Disney Haunted Holidays and Flash Video

Disney Haunted Holidays and Flash Video
A few years ago I wrote a review of Disney's Haunted Mansion Virtual Tour for our Digital Art and Design section. That review was a lesson about how simple animations can work as interactive buttons in Flash, giving the audience control of how the tour progresses. As in all things on the web, that web page has disappeared. However for this Halloween, Disney has brought back the Haunted Mansion for their Haunted Holidays "online attraction". It's the 40th anniversary of the Haunted Mansion Walt Disney WorldR attraction.

The first thing you see in the online attraction is the attic from the Haunted Mansion and the Hatbox Ghost is there to greet you. The scene and the Hatbox Ghost are Adobe Flash with embedded video. It's amazing how easy it is to seamlessly embed video into Flash, compared to what could be done just a few years ago. I especially appreciated that the Hatbox Ghost appeared to be semi-transparent, allowing you to see the attic through the ghost.

Glowing portraits and mouse over events take you to other parts of the Haunted Holidays attraction. But, first you will want to click on the book displayed in the center of the attic. When you do, the book enlarges and opens with tabbed pages full of information and entertainment at your fingertips. Click on the Haunted Mansion tab and you get pages full of interactive graphics. Some take you to online games and crafts related to the Haunted Mansion and some just trigger simple animations. Again, what is most impressive is the embedded video. You can listen to interviews and learn behind the scenes secrets about how the Haunted Mansion ride was created.

Click on the Tales of Two Cities tab and Hatbox Ghost will take you on a tour of Arnaud's restaurant as he tells you the story of why it is a haunted restaurant. Did you ever read Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs or watch the animated movie? Click on that tab and you can learn a little history of the first animated film or watch a music video. The other pages include Pirates of the Caribbean, The Muppets, The Nightmare Before Christmas, The Princess and the Frog and the new Disney 3D animated movie A Christmas Carol.

I noticed that if you use the full screen option, a new page opens with just the video which is still only about 650 x 500 pixels. So, we haven't totally solved the need to balance screen size with video quality. Also, sometimes the sound and video are not synchronized, which is still common on the web. The only thing that takes away from the experience are the advertisements plastered over the pages. I guess even Disney has to pay the bills somehow.


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