Boundless Realm Haunted Mansion Book Review

Boundless Realm: Deep Explorations Inside Disney’s Haunted Mansion by Foxx Nolte

Are you a Haunted Mansion fan?

Then simply visit your favorite retailer and purchase Boundless Realm, Foxx’s deep dive into the history, culture, myths, and designs of everyone’s favorite spooky house.

You will love it and you will glean so much from her nuanced analysis of the vaunted theme park attraction.

I would end the review here, but you might want to read more about it before you take your own deep dive.

Here’s the point to Foxx’s book:

In truth, however, the haunted mansion does not offer us many hints. The great power of the ride is that it suggests leagues more than it shows. Practically every scene offers visual input of imagistic power and internal logic but which has no larger context outside itself. Our brains labor overtime to trace links where they may not truthfully exist. It’s the theme park equivalent of a Rorschach test. —p. 52

Foxx has been pontificating on the Mansion and Disney/themed design for more than fourteen years at Passport 2 Dreams. And I’m not shy to say that she is one of the reasons that I started ImagiNERDing in 2007. Foxx’s words inspired me to look at Disney from a different viewpoint and allowed me to take a discerning look at design choices that I always took for granted. Seriously, the post on fake skylights changed my life.

Why Should You Read This Haunted Mansion Book?

Anyone who has experienced either of the continental Disney Mansions understands that there isn’t much of a narrative. Well, there is, and not the fan-based stories or the retcon that Imagineers have imposed over the ensuing years. But there is a rooted story that is based on the culture and history of the Imagineers that worked on Walt’s haunted house in the 1950s and 1960s. Foxx takes us on the dark and shadowy path that created the 1969 and 1971 Mansions (yes, I know they’re very similar, but there were/are differences).

Foxx did a majority of the 30 illustrations throughout the book!

That’s why this book is spectacular. Foxx takes us by the hand and acts as guide to all that made the Haunted Mansion the Haunted Mansion. She delves into the pop culture of the past few centuries, with a long side track into spiritualism, and brings us into the history of dark rides that led to this one-of-a-kind masterpiece. Anyone familiar with Laff in the Dark and fun house walk-throughs will enjoy these dynamic connections.

Foxx takes these conjunctions, so to speak, and shares how the Imagineers (Davis, Coats, Crump, Gracey, and others) used these influences to design the enigmatic attraction. I searched Google and YouTube for books, songs, and movies mentioned by Foxx that are antecedents to the spooky house.

Boundless Realm and Disney Fans

In Boundless Realm, Foxx’s positions might not sit well with the average theme park visitor or Disney fan (someone who never vacations outside of Walt Disney World). She disregards and destroys fan-based theories (like Constance’s wedding ring), which is a wonderful thing. Some might call Foxx elitist, but there is a reason she is one of the most respected authorities on the Haunted Mansion. Her arguments and theories posit that the Haunted Mansion is a ride that must be experienced firsthand and can only be understood by regular visits.

The book really is for Mansionites that want to experience the attraction from a design perspective in relation to the history and culture of the Imagineers. Casual fans that follow popular vloggers might find consternation in Boundless Realm, but that’s a good thing. I’ve been reading and conversing with Foxx about the Haunted Mansion and themed design for nigh on ten years, and I still felt like I learned some new nugget on each and every page.

Boundless Realm shines when Foxx brings together all of the parts that made the spooky house what it is. We start the journey by discussing how themed entertainment (amusement parks, fairs, carnivals, etc.) and horror films of the early 20th century helped lay the foundation for the iconic attraction. But there are so many more layers to the attraction that Foxx uncovers.

Foxx spends time (and words) imploring readers to discover the world outside of the Disney berms. She discusses the importance of the Haunted Mansion at Knoebels and the Whacky Shack rides, and how their influence is felt in the Mansion.

Disneyland vs. Walt Disney World (And Tokyo, Paris, and Shanghai)

Foxx focuses most of her attention on the Florida mansion. She doesn’t disregard the California attraction; she discusses both attractions when they diverge and offer similar experiences. Her favorite is the Magic Kingdom Haunted Mansion, wherein lies her obsession. And her obsession pays off in spades for us.

