:: Last updated 5/25/2015 ::
What's the latest Mansion-related news?
I'm not a news service, but as I learn stuff, I post it - and usually to my Twitter feed or updates blog.
As of summer, 2010, Disney and writer-director Guillermo del Toro announced a collaboration on a new Haunted Mansion film. Several years later, the project appears to be active again.
Additionally, in May of 2015, the famous Hat Box Ghost has returned to the Disneyland Haunted Mansion. The Disney Parks Blog provides coverage.
You can learn about upcoming Mansion-related events at the North American theme parks at the Disney Parks Blog.
More about events...
Hey, isn't there another Mansion FAQ out there somewhere?
Yes. It's by Don Bertino, and you can look at it here. It's a great document, but it's somewhat outdated (1996), and doesn't cover a lot of topics we thought people would like to know about.
It covers quite a bit about the technologies used in the Disneyland Mansion, the people who created the magic that is the Mansion, and the text associated with the Mansion. There's a full script of the Disneyland attraction plus tomb inscriptions from the Anaheim Mansion's exterior.
In an era when Wikipedia and piecemeal blogging has largely eclipsed FAQ files, we may be transitioning our FAQ document soon.
What's changed since the original FAQ was written? What are some of the most recent changes at the Mansions?
One major Disneyland Mansion change we think bears special attention is the abandonment of Madame Leota's famous fiberoptic head effect, added in the 90s. With Haunted Mansion Holiday in 2001, we saw the return of the 'front projection' effect onto a static table. Then in January of 2005, the whole Seance Scene was significantly revamped AGAIN to incorporate new "hover" technology to the crystal ball. The Haunted Mansion Holiday Leota (as of this writing) still utilizes a static projection effect, however.
Also in 2005, the changing portrait gallery was altered. The April December portrait was removed, the Gorgon portrait was swapped into her slot, and the "Master Gracey" changing portrait from the Walt Disney World Mansion Foyer was given the center frame. The portraits were "repainted" to utilize a new projection technique, and the slow-dissolve transformations were abandoned for the original lightening-cued flash transformations that opened the attraction (although, it's important to note that Marc Davis had, during the early imagineering stages of the effect, envisioned slow dissolves).
In 2006, the attic scene was changed again. The "I do!"popups were removed, the bride figure was completely changed out and moved to the opposite side of the Doombuggy track, and a new "story" introduced. The old jilted bride concept morphed into that of a golddigging, murderous "black widow" named Constance (ha) who marries men of means and then beheads them. The phantom pianist is still present, but the rest of the attic is now filled with vignettes including Constance's marriage portraits (as you pass, the grooms' heads disappear a la the original Hatbox Ghost that was originally located in the attic) along with the items she's amassed through each particular marriage. Constance herself is a roofer's-axe-wielding projection of a real actress (Julia Lee) on a dressed form, located on the left side of the Doombuggy track just before you exit to the graveyard. She's voiced by actress Kathryn Cressida, saying silly things like, "I do...I DID..."
As of 2008, it appears that the "original" Ghost Host narration is back. That means that the bit about Madame Leota - after the "Shhhhh, listen" - isn't there anymore. According to Don's FAQ, this piece - which was part of the original Paul Frees recording sessions - was added with the 1995 refurb (during which the phantom pianist in the attic joined the cast of 999). When the Mansion reopened after the Haunted Mansion Holiday pulldown in '08, it was gone again.
Additionally, in May of 2015, the famous Hat Box Ghost has returned to the Disneyland Haunted Mansion. The Disney Parks Blog provides coverage.
Significant upgrades to the Walt Disney World Haunted Mansion attraction are complete as of September 14, 2007. Changes include improvements to attraction audio, a new changing portrait gallery just past load, the removal of the Sinister Eleven gallery (a dark corridor with evil eyes replaces the old gallery location), a New staircase scene just beyond the library and music room, the Disneyland "floating" Crystal Ball effect, the Disneyland "Constance" upgrades to the attic, a Mr. Toad tribute in the hillside pet cemetery, and more. According to my friend Bruce, the Marc Davis "April" portrait was added to one of the hall scenes several months after the reopening. I haven't seen it, so I can't verify precisely where it might have been (and he can't remember).
In 2011, interactive "graveyard" elements - many of them musical, evoking Leota's seance and the ballroom organ - have been added to the queue area outside the WDW Mansion. They include tributes to various Mansion "characters," old (such as the sea captain who once graced the "Sinister Eleven" portrait gallery) and new (like the "Dread" family, which are presented in a mystery plotline revealed throughout the queue additions). There are also some additional Imagineering dedications, including masouleum inscriptions for concept artist and story developer (early on in the project) Ken Anderson, sculptor Blaine Gibson, concept and effects designer Rolly Crump, and Ghost Host voice artist Paul Frees.
Also in 2011, WDW majorly upgraded the mirror effect that presents the hitchhiking ghosts "following you home" via your Doombuggy. The original figures have been replaced by breathtaking digital animation and sound that interacts more convincingly with guests.
In 2014, WDW added Memento Mori - a Mansion-themed shop - to Liberty Square. Given the success of Madame Leota's Cart and the infusion of more Haunted Mansion merch into the parks, it was inevitable!
You forgot [blank]. What about [blank]?
Section [blank] is so obvious.
That's old news...why aren't you quicker with your updates?
1) This FAQ isn't intended to be super-exhaustive, but we do hope it'll answer your main questions, and provide you with some resources to continue your exploration of the universe of the Haunted Mansion. Or of atoms. Or...whatever. If you have suggestions or information we might like to add, email us.
2) Some of our sections are very basic, geared toward first-timers, while others involve more advanced topics we find interesting.
3) This is a frequently asked questions resource, not a news service. A question can't really attain "frequently asked" status until people have been asking it for awhile. More, it's not our style to report fresh rumors as credible possibilities, let alone as fact. If you want the absolute latest what-ifs, try one of the Disney message boards. :)
What is the Haunted Mansion?
The Haunted Mansion is the Walt Disney Company's version of a classic "Spook House". The first Haunted Mansion opened in Disneyland on August 9th, 1969, and each Disney theme park has included one ever since.
The Walt Disney World version, which is nearly 33% longer than the Disneyland Mansion, opened in the Magic Kingdom's Liberty Square area on October 1st, 1971. Completed as early as Spring of 1971, it was among the opening day attractions.
Tokyo Disneyland, which opened on April 15th, 1983, has a Mansion virtually identical to Walt Disney World's original Mansion. The Tokyo version is located in Fantasyland.
On April 12th, 1992, Disneyland Paris opened its Phantom Manor, a new spin on the Haunted Mansion, located in Frontierland. Though its ride vehicle track and room layout is identical to those of the Disneyland Haunted Mansion, this haunted attraction involves western-themed story elements, special effects, and musical arrangements very unlike those used in the Mansions.
