There are several attractions throughout the Walt Disney World Resort that are so popular with Guests that they have become truly iconic experiences, and the Haunted Mansion in the Magic Kingdom is one of them. This beloved attraction in Liberty Square is filled with the perfect combination of eerie and comical, and Guests love to return to it time and time again.
In fact, the attraction is so popular, unique versions can be found not only at the Walt Disney World Resort, but also in New Orleans Square in Disneyland, Fantasyland in Tokyo Disney, Frontierland in Disneyland Paris (Phantom Manor), and Mystic Point in Hong Kong Disneyland (Mystic Manor).
Part of what makes the Haunted Mansion such an amazing attraction is the incredible amount of detail crafted by the Disney Imagineers to create a fully immersive experience where Guests board a Doom Buggy, suspend disbelief, and truly feel as though they are being followed home by a Hitchhiking Ghost.
These details come together harmoniously to make the Haunted Mansion the incredible Disney Park experience that Guests know, but they might be completely overlooking some wonderful things that are worth checking out! Let’s check out some of the best details and facts about the Haunted Mansion in the Magic Kingdom!
While moving through the interactive graveyard on the exterior of the Haunted Mansion, Guests can enjoy all sorts of entertaining elements, including a murder mystery and cryptic puzzles to decode. Also found there is an ornate and eerie organ with skulls, a sinister-looking bird, and the name Ravenscroft found just above the keys. While obviously made to look like a brand, the word actually references voice actor Thurl Ravenscroft who was the talent behind one of the singing busts in the interior graveyard, several pirates on Pirates of the Caribbean, Fritz at Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room, and many other memorable other characters in Disney animated films.
Master Gracey = Imagineer Yale Gracey
Close to the Ravenscroft organ is a fenced-in tombstone for Master Gracey which often has a red rose placed delicately on the top. This honored tombstone references the master of the Haunted Mansion itself, but is really a tribute to the Disney legend who created most of the effects found inside. Yale Gracey was the Imagineer who was tasked with creating many of the eerie and unbelievable effects found within the Haunted Mansion, most notably the ghostly figures in the ballroom, which are achieved with an effect called Pepper’s Ghost. Gracey’s amazing legacy will continue to live on as long as Guests keep returning to the Haunted Mansion!
Also found throughout the external graveyard at the Haunted Mansion are countless tombstones with rather humorous epitaphs carved onto them. Each tombstone tells a very brief story of how the individual met their end, and they all reference Imagineers who worked together to create the beloved attraction. Some recognizable names include Marc Davis (Grandpa Marc), Claude Coats (Brother Claude), X. Atencio (Francies Xavier), Wathel Rogers (Wathel R. Bender), and Leota Tombs (Madame Leota).
Shortly before entering the last part of the outdoor queue, Guests pass by a large tomb that features boots and a hat sticking out and occasionally sprays a wave of water and bubbles following an otherworldly sneeze. Captain Culpepper Clyne was a character originally designed by Marc Davis to be a host of sorts for the attraction in its early phases, welcoming Guests into the foyer and then disappearing, leaving only a puddle behind. Davis even created a famous portrait of the sinister sea captain that can be found hanging inside the Haunted Mansion today. While the Captain never officially made it inside, he is immortalized in his unique tomb for Guests to see every day.
Museum of the Weird
Speaking of the early phases of the Haunted Mansion, the project spent many years up in the air as Walt Disney originally decided how to proceed. The project stalled even more after Walt Disney’s death in 1966, leading Imagineers with the task of trying to figure out just the right approach to the experience. At one point, a walk-through Museum of the Weird was proposed where Guests would explore at their own pace and check out unique and interesting items from around the world. While this idea never came to fruition, one creation of Imagineer Rolly Crump survived into the final attraction. In the disembarking scene, Guests should check out the stone walls around them to spot skeletal arms acting as supports for sconces lighting the room.
Does the Ghost Host Sound Familiar?
“Welcome foolish mortals…” Every Guest knows this iconic line uttered in a whispery voice by the Ghost Host. The character follows Guests throughout the Haunted Mansion, narrating their experience, and can be seen only once hanging from the rafters in the iconic stretching room. While everyone knows his voice, many Guests might not realize that the Ghost Host was crafted by Paul Frees, a talented voice actor who can also be heard as Professor Ludwig von Drake as well as the Auctioneer and echoing voice in the caves on Pirates of the Caribbean.
Going Up or Down?
One of the most memorable moments in the Haunted Mansion is when Guests suddenly find themselves trapped inside the Stretching Room as the walls mysteriously begin to groan and expand, revealing the sinister nature behind the four portraits. The Stretching Room originally was created out of a functional necessity in Disneyland, where Imagineers needed to lower Guests to be able to move them under the railroad tracks into the main show building. The scene became so popular that it was replicated in Walt Disney World, however, in the Magic Kingdom’s version, the higher walls and ceiling extend upwards as opposed to Guests sinking down.
Once past the stretching room and into the loading area of the Haunted Mansion, Guests should be sure to really look all around them and notice some great details, including portraits of some eerie-looking individuals and spirits. These beautifully detailed portraits were all created by Imagineer Marc Davis in the early conceptual stages of the attraction and can still be enjoyed today.
Marc Davis & Claude Coats
Speaking of Marc Davis, he shared the creative responsibility of the Haunted Mansion with Imagineer Claude Coats, who had a very different style than him. Claude Coats was known for creating rich and moody background art and ultimately was responsible for the first half of the Haunted Mansion where Guests creep through rooms taking in macabre details. Marc Davis had a much more humorous approach to his work and his designs can mainly be found in the second half of the attraction, particularly in the graveyard scene where many of the 999 happy haunts can be found frolicking and enjoying themselves while singing “Grim Grinning Ghosts.”
Hidden Mickeys & Hidden Donald
While the Haunted Mansion is definitely eerie in nature, it is still a Disney attraction and there are several Hidden Mickeys and one Hidden Donald to be found inside. The Hidden Donald features an abstract outline of his face on an armchair next to the endless hallway, where a candelabra can be found floating. Classic Hidden Mickeys can be found as a trio of dishes on the table in the ballroom and in the hand of a grim reaper inside a crypt near the exit of the graveyard.
Madame Leota & Little Leota
Madame Leota is one of the most recognizable characters from any Disney attraction, and she has a unique and interesting history that many Guests are unaware of. Madame Leota uses the face and name of Imagineer Leota Tombs combined with the commanding voice of actor Eleanor Audley who was well known for villainous roles like Lady Tremaine and Maleficent. Leota Tombs’ actual voice can be found as Little Leota, the small figure dressed in white near the very end of the ride beckoning Guests to “hurry back.”
Constance Hatchaway’s Necklaces
Another memorable character on the Haunted Mansion is the murderous bride Constance Hatchaway. As Guests pass by Constance, they see that she had a tendency of beheading her husbands as evident by the hatchet that appears and disappears in her hands. A great detail to help illustrate her tale are the portraits of each wedding where the grooms lose their heads. Guests should also notice that in each portrait, Constance gains a strand of pearls for each husband that she has already killed!
From the interactive elements in the outdoor graveyard to the final scenes of the attraction where the Hitchhiking Ghosts follow Guests home, there are so many amazing details on that Haunted Mansion that it is impossible to see everything in just one ride. Be sure to slow down and look all around on every single visit to the iconic attraction to discover some incredible details that not only add depth, but help to celebrate the history of the Haunted Mansion! And as always, “hurry baacckk!”