Disneyland Paris: Phantom Manor, what's the Pepper's Ghost effect, creating the illusion of ghosts?

Published by Laurent de Sortiraparis · Photos by Laurent de Sortiraparis · Published on April 22th, 2024 at 06:32 p.m.
Calling all ghost lovers... Disneyland Paris awaits you all year round to give you a good scare with one of its flagship attractions: Phantom Manor! An attraction packed with technology and special effects familiar to film fans and physicists alike. Among these special effects is the famous "Pepper's Ghost" effect, giving the illusion of transparent ghosts in the ballroom. How does it work? We tell you all about it!

Meet ghosts at Disneyland Paris... That's what Phantom Manor offers, the destination's flagship attraction nestled in the far-western ambience of Frontierland. An eventful visit to an old mansion, where you meet Melanie Ravenswood and the guests at her nightmarish wedding.

What's Phantom Manor all about?

Opened in 1992, this European version of the famous Haunted Mansion boasts a darker atmosphere and a unique storyline centered around the Ravenswood family, the mansion's former owners. Situated atop a hill, the mansion offers a breathtaking view of nearby attractions such as Big Thunder Mountain, reinforcing its mysterious and inviting allure for visitors seeking to unravel its mysteries.

The attraction begins with a majestic entrance to the mansion, where visitors are welcomed into a dark foyer, decorated to reflect the family's tragic history. Moving on, visitors climb into the"Doom Buggies" for a journey through various scenes filled with ghosts and special effects.

One of the highlights is the ballroom, where transparent ghosts can be seen dancing thanks to a striking optical illusion effect. This room, magnificently adorned and animated by ethereal spirits, remains one of Phantom Manor's most iconic images, offering an experience both haunting and nostalgic.

The "Pepper's Ghost" effect, between magic and optical effect

This transparency effect is called"Pepper's Ghost". Quite simply, it's a 19th-century illusion technique, also known as"Dircks' Ghost", originally used in theaters to make ghosts appear on stage, but also by illusionists. The effect is created by an inclined reflective surface (a pane of glass) between the spectator and the stage, hidden from view. Objects or figures illuminated at certain angles then appear to spectrally appear or disappear in a real environment.

Disneyland Paris : Phantom Manor, c'est quoi l'effet Pepper's Ghost, créant l'illusion de fantômes ?Disneyland Paris : Phantom Manor, c'est quoi l'effet Pepper's Ghost, créant l'illusion de fantômes ?Disneyland Paris : Phantom Manor, c'est quoi l'effet Pepper's Ghost, créant l'illusion de fantômes ?Disneyland Paris : Phantom Manor, c'est quoi l'effet Pepper's Ghost, créant l'illusion de fantômes ?

It was named after John Henry Pepper, a chemist and former director of the Royal Polytechnic Institution, a public institution for the popularization of science. He was interested in the machine invented by Henri Dircks, then known as the Aetheroscope, and acquired it with the aim of developing it for theatrical use. He perfected the machine, and used it for the first time in London, in 1862, in Dickens ' play The Haunted Man or The Ghost Pact. An unprecedented success, it was quickly copied and the special effect was named after the chemist.

The optical illusion produced by the reflection of light is also similar to holograms, in its physical principle (and in its current application). Although centuries old, this method continues to fascinate and frighten visitors to Phantom Manor, proving that the classics stand the test of time surprisingly well.

By exploring Phantom Manor, visitors to Disneyland Paris are invited not only to travel through space, but also through time, rediscovering ancient illusionist techniques that make the experience both magical and mysterious. Ready to meet some ghosts?

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