"How beautiful was my manor with its resplendent architecture and its garden lined with roses. A true gem perched atop Boot Hill! Nothing was too beautiful for my father and visitors came from everywhere to admire the marvel he had built. But today, what's left of all of this? A house in ruins that is only a memory of a bygone era. And me? Me who is dying of loneliness as time passes and seems to have forgotten me!"
Mélanie Ravenswood is the main protagonist of Phantom Manor at Disneyland Paris. Along with the Phantom, she's one of the prevalent spirits haunting the house, and appears to be a force of innocence to contrast the sinister Phantom. She appears in several parts of the manor throughout the attraction, and is firmly established as a key character in the storyline of the mansion.
As the daughter of Henry and Martha Ravenswood, Mélanie was doted on by her wealthy parents at a young age. Nothing was considered too good for her and she had every luxury available bestowed on her. It was speculated that perhaps this is what steered her toward the common folk of Thunder Mesa, the town her father had helped build.
As a young woman, Mélanie attracted a number of would-be suitors, much to the chagrin of her father. Four men courted her over the years - an oil-field owner named Barry Claude, an explosives manufacturer named Ignatius Knight, Captain Rowan D. Falls who was captain of Thunder Mesa's Mark Twain Riverboat and sawmill owner Sawyer Bottom. Each of whom died in bizarre accidents, leaving Mélanie to wonder if she were cursed.
Mélanie's final paramour was a train engineer working on the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. The two made plans to be married and Melanie could not be happier. However, when her father learned that Mélanie's fiancé planned to take her away from Thunder Mesa to start a new life, he became outraged, vowing to stop the wedding no matter what. Unfortunately, Thunder Mesa was struck by a major earthquake in 1860 which took place shortly before Mélanie's planned wedding. Both of her parents died in the catastrophe along with hundreds of townsfolk.
Whether or not the tragedy got to Mélanie is unknown, but she carried on plans for her wedding regardless. The day of her wedding came, and the blushing bride eagerly anticipated her groom's arrival. However, he never showed up and rather than give up hope. Mélanie vowed to wait for him by claiming that he would never have abandoned her.
Days turned to weeks, to months, to years, and the bride became a recluse, living alonw in the manor and singing forlorn songs of lost love, pining for her fiancé. Some people said Mélanie was mad, but most of them believed that perhaps that she couldn't leave even if she wanted to; that some force, be it her broken-yet-faithful heart or something more malevolent, kept her there indefinitely.
No one seems to be entirely sure what became of Mélanie. Most assume she passed on, as its hard to believe she would still be alive after so many years. Yet locals claim they still can hear her singing on the evening air when it's quiet, along with sinister laughter and the sounds of an unseen party drifting from the old Ravenswood estate.
Melanie's presence is constantly felt throughout the attraction, her operatic voice often heard along with the music. Her first real appearance is in the foyer, where a disembodied voice tells guests of the beauty that once lived in this house - a portrait depicting she and her father on a gloomy winter's day transforms into a sunny spring on the manor grounds.
Later, in the Stretching Room, four portraits on the walls depict Mélanie in different settings, each with a different man accompanying her. Her image vanishes from each just before a gruesome fate for each is revealed.
Exiting the room into the Gallery of Morphing Portraits, guests can see a large portrait of Melanie in her wedding dress hanging at the end of the hall.
At the Grand Staircase, Melanie stands on the landing looking out the window at a thunderstorm beyond, her bridal veil billowing behind her.
She appears halfway down the Endless Hallway, holding a candelabra as if warning guests not to proceed that way. She seems to fade in and out of sight, though the candelabra remains floating in midair.
Mélanie is next seen in the ballroom, surrounded by ghostly wedding guests. The ghosts vanish and reappear on occasion, though Melanie and the Phantom both remain present in the scene, the latter cackling away at the heartbroken bride; following this, guests pass into the bride's boudoir where Melanie, now an old woman, sits weeping in front of a large vanity mirror. The image of the Phantom looms behind Melanie's reflection.
Mélanie's final encounter with guests is in the doom buggies themselves. As they travel through the crypt containing the bodies of her previous suitors, Mélanie calls out to the guests, asking for them to marry her, followed by a disturbed laugh. She appears reflected in large mirrors the buggies pass, riding with the guests.
As guests unload from the Doom Buggies, Mélanie's voice can be heard, asking them to "hurry back". After this in the Boot Hill Cemetery, an unmarked, ornate black tomb sits near the graves of Henry and Martha Ravenswood. Guests who touch it feel the sensation of a beating heart. This is thought to be Melanie's grave, as well as a tribute to the original Bride of the Haunted Mansion.
Prior to certain scene and story updates in the 2019 refurbishment of the attraction, many of the above scenes were different.
- In the Foyer, her visage appears briefly in an ornate mirror on the wall.
