There’s nothing dead about Disney’s Haunted Mansion attraction, even though it happens to be home to 999 happy haunts. This attraction was one of the original classics that first premiered in Disneyland Park, which was later recreated for Walt Disney World Resort, and alternate versions have since been established at other Disney Parks across the globe. If that isn’t testament alone to its liveliness then perhaps a look into the “spirited” nature of its inhabitants will be. Despite the fact that these ghoulish ghosts are no longer living in the traditional sense, they are very much alive in their own grave ways. While trying to survey each and every inhabitant would be an unfathomable task indeed, we’re compiling this profile of nine of the 999 happy haunts at Disney’s Haunted Mansion, with some additional horrific honorable mentions.
9. Ghost Host
While we as the riders never do get to see him, a detached, narrating voice (courtesy of Paul Frees—the “Man of a Thousand Voices”) introduces himself as our “Ghost Host” even before the start of our ride. This same spectral speaker remains with us throughout the entire experience, providing commentary where it is applicable in his sinister, sardonic tenor and accompanying maniacal laugh. While there is no concrete evidence to confirm the official identity of our elusive Ghost Host, there is supporting evidence that implies he was one of the higher-ranking servants on the estate while alive. Further speculations into his nature point to the hanging corpse, seen briefly dangling from the ceiling of the “Stretching Room,” which may in fact be his gruesome remains. In his book, The Haunted Mansion: From Magic Kingdom to the Movies, Jason Surrell (former show writer and producer with Walt Disney Imagineering) makes the claim that the invisible pianist that casts a shadow in the Music Room during the ride-through is in fact our Ghost Host.
8. Madame Leota
This spirited incarnation of a psychic medium makes her presence known to us as a face peering through a crystal ball, as she proactively conducts some séance from a realm beyond our own. It goes without saying that her attempts at making contact with as well as summoning spirits to manifest were both highly successful, as we get to witness firsthand.
The face of Madame Leota is that of long-ago Disney Imagineer, Leota Toombs. Her voice was provided by famed television actress Eleanor Audley, who also served as the voice talent behind a number of Disney classic films and projects. Back in 2002 the Walt Disney World location for The Haunted Mansion unveiled a new tombstone for Madame Leota, in which the face on her marker even sports some very creepily shifting eyes.
7. The Bride
Riding along through the attic we discover that this mansion has been the site to woeful weddings and martial mayhem at least five times over. This is made evident by the prelude of five wedding portraits, in which each one features a different groom (same bride) with heads that suddenly vanish. Then we get to make the acquaintance of the previously mentioned bad bride in manifest form, yielding a hatchet, nevertheless, as she recites dark renditions of her marriage vows. Through the years, the original concept for the bride has been reimagined countless times over. In a more recent upgrade to both the Disneyland and Disney World versions of the attraction, she was redesigned and given the identity of Constance Hatchaway—alias, “the Black Widow Bride.” As is implied, her backstory is that she married a total of five wealthy men, having murdered each one. It’s also been established that she is the same woman in the portrait first seen in the Stretching Room, sitting on top of her husband’s tombstone.
6. The Organist
It’s hard to overlook the dancing specters spinning about during the ballroom scene, but the macabre musician at the far end of the room may just be worth a closer look. Decked out in top hat and cape, he’s hard at work terrorizing the ivories while pounding out that gleefully gruesome melody we all know and love so well—“Grim Grinning Ghosts.” As he plays, take note of the ghostly wisps coming out of the organ’s pipes.
While lacking substance in the way of a well-envisioned backstory, some newer details have surfaced in more recent years, largely thanks to the short-lived Ghost Post interactive game from 2016. What we now know is that his name is Victor Geist and, according to his death certificate, he put music before his life.
5. Phantom Five
The organist isn’t the only melancholy music maker onsite at the Haunted Mansion. Just think back to that cringe-worthy quintet performing over in graveyard. Here you have the drummer banging away on his drum with bones no less, a hunchback playing the flute, a spirited bagpiper, a harrowing harpist, and a horn player. Like the Organist, they keep the rhythm to the “Grim Grinning Ghosts” going strong.
4. Singing Busts
Sometimes incorrectly credited as being the Phantom Five, this frightful five-part singing ensemble also keeps the “spirit” with the melody of that popular “Grim Grinning Ghosts” tune. In fact, they are the ones who lead us on our way into the graveyard. In order from left to right, members of this group include Rollo Rumkin, Uncle Theodore, Cousin Algernon, Ned Nub, and Phineas P. Pock. Take note of Uncle Theodore, distinguishable for being the broken-headed bust and the one leading the group in song. He was voiced by the one and only Thurl Ravencroft, most famously known for singing “You’re A Mean One, Mr. Grinch” in How The Grinch Stole Christmas as well as voicing Tony the Tiger for Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes commercials.
3. Hitchhiking Ghosts
Arguably the most popular of all the happy haunts here, this menacing trio is infamously famous for jumping into our doom buggies for a portion of our ride-through. Their identities are those of Ezra, Gus, and Phineas, alternately known as the Skeleton, the Prisoner, and the Traveler.
2. The Charming Ghostess
If you’re observant then you may notice that little ghost at the end of the ride near the exit, eagerly inviting us back. More frequently dubbed as “Little Leota,” owing to the fact that the same likeness of Leota Toombs was incorporated for her portrayal as well, it’s fairly evident with most riders that this miniature spirit is not intended to be Madame Leota. During a 40th anniversary celebration at Disneyland it was revealed via reference from the Ghost Host that this is the “charming ghostess,” whose job it is to receive applications from any riders wishing to join the other 999 happy haunts. Additionally, there is a ballroom character who has also been called a “ghostess.” It is not confirmed if they are intended to be the same personage.
1. Master Gracey
It is assumed that we never do formally see (or hear) the manifestation of Master Gracey, though some lesser theories point to his possibly being the Ghost Host. Another suggestion is that he may be the young man depicted in the painting in the foyer who grows old before our eyes. What we do know of his prevalence and importance to the Haunted Mansion can be summed up by the tombstone in the family plot area, which reads “Master Gracey laid to rest, No mourning please, at his request.” The initial decision to name the character “Gracey” was a direct tribute to the late Disney Imagineer Yale Gracey.
While there are supposedly well over 900 other happy haunts we still haven’t profiled, here’s a quick reference of honorable mentions who make their presence known during the ride.
- Tea Party Ghosts (seen in the graveyard scene)
- Bicycling Ghosts (can be seen behind the Tea Party Ghosts, also in the graveyard)
- Caretaker (likely one of the few mortals in the attraction, he can be outside alongside his painfully-thin dog)
- Royals (a king, queen, and duchess seen teeter-tottering on a tombstone)
- Pickwick (during the ballroom scene, he is a drunken ghost you can see swinging from the chandelier from his cane)
- Dueling Spirits (two spirits who manifest from their portraits to continue a feud beyond the grave)
- Mummy and Oracle (can be seen in the graveyard amongst the other diverse cast of thousands)
With unique references and effects in the ride’s queue, clever tombs and graveyard shoutouts just outside, chilling portraits within the walls, and those invisible mischievous poltergeists we can sense but not see, there’s a lot to take in on this ride. But why should we spoil it for you? We know by now that you’re just “dying” to get in on the action and experience it all for yourself…if you dare.