A recent Orange County Register article highlighted a number of enhancements made to the Haunted Mansion attraction while the park was closed during the pandemic. In addition to a few improvements inside the mansion, the pet cemetery outside also received some thematic upgrades. Lily pads were planted around the memorial for “Old Flybait frog. A purple-flowered plant named Society Garlic, which emits a funky aroma (that smells a bit like marijuana), was added near the grave for “Stripey” the skunk. Catnip was planted near a cat’s tombstone, while roses now surround the monument for a pig named “Rosie.”
In the article, Walt Disney Imagineering producer Michele Hobbs talks about the new plants and says:
“That kind of storytelling is probably not so obvious, but I think it’s important to get across to our fans who are intrigued by the mansion.”
The use of plants and landscaping as an additional layer of storytelling dates back to Disneyland’s opening in 1955. More than 65 years ago, legendary Disney landscaper Bill Evans worked together with Imagineer Harper Goff to create a lush environment for the Jungle Cruise attraction. The pair put their creativity to work to build a jungle in Anaheim. Walnut trees that were cut down from a portion of the land purchased for the park were trimmed and turned upside down to look like tropical roots.
In his book, The Disneyland Story, Disney author Sam Gennawey points out that at the park’s inception:
“Evans began a tradition of using familiar plant materials in unfamiliar ways. For example, in a traditional setting such as Main Street, his team selected less conventional plantings to separate it from community parks and to give it a Disney flair.”