Hong Kong Disneyland - which opened in 2005 without a Haunted Mansion or similar spooky attraction - premiered its Mystic Manor in 2013. While not a haunted house per se, Mystic Manor does feature an enchanted museum of sorts. It appears to combine elements of Walt Disney World's now-defunct Adventurer's Club, which had artifacts that came to life and entertained guests, and Rolly Crump's "Museum of the Weird," a creepy collection of objects from all over the world that was intended as part of, or a companion to, the original Haunted Mansion.
Do you walk through the Haunted Mansion or is it a ride?
Both, actually. There is a brief "pre-show" walk through, consisting of two rooms (a Foyer and the "Stretching Room") and a corridor. The bulk of the attraction is a slow-moving ride through the Mansion, with a running narration (courtesy of your friendly "Ghost Host," a disembodied voice provided in the American Mansions by the late Paul Frees. Disneyland's Haunted Mansion Holiday host is voiced by Corey Burton).
What is a "Doombuggy"?
The Haunted Mansion ride vehicles are called "Doombuggies" (a pun on the word "dunebuggy" that was, admittedly, a lot funnier in the late 1960s). They're black vehicles that are essentially a bench with an attached clamshell-shaped backdrop and a lap bar that closes around you (you can see a photograph of the Doombuggies below). Each Doombuggy has three speakers mounted inside the clamshell that provide a running narration through the attraction. Each Doombuggy can seat two adults or three children comfortably. The Doombuggies run on a continuous loop, with loading and unloading accomplished by use of a moving sidewalk/load belt.
Doombuggies, also known as Omnimovers, were originally developed for use in "Adventures Thru Inner Space," a former Disneyland Tomorrowland attraction about atomic science, featuring a trip through a snowflake molecule. The attraction went in with Disneyland's New Tomorrowland in 1967, and was replaced with Star Tours in 1986. However, its legacy lives on in the Haunted Mansions, "Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin" and a few EPCOT attractions, all of which use the Omnimover vehicle system. The Omnimover vehicle design was conceived by Bob Gurr and a few other Disney Imagineers, and then brought to fruition by the Arrow Dynamics company, which provided a number of ride vehicles and systems to the Disney Parks since 1955.
Is it scary/suitable for my children?
That depends entirely upon you and your children. Some sensitive adults find the attraction scary, while most think the scares and subject matter are rather tame. Children tend to be more frightened by the idea of the Haunted Mansion than by the ride itself. According to the WDW Official Website, the Haunted Mansion "may be too intense for children and some adults."
While there is virtually no gore in the Haunted Mansion, there are supernatural and occult themes and scenes (including a seance) that some members of certain religions or sects may find offensive. Some portions of the attraction are rather dimly-lit, and...
Does anything grab you or jump out at you?
Nothing will grab, splash, or touch you in the Haunted Mansion. During the Graveyard scenes, there are several "pop-up" ghosts that have been known to momentarily startle even diehard fans of the attraction with dozens, if not hundreds, of visits under their belts (including the authors of this FAQ).
Are there any physical restrictions?
Not really, as the Haunted Mansion is not a thrill ride. For mobility-impaired guests, the Haunted Mansion is "transfer accessible" (meaning you will need to be transferred from your wheelchair to the ride vehicle in order to experience the attraction). This can be accomplished very easily if you can walk for short distances (20 feet or so). If you can't walk at all, you will need the assistance of a friend or family member (the ride attendants are not permitted to lift guests for safety reasons). If necessary, the attraction can be stopped in order to allow mobility-impaired guests to board. The ride portion of the attraction moves very slowly, and tilts backwards at one point. While the ride cars can rotate a full 360 degrees, they do not spin wildly.
What can't I do inside?
As in virtually all Disney attractions, guests are asked to refrain from eating, drinking, smoking, taking flash pictures, or using video cameras with an attached spotlight. The reasons for the first two are simple: it cuts down on the potential for messes and spills. Smoking is potentially dangerous; in addition to the smell and the health risks to other guests, some structures and mechanisms in the Haunted Mansion could be damaged by a smoldering cigarette butt or hot ash. The other two create a nuisance for other guests, and may ruin or spoil many of the illusions inside the attraction. Videotaping without an external light (or with an infrared light) is permitted. Once you board your Doombuggy, DO NOT ATTEMPT TO EXIT THE VEHICLE UNTIL A CAST MEMBER GIVES YOU THE GO-AHEAD. Doing otherwise could result in serious bodily injury and/or expulsion from the park. Finally, while not a ride requirement, you should cover or extinguish all lighted jewelry or toys, as the glow from these items may disturb other guests and detract from the ride experience. Also, for the love of Gracey's Ghost, please don't spiel along.
What happens if I or my children "chicken out"?
If you decide not to ride the attraction after entering, please notify a Cast Member immediately. There are "Chicken Exits" available that will bypass the ride completely and send you immediately to the exit (At WDW, the exit is marked with a sign reading "For those of you too full of fear, one last chance to exit here"). Once you board your Doombuggy, you will not be permitted to exit the ride until it comes to an end.
How long is the ride itself?
At WDW, the ride portion of the Haunted Mansion is roughly 7 to 8 minutes long. When combined with the pre-show, the total length of the average guest's experience is roughly 15 minutes (not counting the queue line, of course). At Disneyland, the combined length is a little bit shorter.
What are all of the tombstone epitaphs?
You can find a list of Disneyland's epitaphs on Don's FAQ.
Originally, the Disneyland Mansion featured an exterior *human* cemetery with a collection of imagineer headstones similar to those listed below. The epitaphs were composed by show writer X. Atencio, while the tombstones themselves were designed by Vic Greene.
Sometime later, a small "pet cemetery" was fashioned atop the main exit crypt right next to the disability-accessible entrance on the side of the building (don't confuse it with the much newer, main queue pet cemetery, which was added much later). It's still there, and includes a sparse assortment of pet gravestones created from backyard statuary (check our "graveyards" section for pictures).
At some point in the 1970s, the imagineer cemetery - which had been located within the queue area on the French Market side of the Mansion facade building - was cleared to make room for more queue space. At right, you can see where the headstones sat, in front of the mausoleum/chicken exit door. This screencap was taken from the March, 1970 "Disneyland Showtime" special featuring the Osmonds, EJ Peaker, Kurt Russell, and the Haunted Mansion. In this scene, Peter Bruni (as Mr. Gridley) is desperately searching for Donnie and Jay Osmond.
At least one imagineer - X. Atencio - took "his" headstone home after the queue space enlargement. Some of the remaining headstones were relocated to the top of the berm next to the queue area (the Good Old Fred one I remember being up there for certain). Sometime not long before the advent of Haunted Mansion Holiday, however, the remainders were cleared away for good.
In 1993, the "new" pet cemetery was added to the main queue area.
At the Walt Disney World mansion, the imagineer epitaphs are (with the imagineer's real name and general Mansion project role in brackets]:
In Memory of our Patriarch
[Marc Davis, Show Designer/Art Director]
No Time Off for Good Behavior
[F.X. Atencio, Show Writer, Epitaph Writer, and GGG Lyricist]
A Man Named Martin
The Lights Went Out on This Old Spartan
[Bill Martin, Architectural Design (WED's VP of Design, in charge of the MK)]
He Chased a Bear Into Cave
[Dave Burkhart, Model Builder]
Laid to Rest
No Mourning Please, at His Request
[Yale Gracey, Effects Desgner]
[at Tokyo DL, this epitaph exists...but with Yale Gracey's name replaced by "Mr. West."]
