Haunted Mansion

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
For the 2003 film adaptation, see The Haunted Mansion (film). For the 2003 video game, see The Haunted Mansion (video game). For the comics, see Haunted Mansion (comics). For the unrelated 1998 Hong Kong film, see Haunted Mansion (1998 film).
The Haunted Mansion
Haunted Mansion Exterior.JPG
Original attraction at Disneyland
Area New Orleans Square
Status Operating
Opening date August 9, 1969
Magic Kingdom
Area Liberty Square
Status Operating
Opening date October 1, 1971
Tokyo Disneyland
Area Fantasyland
Status Operating
Opening date April 15, 1983
General statistics
Attraction type Omnimover dark ride
Manufacturers Arrow Development (Disneyland & Magic Kingdom)
Designer WED Enterprises
Theme Haunted manor
Music Buddy Baker
Vehicle type Doom buggies
Riders per vehicle 2-3
Duration 5:50-8:20 minutes
Audio-animatronics Yes
Host Ghost Host (Paul Frees)
(Teichiro Hori, Tokyo version)
Must transfer from wheelchair
Assistive listening icon.svg Assistive listening available
Closed captioning available

The Haunted Mansion is a haunted house dark ride located at Disneyland, Magic Kingdom (Walt Disney World), and Tokyo Disneyland. Phantom Manor, a significantly re-imagined version of the Haunted Mansion, is located exclusively in Disneyland Paris. Another Disney attraction involving the supernatural and set in a mansion, Mystic Manor, recently opened at Hong Kong Disneyland. The Haunted Mansion features a ride-through tour in Omnimover vehicles called "Doom Buggies," preceded by a walk-through show in the queue. The attraction utilizes a range of technology, from centuries-old theatrical effects to modern special effects and spectral Audio-Animatronics.

The attraction[edit]

The following is a description of the current version of the Haunted Mansion attraction at Disneyland:

The Portrait Corridor, which guests pass through after exiting the Stretching Room

Entering the queuing area through a pair of ornate gates, guests find themselves in the mansion's well-tended gardens and courtyards. The queuing path leads guests past a pet cemetery, a mausoleum with pun names, and a white carriage hearse led by an invisible horse. Stepping onto the porch, guests are admitted inside the mansion by a somber, green-uniformed house servant. Through a doorway on the far right of the front side of the house, guests enter a dark foyer, dimly lit by a large chandelier with flickering candles.

In the foyer, the deep, resonant voice (Paul Frees) of an invisible spirit sets the tone with a short opening monologue, accompanied by a funeral dirge played on an unseen pipe organ. A pair of sliding doors open to one of two near-identical octagonal portrait galleries, and a servant ushers guests inside. The invisible spirit mockingly welcomes the guests (referring to them as "foolish mortals") and introduces himself as their "Ghost Host" who will take them on a tour of the Haunted Mansion. The gallery contains four paintings, one on every other wall, each depicting a person from the chest up. The portraits are flanked by eight leering, candle-holding gargoyles. A sliding wall panel closes in front of the doorway where the guests entered, trapping them in the room. As the Ghost Host taunts his guests, the room begins to vertically "stretch." The floor descends and the walls and portrait frames elongate, revealing the grim fates of the previous residents depicted in the paintings, symbolized in humorously macabre situations: a pretty young woman holding a parasol is shown to be balancing on a fraying tightrope above the jaws of an alligator; a middle-aged bearded man holding a document is shown to be standing atop a lit barrel of dynamite in his boxer shorts; a smiling elderly woman holding a rose is shown to be sitting on the tombstone of her late husband George, who is depicted as a stone bust with an ax in his head; and a confident-looking middle-aged man in a bowler hat is shown to be sitting on the shoulders of a frightened-looking man, who sits on the shoulders of a third man who is waist-deep in quicksand, an expression of terror on his face.

“...Consider this dismaying observation: this chamber has no windows, and no doors... which offers you this chilling challenge: to find a way out! Of course, there's always my way...”

