Today we’re taking a mysterious journey through the creepy and fun Haunted Mansion ride secrets!
Disney’s Haunted Mansion is one of the top attractions among ThemeParkHipsters, so much so that there is a large fandom that encompasses fan fiction, meetups, collectibles, comics, and numerous pop culture mentions around the world!
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The Haunted Mansion at Disney
I’ve always enjoyed the ride, but I could never quite ride it alone (no surprise there).
I know you’re probably thinking that I may be a bit weird because it’s just a Disney ride that is nowhere near the haunting frights of Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights.
However, I always feel something very eerie and spooky about the attraction that makes my skin crawl all the while keeping the quirky, imaginative spirit of Disney.
This dark ride puts guests in the Doom Buggies who are given a haunted tour of the mansion by the famous Ghost Host (voiced by Paul Frees).
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My First Experience
I can still remember my first time on this ride in the mid-nineties and how the Ghost Host and the spooky greeters with their dragging, dreary voices would always give me the creeps.
And let’s not forget the parlor scene that stretches not only the room, but also your imagination with a visual trick that is pretty impressive and still a classic staple of the attraction.
Hipsters there’s no way we can forget Madame Leota.
The mysterious medium whose head is famous for its flotation ability and whose chants can blur the line between the natural and supernatural realities of this world.
Once you think you’ve survived the spine-tingling tour you gain some famous guests on your Doom Buggie, the Hitchhiking Ghosts…
…and from what I’ve observed these guys are Haunted Mansion rock stars!
49 Strange Haunted Mansion Ride Secrets to Know for Your Next Trip
In this article we’re going to focus on the Disneyland and Magic Kingdom Haunted Mansion attractions. I was able to find some of the weirdest and most mysterious facts surrounding this legendary Disney attraction.
Enjoy and hopefully you won’t be added to the 999 happy haunts!
1. This attraction can be found all over the world:
- New Orleans Square at Disneyland (California)
- Liberty Square at Magic Kingdom (Florida)
- Frontierland at Disneyland Paris
- Mystic Point at Hong Kong Disneyland (Mystic Manor)
- Fantasyland at Disneyland Tokyo (Mystic Manor)
2. The Real “1000th” Ghost
A doctor and medical lawyer, Cary Sharp, donated $37,400 for a charity event held at Disneyland to become the 1000th ghost!
…a man “forever buried in his work.”
3. Who’s Buried in the Tombstones?
Many of the names on the tombstones are from real who were connected to the Disney brand.
4. The Legendary Bride
The iconic grim bride with the bright red heart name is Constance Hatchaway.
5. Hatbox Tales
The Hatbox Ghost was originally a part of the attraction at Disneyland. However, the “HatBox” trick never lived up to the title, so it was axed.
Over the years, the loyal followers still kept The Hatbox Ghost memory alive and in 2015, Disney gave us a new Hatbox Ghost for Disneyland’s 60th Anniversary Diamond Celebration.
This is one of the coolest Haunted Mansion ride secrets!
6. Haunted Mansion: The Water Ride
The Haunted Mansion was briefly developed as a water ride by Imagineer Claude Coates.
7. Live Caretaker in the Movie
The original concept of the Haunted Mansion film script had a live Caretaker as one of the main characters, but was later scrapped.
8. The Real Haunted Mansion
The Disneyland Haunted Mansion was rumored to have been inspired by the Shipley-Lydecker House in Baltimore, Maryland.
However, Ken Anderson, the original storyteller of the ride, found the most inspiration in a catalog of Victorian decorative art and architecture he was looking through at the time.
9. The Singing Busts Inspiration
Designer, Rick Baker, first modeled the film’s singing busts after Marc Davis, Thurl Ravenscroft, Blaine Gibson, Paul Frees and Walt Disney.
10. Filming Location Changes
The Haunted Mansion film was originally set in New York state.
