One of the most beloved attractions in all of the Walt Disney World Resort is the Haunted Mansion in the Magic Kingdom’s Liberty Square. The classic attraction opened with the Walt Disney World Resort on October 1, 1971 and quickly gained a following of dedicated fans who adore the perfect combination of eerie and comical scenes found throughout the experience.
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The Haunted Mansion feature incredible theming and details that help to bring the story to life, but the main things that make it an iconic attraction are the characters. Sure there are the nine hundred and ninety nine happy haunts that materialize and try to find the location’s thousandth resident, but there are plenty of featured characters throughout the Haunted Mansion that Guests love.
There is a family that met their doom in a unique way, ghosts that threaten to follow Guests home, a mournful master, ghoulish narrator, floating psychic, and so many other memorable characters that Guests encounter as they move through both the interactive outdoor graveyard and the indoor walking and Doom Buggy portions of the mansion itself.
Let’s check out some of the most memorable characters of the Haunted Mansion and learn a little more about just what makes them so unforgettable. Happy haunting!
The Dread Family
The very first characters that Guests encounter at the Haunted Mansion can be found just inside the entrance to the interactive outdoor graveyard. The Dread family are six individuals who can be found in the form of five busts on top of ornate pillars with plaques, and Guests who look closely at the descriptions will soon realize that all of the family members are involved in a large murder mystery that ended in their demise.
Bertie, Aunt Florence, Uncle Jacob, twins Wellington and Forsythia, and Maude are the various members of the Dread family, and each person’s plaque tells how they met their untimely end. Clues from both the plaques and the busts themselves can help Guests unravel the mystery and figure out the exact chain of events that lead to their deaths. It’s a fun way to add life to characters and also helps Guests pass the time waiting in line.
Captain Culpepper Clyne
Further into the interactive graveyard, Guests pass by the massive tomb of Captain Culpepper Clyne who epitaph tells how he “braved the seas and all her wrath, but drowned on land while taking a bath.” This explains why his hat, hand, and leg can be seen poking out from the top as if he is taking a bath and every few moments Guests can hear him talking lowly or sneezing out a stream of water and bubbles.
Culpepper Clyne also has a rich history with the Haunted Mansion as he first appeared in early renderings when the attraction was proposed to be a walkthrough experience. One version had Guests enter into the mansion to be greeted by Clyne until the lights suddenly went out. When they turned back on, Clyne would be gone with nothing but a puddle left behind.
The sea captain can also be spotted in a portrait inside of the Haunted Mansion where he is seen standing in front of an angry sea holding a spear in his hands. Clyne is a fun interactive element of the graveyard at the Haunted Mansion, and many Guests recognize his tomb but might not know his backstory!
Further along in the outdoor graveyard of the Haunted Mansion, Guests are introduced to Prudence Pock, a poet with some serious writer’s block. Her tomb is a beautiful and elaborate creation with moving books that pop out on one side and a Spectrecome on the end that allows Guests to interact with her spirit in real time.
Prudence can be heard reciting the poetry that she is actively writing, and it seems as though her writer’s block followed her beyond the grave as she is constantly getting caught up on a good rhyme to complete her poems. Guests can not only listen to her and help, but spot her ghostly notebook filling in the words as she writes from beyond.
A lot of Guests who enjoy the Haunted Mansion everyday might not realize that some of their favorite characters are actually based on Imagineers who worked on the attraction over the years. While moving through the graveyard, there are plenty of tombstones with humorous epitaphs for characters that share just how they met their untimely ends.
Each of these characters is based on an Imagineer and it’s a great way to pay tribute to these individuals without ruining the eerie theme. Tombstones can be found for X. Atencio (“Francies Xavier), Wathel Rogers (Wathel R. Bender), Cliff Huet (Cousin Huet), Marc Davis (Grandpa Marc), Claude Coats (Brother Claude), Fred Joerger (Good Old Fred), and many more.
Perhaps the most recognizable tombstone in the interactive graveyard of the Haunted Mansion is that of Master Gracey as it is fenced in and often has a bright red rose placed on the very top out of respect. Master Gracey is named after Imagineer Yale Gracey who was responsible for many of the amazing effects found inside of the Haunted Mansion.
Master Gracey can also be spotted again once inside in the foyer in portrait form above the dimly burning fire. He begins as a young man, but before Guests’ eyes Master Gracey ages until just a skeletal figure with piercing eyes staring out at them.
Also introduced in the foyer is one of the most recognizable characters of the Haunted Mansion, which is rather hilarious as he is predominantly just a disembodied voice throughout the experience. The Ghost Host makes his presence known and welcomes Guests into the mansion, explaining that he will be their guide for the eerie experience.
While in the stretching room, the Ghost Host explains that he too was in the same predicament with no way out until he figured out a way which Guests can figure out on their own when the lightning flashes and a figure can be seen hanging above. This is the only physical glimpse of the Ghost Host that Guests are provided with.
Continuing through the Haunted Mansion, the Ghost Host continues to pop up at important moments to explain to Guests just what is happening and his narration is what ties the entire experience together. Guests might also find the Ghost Host’s voice familiar as he was voiced by Paul Frees who also provided his talents to the Auctioneer and the “dead men tell no tales” echo at Pirates of the Caribbean as well as Professor Ludwig von Drake.
Stretching Room Portrait Subjects
While in the stretching room becoming acquainted with the Ghost Host, Guests are also introduced to four paintings which feature nameless characters that make very lasting impressions. At first glance, these portraits seem to simply be works of art depicting several individuals, but as the room ominously begins to stretch, it becomes apparent how they met their ends.