With a sudden thunderclap, the lights go out and the ceiling disappears. A ghastly vision manifests above: the skeletal corpse of the Ghost Host dangles from a noose inside an octagonal cupola with four curtainless windows (rather than the hexagonal cupola with six curtained windows seen on the exterior), illuminated by flashes of lightning. Seconds later, the room becomes pitch-black, and a bloodcurdling scream is heard — falling from the ceiling to the floor, ending with the sound of shattering bones.

A wall opens, and guests are then led down a hall of portraits. As lightning flashes from the windows on the opposite side of the hall, the portraits transform into images of ghosts and monsters in sync with the lightning. At the hall's far end are two statuary busts depicting a stern-looking man and woman. The statues appear to turn and gaze at guests, following their every move.

Turning the corner, guests enter a dark room where a never-ending stream of black carriages, or "Doom Buggies," descend one staircase and ascend another. Beyond the stairwell, clouds drift past a mysterious black void. The guests board the carriages, accompanied by the Ghost Host (who lowers the safety bars and provides a safety spiel), and are brought to the second floor, where they face a hallway with no apparent end. A candelabra can be seen floating in the distance of the misty passage. Near its entrance stands a shifting suit of armor.

Turning away from the endless hall, guests travel past a conservatory filled with dead, withered plants and flowers. In the middle of the room is a coffin occupied by a restless "guest" who is attempting to get out. Perched near the coffin is a black raven with glowing red eyes.

The Doom Buggies continue down a corridor lined with doors. The sounds of pounding, screeching, calls for help and maniacal laughter can be heard from behind the doors. Knockers and handles are moved by unseen hands and some doors appear to be "breathing." The walls, covered in demon-faced wallpaper, are adorned with daguerreotypes of screaming and grinning corpses, and a large painting of the Ghost Host with a noose around his neck and holding a hatchet. A demonic grandfather clock chimes 13 as its hands spin backward and the shadow of a claw passes over it.

Guests enter a dark séance room full of floating musical instruments. Madame Leota, a medium whose disembodied head appears within a crystal ball, summons the mansion's spirits while levitating above her table. As she incants:

"Serpents and spiders, tail of a rat / Call in the spirits, wherever they're at. / Rap on a table, it's time to respond / Send us a message from somewhere beyond. / Goblins and ghoulies from last Halloween / Awaken the spirits with your tambourine. / Creepies and crawlies, toads in a pond / Let there be music from regions beyond. / Wizards and witches, wherever you dwell / Give us a hint by ringing a bell."[1]

...the instruments answer her in turn.

Next, guests pass onto the balcony of a magnificent ballroom where spirits are beginning to materialize. A ghostly birthday party appears to be taking place at the dining table (where a dinner plate and two saucers on the left side of the table combine to form a "Hidden Mickey"). Some ghosts sit on the chandelier, drinking, while others enter the hall from an open coffin in a hearse. A fat ghost wraps his arm around a stone bust on the fireplace, in front of which an old lady's ghost rocks gently in a rocking chair. Two gunmen emerge from portraits of themselves and have a duel. An organist plays a discordant melody on a pipe organ (Captain Nemo's organ set piece from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea) while skull-shaped spirits float out of its pipes and several couples waltz through the furniture. [2]

The carriages then proceed to the attic, an irregularly shaped room cluttered with gifts, personal items, mementos and wedding portraits. In each portrait, the same bride is seen with a different groom, whose heads disappear to the accompaniment of a blade sharpening sound. With each successive photograph, the bride gains another string of pearls. The sound of a beating heart fills the room, and a shadowy spirit plays a discordant version of the "Bridal Chorus" on an old piano. Just before the Doom Buggies leave the attic, the ghost of the bride from the pictures, Constance Hatchaway, is seen floating in the air, her words mocking the traditional wedding vows. As she raises her arms, a hatchet appears in her hands.

The Doom Buggies drift out of the attic window and onto the balcony of what appears to be a run-down Victorian mansion, rather than the pristine antebellum house that the guests initially entered. The starry night sky is filled with wispy spirits rising from the graveyard below. The Doom Buggies turn around, and tip backward down a 15-percent grade surrounded by dark, ghoulish trees with knotted expressions. The red-eyed raven caws at guests from a branch overhead.

