Disney’s Haunted Mansion: 13 Facts Behind the Frights

Haunted Mansion in Magic Kingdom seen from the outside. It doesn't look as spooky on the outside.
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Haunted Mansion in Magic Kingdom seen from the outside. It doesn’t look as spooky on the outside.

Haunted Mansion is a classic ride that my husband’s family must ride every trip. The theming is seriously spooky and the special effects creep me out. 

The 999 happy haunts started greeting guests and became a fast favorite among morbid mortals. From the interactive queue up through the tour of the mansion on the famous “Doom Buggies,” this dark ride attraction brings eternal delight to guests of every age.

The Haunted Mansion at Disney World opened on October 1, 1971, the same day the Magic Kingdom park opened to the public. The Haunted Mansion in Disneyland Park in California opened in 1969.

Part of the line queue outside the Haunted Mansion
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Part of the line queue outside the Haunted Mansion

Our tour begins here with 13 Fun Facts about the Haunted Mansion you probably didn’t know!

  1. Imagineers had Artistic Differences: Marc Davis and Claude Coats were fresh off the boat from designing Pirates of the Caribbean. Based upon its success they were thought to be a great pair for the completion of the Haunted Mansion. They didn’t see eye-to-eye in their vision for this gloomy attraction. Coats wanted a spookier, ominous atmosphere for the Haunted Mansion. Davis envisioned a laidback experience with plenty of humor. This is why the queue and the beginning of the attraction give you quite a chill. The ending in the graveyard might provoke a few laughs with the hilarious singing heads and hitchhiking ghosts! Luckily, their adversities didn’t prevent them from producing a classic attraction. An attraction that is cherished by mortals and spirits alike!
  2. Walk-Through Attraction: Walt had hoped his idea for a haunted mansion could debut with the opening of Disneyland in 1955. With budget restraints, it got pushed back. When the time came to focus on the project again, it would no longer be a simple façade located on the end of Main Street. It was reimagined as a walk-through attraction for Guests where they could explore the mansion and learn its backstory at their own pace. It followed the story of Bartholomew Gore who kills his wife when she finds out he’s a pirate. Over the years, it evolved into the beloved attractions we have today.
  3. Real Tombstones: Some of the tombstones in the queue honor Imagineers who worked on the Haunted Mansion, with playful epitaphs.
Haunted Mansion Stand-By Entrance.
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Haunted Mansion Stand-By Entrance.
  1. Familiar Voices: Did you ever ride through the mansion on your Doom Buggy and think, “Now where have I heard that voice before?” They probably strike you as familiar because some characters in the Haunted Mansion share the same voice as some of your favorite Disney characters! The singing busts in the graveyard scene include Thurl Ravenscroft, famous for singing “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch” and for being the voice of Tony the Tiger. Madame Leota’s voice is none other than Eleanor Audley, who voiced Maleficent and Lady Tremaine! The voice of your famous Ghost Host was supplied by Paul Frees, who voiced Boris in The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show and provided narrations for many Disney attractions. The Voice of the Ghost Host: “Grim Grinning Ghosts” the theme song of Haunted Mansion is voiced by Paul Frees, who also provided the voice for characters like Ludwig Von Drake and Boris Badenov.
  2. Madame Leota: Named after Imagineer Leota Toombs, Madame Leota’s face appears in the crystal ball. The voice, however, is provided by Eleanor Audley, who also voiced Maleficent in “Sleeping Beauty.” It is rumored that her daughter, Imagineer Kim Irvine was responsible for the Pet Cemetery at the Haunted Mansion.
  3. Different Experiences: The Haunted Mansion has variations at many of the Disney Parks. Haunted Mansion appears in Disneyland, Magic Kingdom, Tokyo Disneyland, and Disneyland Paris (known as Phantom Manor), each with unique elements and backstories. If you have ridden both Disneyland and Walt Disney World’s Haunted Mansion, you’ll notice they’re quite similar. That’s because they were built at the same time! Since Disney World’s Haunted Mansion would haunt Guests only two years after Disneyland’s premiere of the attraction, the Animatronics, set design, and props were assembled and built simultaneously! However, they look different from the outside, as Disneyland’s is themed around New Orleans Square and Disney World’s is based on Liberty Square. Hong Kong Disneyland does not have a Haunted Mansion attraction. Instead, it features “Mystic Manor,” a unique and magical take on the haunted house concept, showcasing the adventures of Lord Henry Mystic and his mischievous monkey, Albert, through a collection of mystical artifacts from around the world, employing advanced technology and special effects to create a one-of-a-kind experience.
  4. Innovative Effects: The attraction uses a variety of optical illusions, including the famous “Pepper’s Ghost” technique, to create its ghostly effects.
  5. Interactive Queue: The queue at Disney World’s Haunted Mansion features interactive elements, including a musical crypt and a bookcase that requires guests to solve a puzzle. In the queue, there’s a ring embedded in the concrete. The ‘Bride’s Ring” is part of the storyline involving the Mansion’s bride character.
  6. The Stretching Room: This iconic room actually stretches upward in Disney World, not downward as in Disneyland, because there’s no need to transport guests below ground level.
Check out this official Disney Parks youtube video on the myths and legends of the Haunted Mansion.
  1. Hidden Mickey: Keep an eye out for Hidden Mickeys throughout the Mansion, including one in the banquet scene.
  2. Master Gracey: Named after Yale Gracey, one of the key Imagineers for the attraction, the Master Gracey portrait hangs in the foyer.
  3. Unique Wallpaper: The iconic wallpaper in the Haunted Mansion has a distinctive design featuring sinister faces and is one of the most photographed aspects of the ride.
  4. Hatbox Ghost: Although the Hatbox Ghost is a prominent figure in Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion, it inspired similar ghostly lore in Disney World’s version.
13 Interesting Fun Facts about Haunted Mansion
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These facts only scratch the surface of the depth and complexity of the Haunted Mansion. It reflects Disney’s commitment to storytelling and innovation.

There are plenty more spooky secrets to spill about the Haunted Mansion. Are you curious to know what a Haunted Mansion walk-through would’ve looked like?

Haunted Mansion Exit, if you aren't one of the 999 happy haunts!
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Haunted Mansion Exit, if you aren’t one of the 999 happy haunts!

Let us know in the comments if you would like to learn more secrets about the Haunted Mansion! 

Read Also: 11 Space Mountain Fun Facts: A Cosmic Ride Through Trivia!

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