Foolish mortals…. let’s journey through the eerie corridors of Disney’s Haunted Mansion!
Think you know this iconic ride? Think again.
We’ve dug up 13 mind-blowing facts that are guaranteed to spook your senses and make you see this haunted house in a whole new light.
From hidden gems to spine-chilling trivia, this is the Haunted Mansion as you’ve never experienced it before. Ready to lift the veil on these ghostly secrets? Read on—if you dare…
1. Hidden Mickey’s
- Keep your eyes peeled! There are several Hidden Mickeys throughout the ride, including one in the dining room scene.
- There are 4 Hidden Mickey’s in total!
2. Hitchhiking Ghosts
- The Hitchhiking Ghosts actually have names! They are Ezra (the tall, skeletal one), Phineas (the one carrying a carpetbag), and Gus (the short one with a long beard).
- In some versions of the ride, as you pass by a mirror, you’ll see one of the Hitchhiking Ghosts appear beside you, thanks to some Disney magic! See our picture with one of the hitchhiking ghosts above.
- These characters were designed by Disney Imagineer Marc Davis, who was responsible for many of the ride’s most memorable scenes.
- The Hitchhiking Ghosts are so popular that they’ve inspired a range of merchandise, from T-shirts to Funko Pops.
- In the Magic Kingdom version of the ride, the interactive queue features tombstones for the Hitchhiking Ghosts, adding another layer to their backstory.
3. The Ghost Host
- The iconic voice that guides you through the “swinging wake” of the Haunted Mansion would be that of Paul Frees. He is the man behind the “Ghost Host.” His deep, eerie voice sets the perfect tone for the ride.
- Paul Frees was a legendary voice actor who lent his talents to a variety of roles, from Ludwig Von Drake in Disney’s “Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color” to Boris Badenov in “The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show.”
4. The Bride’s Ring
- The “Bride’s Ring” is actually a piece of pavement that looks like a ring, located near the exit of the Haunted Mansion ride at Walt Disney World. For years, fans speculated that it was the wedding ring of Constance Hatchaway, the infamous bride in the attic scene of the ride.
- The ring was originally just a piece of exposed metal that had been cut off, but the myth grew so popular among fans that Disney decided to make it official. During a refurbishment, Imagineers replaced the accidental “ring” with an actual embedded ring design in the pavement.
- The Bride’s Ring has become a sort of Easter egg for fans in the know. It’s not officially mentioned or highlighted by Disney, making it a special secret you have to be “in the know” to find.
- If you’re looking for it, the ring is near the ride’s exit, embedded in the pavement. It’s a fun little scavenger hunt for fans and adds an extra layer of mystique to the already enigmatic ride.
5. Pet Cemetery
- The Pet Cemetery is situated outside the Haunted Mansion, near the queue. It’s a whimsical, slightly eerie garden filled with tombstones for fictional departed pets.
- The cemetery is home to a variety of “pets,” including a skunk named “Stripe,” a frog named “Old Flybait,” and even a cat named “Whiskers.” Each tombstone has a quirky epitaph that adds a touch of humor to the spooky setting.
- One of the most notable tombstones is for Mr. Toad, a nod to the character from “The Wind in the Willows” and the former Disneyland attraction, Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride.
- According to insiders, the epitaph humorously states, ‘Here lies Toad, it’s sad but true, he wasn’t as marketable as Winnie the Pooh.’ This cheeky nod pays homage to the fact that Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride at Disney World was replaced by The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh attraction.
- Believe it or not, there’s actually a second, less-known pet cemetery on the mansion grounds at Disneyland. It’s located on the side of the mansion and is generally only shown to guests on special tours.
6. Inspired by a Real House
- The Disneyland Haunted Mansion was inspired by the Shipley-Lydecker House in Baltimore.
- Built in the 19th century, the Shipley-Lydecker House was a grand Victorian mansion known for its Southern Gothic architecture. It was a stately home with intricate details, from its ornate woodwork to its elegant balconies.
- When Imagineers were in the planning stages for the Haunted Mansion, they drew inspiration from various architectural styles. However, it was a photograph of the Shipley-Lydecker House that caught the eye of Imagineer Ken Anderson. The house’s aesthetic perfectly captured the blend of elegance and eeriness they were aiming for.
7. Voice of Madame Leota
- The face you see in the crystal ball is Imagineer Leota Toombs, but the voice is Eleanor Audley.
- Eleanor Audley lent her voice to some of Disney’s most memorable villains. She’s the voice of Maleficent in “Sleeping Beauty” and also brought Cinderella’s wicked stepmother, Lady Tremaine, to life.