11. Haunted Mansion Bride
The well-known Haunted Mansion bride was one of the few characters who was almost always featured in the many versions of the Disneyland Haunted Mansion storyline concepts.
12. Lord of the Mansion
X. Atencio is considered to be the unofficial lord of the manor.
13. Whimsical, yet Creepy Wallpaper
The Haunted Mansion wallpaper was a collaboration between Museum of the Weird creator Rolly Crump and Claude Coats.
14. Mystery Around Madame Leota’s Tombstone
At Madame Leota’s tombstone, watch closely as her eyes may open
15. Gargoyles in the Haunted Mansion
As you leave the stretching room of the Haunted Mansion, listen for gargoyles talking. They will be there to make sure you all stay together.
This is one of my favorite Haunted Mansion secrets!
16. Haunted Mansion Pipe Organ
There’s a replica of the pipe organ from the film 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea in the ballroom scene of the Haunted Mansion.
17. Tony the Tiger in the Haunted Mansion
One of the singing statues in the Haunted Mansion was voiced by the same man who did Tony the Tiger from Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes! His name was Thurl Ravenscroft.
18. Stretching Room Plays Tricks on You
The stretching room of the Haunted Mansion in Disneyland California is an elevator that takes you underground.
19. Madame Leota’s Daughter Contributes to the Haunted Mansion Ride Secrets
After the “real” Madame Leota died, Disney wanted to update the film. Disney then used her daughter, Kim Irvine, to help create the newer footage
20. Walt Disney’s Touch
It has been rumored that Walt Disney recorded a narration of the Haunted Mansion in an earlier drafted version of the ride.
21. The Gracey Family
In the Haunted Mansion movie, the Gracey family is named after Imagineer Yale Gracey who helped create the Seance Room with Madame Leota.
22. Pepper’s Ghost
Pepper’s Ghost is a famous illusion from the 1800s that can be seen with the ghost dancing in the Grand Ballroom scene.
This is one of the top Haunted Mansion secrets that we all love!
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23. Hitchhiking Ghosts Joins Your Doombuggy
You can find the famous Hitchhiking Ghosts at the end of the ride inside your Doombuggy. Disney uses the Pepper’s Ghost illusion to pull off this trick.
Hopefully, it’s just an illusion and you don’t take one home with you.
24 – The Walkthrough Experience
Another earlier concept of the Haunted Mansion put it as a walk-through experience that would’ve had a boat pull up to you in one of the rooms.
The only problem with this concept, is that this portion of the attraction would only hold a few people and would take too long. This is not a good thing for keeping the attraction flow moving optimally.
25. Delayed Opening Date
Believe it or not, the exterior of the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland was completed in 1963, but it did not open officially until 1969.
26. Museum of the Weird
One of the earlier concepts of the Haunted Mansion was to be The Museum of the Weird with both haunted and mysterious trinkets from around the globe.
27. Doom Buggy Life
The Doom Buggy, the vehicle that takes you through the Haunted Mansion, is also known as an Omnimover (you can see a similar vehicle in Spaceship Earth at Epcot).
28. Find a Hidden Mickey in the Mansion
Try to find the Hidden Mickey in the famous ballroom scene (hint, hint…check the table).
29. A Real Bullet Hole
Believe it or not, there’s an actual bullet hole in the Disneyland Haunted Mansion. While on the ride look towards the end of the ballroom scene where the two portraits are shooting at each other.
The bullet hole is rumored to be there and is sometimes covered with a spider.
30. Hitchhiking Ghosts Names
The Hitchhiking Ghosts have names dubbed by the fans. The names are Gus (the Prisoner), Phineas (the Traveler), and Ezra (the Skelton). This fact is one of the most unique Haunted Mansion secrets.
31. Interactive Queue Line
The Haunted Mansion in the Magic Kingdom has an interactive queue line that is just as mysterious as the ride.
32. Time to Pay Up
The Haunted Mansion cost $7 million to create when it was developed and built.
