The Haunted Mansion is an iconic Disney landmark all over the globe. The original Haunted Mansion opened in Disneyland in Anaheim, California but various versions of the ride can be found in WDW in Orlando, Disney Paris, Disneyland Hong Kong, and Disney Tokyo. In fact, it’s the only ride to be found in all four Magic Kingdoms! With talk of a Haunted Mansion movie remake in the works, it inspired us to explore some of the secrets hidden in this ride’s walls. Here are some of the creepiest and coolest facts we could dig up about this spooky ride!
13. Stretching Walls. Remember the circular room that appears to be stretching? It’s actually an elevator! At Disneyland the ride is mostly under ground level so the elevator lowers guests to the attraction. At Disney World, however, the ride is housed in a hidden building behind the façade so the walls just stretch and there’s no elevator.
12. Spider Web Secret. In the early 1970s in Disneyland, a man entered the ride with a gun and took a shot at one of the panes of glass that lets you see the ghosts’ reflections. Disney sent an artist from the Studios to paint a spider web to cover the bullet hole. There was also an identical one drawn in the WDW ride. If you want to look for it, it’s hanging from the fourth column from the right in the grand ballroom.
11. The Bride’s Ring. As you exit the ride in WDW, look on the ground for a wedding ring stuck in the pavement. It’s the Bride’s Ring that was thrown from the attic and then trampled by the invisible horse. Also, if you stand in front of the hearse, you’ll hear that invisible horse whiney!
10. You Die! In the ride you actually die! You fall from an attic window when your doom-buggy turns backwards and you go down the descent. You’ll notice that up until that point the ghosts didn’t recognize you and afterwards, you enter the party scene and they acknowledge you for the first time in the ride!
9. The Hatbox Ghost. The Disneyland ride featured this ghost who was located in the attic near the Bride. However, his effects didn’t work properly so his stay in the mansion was short lived. As guests rode by, his head was supposed to disappear from his body and reappear inside the hatbox. His head never did completely disappear from his body though, but Haunted Mansion diehards still hope he will return.
8. Pepper’s Ghost Illusion. This theatrical trick has been around since the early 1800s. A man named John Henry Pepper popularized this effect of creating translucent objects and the effect is still being used today! The ballroom scene in the ride is made possible by illuminated objects being reflected onto a pane of glass.
7. A Water Ride? Claude Coats, a Disney Imagineer, actually developed a water ride version that would have guests float through a ruined plantation house on the Louisiana Bayou. It was considered when Imagineers were trying to figure out how to set up the original Disneyland ride. Of course, the idea was scrapped because of the questions concerning crowd control and moving guests effectively.
6. Get In Line Faster. Want to be the first ones out of the stretching round room and first on the ride? Stand under the painting of the girl with the parasol because it’s the where the door to the ride opens. This is true for the attraction at Walt Disney World.
5. The Raven. As you work your way around the mansion, you’ll notice a raven in many of the scenes. In the early development, the raven was going to be the narrator but the idea was scrapped for the Ghost Host. The raven is also a nod to the work of Edgar Allen Poe, and it seems fitting to keep the bird in the ride to this day.
4. Leota Thomas Tombstone. One of the newest tombstones honors the late Leota Toombs, who was the face of Madam Leota as well as the costumer for the attraction. The tombstones at the mansion pay tribute to many of the Disney team and Leota’s is no exception. It is said that periodically you can see the eyes on the sculpted head opening and closing slowly.
3. Original Inspiration. The original ride in Anaheim is inspired by New Orleans’ charm, however the buildings used for inspiration aren’t found in New Orleans! The façade was based off of the Evergreen House found in Baltimore, N.C. and some of the inside details and story stem from the legends of the Winchester House in San Jose, California.
2. “Captain Gore” Storyline. The first idea for the ride involved a storyline about a bloodthirsty pirate nicknamed “Captain Gore” and his wife Priscilla. They lived in his mansion until one day while in the attic, Priscilla finds a trunk of his pirate things. Furious that she exposed his secret, he kills her. Her means of death are debated, but it makes the most sense that he threw her out of the attic window. Stricken with grief, “Captain Gore” hangs himself on the rafters. You can still see traces of this story line in the stretching room when you look up to see a figure hanging in the rafters.
1. Ashes. Some guests have been known to scatter the ashes of their loved ones in the parks, but the Haunted Mansion fittingly seems to be the favored spot. In 1996 a former Disney employee discussed an incident where tourists asked for a little extra time on the ride for a memorial for a little boy. As it turns out, they spread his ashes on the ride, causing the ride to be shut down for the remains to be removed. Now, when this request is asked the answer is always “no.” Disney also has specific equipment and crews for such incidents.
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Photo courtesy of Disney Photo Snapper