The Doom Buggies reach the ground and turn towards the gate of the graveyard. There stands a caretaker and his dog, the attraction's only "living" characters. The caretaker's knees shake in fright, an expression of terror on his face, while his emaciated dog whines and whimpers. Around the corner, a ghostly band of minstrels plays a jazzy rendition of "Grim Grinning Ghosts".

Ghouls pop up from behind tombstones, a king and queen balance on a teeter-totter, a duchess swings back and forth from a tree branch, and a skeletal hellhound howls from behind them. The Doom Buggies travel down a hill and turn to see five expressive haunted busts singing "Grim Grinning Ghosts" in barbershop harmony.

Next, guests encounter a ghostly tea party surrounding a hearse stuck in the mud. A bony arm protrudes from a crypt with a wine glass in its hand, while banshees ride bicycles in the distance. An Egyptian mummy sits up in his sarcophagus, holding a cup of tea and singing along, while the ghost of a "wise old man" from the Renaissance period holds an ear trumpet to his ear in an attempt to make out the muffled words of the mummy.

The Doom Buggies turn and pass a group of singing ghosts (an operatic pair, a decapitated knight, a masked executioner, and a prisoner) standing in front of a series of crypts. A bony arm holding a trowel dangles from a partially bricked-in crypt, its occupant attempting to finish the job.

The carriages approach the entrance of a large crypt, and the Ghost Host speaks once again:

"Ah, there you are...and just in time. There's a little matter I forgot to mention: beware of hitchhiking ghosts!"

Entering the crypt, the Doom Buggies pass a group of three ghosts thumbing for a ride. Around the corner, in large, ornately framed mirrors, the guests see that one of the trio is in the carriage with them.

The guests exit their carriages and ascend back to the "living world." The last apparition they see is the tiny Ghost Hostess, who encourages them to:

"Hurry back... Be sure to bring your death certificate, if you decide to join us. Make final arrangements now. We've been ‘dying’ to have you."



The attraction predates Disneyland, to when Walt Disney hired the first of his Imagineers. The first known illustration of the park showed a main street setting, green fields, western village and a carnival. Disney Legend Harper Goff developed a black-and-white sketch of a crooked street leading away from main street by a peaceful church and graveyard, with a run-down manor perched high on a hill that towered over main street.

Disney assigned Imagineer Ken Anderson to make a story around Goff's idea. Plans were made to build a New Orleans-themed land in the small transition area between Frontierland and Adventureland. Weeks later, New Orleans Square appeared on the souvenir map and promised a thieves market, a pirate wax museum, and a haunted house walk-through. Anderson studied New Orleans and old plantations and come up with a drawing of an antebellum manor overgrown with weeds, dead trees, swarms of bats and boarded doors and windows topped by a screeching cat as a weather vane.

Disney, however, did not like the idea of a run-down building in his pristine park. He visited the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, California, and was captivated by the massive mansion with its stairs to nowhere, doors that opened to walls and holes, and elevators. Anderson came up with stories for the mansion, including tales of a ghostly sea captain who killed his nosy bride and then hanged himself, a mansion home to an unfortunate family, and a ghostly wedding party with well-known Disney villains and spooks. Imagineers Rolly Crump and Yale Gracey recreated Ken Anderson's stories in a studio at WED enterprise.

In 1961, handbills announcing a 1963 opening of the Haunted Mansion were given out at Disneyland's main entrance.[4] Construction began a year later, and the exterior was completed in 1963. The attraction was previewed in a 1965 episode of Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color,[4] but the attraction itself would not open until 1969. The six-year delay owed heavily to Disney's involvement in the New York World's Fair in 1964–1965 and to an attraction redesign after Walt's death in 1966. The mansion opened to all guests August 12, 1969.

In October 2001, Haunted Mansion Holiday premiered, a seasonal overlay featuring characters from the 1993 film The Nightmare Before Christmas.

In October 2005, Slave Labor Graphics began publishing a bimonthly Haunted Mansion comic book anthology, with the main recurring story (Mystery of the Manse) centered around "Master Gracey" and inspired by the sea captain concepts proposed for the attraction by Ken Anderson in the 1950s. The comics are non-canonical.