Rest In Peace
Good Friend Gordon
Now You've Crossed the River Jordan
[Gordon Williams, Sound Effects and Audio Animatronics Programming]
Rest In Peace
We All Know You Didn't Do It
[Cliff Huet, Set Designer]
Here You'll Live for Quite a While
[Chuck Myall, Architectural Design (a WED Art Director)]
Wathel R. Bender
He Rode to Glory on a Fender
[Wathel Rogers, Audio Animatronics Programming]
Good Old Fred
A Great Big Rock Fell On His Head
Rest In Peace
[Fred Joerger, Model Designer (a WED Art Director)]
Rest In Peace
The Victim of a Dirty Duel
[Bob Sewell, Model Shop Lead]
At Peaceful Rest lies
Planted Here Beneath This Sod
[Claude Coats, Show Designer/Art Director]
(This one's new as of early 2002: )
Dear sweet Leota,
Beloved by all
In regions beyond now,
But having a ball
[Leota Toombs, Face of Madame Leota and Face/Voice of Little Leota]
The above are all references to imagineers who worked on the attraction.
The names on the tombs in the exit queue are:
|C. U. Later||Dustin T. Dust||Asher T. Ashes||M. T. Tomb|
|Hale N. Hardy||I. M. Ready|
|Love U. Trudy||I Trudy Dew|
|Rusty Gates||Pearl E. Gates||Rustin Peece|
|Hal Lusinashun||Bea Witch||Hap A. Rition|
|Manny Festation||Metta Fisiks||Clare Voince|
|Wee G. Bord||I. Emma Spook||Paul Tergyst|
Seven Winsome Wives
Some Fat, Some Thin
Six of Them Were Faithful
But The Seventh Did Him In
A pet cemetery resembling the first "exit crypt pet cemetery" at Disneyland was added at WDW's mansion sometime after the "new" pet cemetery was added at Disneyland in 1993. It's located on the sloping hillside between the Mansion exit crypt and the gate entrance to the Mansion's main exterior queue areas. In addition to the monuments inspired by the original Disneyland pet cemetery (the first version, not the 90s addition), it contains a tribute to Mr. Toad (added with or just after the big 2007 refurb).
In 2011, interactive "graveyard" elements - many of them musical, evoking Leota's seance and the ballroom organ - have been added to the queue area outside the WDW Mansion. They include tributes to various Mansion "characters," old (such as the sea captain who once graced the "Sinister Eleven" portrait gallery) and new (such as the "Dread" family, which are presented in a mystery plotline revealed throughout the queue additions). There are also some additional Imagineering dedications, including masouleum inscriptions for concept artist and story developer (early on in the project) Ken Anderson, sculptor Blaine Gibson, concept and effects designer Rolly Crump, and Ghost Host voice artist Paul Frees.
Inside the Haunted Mansions, many of the graveyard scene headstones supposedly feature scrambled references to various imagineers who worked on the attraction. At Disneyland, you'll find a 21st century addition to the interior graveyard scene. It was purchased via a Disney AuctionEars Ebay stunt by a Louisiana attorney ("Jay"). It stands to the left of the Doombuggy track as you pass the spooky musicians. :)
In the "Stretching Gallery", does the ceiling go up, or does the floor go down?
Depends on where you are! At Disneyland, the Stretching Room is a true elevator, carrying guests down to a lower level (they need to be moved under the railroad tracks to a show building outside the park's berm). At Walt Disney World and Tokyo Disneyland, it isn't necessary to move the guests to a lower level, so the ceiling rises up.
Is there any significance to the Hearse outside the Haunted Mansion?
Both Disneyland and Walt Disney World display an antique hearse outside the Mansion (Disneyland's is painted white, while Walt Disney World's is painted black). Disneyland's hearse appeared first, with the big attraction refurb of 1995.
While the hearses are authentic antique funeral carriages that were used in funeral ceremonies, neither has any special significance as far as we know. In his Mansion book, however, Jason Surrell provides that the black hearse at WDW was used in at least one film, The Sons of Katie Elder.
For the record: It has been widely reported that Disneyland's hearse was used in the 1877 funeral of Mormon leader Brigham Young, but this has been hotly disputed by some Mormons and historians. Some antique hearse experts have also disputed the claims, maintaining that Disneyland’s hearse is an 1890s model, and thus could not have been used.
Walt Disney World's hearse was manufactured in the 1860s, and the compartment inside that hearse contains a floral arrangement of ferns and roses. The compartment inside Disneyland's hearse contains a sign stating Disneyland's "Ghost Relations" department is "Accepting Applications."
Is there a story behind the Mansion?
Yes and no.
As it wound up ultimately presented, the Haunted Mansion is merely a haunted house pastiche - a collection of ghostly gags and clichés without a storyline, many of which seem to be inspired by various spooky films running the gamut from the silent era through the mid-1960s. That wasn't the original intention, however, and it isn't the way Disneyland Paris' Phantom Manor came to be presented, either.
Walt Disney had always wanted some sort of haunted attraction in his park, though he didn't have any set ideas in mind when he began toying with the concept in the early 1950s. According to some, the original inspirations for this "spooky house" concept were a pair of Bob Hope ghost flicks (The Cat and the Canary and The Ghost Breakers; an earlier, silent version of The Cat and the Canary also has some obvious ancestral links to the Mansion). Other films with apparent artistic links to the Mansion include Cocteau's La Belle et la Bete (check out Rolly Crump's arm sconces in Disneyland's unload crypt, for example), The Haunting (the bowing doors and general interior design), and many others.
The first artistic rendering of a Disney haunted attraction was created by Harper Goff in 1951. His generic "haunted house" drawing featured a street scene intended for Disneyland's precursor project - the so-called "Mickey Mouse Park" that would have been built on a smallish parcel of land across the street from the Walt Disney Studios in Burbank.
With the construction of Disneyland in 1955, the Haunted House project started to take on a bit more life. According to imagineer and Mansion author Jason Surrell, art director Marvin Davis included a Haunted House in early visual conceptions of Main Street USA. Slated to become a walk-through tour guided by cast members, this latest incarnation of Walt's haunted attraction would have been situated in one of the "Center Street" cul-de-sacs located in the middle of Main Street.
Ken Anderson, when assigned primary artistic responsibility for the project in 1957, went out in search of further inspiration for Walt's spook house, touring Sarah Winchester's amazing 1880's farmhouse-cum-sprawling mansion in San Jose, California. The Winchester House (Llanada Villa) is the source of the Mansion's Endless Hallway concept, various decor elements (including the dark, wood molding), and the notion of putting a big pipe organ in a crazy little ballroom.