- Madame Leota is so iconic that she’s even made appearances in other Disney parks around the world, as well as in the 2003 movie adaptation of “The Haunted Mansion.”
- As a tribute to Leota Toombs, the character of Madame Leota even has a tombstone in the ride’s graveyard scene that reads, “Dear sweet Leota, beloved by all. In regions beyond now, but having a ball”.
8. The Organ
- The organ in the ballroom scene at Disneyland is the same prop used for Captain Nemo’s organ in the movie “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea”.
- The organ plays the tune “Grim Grinning Ghosts,” the iconic song of the Haunted Mansion, composed by Buddy Baker with lyrics by X Atencio. The song is played in a ghostly, eerie manner that perfectly complements the ride’s spooky ambiance.
9. Connections to The Nightmare Before Christmas
- Since Disney World decided not to have a Haunted Mansion Holiday overlay, there are 13 hidden tributes within the attraction to this famous movie.
- Two of the books in the library are novels based on The Nightmare Before Christmas.
- Can you find the rest? Did you see the Jack Skellington snow globe?
10. Mysterious Faces of the Loading Zone
- Ever wondered about the intriguing portraits you see in the Haunted Mansion’s Loading Zone? They’re not just random spooky faces; they’re steeped in both the Mansion’s lore and real-world history.
- The man clutching a knife? That’s meant to be none other than Victorian-era serial killer Jack the Ripper.
- The vampire by the coffin is inspired by Count Dracula from Bram Stoker’s iconic novel.
- The Mariner links back to Captain Gore, a character from the ride’s own backstory, while the disfigured man with a hatchet is your Ghost Host for the journey.
11. The Hatbox Ghost
- The Hatbox Ghost was part of the original Haunted Mansion when it opened at Disneyland in 1969. However, he was removed shortly after the ride’s debut due to technical difficulties. The illusion of his head disappearing and reappearing in his hatbox wasn’t convincing enough with the technology available at the time.
- After decades of being the stuff of Disney legend, the Hatbox Ghost made a triumphant return to the Disneyland Haunted Mansion in 2015. Advances in technology made it possible to perfect the head-switching illusion that had stumped Imagineers years before.
- During his absence, the Hatbox Ghost became a cult figure among Disney fans. He appeared in merchandise, comic books, and was even considered for inclusion in the 2003 “Haunted Mansion” movie.
- The character has his own musical theme, a haunting melody that plays as you pass by him in the attic scene, adding to his eerie charm. Interestingly, the Hatbox Ghost is unique to Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion and hasn’t been added to the versions in other Disney parks.
12. Doom Buggy
- The Doom Buggy is based on the Omnimover system, a ride vehicle system developed by Disney Imagineers. The genius of the Omnimover is that it allows for controlled sightlines, meaning it can direct your attention to specific scenes or elements by rotating or tilting.
- Disney actually holds a patent for the Omnimover system, which has been used in other attractions as well, like Spaceship Earth at Epcot. But it’s perhaps most famous for its use in the Haunted Mansion.
- The Doom Buggy serves as your “vehicle” in more ways than one. It’s where the Ghost Host, voiced by Paul Frees, accompanies you, narrating your journey through the mansion. The audio is built into the vehicle, making the experience personal and immersive.
- The design of the Doom Buggy, being enclosed and dark, enhances the special effects and illusions you see during the ride. It creates a controlled environment that makes the ghostly apparitions even more convincing.
13. 999 Happy Haunts
- The Ghost Host famously says there are “999 Happy Haunts here, but there’s room for a thousand. Any volunteers?” This playful invitation engages riders and makes them feel like they’re part of the story.
- The number also gives you an idea of the mansion’s grand scale. It’s not just a haunted house; it’s a sprawling, otherworldly estate filled with a multitude of spirits from various backgrounds.
- The specific number—999—also adds a layer of mystery. Why not a round 1,000? It leaves you wondering who the 1,000th haunt could be, adding to the ride’s enigmatic allure.
- From a marketing standpoint, “999 Happy Haunts” has become a slogan of sorts for the Haunted Mansion. It appears on merchandise and promotional material, making it a recognizable phrase associated with the ride.
- Will you be number 1,000?
Wrap-Up: Disney’s Haunted Mansion Secrets
As we’ve journeyed through Disney’s Haunted Mansion, from its eerie origins to its iconic characters and ingenious design, one thing is clear: every detail is a stroke of Imagineering genius.
It’s not just a ride; it’s an immersive experience that transports you into a world of 999 Happy Haunts.
So, the next time you find yourself at the gates of this ghostly manor, remember: there’s always room for one more. Are you brave enough to join?
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