In thinking about the book, there were so many parts that stood out in relation to the Magic Kingdom version. Foxx tours us around Liberty Square, and she helps us to understand why the spooky house is situated on a hill and its relation to the rest of the land. (Did you know that you’re not supposed to see the riverboat from the entrance to Liberty Square? It’s the sole reason they built the dock the way it is.) I also loved anytime Foxx stepped out of her role as tour guide and shared anecdotes about time spent working at the Haunted Mansion. There are some fantastic cast member tales in this book. Tales that could not take place today!

We do get sidelines related to the Tokyo Mansion, Phantom Manor, and Mystery Mansion. Foxx doesn’t burrow far into them, but offers cursory glances as to their roles in the evolving art form that is the dark ride. She also tackles a few of the other more prominent haunted houses at Alton Towers, Europa Park, and others.

A Ghost Will Follow You Home

This is only the third title written about the Haunted Mansion. For her, it was a journey that took most of her life to make. It is a work of love, but it’s also a look—no, a gaze into the Mansion and everything that makes the Mansion tick. And why we respond to the Mansion as we do. In one part of the book, Foxx mentions watching people exit the ride, and there is palpable exhilaration on their faces and in their mannerisms. As if they’ve ridden a roller coaster. There is something deeply relatable within the Haunted Mansion that touches so many of us. And many times we simply don’t have the wherewithal to understand why.

That’s what makes Boundless Realm so important.

Are You Going to Pick Up Boundless Realm?


FTC Disclosure: A copy was provided by the author for the purpose of this review. This post contains affiliate links, which means that ImagiNERDing receives a percentage of sales purchased through links on this site. Thank you for your support!

Holiday Magic at the Disney Parks Book Review

Holiday Magic at the Disney Parks Book Review

Missing the holidays at the Disney Parks this year? Check out George’s review of Holiday Magic at Disney Parks, the new book by Graham Allen, Rebecca Cline, and Charlie Price. The new Disney book celebrating Christmas and Halloween at the Disney Parks features over 1,900 photos!

Disney Publishing sent a review copy and I couldn’t wait to make a preview video for you.

Holiday Magic at the Disney Parks Video Review

If you won’t be able to visit this parks this year, is this book a good substitute?

This large-format coffee table-sized book will enchant you with photos from Disneyland, Walt Disney World, Disneyland Paris, Tokyo Disneyland, and more. It’s hard to imagine that Disney could capture all of the magical details of their celebrations worldwide. They cover the twelve parks, cruise ships, resorts, and shopping districts. There is something for every fan of the parks, including a rich look at the history of the holidays starting at Disneyland.

The price tag seems hefty at first, until you crack it open and leaf through the pages. You’ll notice that there are four to five pictures per page. And at 384 pages, that’s almost as many photos as I take each visit!

 

Along with the Disney Monorail book, you have two fantastic reads for this holiday season. Are you going to get both? As a general rule, Disney books have small print runs and go out-of-print fairly quickly. If you wait too long, the price will skyrocket.

Are you going to order the holiday book for yourself or as a gift?


FTC Disclosure: A copy was provided by the company for the purpose of this review. This post contains affiliate links, which means that ImagiNERDing receives a percentage of sales purchased through links on this site. Thank you for your support!

Disney Mountains Book Video Review

Disney Mountains Video Book Review

Love the Disney Mountains?

Does the idea of tackling Space Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain, and Splash Mountain make you strap on your Disney lederhosen for a fun day at the parks?

What about Matterhorn Mountain? Or Mount Mayday or Mount Gushmore? Have you ever experienced Mount Prometheus? And don’t forget about Grizzly Peak orExpedition Everest.

And if you want learn everything there is about the Disney Mountains from all of the Disney Parks worldwide…where you look?

Check out my Video Review of The Disney Mountains by Jason Surrell

What’s Your Favorite Disney Mountain?


FTC Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means that ImagiNERDing receives a percentage of sales purchased through links on this site. Thank you for your support!

Disney Monorail Book Preview!

The Disney Monorail: Imagineering a Highway in the Sky Video Book Preview!

¡Por favor manténgase alejado de las puertas!

Love Disney monorails? Then you need to check out this book preview of The Disney Monorail: Imagineering a Highway in the Sky by Jeff Kurtti, Vanessa Hunt, and Paul Wolski. The review copy just showed up and I set up the video camera to give my fellow ImagiNERDs a first look at this highly-anticipated new Disney book.

