Thursday, June 12, 2008

West Coast Chest

Last week, Craig over at Earning My Ears featured one of his favorite pieces from his collection of theme park memorabilia - a Secret Panel Chest from the Haunted Mansion. At first, I thought he had beat me to the punch. The Haunted Mansion puzzle box is a prized piece of my Disney Park collection as well and I was planning on doing a post about this classic souvenir in the near future. Then I noticed that his Secret Panel Chest was from Walt Disney World while mine was from Disneyland. Both of the chests feature artwork depicting the exterior of the attraction, and since the East and West coast versions of this ride are so looks like there's room in the blogosphere for a post on both versions of this long gone gift shop item.

My Secret Panel Chest came into my possession through my father, who picked it up on a visit to Disneyland in 1971 (a few years before I was born.) The chest has secret panels on it that when moved in the correct order open up to reveal a secret compartment. It features the original Haunted Mansion located in New Orleans Square in Disneyland. The sign, which reads "The Haunted Mansion in Disneyland c. Walt Disney Productions" is the same as the sign on the WDW version of the box except of course for the park logo and the words "Haunted Mansion" seem to be printed smaller than on the Orlando box.

There doesn't seem to be much history or backstory to these mysterious souvenir chests. The ultra-informative website offers this trivia:

Another popular souvenir was the "Secret Panel Chest," a wooden puzzle box that had a colorful illustration of the Haunted Mansion on the top that could only be opened by using a secret combination of movements. The boxes were constructed by a small company in Hikone, Japan, using many types of wood for each box. They were available in three different sizes. These are desirable collectibles in the Disneyana marketplace, bringing anywhere from $50 for a well-worn piece to over $200 for a box in excellent condition with the instruction sheet

There's a scan of the instructions up at Earning My Ears but I guess all the spooks and spirits left my box sometime over the last 37 years because I can't seem to get mine open. I still have the instructions that came with this Disneyland Chest. They are safely locked away inside the Haunted Mansion Secret Panel Chest.


Craig Wheeler said...

Nice. I didn't think to look at Doom Buggies for info.

Are you saying that the instructions from mine are not the same as for your box?

Ed South said...

I think the instructions are the same, it's just that my box doesn't seem to want to open. The panels are kind of stiff. It hasn't been opened in a long time!

-- Ryan P. Wilson said...

What I would not give for one of these! Either from Disneyland or Walt Disney World. Ah well, perhaps someday!

Thanks Ed for giving me something to dream, err nightmare?!?!, about!

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