A visit of the never-built Carriage House
Of the few things which were conceived but not built for Phantom Manor, the elaborate carriage barn which would have made up the covered queue area is probably the most intriguing. Yet, apart from a few pieces of exterior concept art and photos of the maquette little has been known about this structure until today. Phantom Manor creator Jeff Burke was so kind to share his original vision for the waiting area with us.
As we walk through the gate of Phantom Manor and up the carriage road, we find ourselves in front of an ornate wooden barn. As we enter, we see a good number of horse-drawn wagons, buggies, coaches and hearses (real antiques located by Imagineer Pat Burke). “The queue line was to wind around all the vintage carriages, allowing guests full view of Henry Ravenswood’s fine collection.” On occasion, one of undertaker J. Nutterville’s associates would stand next to a hearse with measuring tape in hand, “…waiting for his next ‘customer’ who might be needing just the right-sized coffin.”
“The queue would then transition through an area of horse tack, harnesses, and stunning saddles to a space where thoroughbred steeds once had been stabled. At each stall there would be a silver plaque with the horse’s name engraved. Ribbons and trophies would also be prominently displayed in a vintage mahogany case, indicating the noble equestrian honors which had been bestowed upon the Ravenswood estate.
“The entire interior was to be illuminated with flickering barn lanterns. When looking up, we would have noticed a loft with bales of hay and a variety of shiny-bladed scythes, sickles and shears hanging from the rafters. Every so often a slight breeze would make these implements clang together, like a macabre mobile. There would appear a dim light, glowing through the cracks in between the loft board ceiling overhead and a creaking sound, as if someone were walking above us, yet no shadow could be seen.
“At a final turn before the queue leaves the Carriage House, there would appear a solitary horse stall with the front all boarded up and the polished plaque would be engraved with the name, ‘Black Thunder.’ The sound of a horse’s hooves could be heard against the wooden floorboard. Then the slight breeze we had felt would turn to a drafty wind while the barn lanterns would flicker wildly. Then the air is pierced with the otherworldly snorting and wailing of a horse, unseen yet louder and louder, accompanied by hoof beats pounding ferociously at the sideboards of the stall. There would be guttural laughter coming from above the rafters. Could this be our first encounter with the Phantom? Then just as suddenly as it started, the wind would quickly die down and calm would return as we make our way along the wooden railings of the queue line and out through the back barn door of the Carriage House.
“Our path would now cross the Manor garden and up on to the covered porch of the main house, where we would make our way toward what lies in store for us within Phantom Manor.”
Many thanks to Jeff Burke for his detailed description!