Is this going to be the ImagiNERDing Book of the Year?

Check Out My Video Preview of the New Book About Disney Monorails

Make sure to check out these other books by Disney historian, scholar, and all-around great guy: Jeff Kurtti.

Vanessa Hunt has contributed to the Disney Parks literature, as well!

Are you going to pick up the new Disney Monorail book?


FTC Disclosure: A copy was provided by the company for the purpose of this review. This post contains affiliate links, which means that ImagiNERDing receives a percentage of sales purchased through links on this site. Thank you for your support!

Disney: The First 100 Years Book Review

Disney: The First 100 Years by Dave Smith

Interested in learning about the life of Walt Disney and the history of The Disney Company? Dave Smith’s book is a great introduction to the first 100 years (starting in 1901) of Walt and the Disney Company. The book covers his life, animation, live-action films, theme parks and o many other projects.

Disney: The First 100 Years Video Review

Looking for other books about Walt Disney?


FTC Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means that ImagiNERDing receives a percentage of sales purchased through links on this site. Thank you for your support!

Hats off to Disneyland Hats

Hats off to (Disneyland) Hats

Paying any modicum of attention to social media, and you would think that the ubiquitous Mickey and Minnie Mouse Ears headbands had only been invented recently.

Not so!

The invention of the Mickey Mouse ears is attributed to Mickey Mouse Club Big Mooseketeer Roy Williams who says he was influenced by a gag in the 1929 animated short Karnival Kid. In the short, Mickey tips his ears to Minnie, creating this wonderful sight gag.

Apparently, this gag was also performed by Oswald the Lucky Rabbit while the series was still being produced by Disney.

Oswald tips his ears to Ortensia in a storyboard for Sleigh Bells (1928)

I ran across a one-page piece for Disneyland hats in the Winter 1976 Disney News…years before Instagram-posing became the norm!

Wear a Disneyland hat
With a ribbon or a feather,
No matter the season,
No matter the weather.
All kinds to choose from,
All sizes and styles.
They’re wonderful hats: they
Bring on the smiles.

So once you’ve “ooh”ed the chapeaux
And “ahh”ed the frilly bonnets,
Have priced them in poems
And written cap sonnets,
There’s one thing to do
To honor them: that’s
Bow very low-and take your
Hats of to hats!

At the time, film and the process of developing photos was still an expensive process. A photo shoot lie the one in the one-page piece would have been done with a professional photographer and model. Still, it’s interesting to see that things haven’t changed!


Looking for a great book on the history of Disneyland?


FTC Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means that ImagiNERDing receives a percentage of sales purchased through links on this site. Thank you for your support!

Disney’s America On Parade Celebration

Disney’s America On Parade Celebration

America on Parade was one of Disney’s first “Just-Over-a-Year” celebrations. America was in a frenzy over the Bicentennial Celebration in 1976 and there was no end to the parades and events over the summer of 1976. You could even attribute Liberty Square and the Hall of Presidents to the fervor over the Bicentennial. The Fall 1975 Disney News offered a preview of the parade that was over two years in the making!

COVER STORY: “America On Parade,” Disney’s colossal tribute to America’s Bicentennial celebration, continues to enthrall guests at both Disneyland and Walt Disney World. See page 2 for story and pictures.

Every day becomes a Fourth of July celebration as Disneyland and Walt Disney World present “America on Parade,” a spectacular salute to America’s 200th birthday. “America on Parade” premiered last June as a joyful, colorful, wonderful patriotic pageant of the music, people and heritage of America- both past and present.

Thousands of Disney guests have already watched and cheered as Mickey Mouse, Goofy and Donald Duck proudly lead the three-quarter-mile-long procession through the center of each theme park.

 

The 50 giant-size parade units in the fun-filled musical extravaganza depict a variety of historical and memorable moments in the nation’s 200-year past and highlight the contributions and achievements of the country’s people. They present a stylized, whimsical and never-to-be-forgotten festival of America as only Disney can present it.

