Last night was the 50th Anniversary of my favorite spot in Los Angeles: The Magic Castle. January 3rd, 1963m Milt and Bill Larsen opened the private magic club in the Rollin B. Lane mansion at Franklin and Orange in the heart of Hollywood, CA. In fact, I would say that The Magic Castle is as close to what The Hollywood Tower Hotel is being touted as in the Tower of Terror library scene – a beacon for the showbiz elite! Richard and Robert Sherman of the Sherman Brothers (It’s A Small World, Mary Poppins, Carousel of Progress, etc.) is one of the very first members of the castle (Richard was in attendance last night!) Carey Grant was on the Board of Directors at one time, establishing the “Carey Grant” rule which still applies today — NO PHOTOGRAPHY INSIDE THE CASTLE! Let’s just say I happened upon these photos from “someone’s” recent trip to the castle.
Imagineer Yale Gracey was a friend of the castle. Yale created many incredible effects at Disneyland including, but not limited to, the Pepper’s Ghost effect – which he had not even read about at the time of its discovery. Meaning he had invented something that, although had been an ancient parlor trick, was an incredible achievement in the world of optical illusion and trickery. It was so impressive that he showed a model to Walt Disney himself demonstrating the effect and thus The Haunted Mansion was born!
That model now lives at the Magic Castle in the wine cellar below the main bar. It has changed positions over its tenure but where it landed was in a hallway of strange and similar parlor tricks. None, however, worked as well as the Pepper’s Ghost model.
Well, last night we ventured down to take a look around and lo and behold, we saw some familiar and new faces to the castle!
The Hatbox Ghost and the Bride from The Haunted Mansion! It seems they have transformed this hallway into a sort-of haunted hall. The Hatbox ghost, in case it’s not clear, is guarding an endless hallway of wine bottles (also recently relocated to this hallway). The Bride is where an old Banjo used to sit. There is a big red button to the right that I thought would make the banjo play but it never did in my time there. However, the button remains with this new Bride display and knowing President Neil Patrick Harris*, he may have plans in store for this effect in the future!
These statues stand about 18 – 24 inches tall and look very authentic. If you have any information as to whether they were sold in the parks or from where they came, let us know!
Also notable there was some new signage to go with the haunted-hallway theme.
If you ever get the chance to visit the Magic Castle, be sure to check out the Haunted Wine Cellar. It’s sure to excite even the most casual Disney fan!
* – Yes, THAT Neil Patrick Harris. He is the current president of the Academy of Magical Arts which calls the Magic Castle its home!