Eventually, it was agreed that the "Haunted House" (as it was marked on maps of the park from 1957) would be constructed in what would become the New Orleans Square section of Disneyland. In 1962, the Mansion facade was built along the Rivers of America, in what was at the time the farthest edge of Frontierland. Built just next to Magnolia Park and Fowler's Harbor, the building remained empty and quiet until 1968. In 1963, WED erected a sign outside the building, inviting various happy haunts to move in. Martin Sklar, current WDI Ambassador and former Imagineering principal creative executive, wrote the copy featured on the sign (for the record, the sign as constructed was different than the blueprint concept featured here on the site - the sign copy differs, too. My blueprint, given the 1969 date, was a concept for a much later addition). The 1963 Sklar sign text read:
And Restless Spirits
Past-lifetime leases are
now available in this
don't be left out in the sunshine! Enjoy active retirement in this country club atmosphere - the fashionable address for famous ghosts, ghosts trying to make a name for themselves...and ghosts afraid to live by themselves! Leases include License to scare the daylights out of guests visiting the Portrait Gallery, Museum of the Supernatural, graveyard, and other happy haunting grounds. for reservations send resume of past experience to:
Ghost Relations Dept. Disneyland. Please! Do not apply in person.
Story concepts revolved around various characters. With Ken Anderson's assignment to the project in 1957, the team considered using the prankish spirits from the classic 1937 animated short film "Lonesome Ghosts" and other supernatural Disney cartoon personalities. According to comprehensive blueprints created by Anderson, this incarnation would have combined the original "walk through tour" idea with a theatre-type finale featuring dark-ride style special effects. It would have featured the Headless Horseman from Disney's adaptation of "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow," a story playing prominently in 1949's two-part cartoon feature "The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad."
Eventually, they developed new stories about original characters, such as the murderous "Blood family", or Pirate Captain Gore (also known as "Bloodmere" in some versions) and his doomed bride, Priscilla. Cast members portraying family servants would serve as the tour guides, an idea which survives today in the maid/butler roles that contemporary Mansion hosts and hostesses play. Vestiges of the Pirate Groom/Doomed Bride story remain in the Disneyland Mansion to this day, too, from the "lonely" bride in the attic (with the 2006 conversion of the usual bride to the murderous "Constance," this isn't necessarily the case anymore) to the ship-shaped weathervane atop the Captain's Walk. Incidentally, nearly 30 years later, the tragic wedding story concept was resurrected in the planning and construction of Disneyland Paris' Phantom Manor (opening in 1992), which roughly tells the story of a beautiful girl named Melanie Ravenswood, whose groom is murdered by the evil Phantom, who in turn makes her his captive.
Various gags and elements researched for the attraction in the early-to-mid-sixties included Rolly Crump's "Museum of the Supernatural" (also known in some proposals as the "Museum of the Weird"), featuring a candle man, a living gypsy cart, a talking chair, and a coffin clock. Marc Davis' famous changing portraits and stretching pictures, too, were in the mix as early as 1965, when Walt showed them off in the Disneyland Tencennial episode of Wonderful World of Color. While the Museum of the Supernatural never made the finished attraction intact (the corridor of doors wallpaper, chair-faces, and haunted grandfather clocks are among the remnants), several of Marc Davis' supernatural portraits certainly did (most notably in the Disneyland Mansion's changing portrait hall and in the WDW Mansion's now-defunct Sinister Eleven gallery).
Before the Mansion attraction could be fully planned and executed, however, WED Enterprises - what Disney Imagineering was then called - became distracted by their work on the 1964-65 New York World's Fair. As a result, most of the Mansion planning was delayed until after the Fair was over. But there were other projects still to be finished before the Mansion could become a top priority. New Orleans Square and Pirates of the Caribbean had to be put to bed first. Walt Disney's death in December of 1966 and 1967's New Tomorrowland project further complicated matters. Still, the wait wasn't a total waste of time, as the development of the Omnimover ride vehicle system for New Tomorrowland's Adventure Thru Inner Space would provide a solution to two problems. The walk-through concept limited guest capacity, for one, and made it impossible to present high-quality special effect viewpoints for guests at the back and sides of each tourgroup, too. Omnimovers, on the other hand, offered guests a high-quality, uniform attraction experience at speedy intervals.
By a happy combination of circumstances, the reluctant "spook house"' on the river which Walt and WED Enterprises so desperately wanted to populate finally became a workable concept as the Doombuggy-powered Haunted Mansion. As the first major Disneyland attraction to be completed without Walt's close direction, some people believe that the Haunted Mansion is an example of failed Imagineering teamwork. They cite the ambiance-and-design-heavy first half of the attraction (care of Claude Coates) and the character-jammed second half (care of Marc Davis) as the misintegration of Imagineering talents and personalities, while others believe it to be a clever and intentional means of building up and then smashing to bits the scary-old-house cliché. The Haunted Mansion is a tremendous joke on the guest, really - when you first get in the queue, you have no idea what you're in for. As you proceed through the attraction, you suspect you're in for some sort of scare...a scare which turns out to be less frightening than silly and amusing.
Will I see ghosts? Will they frighten me?
Duh. You WILL see ghosts, and they will give you a start, but not in the straight, serious, horror-scare-you way you might expect. These are HAPPY Haunts who know how to have a good time.
Are there exactly 999 ghosts/ghost effects in the mansions?
No. There are well under 999 actual ghost figures and effects in the mansion.
The 999 happy haunts/room for a thousand thing is just a cute way of playing up Walt Disney's original "supernatural real estate" gag, conceived early in the planning stages of the project. In the 1950s, while visiting England, Walt publicly broke his plans for a haunted attraction in a BBC radio interview. He announced his intention to recruit old ghosts to come live and "perform" at Disneyland, claiming inspiration by all of the ancient ghosts displaced from old British homes during wartime and the urban renewal that followed. The "spooky retirement community" concept continued into the 1960s with Marty Sklar's "real estate sign" copy (see above), and strongly influenced me in developing the "home and garden" spoof slant for this web site.
If you're serious about your numbers, WDI Senior Creative Veep Tony Baxter suggests including the wallpaper demons from the Corridor of Doors in your count.
I've heard Cast Members and fans referring to characters in the Mansions by name. Are all of the characters named?
Only Madame Leota, the disembodied spirit medium, and now Constance the black widow (and perhaps some of her husbands, whose first names are, I believe, labeled on the wedding portrait props) are officially named in the Haunted Mansion universe. If you like, you can count "cemetery" names listed on crypts and headstones out in the queue areas to bump up that number. The 2011 queue crypt upgrades at WDW make attempt to tie some graveyard names to characters who are featured inside the Mansion.
Some characters - including the hanging skeleton and the singing busts - had in-house Imagineering names which have influenced the monikers by which some Mansion fans refer to them. The singing busts, for example, had names printed on the projection film used to bring them to life. So we guess that counts as official. Sort of.
Phantom Manor's Ravenswood family were all given official names in the backstory developed for the Thunder Mesa area. According to Jason Surrell, even Melanie Ravenswood's first name is "official."
I've also heard Tony Baxter refer to the "ghost horse" attached to the WDW exterior hearse as "Old Dobbin." Since Mr. Baxter approved the original hearse addition to Disneyland's Mansion exterior in 1995, and came up with the idea of including ghost horses with the hearses in the first place, I suppose he should be the one to name them.
