. The English and French voices mix, it is what it is, but it works.
- The new Foyer and Stretch Room
Phantom Manor needed a technological upgrade. Stuck in the 90’s, the attraction was getting dusty and (whether we want to admit it or not), less appealing to the younger generation of Guests who maybe have gotten use to more recent “wow attractions”. A “old to new” effect now transforms the Foyer, while the stretch room has been completely ripped apart to feature the Bride’s four suitors (plot twist) and their tragic fate, introducing a WHOLE new story to the attraction that is clearer and easier to follow. Of course while it will take time for everyone to get used to it, it has been a big « wow » moment for many Guests.
- Lighting and Effects
Phantom Manor was very much stuck in the 90’s when it comes to lighting. The attraction did go through a number of refurbishments over the years, some came with upgrades, but had never undergone such an in-depth floor to ceiling overhaul. The attraction now benefits from LED technology, of course, and projection technology to not only look better but also look better longer. A special note for the loading area which has gained in drama, and Phantom Canyon where the Ghosts now have a green-ish glow-ish hue and a new color scheme (including a dark sky) that really builds on and enhances the original creation.
- Melanie’s Mirror appearance
We all remember the classic ghosts who are just dying to come home with you. Gone are the ghosts. From now on, Melanie herself will sit in your doom buggy and she has a proposition for you…
- The relationship between Melanie and the Phantom
Now this is more a subjective one. But let us explain: when you see Melanie, the Phantom is never far away. This constant watch by the Phantom contributes to elevate the story to new levels of darkness. Yes, the storyline has been altered, and Tom Fitzgerald was crystal clear at a presentation on stage that The Phantom IS Melanie’s father, but in the end this loss of “mystery” brings in a new layer of story telling which is welcome, even if it will take some getting used to.
- The Music
Oh boy. The number one fan outrage definitely relates to the music. Gone is the beautiful continuous organic loop that made Phantom Manor so unique and special. Instead, Imagineers decided that each room was going to get its own soundtrack, more or less, with bits of quasi silence in between. This is a case of “why fix it if it’s not broken”. Maybe a new “mix” for the attraction would have been welcome, to freshen things up, but why break everything up and add in extracts from Haunted Mansion? The road to copy-pasting of all attractions around the world is a slippery one and also one that we do not want to take.
- The Seance Room
What have you been up to, Madame Leota? Not much it seems. Apart from a technical refresh, the Seance Room was practically untouched. Fans were expecting a floating Leota, maybe some projections or added effects to add a bit of much needed kinetics to this scene. Missed opportunity here, but maybe for another refurbishment?
- Some cheap Ghosts and Phantom effects
The Phantom got his lot of changes, from new clothes to new effects throughout, some of these fall flat (in every scene, a choice was made to give him sort of Terminator red eyes). In the Canyon scene, a ghost drinks a potion.. not very convincingly. Overall, a few of the Animatronics effects have been described as a bit “cheap”.
- Basic Doom Buggies
Well we got some padding! But this could have been a good opportunity to modernize the Omnimover with on-board audio (why not even multilingual). We also note that the bar does not lower by itself anymore.
- No “major” addition
This is a tough one. This Phantom Manor refurbishment is part of Project Sparkle, a Disneyland Paris 25 project aimed at modernizing and refreshing all of the Park’s main attractions. As such, no one expected something extraordinary, but fans still hoped for a big new “wow” scene or animatronic. None of that, and maybe apart from the Stretch Room, the attraction will appear very similar to unsuspecting Guests
So, was it worth the wait? In our opinion, YES. The Imagineers have done a great job upgrading the attraction for a new generation of Guests. The pros vastly outweigh the cons (the music remaining a big sticking point). Fans will need a little time to process all these changes to their beloved Manor, but overall we expect Guests to be ecstatic about the new version, as they enjoy visually stunning journey all while being more able to understand the tragic story.
Come out to socialize, Phantom Manor opens to all Guests from May 3, 2019!