- In the Stretching Room, Melanie is the main subject of each portrait, which stretch to reveal a gruesome fate for her in each one: Melanie wades in a stream while some sort of river monster reaches for her ankles; Melanie seated in a boat about to go over a waterfall; Melanie and her beau enjoying a picnic as a snake, beetle, spider, scorpion and an army of ants move toward them; and Melanie in a rose garden, a skeletal corpse crawling from a grave in the foreground. When the lights go out and the ceiling vanishes, it is revealed that the Phantom killed Melanie's soon-to-be groom by hanging him from the rafters, thus setting the central conflict in motion.
- After boarding their doom buggies, guests ascend a staircase and are greeted by Mélanie, standing in an alcove and bowing politely to them as they pass before turning to the Endless Hallway.
- In the boudoir scene, Melanie originally sat in front of a mirror that had fogged over to make the shape of a skull.
- Just after escaping Phantom Canyon, a skeleton dressed in rotting bridal garments is seen floating in a corona of light, one bony hand pointing the way for guests to go in order to escape the mansion.
- Upon exiting their doom buggies into the manor's wine cellar, guests can see a tiny version of Melanie standing among the casks and barrels, telling them to hurry back.
At the Disneyland Railroad's station in Main Street there is a mural portraying several figures waiting for a train. On the mural is a depiction of Melanie Ravenswood with the silhouette of the Phantom behind her. Melanie's pose and hair-style is resembling that of Sally Slater from the original Haunted Mansion attraction.
Melanie has made several appearances at Disneyland Paris as a live character, usually during special events, parades, and live shows.
Melanie appeared in the Frontierland segment of the revue show C'est Magique, during the early years of the park. Her wedding dress differed from the one she wore in the attraction. It had a large slit on the slide, to make it easier for her to move. She moved across to center stage, before she was carried by the Phantom downstage. At the end of the song, she existed on one side of the stage, gesturing towards him.
Mickey's Halloween Celebration
Melanie appeared on the Illusion Manor float in Mickey's Halloween Celebration. She danced with the Phantom on the porch, and went onto one of the platforms in the hub to dance during the show-stop. She occasionally went into the manor, so that Mickey Mouse could come out and talk with the Phantom. Her wedding dress in this parade has become the standard Melanie costume for all future appearances.
- During Phantom Manor's reopening in May 2019, she wandered around the manor's grounds, never speaking to guests.
- Melanie made her debut as a meet and greet character during the Disney Character Night in 2019, in front of her crypt at Phantom Manor. Her dress was enhanced with a beating heart, reminiscent of the American brides.
In the Boudoir scene, several tear-stained letters can be seen written by Mélanie, her father and her lover. The letter written by Mélanie reads:
Je suis lasse de notre conflit.
Ce constat me mène à me rabaisser sans pudeur devant vous tellement il est difficile, je l’avoue, de vivre sans ( sous ) votre grande richesse.
Père, je vous prie d’accepter mes excuses les plus hypocrites que j’ai jamais pu faire.
Votre cher fils."
which translated from french reads as:
I am tired of our conflict.
This report leads me to decrease me immodestly in front of you, as it is so difficult to live under your great wealth.
Father, please accept the most hypocritical apologies i ever did.
Your dear child."
It should be noted that some have mistranslated "Votre cher fils" as reading "Your Dear Son" but in french while fils typically is used to describe a male child, it is also regarded as the gender-neutral term for a grown child.
- Melanie's singing voice was provided by Imagineer Katherine Lench Meyering, who has had operatic training.
- Melanie was inspired by Christine Daae from Gaston Leroux' The Phantom of the Opera.
- The letters found in Melanie's Boudoir are written in French and as such present her name as being spelled as "Melanie" this is the only place her name can be found in the attraction.
- Melanie serves as Phantom Manor's counterpart to the Haunted Mansion's Bride and Little Leota. Prior to the 2018 refurbishments she was also a sort of parallel to the Tightrope Walker.
- Melanie was voiced by Katherine Meyering throughout all of the attraction except the exit where she was played by Oona Lind who also played Phantom Manor's version of Madame Leota, likely as a reference to her Little Leota inspired role in the exit scene
- According to Imagineer Tom Fitzgerald while presenting the changes made during the 2019 refurbishment, he stated that after being trapped all these years in the manor, Melanie's spirit had been driven insane.
- In a portrait added to the foyer, there is a noose hanging from a tree besides heart carvings on a tree presumably made by Mélanie. It is possible that this is implying Mélanie might have commit suicide via hanging on the tree or at-least considered it.
- Mélanie was partly inspired by the character of Miss Haversham from Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations (1860).
- It is likely that Mélanie was an inspiration behind Abigail Bullion in Disney Kingdoms' Big Thunder Mountain Railroad comics, Abigail being the daughter of Big Thunder Mining Company owner Barnabas T. Bullion.