The Haunted Mansion is one of my favorite attractions at Disney! I love the spooky (but not scary) vibe, hitchhiking ghosts, and of course, the signature attention to detail! Here are some interesting facts about its hallowed halls.
1. The Haunted Mansion- A Disney park staple
Each Magic Kingdom-esque Disney park (Disneyland, the Magic Kingdom, Tokyo Disneyland, Hong Kong Disneyland, and Disneyland Paris) has its own version of the Haunted Mansion. Interestingly, although all five parks have the attraction, it is themed differently and is located in different lands in each park. This is the only Disney attraction found in multiple parks, but in different lands. Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion is found in New Orleans Square. The building looks like a grand mansion with towering columns at its front. In Disney World, the Mansion is darker and more sinister looking and located in Liberty Square. In Tokyo Disneyland, the Haunted Mansion is found in Fantasyland, and looks similar to the one we see at Disney World. Disneyland Paris’s “Phantom Manor” is found in Frontierland. The most divergent of the mansions, called “Mystic Manor”, is in the Mystic Point section of Hong Kong Disneyland. It features a brightly colored façade, domed roves, and spiral staircases. Its storyline is also very different: it tells the tale of a Lord and his monkey, who acquire magic and bring everything inside the manor to life.
2. Inspiration from several places
The original Haunted Mansion, though it looks like an antebellum manse from New Orleans, is actually designed from a house located in Baltimore, Maryland. For further inspiration, Imagineers studied haunted houses, mythology, and monster movies. Walt Disney was specifically inspired by a visit he made to the Winchester Mystery House. The Winchester Mystery House, located in San Jose, California, is known for its winding staircases and passages that lead to nowhere. You may be familiar with the Winchester family name, known for their arms company (think Winchester rifle). If you have the opportunity, I highly recommend visiting the house if you are in California!
3. A long time in the making
In 1961, The Haunted Mansion’s impending arrival was advertised at Disneyland. The building façade was completed in 1963. Then, the project stalled for a few years as Walt Disney focused on preparations for the World’s Fair. Besides, the Imagineers were struggling to figure out what, exactly, to put on the inside of the building. It was originally intended to be a walk-through attraction, led by maids and butlers. The attraction was redesigned after Walt’s death in 1966, and then did not open until 1969.
4. Going down?
Most of the Haunted Mansion attractions have a “stretching room” before you enter the ride vehicles. At Disney World and Tokyo Disneyland, the ceiling rises, giving guests the impression that they are in a descending room. The room actually descends, however, at Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion and Disneyland Paris’ Phantom Manor. If you take a look at Walt Disney World or Tokyo Disneyland from an aerial view, you’ll notice large buildings beside the mansion- they actually house the ride, which is why you stay on the same level in the stretching room. In the mansions where you actually descend, the actual ride is located beneath the mansion building.
5. Special Holiday Re-Theming
The Haunted Mansions at Disneyland and Tokyo Disneyland receive special treatment during the Christmas holiday. The ride is closed for a few weeks in the Fall to prepare for the Haunted Mansion Holiday. Elements from The Nightmare Before Christmas are infused into the attraction, including special animatronics and characters such as Jack Skellington and Sandy Claws.
6. That voice sounds familiar…
The deep, distinctive voice of Thurl Ravenscroft can be heard as one of the five singing busts in the graveyard area of the Haunted Mansion. Where have you heard that voice before, you ask? He sings “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch” in the classic How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and he’s also the man behind “Tony the Tiger.” Isn’t that “Gggggggreat?”
The Ghost Host of the Haunted Mansion is also a famous voice: Paul Frees. Frees is responsible for providing the voice of Ludwig Von Drake, a scholarly, ducky Disney character dating back to the 1960’s. He appeared on “Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color” and is also known as Donald Duck’s uncle. Frees also voiced Boris Badenov (from Rocky and Bullwinkle).
What about Madame Leota, the medium in the crystal ball? She is voiced by Eleanor Audley, who most famously provided the voice for Maleficent, as well as Cinderella’s stepmother. (The face of Madame Leota is Leota Toombs, a Disney Imagineer).
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7. Mr. Toad, is that you?
At Walt Disney World, a small statue of Mr. Toad can be found in the Haunted Mansion’s pet cemetery, located outside the attraction. His statue was placed there after his beloved attraction, Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, was replaced with a Winnie the Pooh attraction. For several months during 2014, however, he was missing from his usual upper-left corner of the cemetery. Guests report having received various reports from Cast Members, ranging from “he just disappeared” to “he croaked” to the more likely “he was accidentally knocked over and is being refurbished, to return soon.” Happily, Mr. Toad has returned and can be spotted in his usual spot once again.
I hope you enjoyed our fun facts about the Haunted Mansion. Although we only listed 7, “there’s always room for one more!” What are some of your favorite facts about the Haunted Mansion?