In honor of the scariest holiday of the year, I thought it would be interesting to take a deeper look at Disney’s spookiest attraction: Haunted Mansion. Growing up I was always scared of anything having to do with ghosts and to this day I still try to avoid all things paranormal. My kids laugh every time I tell them the story about how I worked as a Scare Actor at a Haunted House in Kansas City one Halloween and that many of the visitors ending up scaring me instead of the other way around! I am truly a big chicken when it comes to scary stuff. However, I love the Haunted Mansion. Something about its perfect mix of supernatural with a touch of Disney magic and humor makes it more fun than terrifying. Here are 15 little known facts about Disney’s Haunted Mansion:
- The Haunted Mansion was originally imagined as a walk through attraction.
- Several times a year people are caught trying to spread their loved-one’s remains in the Haunted Mansion.
- For years there were rumors that someone died of fright on a test ride of the Disneyland version and that is why it took so many years for it to open to the public.
- In one of the versions considered, it was the bride that was to have “lost her head” instead of her many grooms.
- The hitch-hiking ghosts, Ezra, Gus and Phineas, were given their names by fans.
- Madame Leota in the Séance Scene is actually the face of the late Model Builder and Imagineer, Leota Toombs, whose face fit perfectly the dimensions for the crystal ball.
- In the stretching room, the ceiling rises in Walt Disney World while in Disneyland you are in an elevator that is being lowered.
- Fake dust and cobwebs are added inside the Haunted Mansion to make it look old.
- On Madame Leota’s tombstone in the queue area, her eyes open and close and her face moves as guests walk by.
- The raven that is seen several times throughout the attraction was originally going to be the narrator.
- There are 13 candles on the birthday cake in the Grand Ballroom Scene.
- The ghosts in the Grand Ballroom Scene are actually reflections of animatronics located above and below the Doom Buggy track. This is a variation of the “Pepper’s Ghost” illusion.
- There are really only 107 ghosts in the Haunted Mansion not 999.
- The caretaker and dog in the Graveyard Scene are lit differently to denote that they are living not dead.
- With Walt Disney growing up in Kansas City and being friends with the Sauer family, it is thought that the Sauer Castle may have been an early inspiration for Walt Disney’s idea to add a Haunted Mansion to his theme parks. (I grew up in Kansas City as well. We referred to the Sauer Castle as Igor’s in my day and often drove past it during the Halloween season to see if we could witness anything creepy happening through the windows!)
In the spirit of Halloween, if you would like to “ride through” the Disney World version of Haunted Mansion, just check out this video!
“Dying” to know more about the Haunted Mansion? Please check out the haunting website DoomBuggies or purchase The Unauthorized Story of Walt Disney’s Haunted Mansion written by Jeff Baham and published by my friend, Bob McLain, of Theme Park Press!