Other Disney parks[edit]

The attraction opened at Magic Kingdom in 1971, Tokyo Disneyland in 1983, at Disneyland Paris as Phantom Manor in 1992, and at Hong Kong Disneyland as Mystic Manor in 2013.

Disneyland Paris is home to Phantom Manor, a "re-imagined" version of the Haunted Mansion. The house is a Western Victorian, in the Second Empire architectural style, based on the look of the Fourth Ward School House in Virginia City, Nevada. Along with the Western architectural style, the attraction uses a Western plot to fit in with the Thunder Mesa and Frontierland backdrop.

Mystic Manor, a somewhat different kind of attraction inspired by the Haunted Mansion,[citation needed] opened at Hong Kong Disneyland in spring 2013. The attraction's exterior is that of a large Victorian mansion in an elaboarte Queen Anne architectural style, and the experience features a trackless "ride" system and a musical score by Danny Elfman. Continuing the Society of Explorers and Adventurers theme of Tokyo DisneySea, the attraction tells the story of Lord Henry Mystic and his monkey Albert. Having recently acquired an enchanted music box, Albert opens the box and brings everything inside the house to life.


Haunted Mansion Holiday[edit]

Since 2001, the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland and Tokyo Disneyland is transformed into Haunted Mansion Holiday during Christmas inspired by Disney's The Nightmare Before Christmas. The Haunted Mansion is closed in September for a few weeks as they revamp the attraction, replacing many of the props and Audio-Animatronics with characters and themes from the movie. It features Jack Skelington as Sandy Claws. Jack discovers the mansion, then shares it with the 999 happy haunts. Corey Burton replaces Paul Frees as the Ghost Host.

Hatbox Ghost[edit]

For the first few weeks, a now fan-favorite character named the Hatbox Ghost existed in the attic portion of the ride at Disneyland Park. However, the character eventually disappeared within a few months. Because the Hatbox Ghost featured prominently in artwork and narration for popular Haunted Mansion record albums sold for many years at Disney parks, and because Disney continues to market the ghost's image, he has never been forgotten and has become somewhat of a legend, complete with cult following. Many fans of the ride wish to see him returned and have gone so far as to circulate petitions calling for the figure's restoration.


The foyer, stretching room, and ride narration was performed by Paul Frees in the role of the Ghost Host. Theme song

Grim Grinning Ghosts was composed by Buddy Baker and the lyrics were written by X Atencio. It can be heard in nearly every area of the ride, with various instrumentations and tempos.

Popular culture[edit]

  • The video game Epic Mickey features a Haunted Mansion-like level known as Lonesome Manor. According to Warren Spector, it is the different versions of the Haunted Mansion ride thrown together.
  • In the first episode of Kevin Smith's "Clerks: The Animated Series", a ride through the rival convenience store "Quicker Stop" is mechanized much like the Haunted Mansion, complete with Leonardo Leonardo (voiced by Alec Baldwin) in the role of the "Ghost Host". A customer upon seeing his ghostly image in the car next to him screams "The dead live!" and flees in terror.
  • Many of the ghosts from the attraction appear in the direct-to-DVD film Mickey's House of Villains.


  • "Disneyland's Ghost House". (2004). The "E" Ticket (41).
    This is the Fall 2004 issue of the magazine The "E" Ticket, which was dedicated to the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland.
  • Eastman, Tish. (1997). "Haunting Melodies: The Story Behind Buddy Baker's Score for the Haunted Mansion". Persistence of Vision (9) 39.
    Persistence of Vision is an irregularly published magazine "celebrating the creative legacy of Walt Disney." Back issues can be found at The Book Palace.
  • Smith, Paul. (1997). "Tales from the Crypt: Life in the Haunted Mansion." Persistence of Vision (9) 89.
  • Surrell, J. (2003). The Haunted Mansion: From the Magic Kingdom to the Movie. New York: Disney Editions. ISBN 0-7868-5419-7
    A book published by Disney giving a comprehensive history of the Haunted Mansion from early inception, in which it was a walk-through attraction, to its current form. It includes information on the Haunted Mansion movie.

External links[edit]