Disney's Haunted Mansion Virtual Tour

Disney's Haunted Mansion Virtual Tour
This week Disney launched an advertising campaign to announce the release of their movie The Haunted Mansion on video and DVD. After sitting through several "haunted" television commercials, I decided to check out the Disney Online website to find out how Disney supplemented their TV campaign at their website. I found Disney's The Haunted Mansion website.

The website has a lot, but the feature I want to talk about here is the interactive virtual tour of the Haunted Mansion. What I liked about the virtual tour is that it has so many examples of how to use digital animation in an interactive web application.

But just what is an interactive application? A good example is a computer game. Most interactive applications can be thought of as a group of small scripts or programs that respond to or "communicate" with your computer mouse. That's why it is called interactive. When you click on or move your mouse over a certain area on the screen, the program responds by changing the screen in some way. For example when you click on the correct answer to a question, the program might display the words "You Have Won" on the screen and play the sound of a cheering crowd.

The Haunted Mansion virtual tour is another example of an interactive application. But it doesn't ask questions and wait for you to answer with your computer mouse. This application uses digital animation to communicate with you and your mouse. Some of these animations are triggered by your computer mouse. And other animations tell you where to click next as you move along the tour. It is a two way conversation. Let's take the tour. You can start the virtual tour by clicking on the "Visit The Mansion" button on the website.


  • The Gate
    You start out at the gate. Click on the gate and swamp areas until you get to the front door of the mansion. This is where the fun begins. Now that you are at the door, pass your mouse over the screen and you will see the small "ghost balls" appear when you move your mouse over the door knockers. These floating ghost balls are really just a simple animation. Disney uses this animation to draw your attention to the area that you should click on next.

    Now click to knock on the door. If you watch closely when you click your mouse you can see the door knockers actually move. This is an example of an animation triggered by your mouse click. You are causing the animation to begin when you click your mouse.

  • The Foyer
    Now you are in the foyer. Wait a few seconds until Eddy Murphy leaves and you will see the ghost appear on the stairs. I bet that if you click on him, you will cause another animation to begin.

    As you go further into the foyer, you will see the animated floating candelabra. Click on it and it floats away towards the back of the hallway. This is another animation triggered by your mouse click. And Disney is again using this small animation to get you to click on the correct stop.

    Follow the candelabra to the back of the foyer and click your mouse. Keep clicking to move along the armory hallway until you get to the door to the ballroom. Click to enter.

  • Ballroom
    Click on the fireplace and two animations will begin. First the flames will appear and then the ghosts will dance for you. Now find the guy peaking in the window. Click on him and he will let you play the skull game.

    The skull game is a memory game. To begin the game click on the arrow on the left side of the skull and the skull will play a note. Now it's your turn. Click on the same tooth to repeat that note. Then the skull makes the game harder by adding another note to the tune. If you get stuck, just click the arrow again and the skull will repeat the last group of notes. This game is a small program that plays sounds and animation (the moving teeth) in response to your sequence of mouse clicks.

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