As for the rest of the names you may hear or read, they're largely made up. In the late 1980s / early 1990s, some Walt Disney World cast members decided to name many of the Mansion's characters, providing background stories for them as well (the now-infamous "Ghostly Gallery"). Many of these names are rooted in tombstone and mausoleum epitaphs found on the Mansion grounds, though these epitaph names are not officially linked with any particular ghost characters featured inside the attractions.
Other fans (including the co-author of this FAQ, AprilDecember) came up with names and stories for other characters, including some unique to the Disneyland Mansion.
None of these are official, and some fans and Cast Members (including Disney Archivist Emeritus Dave Smith) refuse to recognize or acknowledge them.
In fact, given that in 2005 the Disneyland changing portrait gallery was significantly changed (with the addition of the "Gracey" foyer portrait from the WDW Mansion, the removal of April December, and the transformation of the Panther gal into a...white tiger, I guess?), you might say that some of the Disneyland portrait gallery stories (and WDW Sinister Eleven biographies, given the 2007 WDW refurb) are left more than a little rootless nowadays. Also, given the 2006 changes in the Disneyland Mansion's attic in particular, the "helpless little bride" traditions carried over from the original Mansion story concepts - through the American and Tokyo Mansions, and STRONGLY into Phantom Manor - have been somewhat...negated. Bleh. And yes, yes...I know that the Haunted Mansion movie altered the nature of the bride story as it is. But now that the Disneyland and WDW brides are eeeeevillle... well, you know.
What happened to the changing portraits in the Disneyland mansion?
They completely redid the effect in January of 2005, probably to bring a little more "Gracey" into the Disneyland Mansion, to bring the presentation a bit more in line with both zee Movieeee et le WDW Mansion.
Originally, the portraits were intended to fade back and forth between the before and after pictures (according to Marc Davis, who had originally prepared them for a Mansion-themed restaurant that never materialized). For some reason, the imagineers at WED changed the concept before installation. So, for many years, the portraits changed with every flash of lightening which illuminated the hallway. Then, in the big 1995 mansion refurb, they portraits were made to fade slowly, as originally intended. In '05, the effect was completely changed AGAIN. Now, the portraits flash back and forth with the lightning again. This time, though, the technology has been significantly revamped. The portraits are made to look less like projection screens, and more like paintings. To make the new effect more workable, the panther lady portrait has been essentially recolored; her hair seems to be lighter, and her gown is now black instead of white. Additionally, the gorgon's been moved to AprilDecember's place on the far end of the hall, and the foyer painting of 'Master Gracey' from the WDW mansion is now in the center frame.
Are the mansion exteriors based on real houses?
Yes! The Disneyland façade is probably based on several real structures. Stanton Hall in Natchez, Mississippi, the Evergreen House in Maryland, and another Baltimore mansion, the Shipley-Lydecker House, all bear similarities to the final Mansion exterior. Imagineers (notably Ken Anderson, to whom Walt Disney assigned primary artistic responsibility for "Haunted House" concepts in 1957) actually visited Evergreen House to collect details. The other Baltimore source structure was depicted in an architectural resource collection used at WED (you can see the photo of the house at DoomBuggies.com). Interior and initial concept details for the attraction (like the endless hallway) were gleaned during at least one visit by Anderson to Sarah Winchester's Llanada Villa in San Jose, California.
The Walt Disney World and Tokyo Disneyland façades incorporate elements of several different periods. They're partially influenced by the Harry Packer Mansion in Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania, and by a drawing or engraving of a stone villa from an architecture collection used at WED.
Despite Disney's claims that it's based primarily on an old "Second Empire" style schoolhouse (the Fourth Ward School in Virginia City, Nevada), Phantom Manor's façade in Disneyland Paris appears to be heavily influenced by the infamous "Bates House" from Alfred Hitchcock's classic horror thriller "Psycho."
Hong Kong's Mystic Manor facade is said to be based on the Carson Mansion in Eureka, an historic seaside town in Northern California. A Queen Anne structure with many spooky Victorian details, the house was built in the mid 1880s by Canadian lumber magnate William Carson.
|The Originals||The Disney Versions|
The Haunted Mansion,
The Harry Packer Mansion,
The Haunted Mansion,
The Bates' House,
When is the best time to ride the Mansion?
The Haunted Mansion is an attraction blessed with relatively short queues and generally speedy loads. It's also got interesting queue areas and a pre-show which is a vital part of the Haunted Mansion experience, which makes the wait to get on the "ride" less of a bore. On most days at the park, you won't have to wait more than 15-20 minutes to get in. Unless it's Christmas Break, Spring Break, or the peak of summer, wait times should be moderate-to-nil. On busy park days, early morning and late night are probably the best times to try the Mansion.
Special Note: With the introduction of the Haunted Mansion Holiday overlay at Disneyland, queue waits from October to the beginning of January may be significantly lengthened. Now that the furor's died down a bit, you will likely not run into too many queue problems on weekdays; but, watch out on weekends, holidays (like Thanksgiving week), and throughout Christmas break.
Also be aware that the overlay prep will make extended refurbishment downtime necessary (the week after labor day through the beginning of October, and the second week of January through the beginning of February). Now that Haunted Mansion Holiday is a regular event at Tokyo Disneyland as well, you should expect similar sticking points at that park during the holiday season, too.
At Disneyland, Fantasmic! shows on the Rivers of America will usually make access to the whole of New Orleans Square and Critter Country very difficult, if not impossible, during the half-hour or so before, during, and just after the performance. However, wait times for the Haunted Mansion will usually be pretty short if you can get through the crowds. One way to avoid pushing your way through the masses of Fantasmic! humanity is to take the Disneyland Railroad to New Orleans Square. The Mansion is right next door to the station.
At Walt Disney World, the Mansion is also all but deserted during the early morning and late in the evening (as crowds tend to pass up the Mansion in favor of the "mountain" thrill rides). In the afternoon, the crowds are much heavier as tourists use the cold, dark Mansion to escape the Florida sun. Also, the Mansion is pretty vacant immediately before and during the Magic Kingdom Parades, although Liberty Square becomes congested to the point of immobility during them. Your best bet to access the Mansion during a parade is through Fantasyland (as opposed to approaching Liberty Square through the Hub or Frontierland). Immediately after the parades, however, the Mansion is typically flooded by a "rush" of guests.
Fastpass systems have been added to both the Disneyland and Walt Disney World Mansions, but are now rarely used (last I noticed, at Disneyland, FastPass only ran during Haunted Mansion Holiday crowds). On busy days in the park, using the Fastpass option may work for you. The idea behind Fastpass is this: you can 'reserve' yourself a spot in an attraction during a specific window of time, thereby reducing your time in line. Not everyone is convinced that Fastpass works to the guest's advantage, especially when used on an attraction with naturally short wait times like the Mansion. But hey, if it's there, give it a try. Disneyland's Mansion Fastpass distribution area is beautiful, especially at night. It's themed to look like part of the Mansion's gardens, and is worth a look, at least! The WDW Haunted Mansion's Fastpass area has been themed to look like a colonial shipping dock receiving shipments of fresh tombstones.
