October 31st, 2017 marks the 20th anniversary of a little website we all know and love, Doombuggies.com. This momentous occasion deserved a celebration that was both intimate and impressive. Hosted by Disney fan group “Disney by the Bay” on Friday, the thirteenth of October at the famous Winchester Mystery House, the combination of the venue and spooky date proved perfect for a night of ghoulish delight. This small gathering sold out quickly and materialized as a frightfully fun way to celebrate not only the Haunted Mansion, but the special anniversary of Doombuggies.com.
Stop me if you’ve heard this one, but on October 31st 1997 Doombuggies.com was born as Chef Mayhem’s Unofficial Tribute to Disney’s Haunted Mansion. From then on, the website has matured into an impressive reference guide for all things grim and grinning. The website, has garnered many fans and followers, several of which gathered to celebrate this special occasion.
The Winchester Mystery House was the perfect location for a spooky party. With live music, catered dinner, and entertaining presentations Doombugies.com’s official anniversary event was a big hit. Decomposed funeral flowers bedecked each table while an imposing hand painted Haunted Mansion backdrop beckoned each guest to commemorate the night with a photo (which also served as the perfect spot for many Doombugs to take a picture with the original Ghost Host, Pete Renaday).
The Grinning Ghosts, a Haunted Mansion Halloween tribute band, provided a short set of live spooky music while guests helped themselves to a buffet style dinner. A trivia contest gave way to a costume contest, neither of which disappointed. It was not long before the main attraction began and Doombuggies.com founder, Jeff Baham, was welcomed to the stage. Jeff went on to cite the Story and Song from The Haunted Mansion record album as the reason he became interested/obsessed with the Haunted Mansion. (Follow the above link to Mousevinyl.com to hear the record in its entirety.)
This record album has a different sounding Ghost Host. It is not Paul Frees like we are used to in the ride, but rather Pete Renaday, who has a long voice acting career in and out of the Disney company. Renaday was gracious enough to once again lend his voice to the iconic character: the Ghost Host. Accompanied by Jeff, Jenn Diz, and the Grinning Ghosts, attendees were treated to a full length read through of the original record, The Story and Song from The Haunted Mansion.
The audience listened with rapt attention as Pete Renaday recreated his legendary understated version of the Ghost Host before Jeff and special guest Dan Olsen gave a history lesson about the mansion itself. Included was the connection between the creation of the Haunted Mansion and the Winchester Mystery House. It was explained that the Mystery House was visited by an early Imagineer, Ken Anderson, as a way of researching crowd control and movement through an attraction.
As a parting gift, each guest received a vial of authentic dirt from the hallowed grounds of the Haunted Mansion, a button commemorating the 20th anniversary of doombuggies.com, and a sinister death certificate signed by the original Ghost Host, Pete Renaday. The foolish mortals in attendance left the event grinning from ghoulish delight and eagerly awaiting the time until they can…hurry baaaack.
Congratulations to Doombuggies.com and its founder, Jeff Baham, on 20 years. Looking forward to the next swinging wake!