The famous tightrope girl can be found in one portrait balancing on a thin rope over a hungry crocodile, a dapper man looks out from atop the shoulders of two other men who are being sucked in by quicksand, an older women can be found standing next to the tombstone of her husband who is depicted as having a hatchet in his head, and the final portrait is another gentleman who is perched on the top of a powder keg that is about to explode.
These nameless portrait subjects are key to showing Guests how the mansion is not what it seems and how things can change at any time. They help to set the ominous mood for the rest of the experience to come and can also be found on lots of merchandise sold in nearby Memento Mori.
The raven is an interesting character that many Guests might notice throughout the experience, but not know the full story of. The small black bid can be found in animatronic form throughout the Haunted Mansion, and is often easy to spot thanks to his red glowing eyes.
In early designed of the Haunted Mansion, the raven was actually supposed to serve as the narrator, guiding Guests throughout their tour. This obviously changed with the introduction of the Ghost Host, but Guests who look will notice that the raven does seem to appear in every scene where the Ghost Host begins speaking to Guests.
Perhaps the most beloved of all Haunted Mansion characters is Madame Leota, a psychic from regions beyond who helps to summon all of the spirits and assure them that the Guests mean them no harm. She can be found in her own séance room in the form of a floating head inside of her large crystal ball.
Madame Leota chants a series of incantations that create mysterious happenings around the room such as music playing or a banging noise echoing. She might sound familiar to Guests as she is voiced by Eleanor Audley who also played Lady Tremaine in Cinderella, however physically Madame Leota was portrayed by Imagineer Leota Tombs mother of current Disney employee Kim Irvine.
Madame Leota can also be found in the interactive graveyard just before the main doors into the Haunted Mansion. Her impressive tombstone features a likeliness of her face, and Guests who pay attention might spot her moving and even opening her eyes to peer at the from regions beyond.
When Guests enter into the attic scene on the Haunted Mansion, they find themselves moving past a series of five wedding portraits in which the groom always mysteriously seems to lose his head. This is courtesy of Constance Hatchaway, the ghostly bride who can be found at the end of the attic clutching her hatchet and telling Guests in a singsong voice how she murdered her five husbands.
Ever the fashionable, serial bride, Constance Hatchaway adds a strand of pearls for each husband she has killed, and her final ghostly figure can be seen wearing five strands. While the current version of Constance Hatchaway was added and updated in recent years, the inspiration of her character came from an original Marc Davis sketch depicting a murderous bride.
Once in the graveyard, Guests will find themselves singing along to the favorite “Grim Grinning Ghosts,” especially as they pass by a singing quintet of marble busts, each with ghostly faces. The Mellomen appear to the right hand side of the Doom Buggies and are a comical moment as they take barbershop singing to a new level of eerie goodness.
The five busts are named Rolo Rumkin, Uncle Theodore, Cousin Algernon, Ned Nub, and Phineas P. Pock, cousin of poet Prudence Pock from the outdoor graveyard. Guests might recognize the voice of Uncle Theodore as that of icon Thurl Ravenscroft who also provided the voice for Buff in the Country Bear Jamboree and Fritz in Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room.
At the end of the graveyard scene, the Doom Buggies make a turn and Guests appear to enter into a tomb where the Ghost Host warns of restless spirits who intend to follow them home until they return. Guests then meet the favorite hitchhiking ghosts, a trio of memorable characters who have their thumbs hitched for a ride in a Doom Buggy.
Guests love checking out Phineas, a plump ghost wearing a top hat, Ezra, a tall and skeletal ghost with a bowler hat, and Gus, a short ghost who appears to have been a prisoner of some kind before meeting his end. Though it is hard to see because the Doom Buggies move past the figures quickly in the dim lighting, each figure has some incredible detail which helps to bring their personalities to life!
The Doom Buggies then proceed to move past a series of three large mirrors across from the Doom Buggies where Guests see their own reflections with the hitchhiking ghosts sitting next to them. Recent updates to the Haunted Mansion have added amazing technology where the hitchhiking ghosts now directly interact with Guests’ reflections, adding a whole new level of eeriness!
The final character that Guests encounter in the Haunted Mansion is Little Leota, a miniature and haunting bride statue that beckons Guests to “hurry back” and be sure to bring their “death certificates.” Her voice can be heard trailing Guests as they disembark their Doom Buggies, leaving a final haunting note to the entire experience.
Little Leota uses the Imagineer Leota Toombs’ likeness just like Madame Leota, but also her voice which is much sweeter than that of voice actress Eleanor Audley. Little Leota is another wonderful tribute to the career of Toombs and eternalizes not only her likeness, but her voice as well.
A bonus character from the Haunted Mansion that many Guests absolutely adore can actually only be found on the Disneyland version of the attraction and only in recent years. The Hatbox Ghost became an interest of many Guests over the years after he was originally seen on opening day of the Haunted Mansion in Disneyland in 1969, but quickly disappeared as he did not work correctly.
Fast forward some fifty years and Imagineering used new technology to bring the Hatbox Ghost to life in the attic scene of the Haunted Mansion. The iconic character can be seen grinning at ghosts until a sudden poof makes his head disappear and reappear in a hatbox that he is holding.
The Hatbox Ghost is the stuff that legends are made of, and Guests absolutely rejoiced when he was added to the Disneyland version of the Haunted Mansion. He can also be found on a wide array of merchandise for the attraction that is sold in Memento Mori as well as throughout the Walt Disney World Resort.