Disney World · Model Train

l:87 Scratch Build Haunted Mansion Miniature with lights

mansion titleOn Aug 9 1969 the Haunted Mansion opened it doors for a press event and to the public 3 days later.  This weekend marks the 50th anniversary of the ride.  To commemorate it and to kick off our this season’s blogs of our Haunted Mansion themed builds we have redesigned the site with a new look that we will use until Halloween.

I have discussed my love for the Haunted Mansion in our other blogs thoroughly and we have combined them in a new page with all the mansion themed builds in one place.  The conflicting visions of imagineers and the confusion in the wake of Walt Disney’s death in 1966 created a  ride that is a perfect amalgamation of wacky fun and subtle scares.  The project gestated for almost 20 year and led to contributions from imagineers legends like Harper Goff, Ken Anderson, Rolly Crump, Yale Gracey, Marc Davis, & Claude Coates; all adding to a ride with clashing styles and themes that seem to work together beautifully in their randomness.  The use of classic old haunted house tricks like reflections, scrims, and pepper’s ghost suffused with Disney imagineering magic creates a timeless ride.   The ride is genuinely slightly frightening for kids, but scares them with that Disney wink and smile; making them want to turn right around and ride it again. It has some of the most beloved theming of an attraction with virtually every aspect of the ride- from the clocks, candle holders, and paintings on the wall to even its wall paper are immortalized in merchandise of every type. The ride, or versions inspired by, exist in virtually every Disney Park around the World.  Finally, the song, Grim Grinning Ghosts, with Buddy Baker’s music and X Atencio’s lyrics create the ultimate ear-worm of a ride song that I don’t seem to tire of, no matter how often I hear it.

mansion bat

Imagine Ears - Haunted Mansion

But this post is mostly about the architecture of the exterior of the Magic Kingdom’s Haunted Mansion.  It was the first building I wanted to create when we started our 1:87 miniature project years ago, but I waited until I had the skills to even attempt to tackle my favorite Disney building.  Here are some of the other buildings we have showcased so far

I previewed the build last year in this blog post but I wanted to share the finished piece with all the details and the lighting effects.

mansion blueprints front and above with lines

The piece began by using some blueprints I found online that I combined for both angles.

ho wip mans6

The construction was done completely from scratch using polystyrene sheets that were cut and glued together.

1:87 Haunted Mansion scratch built miniature wip 1

The details were painstakingly hand cut  from polystyrene sheets, rods, and sticks.

ho wip mans2

For the chess elements, that are present in the actual building, I used a miniature chess set I found online.

ho wip mans7

I am not an expert 3D printer and a complete novice with CAD drawings so I used some tools on Shapeways sight to design the greenhouse.  When I was finished the site has a service where they print and ship them too you.

ho wip mans1

I did a similar approach for the details on the roof.

ho wip mans3

Here is the unfinished piece which I was thrilled with.

1:87 HO Scale scratch build Disney Haunted Mansion miniature

I painted the house and finished with a variety of washes and drybrushing.  I added the trees and shrubbery and even found a Gothic fence on eBay.  The hearse is a modified HO scale piece that is made for train displays.  The iron grates on the windows were done with screen door fabric painted green.

ho mansion low

Here is the miniature from the more familiar low angle you see when looking up from the line.

ho mansion details

Here are some of the more impressive details of the hearse, the railing, the bat weather vane, the roof detail, and gazebo.  I heavily customized and sculpted the hitchhiking ghosts in my small graveyard on the side of the build. The grass was custom made flocking that was sprinkled in place.

ho mansion dark

Here is the miniature lit up for the even more classic night effect you see at the park.  Of all the thousands of things I have built in my 30+ years of making, this is easily in the top 5 favorite builds.  I may not get to go the parks often as I would like as we live many states away, but when I look at this miniature I am immediately transported there in my mind.


Until next time…be on the lookout for more of our Haunted Mansion builds.  We will have over 70 pieces life sized pieces in our Haunted Mansion this year.

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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.

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