33. Films that Inspired the Haunts
Some believe that there are three films that inspired the attraction:
- The Haunting
- Haunting of Hill House (1963 version)
- La Belle et La Bete – Beauty and the Beast (1946 version),
- The Cat and the Canary (1927 version)
34. Pet Cemetery
The Haunted Mansion in both Disneyland California and the Magic Kingdom have a pet cemetery located outside the mansion
35. Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride in the Mansion
In the Florida Haunted Mansion, look for a tombstone with J. Thaddeus Toad. This is a nod to Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride.
36. The Bride’s Ring
Look for the “Bride’s ring” when you exit the Haunted Mansion ride in the Magic Kingdom.
37. True Story of the Bride’s Ring
There were many stories of how the ring was left in the cement out the exit of the Haunted Mansion. Originally there was no backstory since it was the trimmed-off end of a metal post.
38. Your Death Certificate
Did you know that there’s a portion of the Haunted Mansion that signifies your death?
When you fall from the attic window, your doom-buggy goes backwards. It is at this point that the haunts of the estate will now start to recognize you.
39. Exit First
If you want to get out of the stretching round room first, then stand near the painting of the tight rope lady holding the parasol at the Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World.
40. Edgar Allan Poe
Look out for the raven throughout this Disney ride. It’s a reference to Edgar Allan Poe.
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41. The Tragic Sea Captain
An original storyline of the ride involved a pirate named Captain Gore and his wife Priscilla who lived in a mansion where his wife discovers his hidden dark past as a pirate. She is then murdered by her husband who then hangs himself.
You may be able to see aquatic nods to this Captain on the attraction.
42. Spreading Ashes
Believe it or not, there have been Disney guests who have tried to spread the ashes of their loved ones on the Haunted Mansion ride.
43. Who’s that Hanging?
Look for Master Gracey “hanging” from the ceiling rafters in the stretching room scene.
44. The Storyline Continues
Originally, Imagineers didn’t have a fully developed story surrounding the relationship between Master Gracey and Madame Leota.
45. Look for a Mysterious Figure
At the Haunted Mansion in the Magic Kingdom during the night, look up towards the top window and you may see a ghostly figure passing by…
46. Find the Skulls
When you are exiting the waiting area of the Haunted Mansion in Disney World, look at the top corner moldings which are shaped as skulls.
47. Monitor the Changing Weather on the Haunted Mansion Ride
As you go through each room, you notice the change in the storm that will subside for just a bit once you make it to coffin room.
48. The Clock of Doom
Look closely at the creepy 13-hour clock, you may notice fingers instead of the normal features of a clock.
49. Music to Your Ears
The sheet music on the floor of the piano room states Et cum spirituo (This means “And with your spirt”)
Final Thoughts on the Haunted Mansion Ride Secrets, Story and Fandom
On my quest to find more information about this unique fandom I learned that it is more than a simple Disney attraction.
The Haunted Mansion has captivated its followers with the brilliant story-telling passion that Imagineers, such as Yale Gracey, Ken Anderson, and Claude Coates, put into telling the fantastic fables of the gloomy inhabitants.
Despite all of the constant storyline changes and disagreements among creators, this lighthearted “Ghost Retirement Home,” has become a staple Disney attraction across the world.
I also learned that devout fans are aware of all things Haunted Mansion, such as the soundtrack secrets, the history behind the early concepts, and the back story of each ghoulish creature just to name a few.
There are even fan-based websites that focus on a single entity of the attraction. This aspect keeps the true fans of the grim grinning adventure loyal for the rest of their mortal lives.
Which Haunted Mansion secret was your favorite? Let us know in the comments section below.
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Planning a trip soon? If so, read the Disney Vacation Planning Guide for your next dream trip!
Until next time, Happy Park Hopping Hipsters!
(Original Date October 31, 2013/Updated July 29, 2021)