Are there days when the Mansion will be closed?
Yes! The parks refurbish most attractions at least once a year, usually during off-peak weeks in the fall, late winter, and spring. In the past, the Haunted Mansion has been known to go down for scheduled maintenance in October, February, and April (and now for Haunted Mansion Holiday, the Disneyland Mansion is down in September and January...see the Haunted Mansion Holiday note above). The WDW Mansion was down for most of the summer of 2007 in order to accomplish its first major-change rehab in time for the first Mickey's Not-So-Scary Hallowe'en party in late September. In general, "rehab" periods usually last anywhere from a few days to a few months, depending on the kinds of repairs and additions planned for the attraction.
Disneyland.com and WaltDisneyWorld.com try to post refurbishment schedules to their calendars features as soon as the schedules are known, but nothing's guaranteed. Sometimes, an attraction will go "101" - Disney codespeak for a breakdown - with no notice whatsoever.
How can I get the music from the Haunted Mansion?
The music is available on Compact Disc.
"Grim Grinning Ghosts" can be found on the Official Albums of Disneyland and Walt Disney World.
Disneyland Forever Kiosks in Disneyland's 20th Century Music Shop (Main Street) and Premier Shop (Tomorrowland, next to the old NASA exhibit) used to have Haunted Mansion selections available as part of a "build your own Disneyland CD" offering. The pertinent tracks included the Foyer, Load, Ballroom Organ, Graveyard instrumental, and acapella Exit Crypt music with Little Leota's spiel. At the time of the latest FAQ update, the Disneyland Forever Kiosks have been discontinued. We have also learned that the WDW Forever Kiosks are also gone. You can still find "used" versions on Ebay. You can also find a torrent containing ALL of the Disneyland Forever selections in lossless format here.
Each park still sells the "Haunted Mansion Compact Disc" (the same thing as the old 30th anniversary cd, basically). This CD includes the following tracks (text taken from the Album's liner notes):
Track 1: Walt Disney 0:26
In this 1965 clip from the "Disneyland 10th Anniversary" television program, Walt takes eager viewers behind-the-scenes to preview concepts for the Haunted Mansion, joined by Disney legend Marc Davis and the first Disneyland Ambassador, Julie Reihm.
Track 2: Welcome 2:02
A pair of unused introductions to the Mansion, performed by actress Eleanor Audley (Madame Leota) and brilliant voice talent Paul Frees (The Ghost Host.)
Track 3: The Haunted Mansion at Disneyland 22:28
The original chills and thrills, from the first creaking threshold to the last groaning tombstone. Paul Frees "etherealizes" as our Ghost Host while Thurl Ravenscroft's distinctive bass voice resounds through the graveyard. Stay alert, though, this soundtrack assembly includes a few never-before-heard surprises.
Track 4: The Haunted Mansion at Walt Disney World 1:00
When the Haunted Mansion materialized in 1971 in the Magic Kingdom at the Walt Disney World Resort, it was nearly identical to the Disneyland show, with the addition of these brief but eerie audio tracks - actually recorded at the same time as the Disneyland soundtrack.
Track 5: The Haunted Mansion at Tokyo Disneyland 1:31
When Tokyo Disneyland opened in April of 1983, the Haunted Mansion was there, towering over Fantasyland. The attraction was a duplicate of the Walt Disney World show - in English - except for a chilling narration delivered by a Japanese speaking Ghost Host (T. Hori).
Track 6: Phantom Manor at Disneyland Paris 12:48
In 1990, Vincent Price recorded a narration for Phantom Manor - but the show concept changed and his narration was never used. Mr. Price's performance is heard here for the first time anywhere. The entrancing musical arrangements were created by John Debney.
Track 7: The Genius of Paul Frees 4:01
A collection of out-takes and unused narration from the original Haunted Mansion, providing a rare behind-the-scenes glimpse at the work of Paul Frees. The voice of Marc Davis can be heard in the background, as he and X. Atencio direct the recording sessions.
Track 8: Otherworldly Music 3:32
World-renowned organist Gaylord Carter performed these unheard versions of the Haunted Mansion music under the direction of composer and Disney Legend Buddy Baker.
Track 9: Three Ghostly Voices 2:55
First, Eleanor Audley, who voiced several Disney animated villains, awakens "creepies and crawlies" with these out-takes from her recording sessions as Madame Leota and the Raven. Next, veteran Disney character actor Pete Renoudet gives a supernaturally good audition performance as the Ghost Host. And third, Imagineer Leota Toombs (who appeared as both the face of Madame Leota and the face and voice of Little Leota) is heard in these never-before-released vocal takes for Madame Leota.
Track 10: Spooky Sound Effects 4:48
Here are some of the eerie music tracks and sound effects from the Haunted Mansion. Many of the sound effects were created by Disney Legend Jimmy MacDonald.
Track 11: Original Radio Advertisements 2:55
Original radio advertisements in the summer of 1969 featured Lennie Weinrib as the Daring Reporter, Ginny Taylor as the Ghost Son, and Paul Frees recreating his role as the Ghost Host, as well as playing the parts of Phineas Pock, Willie the Wisp, and Granny Ghoul.
Track 12: Breakdown and Unload Spiels 0:55
The show's writer, X. Atencio, provided his own voice for the foreboding "breakdown" spiels and some "unload" spiels that never materialized.
The Haunted Mansion CD and Haunted Mansion Holiday/Scarols recordings can also be purchased via Amazon. To order, visit our Astore.
The official park albums and 30th Anniversary Haunted Mansion CD (without the anniversary label) are available from Disneyland DelivEARS (1-800-760-3566) or Walt Disney World Merchandise Mail Order (1-407-363-6200). While audio media is almost never available via the Disney Store, it might be worth checking its Disney Parks section for other Mansion-related merchandise.
I've also heard that there are versions of Haunted Mansion Holiday's Soundtrack, complete with queue Scarols, available at Disneyland and Tokyo Disneyland.
The music box version of Grim Grinning Ghosts that plays when I load the Better Haunts main page - where's it from?
It was originally created for the gazebo in the outer queue area of Phantom Manor at Disneyland Paris. Now you can hear it in the Mansion queue area at Disneyland during Haunted Mansion Holiday.
Are there any good books or shows I can find about the Haunted Mansion?
We are happy to report that the Mansion book selection is deepening. You can order a copy of The Haunted Mansion: From the Magic Kingdom to the Movies - by Jason Surrell - via our Astore. It's an excellent resource for all Mansion fans!
Jeff at Doombuggies.com also has his own Haunted Mansion book, which is amazing.
There's also a series of Haunted Mansion comics presented by Slave Labor Graphics, a children's popup book (now out of print), a few movie-related kids' books, several coloring books, and small sections covering the Mansion in various books about the parks/Walt Disney/Imagineering, among other things.
Some of your best information bets are probably the two best-known unofficial Disney historical journals, Persistence of Vision and The E Ticket (no longer publishing).