Towering above the throngs of young and old who gaze with delight and amusement are Disney’s newest creations, the eight-foot-high, doll-like “People of America’-from Indians to auto drivers, Can-Can dancers to Ben Franklin, a Keystone cop to Uncle Sam—they dance their way through America’s history and into the hearts and memories of those who watch one of Disney’s most unique and delightful creations. The parade, which features more than 150 people, is performed at both Disney theme parks daily at 3:00 p.m. During the summer months and some holidays there will be special evening performances of the parade followed by a red, white and blue fireworks display. As an extra attraction, each week the parade will salute one of the 50 states.

The parade’s grand finale features high school and college marching bands especially invited to take part in this bicentennial salute. From the first strains of “Yankee Doodle” to the closing bars of “God Bless America,” Disney’s “America on Parade” is itself destined to become a part of the Americana it celebrates:
something to be seen, remembered and treasured for years to come.

Did You Ever Get to Experience Disney’s America On Parade?


Check out my book review of Disney’s America on Parade.

Vintage Disney World Brochure

Vintage Disney World Brochure

A great way to check out the Walt Disney World of the past is through the ephemera (usually defined as brochures and pamphlets) that was produced and distributed. The items were not meant as keepsakes, hence their ephemeral nature, but as a means of advertising. For historians, ephemera is a great way to check prices and changes with the resort over the years.

In 1971, Disney released two brochures about the opening of Walt Disney World.One is considered the pre-opening version and is marked with Opens October 1971 on the cover. The one released after opening is missing the opening date text but includes information on packages and prices. But they both offer some incredible insight into the fledgling Vacation Kingdom of the World.

Vintage Disney World Opening Brochure

What Do You Think About This opening Disney Brochure?


FTC Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means that ImagiNERDing receives a percentage of sales purchased through links on this site. Thank you for your support!

The Art of Disneyland Video Review!

The Art of Disneyland Video Review!

The Art of Disneyland is a much sought after book by collectors and fans. Published in 2006 to help celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of Disneyland, the book flew under the radar and was only sold at the park at first. Eventually, it made its way to the second-hand markets (like amazon) and the price skyrocketed. I’ve seen it go as high as $400.00, but recently, it’s been around $125.00.

What Makes The Art of Disneyland So Special?

At the time of publication, much of the concept artwork and paintings had never been seen before. The presentation by Kurtti and Gordon left fans and enthusiasts stunned. The only book to come close is the sister publication: The Art of The Walt Disney World Resort.

Check Out My Video Review:

Do you own this title? What is your favorite Disneyland book?

From my 2007 review of the book:

The Imagineering roll call is inspiring: Ken Anderson, Claude Coats, Mary Blair, John Hench, Harper Goff, Marc Davis, Peter Ellenshaw, Sam McKim, Herbert Ryman and so many more. Seeing all of this artwork in one place, by so many different artists, is like having a conversation about what Disneyland might have been. But then we actually know how it turned out. Most of the artwork is so true to what was developed, though. If you have ever spent any time at Disneyland, you will enjoy this book.

Yes, this is concept art from The Art of Disneyland. It features a large show building with a runaway mine cart ride (like Temple of Doom), a version of the current Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Forbidden Eye, and a section or two in which the Jungle Cruise can be seen. This would have changed the landscape of theme parks forever!


FTC Disclosure: In some cases, a copy might have been provided by the company for the purpose of this review (but not on this post). This post contains affiliate links, which means that ImagiNERDing receives a percentage of sales purchased through links on this site. Thank you for your support!

Surprise Disneyland and DCA Visit!

Surprise Disneyland and DCA Visit!

On my trip to Southern California to visit Knott’s Berry Farm and Six Flags Magic Mountain, I was able to visit Disney’s California Adventure and Disneyland for a few hours. There were a few overlays that I wanted to check out, especially the Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout re-do of the Twilight Zone Tower of Tower.

And I might just have ridden my favorite coaster in the world…and it’s not what you might think!

Check out my Disneyland and DCA video!

Don’t forget to subscribe to my YouTube Channel for more videos on Disney history, Universal, theme park books and more!


It was surreal to be at Disneyland and the esplanade. More than five years  have passed since my last visit to Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure;  I forgot how special Disneyland is. Main Street is charming and even the Esplanade is magical.

What do you think about Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout?


Special thanks to Wes B.,  Aaron R. and Nicole S. for supporting me on Patreon.