While going through the Haunted Mansion on your Doombuggy you travel through a twisting corridor lined with a creepy purple wallpaper, portraits of the dead, and a series of ominous doors. Some of the doors sit static, others bulge out, some rattle and knock, and others are being pushed open by skeletal hands from inside.
A while back I was buying something on Etsy and saw the vendor had a replica of the curving snake door handle from the Haunted Mansion corridor of doors. I could not resist buying them and thought they might look good mounted on a plaque or something similar. Months passed I was looking at some of the left over Styrofoam 4’x8′ sheets from the Haunted Mansion 13 Hour Monster Clock we built. I loved how the Styrofoam had a texture that looked like old cracked wood. I had a fleeting thought of “Wouldn’t it be cool to make a full sized door?” The idea stuck with me and grew to be the biggest piece we have made to date.
I began, as always, with research. There were a surprisingly low number of reference photos of the door online. The best one I found was in the catalog for the recent pop up auction “That’s From Disneyland” featuring the amazing collection of Richard Kraft put on by Van Eaton Galleries. If you did not see his collection there are numerous YouTube videos online and it is truly amazing. Besides having dozens of actual ride videos he had all 4 of the Haunted Mansion stretching portrait paintings! The Kraft photo had a straight on photo of one of his doors that gave be a great base for reference. I decided to shrink my door down 20 just for ease of transport and storage and created a master blueprint for the build. It would not be a functioning door and would sit at the other end of the room with nothing for scale comparison to make it seem small. I also found that some of the photos had green doors and others brown. I opted for the more striking green doors.
I began by following my plans and cutting out a back base door and a duplicate that would have the recessed areas cut out. I filled the recessed areas with a smaller shape cut out of foamcore and filled in the gaps with wood putty. I adhered everything together with construction adhesive. I then build a door frame out of wood trim with grooves and fashioned diamond shape to mimic the actual door’s details.
I was planning on sculpting the lion head but I found a mold for making a concrete statuary out of ABS for $15 on eBay. I cast a head out of lightweight hydrocal, a very light weight plaster like product.
I painted the door the appropriate shade of green using a roller and a custom mixed house paint. It did take two coats, the photo below is after the first coat. I then gave the entire thing a wash in diluted black acrylic paint to age it and make the details pop.
I decided early on to make the door in 2 halves, the bottom door half and the more ornate face like grate top half. I planned on doing the top at a later date for next year but I finished the bottom half very quickly and decided to try to finish it. I followed the same method as above with the styrofoam, wood putty, and trim board. I fashioned 2 of the ionic skull details out of foam.
I made a temporary grate of a posterboard and painted it gold. I hope to one day scroll saw out, or lasercut, a real grate.
The detail I needed to complete was the mace-like doorknocker on the door. I fashioned one out of some scrap wood, a plastic sphere, and some Aves Apoxie Sculpt. To finish the piece I painted it gold and gave it black wash.
I added the door handle I bought on Etsy.
Voila! A finished Haunted Corridor door complete with door handle and knocker.
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Until next time…
The Imagine Ears features the DIY projects, adventures, and thoughts of a father and daughter who use a shared love of all things Disney to create memories together through encouraging her interests in architecture, design, Imagineering, while exploring history and science.