The séance of Madam Leota is the center of the ride. The ride revolves around this scene both literally, as you almost completely encircle her levitating head, but also metaphorically as it marks the transition to the second phase of the ride. I have discussed before, there is a theory that you are murdered in the attic the Constance and then descend into the graveyard to actually see and hear “the swinging wake”. But the séance is the scene which marks your entrance to summoning the spirits to actually see them as you enter the ballroom scene and move beyond creepy coffins, endless staircases, and labyrinthine halls of doors.
The séance scene was one of the first pieces I made and was the showstopper of annual Haunted Mansion Halloween Party. It greeted guest shortly after they entered and utilized a hidden projector on a custom head with candles, the book, and tarot cards. It was showcased and explained in an earlier blog found HERE.
I decided I wanted to “plus” the element. Plussing is a term used by Disney to increase the elements of a concept, show, attraction or ride. It is part of the secret to the parks world class attractions and themeing. The elements I wanted to add to more fully create the scene were to add her chair, the raven, and some floating instruments.
Rather than build a chair from scratch I decided to simply make a false back that would sit on the seat of an existing dining room chair. You can see where it meets the seat as the head and table block that element. This back was made using some Owen Corning XPS foam from Home Depot. I cut out the basic shape of the chair using a razor blade knife. Always be careful and wear protective gear.
I then found some very cheap wood filigree and scroll appliques on Amazon. I went with the largest and cheapest I could find. Most were between 5-8 dollars. I thought they would easily add the elegant woodwork element with the least amount of work.
I then cut out the shape of the red padded back of the chair. I roughly cut a sloping angle with a razor/knife. (always be careful and wear protection and cut away from yourself). I then used an electric sander to shape the foam with a rounder smooth curve. Be sure to wear a mask to not breath in the sanded foam particles and use a fan to blow out the particles from your well-ventilated area.
As for the instruments I decided to incorporate the 3 that I most remembered from the ride. The trumpet, the harp, and the banner on the long horn.
The trumpet was simply a toy trumpet from eBay. I painted it yellow and coated it with a 2x Glow in the Dark paint.
The harp was made out of XPS foam. For info and tips check out the post on the Tomb Sweet Tomb Stick Frame. I made the rough shape out of foam. I added some generic wood appliques for visual interest and decided to use very thin dow rods for the strings so they would show up. I painted it yellow and coated it with a 2x Glow in the Dark paint.
The banner is a cheap piece of burlap and a vuvuzela from amazon. I painted the vuvuzela yellow to match the harp and trumpet. I coated it and the flag in the Glow in the Dark paint before adding the letters, which I did not make glow for contrast.
I suspended the instruments on very thin wire for the hovering effect but it is invisible when the room is lit for the party. Excuse the slight blur in the photo. Taking a picture in pitch black is tricky with my camera…or my skill level.
We already had a family antique of a small marble table that has been in wife’s family for generations. It sits in our living room year-round and I can’t believe I did not put the head on it to begin with. I think I wanted to showcase it in the dining room and never considered the living room. This table would be the new home for the séance which would fit nicely in the corner of our large living room.
The finished scene is truly a show stopper and one of my favorite aspects of the entire house during the party.
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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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.