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Hey everyone! Longtime lurker, recent new member here with some questions about Phantom Theater, one of my most favorite rides in the world.

 

I have some connections with Phantom Theater that I can't discuss yet, but I will definitely be posting here when I can. I've dedicated a lot of time to researching and scouring the net for photos and videos, and I've reached out to several media companies that either did videos or articles on the ride back in the day in hopes of obtaining copies of the uncut footage and high quality photos.

With all that said, I had some questions that hopefully someone on here can answer.

How many of the figures still exist? I know they appeared wrapped in sheets the last time they were out and haven't appeared publicly since.

Does anyone have photos of the ride when it was operating? Particularly of the characters. I've seen most of what's publicly available online. I'm especially interested in clear shots of the characters and any behind the scenes photos.

Can anyone explain the Peppers Ghost scene? Which characters were in it and what were they doing? I never actually got to ride Phantom Theater and that scene doesn't show up very well in videos. From what I can see, I've gathered that Houdelini is in the top left, Hilda is on the building, Garbonzo in his cannon, and Lionel is toward the bottom. I'm assuming Maestro is down there too? And of course the audience members.

I think that's all my questions for now, but I'm sure I'll have more eventually haha. 

20210130_161851.jpg

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Phantom Theater is my favorite ride and I can see your passion for it as well! Just wondering, how did you acquire the rope guy's head/mask? :o Or is that a recreation? Either way, that's fantastic!! I have some footage of them when they were out for Halloween Haunt and I do believe the last time they were ever out was 2012 when they were wrapped up in the white sheets. So sad. I would be delighted to see some behind-the-scenes footage and videos myself!

 

Regarding the Theater Theme and the pepper's ghost effect, this was my favorite part and it is sad the videos I've seen don't quite capture the magic. I was also a very young child at the time (so forgive me if these details are not 100% spot on and someone please correct me). But man, the pipe organ music, the thundering boom of the cannon! You saw patrons sitting up in the background watching the performance. You would see them appear and disappear (of course because they are phantoms). I remember Houdelini floating up and coming back down. You could see Garbonzo slowly move backwards and down into the cannon (I think this part was meant to be hidden from us) and then shoot across the stage with the BOOM. Maestro was front and center playing the song, his back was to us. I love this scene so very much.

Whatever is your connection with Phantom Theater, we hope you'll share sometime! Thank you for this lovely post anyways! :D Take care.

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Cool stuff. I’d also love some more info once you’re allowed to share! Phantom Theatre is probably my all time favorite. I’m not sure if you’ve seen these, but they may be of some help: 

https://www.dafe.org/articles/darkrides/phantomTheater.html

http://www.dafe.org/articles/darkrides/phantomPharewell.html

Hope this helps! 

 

 

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23 hours ago, Bobblehead326 said:

Is that the real guy from the rope scene? That is AWESOME!!!! I know I have a few photos that R and R sent to me... What are your connections? I miss this ride so much and would love to see professional video of the ride in action! 

I'd love to see the photos from R&R! I reached out to them but haven't gotten a reply. I can't discuss my connections yet, but that is indeed the real stage hand dude! If I'm able to get any of the uncut footage you guys will be the first to know!

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11 hours ago, SonofBaconator said:

Pepper's ghost is basically like seeing your reflection in a department store window while still being able to look inside. 

 

Good example!  I always use the "car windshield" explanation.  Put something on your dashboard and then look at the windshield... the item appears as a transparent reflection.

Going by memory...

In the peppers ghost scene the characters included...

2 audience members in an upper seating box stage right.  They turned and looked at the box next to them when Garbanzo landed in it.

Houdelini was levitating above stage right.

I believe Bosco was on lower stage right.

Hilda was center stage on top of a large "castle tower"

Garbanzo slid in and out of a large cannon on stage left.  He was "shot" across the scene appearing in a viewing box on stage right.

Maestro was playing an organ in the "orchestra pit" lower center stage.

Lionel Burymore was on stage left.

There were 2 more audience members in an upper seating box stage left.

There was another audience member sitting on the railing of the farthest upper level box stage left. (I originally remembered him as Willard, but likely not.)

Edit - If memory serves me, Willard Warbler did not appear in the scene... but I could be wrong.

 

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14 hours ago, StayPuft said:

I can't discuss my connections yet, but that is indeed the real stage hand dude!

Has he been refurbished? Maybe it's just the photo you uploaded, but his eyes look painted on or like they're stickers. I believe that his eyes were originally separate from the skin and would pan from side-to-side.