POV's Issue #9 dedicates several pages to the music of the Haunted Mansions. It's a must-have issue.
The two most notable Mansion-related editions of The E Ticket are available on CD-ROM...
- Issue #13 - Summer 1992. Snow White dark ride, and interview with Ken Anderson on the first "Haunted House" concepts, bones in Disneyland.
- Issue #16 - Summer 1993. Haunted Mansion, and interview with Marc Davis.
You'll also want to check out The October, 2002, issues of Haunted Attraction magazine. Several of the articles (including one by co-FAQ author AprilDecember) are available here.
The Haunted Mansion gets airtime in many television shows and specials, almost all of them Disney. The trick is finding the ones with significant content. AprilDecember recommends two:
A 1970 Disney television special called Disneyland Showtime is particularly interesting. Sometimes, it airs late-night on the Disney channel (with the discontinuation of Vault Disney, though, who knows when or if it'll continue to run). Kurt Russell, the Osmonds, EJ Peaker, and friends take viewers on an abbreviated ridethrough of the attraction. In addition, Russell narrates a segment on the making of the Mansion, which features some nifty shots of Imagineers working on effects and models for the attraction.
Another good tv offering is the 1965 "Disneyland Tencennial" episode of Disney's Wonderful World of Color series, originally presented on NBC and currently available on DVD (order it above). In it, we're introduced to Marc Davis, Rolly Crump, and several concept artworks and models created for the Mansion. If you want to see what the Museum of the Weird was all about, see this show. If you want to see some changing portrait art that never made the cut, see this show.
If you crave more, Jeff at Doombuggies.com has a large media collection including various scenes and snippets from tv specials and documentaries. Youtube.com is another good place to look.
Are there any websites that have good information about the Haunted Mansion?
While there are more websites devoted to the Haunted Mansion than any other single Disney Attraction, we prefer Doombuggies.com, GrimGhosts.com, Better Haunts & Graveyards, and TombSweetTomb.com. Additionally, the best overall Phantom Manor website (in our humble opinions) is Ravenswood Manor. If you have a site you like, email us about it! We can't guarantee we'll link it, though.
Are there any good fora for discussing the Mansions online?
Yes! The oldest is the firstname.lastname@example.org list. There's also a fine bulletin board at Doombuggies.com.
What is the 'Haunted Mansion' font called? Where can I get it?
Co-FAQ author Kronos and Justin Callahan created a wonderful version of the font called "Ravenscroft." You can get it at Disney Fonts. Be sure to read the .txt notes included for information on using the excellent dingbats included!
Similar versions of the font are called "Ruben" and "Rubens."
"Rudelsburg" - a font that appears on the Haunted Mansion attraction posters - is also available there. Kronos reports that the famous "the" in "The Haunted Mansion" found on the gate plaques and other signage was created with a font called "Bookman Italic Swashes." The weathered, blocky text used on the Haunted Mansion story LP can be replicated reasonably with "Terrorama Chiseled," by Jeff Baham.
What kinds of special events has Disney done to celebrate the Haunted Mansion?
There have been many!
Disneyland celebrated the 30th Anniversary of the Haunted Mansion on June 26, 1999 with a special ticketed event. The event began with a panel discussion by HM Imagineers entitled "The Haunted Mansion: 30 Years of Hot and Cold Running Chills" and sales of collectible merchandise (including event-specific pins, CDs, t-shirts, artwork, figurines, posters and a leather jacket. Much of the merchandise sold out within hours, and as of this writing is fetching 2-10 times retail price among Disneyana collectors). The evening was capped off with a midnight ride through the Haunted Mansion where guests got to shake the hands of the Imagineers who worked on the attraction and thrill to "real" ghosts hidden throughout the ride.
On October 25, 2000, the Disneyland Resort in California hosted a special "Haunted Mansion"-themed dinner experience for $2,000.00 a ticket. 30 lucky (and, one presumes, wealthy) guests were given the full VIP treatment as they were driven by limousine from the Disneyland Hotel through Disneyland to the front gate of the Mansion. As they walked to the Mansion, each guest noticed a new tombstone bearing his or her name (and a humorous custom epitaph) on the Mansion's lawn. They were greeted at the front door by none other than Jack Skellington (from the Disney/Touchstone film The Nightmare Before Christmas) who led them to a sumptuous banquet held in the Changing Portrait Hallway. The guests dined on such fare as "Mummified Duck" and "Death by Chocolate" with Imagineers Rolly Crump and Alice Davis, while being serenaded with chamber music from a ghostly band of musicians. After dinner, guests were given a personalized Death Certificate and invited on a behind-the-scenes walking tour of the Haunted Mansion -- with the house lights on. After the tour, the guests boarded the Doombuggies for a ride through the Mansion -- this time with actors hidden throughout the attraction. Afterwards, they were chauffeured back to their hotel, where special souvenirs (including their personalized tombstone) awaited them. The next day the guests concluded their adventure with a luncheon held at the park's ultra-private, ultra-exclusive restaurant and lounge, Club 33.
Over the 2001-2002 holiday season, Disneyland inaugurated "Haunted Mansion Holiday," an attraction overlay based on Disney's The Nightmare Before Christmas (Click here for a transcript and more from the special 2001 narration) with another special event. Both the event and the overlay were huge successes, sparking plans for similar overlays at other Mansion attractions (to date, Tokyo Disneyland's Mansion). In October of 2002, Haunted Mansion Holiday reprised itself with a different musical score. Another special-ticket price-tiered event was held, along with a great Disney Gallery exhibit on the art of the Haunted Mansion. More price-tiered Holiday events ocurred in 2003 and 2004. Apparently, there are no special Haunted Mansion Holiday merch/dinner events planned for Disneyland from 2006 on.
On October 30, 2002, Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom held a special "999 Happy Haunts Ball." It was reprised on October 27-29, 2003, and again in 2004.
Another spooky event that is not directly Mansion-related is WDW's "Mickey's Not-So-Scary Hallowe'en Party," held several days each October at the Magic Kingdom. This hard-ticket event includes trick-or-treating, special parades and fireworks, fortune telling, and more.
As of 2005, Disneyland has drummed up it's own version of the MNSSHP, called Mickey's Halloween Treat. This event is a hard-ticket event taking place on selected evenings during the Hallowe'en season at Disney's California Adventure.
In 2006, Disneyland added an annual, resort-wide, season-long celebration called HalloweenTime, which means special decorations and daily events which can be joined apart from the hard-ticket MHT event...
The witching hour of midnight on Sept. 29, 2006, will mark the beginning of Disney's HalloweenTime, an all-new seasonal event at the Disneyland Resort with whimsical decor, costumed Disney Characters, and interactive Halloween activities the whole family will find frightfully fun. Continuing through Oct. 31, the first-ever event will allow guests to enter a family-friendly world of Halloween delights. "Disney's HalloweenTime will be a wonderful opportunity for families to come together and enjoy the make-believe aspects of the holiday," said Matt Ouimet, president of the Disneyland Resort. "We hope families will begin a new holiday tradition of celebrating Halloween with us here at the Disneyland Resort."