Regarding the theater scene, Shaggy had a good summation of it above. You had mentioned Lionel near the bottom - I don't remember him being in the theater scene, but I could be mistaken. Please correct me if I am! The character that Shaggy mentioned sitting on the railing, I believe that was a fifth audience member... who they later used as a FearFest prop with three of the other audience members. The four audience members who had been seated in boxes didn't have full legs (since guests would never see them), but this fifth guy did. Here's a shot I took of him from FearFest, I think 2009.

IMG_0151.jpg

And here's three of the other audience members they used as FearFest props (I think these were 2006, also from my personal collection... note the guy with the hat is the same as above):

IMG_0011.JPG

IMG_0017.JPG

There were five audience members, so there's one that didn't appear to ever be used as a FearFest prop. I've never seen a good photo of him from when he was in the ride though.

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1 hour ago, Shaggy said:

Good example!  I always use the "car windshield" explanation.  Put something on your dashboard and then look at the windshield... the item appears as a transparent reflection.

Going by memory...

In the peppers ghost scene the characters included...

2 audience members in an upper seating box stage right.  They turned and looked at the box next to them when Garbanzo landed in it.

Houdelini was levitating above stage right.

I believe Bosco was on lower stage right.

Hilda was center stage on top of a large "castle tower"

Garbanzo slid in and out of a large cannon on stage left.  He was "shot" across the scene appearing in a viewing box on stage right.

Maestro was playing an organ in the "orchestra pit" lower center stage.

Lionel Burymore was on stage left.

There were 2 more audience members in an upper seating box stage left.

There was another audience member sitting on the railing of the farthest upper level box stage left. (I originally remembered him as Willard, but likely not.)

Edit - If memory serves me, Willard Warbler did not appear in the scene... but I could be wrong.

 

It really kills me that this is the hardest scene to find any pictures or videos of and the Pepper's ghost effect is responsible for that. In order for Pepper's ghost to work the scene needs to be dark to allow for the characters to stand out. If anyone has pictures of this scene I would be extremely happy.

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10 hours ago, Shaggy said:

Good example!  I always use the "car windshield" explanation.  Put something on your dashboard and then look at the windshield... the item appears as a transparent reflection.

Going by memory...

In the peppers ghost scene the characters included...

2 audience members in an upper seating box stage right.  They turned and looked at the box next to them when Garbanzo landed in it.

Houdelini was levitating above stage right.

I believe Bosco was on lower stage right.

Hilda was center stage on top of a large "castle tower"

Garbanzo slid in and out of a large cannon on stage left.  He was "shot" across the scene appearing in a viewing box on stage right.

Maestro was playing an organ in the "orchestra pit" lower center stage.

Lionel Burymore was on stage left.

There were 2 more audience members in an upper seating box stage left.

There was another audience member sitting on the railing of the farthest upper level box stage left. (I originally remembered him as Willard, but likely not.)

Edit - If memory serves me, Willard Warbler did not appear in the scene... but I could be wrong.

 

This is the best explanation I've seen, thank you so much! Man what I wouldn't give to see that scene in it's entirety. There has to be professional, or even clear, footage of it somewhere. There's one video that shows some if it clearer than others, but I can't remember the title of it. I'll post a link when I get home. 

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Here's the room for the Theater scene where the pepper's ghost effect took place.

To the top left is there the carriages are. The riders would be looking at the glass wall (right of the picture.) The black wall on the bottom left is where the characters went (there were also some up above). Finally there was glass on the right that made the effect work. You can even see it working now in the picture!

pp20.jpg

http://www.dafe.org/articles/darkrides/phantomPharewell.html

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Does anyone have any photos of the PT display from the year the one below was taken? I can't remember the year but I think it was 2 or 3 years after the ride closed. This doesn't look like the same Houdelini figure that was on display in later years (the dressing room figure). 

 

 

48767908_ac7dea69ed_o.jpg

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3 hours ago, StayPuft said:

Does anyone have any photos of the PT display from the year the one below was taken? I can't remember the year but I think it was 2 or 3 years after the ride closed. This doesn't look like the same Houdelini figure that was on display in later years (the dressing room figure). 

[Image]

I'm pretty confident that that Houdelini was the one behind the dressing room door (there was a light inside his hat that illuminated him... the one of him in rehearsals had him pull a demonic rabbit out of a hat siting on a table). I don't really know what the one in the theater (Pepper's Ghost) scene looked like, so I suppose there's a slim chance it could have been that one though.

That photo was from 2005. There's a few other ones of the display in the KICentral photo gallery. Here are the specific shots:

https://KICentral.com/photos/fearfest-2005#2399 - Audience Member #5, sitting on the balcony

https://KICentral.com/photos/fearfest-2005#2405 - Display from Side B of Theater, with Maestro at Organ, swirling paper, and Usher

https://KICentral.com/photos/fearfest-2005#2410 - Garbonzo's cannon... I don't believe the figure they stuffed in the cannon was actually a Phantom Theater character though

https://KICentral.com/photos/fearfest-2005#2413 - Display from Side A of Theater, with Houdelini, Usher, Flash Powder barrel, Willard Warbler in barrel, and Garbonzo's cannon

https://KICentral.com/photos/fearfest-2005#2414 - Display from Side A of Theater, with above plus Houdelini sign and swirling paper

https://KICentral.com/photos/fearfest-2005#2417 - Lionel Burymore

https://KICentral.com/photos/fearfest-2005#2418 - Maestro head... this head wasn't used in the attraction, but appears to be part of the costume for the Maestro character they had in the 20th anniversary parade

https://KICentral.com/photos/fearfest-2005#2419 - Two statues that they projected faces on

https://KICentral.com/photos/fearfest-2005#2424 - Furnace operator

If you have any other shots of that display though, I'd love to see it!

And regarding the Houdelini figure, here's the one that was on display on the Bandstand in 2008. I think that they're the same figure... if it was the rehearsal one, his hat would've been a separate prop sitting on the table.

IMG_0161.jpg

The same figure was also on display during Halloween Haunt 2007 in Coney Maul.

51890544hb4.jpg

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Thank you for the photo links! I guess I completely missed that we have a photo gallery hahaha

The Houdelini figure out in 2005 definitely isn't the main one with his rabbit, I thought it may have been the figure used in the Peppers Ghost scene. It's in a much different pose than the dressing room one. 

Also fun fact! The face used for the sitting audience member is Andy Warhol. 

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5 minutes ago, StayPuft said:

The Houdelini figure out in 2005 definitely isn't the main one with his rabbit, I thought it may have been the figure used in the Peppers Ghost scene. It's in a much different pose than the dressing room one. 

I agree that the one at Paramount Action FX Theater in 2005 (above, with hat in right hand) isn't the one from rehearsal (with hat on table and hand pulling rabbit out), but I'm not sure that it's in a different pose than the dressing room (to clarify, the dressing room doors near the start of the attraction)... the photo you shared makes his legs look a bit more crouched than the one later on the bandstand maybe, but that's not as noticeable in the photos I linked above and I'm wondering if it's just the angle.

The best footage I've seen of the theater scene is from CoasterBob62 on YouTube, at about the 3:00 mark in this video. Unfortunately Houdelini is still pretty hard to see.

For what it's worth, I wouldn't be surprised if Houdelini #1 (dressing room) and #3 (theater) were the same pose. It'd save everyone money by just making two of the same figures.

5 minutes ago, StayPuft said:

Also fun fact! The face used for the sitting audience member is Andy Warhol. 

I can see a resemblance (Photo 1 Source, Photo 2 Source)

andy-warhol-1.jpg6227743017_9743494b20_b.jpg

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Comparing the two, it's entirely possible that's the dressing room figure. It seems like his arms are out more and his legs are bent a bit. But without seeing the Peppers Ghost figure it's hard to say for sure. I think the PG figure would have a lift on the back of him like the usher does (though with a larger range), not attached to a base. If he was on a lift his legs probably wouldn't be built to support his upper body. 

Audience member uses the face from AVG's Andy Warhol animatronic!

warhol-robot-mark-wexler-x640.jpg

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On 2/3/2021 at 5:35 PM, StayPuft said:

 I think the PG figure would have a lift on the back of him like the usher does (though with a larger range), not attached to a base. If he was on a lift his legs probably wouldn't be built to support his upper body. 

 

The levitating Houdelini figure was supported via an armature brace on his back just like the usher as you described.  That brace extended to hydraulic unit that raised and lowered him while veering left to right.  His entire body didn't move a tremendous amount but enough to give the illusion of floating.  If memory serves me, his arms were outstretched, holding his cape ends in each hand.  It was a full-bodied figure, but as you suggested his bottom half was likely nothing more than a fiberglass shell to hold the shape of legs.

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