There have been other events since, including 40th anniversary festivities in 2009 (see below). To keep abreast of future Haunted Mansion happenings at the parks, keep checking the Disney Parks Blog.
Was the 2002 (and beyond) Haunted Mansion Holiday music different from 2001's original tunes?
Yes. In 2001, the overlay featured a lovely score orchestrated by Gordy Goodwin. There were no Danny Elfman tunes from Nightmare Before Christmas in that soundtrack. In 2002, there was an entirely new soundtrack, featuring the Danny Elfman tunes from the film. Many folks who've heard both versions seem to prefer the Goodwin score, oddly enough. In fact, in the middle of the 2002 Haunted Mansion Holiday season, the expanding room soundtrack was reverted to the Goodwin version. That's how it's been ever since.
When's the next big Haunted Mansion Event? When do I register?
Disneyland had several 40th anniversary-themed events planned for summer, 2009.
Learn more about these events and others at Disneygallery.com:
- June Pin Event
- August Shag Cocktail Event and Product Signing
- September "Wedding"-themed Anniversary Merch Event
We recommend that you keep a close eye on the Disney Parks Blog, the Disney Gallery site (I'm not sure what to call it now that the Disney Gallery has closed), and the Disney parks special merchandising events pages to see what's coming down the pipe. The latter listing is geared primarily to pin-trading, but it should include every event of interest, as virtually all events are merch-heavy, and merch means lots of pins (not to mention funky-expensive tschotsky-thingies that probably break really easily, tee hee).
If you have already attended a special event, or have put yourself on the Disney Gallery/Disneyana shop mailing list, you'll probably get an invitation in the mail. Be advised, though, that these announcements sometimes arrive too late to reserve space. Additionally, the Disneyland and WDW mailing lists rarely overlap. So, if you're only on the Disneyland list, you probably won't get info about WDW events.
As a last line of offense, pay attention to the popular Haunted Mansion fan lists and bulletin boards. Chances are that somebody lurking about will have gotten the info from one source or another, and usually well ahead of time. Keep in mind that sometimes company plans change, though, so don't take early rumors too seriously.
What's this I hear about a Haunted Mansion movie?
Which one? There's the 2003 film starring Eddie Murphy AND a new production that was announced in July of 2010. Disney will be collaborating with writer-director Guillermo del Toro on this new Haunted Mansion film. In 2015 - after a long hiatus - the project is active again, with news of casting negotiations. Stay tuned for more information.
Here's more on the 2003 movie:
Walt Disney Pictures presented a feature film based on the Haunted Mansion attraction at Disneyland. It was released on November 26, 2003 in theatres.
For more information and some AWESOME goodies, visit http://www.haunted-mansion.com.
What kinds of Haunted Mansion souvenirs are available?
Since the Haunted Mansion 30th Anniversary event mentioned above, Mansion fans have enjoyed a resurgence in Haunted Mansion collectibles. A special CD, T-shirts, beanbag toys, masks, lithographs, lenticular cards, sculptures, pins, and other items came to join the normal selection of attraction posters, Disneyland Forever CD selections, and postcards at Disneyland. More recently, special "Haunted Mansion Holiday" merch (pins, ornaments, sweatshirts, plush, &c.) have made it to the shelves of New Orleans Square shops. In 2002, the Disneyana and Disney Gallery shops even carried a version of the Haunted Mansion gate plaque. It included a sound chip which played a short snippet of Ghost Host narration.
Walt Disney World has also gotten into the Mansion merchandise "spirit," first with Madame Leota's Cart and more recently with the Memento Mori shop, a Madame Leota-themed store which sells everything from Mansion-themed housewares to clothing. Madame Leota's Cart famously sold Mansion pop-up books, gargoyles, coloring books, die-cast hearses (complete with invisible ghost horse!), license plates, hats, baby tees, lockets, buttons, and fridge magnets. Many of these items featured the phrase "It's Your Funeral!" along with a gothling Mansion maid with black hair who holds a rose.
The Disney Store has gotten into the act as well, carrying Haunted Mansion collectibles, Hallowe'en Decorations, and more! Check out their Disney Parks section to see some of the wares on offer.
So what about the Haunted Mansion Clue game?
It's quite pretty, coming in a colorful tin. It's also quite pricey, though. Kronos, a Clue enthusiast in addition to his Mansion affinity, has complained about the thinness of the playing pieces (they're not fully dimensionalized) and the omission of the side doors in the ballroom. This omission apparently hampers game strategy and renders the set useless at official Clue tournaments. You can buy it at our Astore.
Can I purchase Haunted Mansion souvenirs outside the parks?
Yes. DisneyStore.com is one good place to start, though it does not usually feature every item sold at the parks. Most Mansion items currently sold at the parks can be ordered through Disneyland DelivEARS (1-800-760-3566) or Walt Disney World Merchandise Mail Order (1-407-363-6200). Other options for new merchandise include eBay, an online auction outfit. A few words of warning about eBay: Unless you're bidding on an item presented by the Disney Company, bid with caution. While many sellers offer bona fide merchandise at fair minimums, others have been known to misrepresent their wares. Some present home-made or counterfeit items as official merchandise, while others falsely claim that their items are 'rare' or 'sold out.' That having been said...
What about the older souvenirs that are no longer produced?
For those who want vintage and other sold-out Haunted Mansion items, such as the original, vinyl 1969 story album narrated by Thurl Ravenscroft, the original, vinyl 1964 sound effects album, the secret panel chest, E-Ticket magazine back issues, and the like, eBay should not be missed. Bidding usually gets fierce on the most-wanted collectibles, but if you have to have it, chances are you'll be able to get it on eBay. If you want out-of-print Mansion media, some third party sellers on Amazon may have what you're after.
eBay and Etsy are places to go if you really WANT wild and wacky unofficial stuff, like original artwork, gate plaque castings, etcetera.
Are there stores outside the parks that sell Mansion-related park souvenirs?
Disneystore.com ( see their Disney Parks section) has also been known to sell Mansion-related items, many of which are the same items you see in the parks. During the 1998 and 1999 Hallowe'en seasons, it sold a cassette version of the 1969 story album narrated by Thurl Ravenscroft. In 2002, a Mansion snowglobe and Mansion 'spookhouse' decoration were available (they were still carried at Disneyland's "Le Bat en Rouge" too, for awhile at least). Since, they've given us all sorts of Mansiony crap, from pins and other collectibles to Hallowe'en decorations. In 2006, I bought a light-up attic bride piece with a beating heart; she looked great with our jack-o-lanterns! :)
So who are you guys?
Kronos is a life-long Mansion fan, writer, frequenter of Walt Disney World, co-moderator of the HauntedMansion@yahoogroups.com list, and webmaster of TombSweetTomb.com from the mid-Atlantic United States. AprilDecember is a dreamer, college professor, graphic designer, former Disneyland attractions hostess, and law-degree-toting rebel. She mistresses Better Haunts & Graveyards.
Nowadays April does most of the updates. So if something's slow to go up, poke her.
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