There are few rides in the Disney parks around the world that are as popular as the classic Haunted Mansion.
This ride has a HUGE cult following, inspiring tons of merchandise items, Halloween costumes, and even its own movie! But, Haunted Mansion is more than just your basic Disney ride — it’s full of hidden secrets that even the biggest fans may not know. Today, we’re sharing some of the best fun facts about this fan-favorite ride!
- You’ll find various versions of Haunted Mansion in 5 different Disney parks around the world: Haunted Mansion in Disneyland, Magic Kingdom, and Tokyo Disneyland, Phantom Manor in Disneyland Paris, and Mystic Manor in Hong Kong Disneyland.
- It opened in 1969 at Disneyland Park and was an opening day attraction at Magic Kingdom in 1971.
- Walt Disney himself wanted a “spooky” supernatural-themed attraction at Disneyland, and he and the Imagineers settled on a walk-through wax museum-style attraction. After he died, the project lost its vision and the mansion sat abandoned in New Orleans Square for several years.
- Two main Imagineers had ideas for the ride: Claude Coats and Marc Davis. Claude wanted it to be actually scary but Marc wanted it to be silly and fun. They compromised, with Claude getting the first half of the ride (all the spooky scenes) and Marc getting the second half (ballroom scenes and graveyard).
- Next time you ride, make sure to ask the Mansion Maids about the bats on their headpieces! Each Cast Member gave theirs a name, and they may just have a story to go along with it.
- If you look in the queue, you’ll find many headstones dedicated to the various Imagineers who worked on the attraction. They honor people like Marc Davis, Claude Coats, X Atencio, Leota Toombs, Rolly Crump, Harriet Burns, Fred Jorger, and Yale Gracey.
- X Atencio wrote the music and the script for the ride (as well as both for Pirates of the Caribbean), and he’d never written music before Pirates. We’ll say he did a pretty great job!
- If you look up at the top of the building in Magic Kingdom, you’ll spot various chess pieces, but one is missing — the knight. That’s because it’s always night at the Haunted Mansion! (This was a nod from Marc Davis, who loved chess.)
- The name of the mansion’s owner is Master Gracey. You can find his tombstone outside the ride and his portrait hanging in the first room of the building that you enter before you go into the stretching room.
- Master Gracey gets his name from Yale Gracey, the chief Imagineer in charge of special effects at Haunted Mansion.
- You’ll also spot tombstones for Gus, Ezra, and Phineas outside. Those are the names of the three hitchhiking ghosts at the end of the ride!
- Right before you head inside, look to your left for the tombstone of Madame Leota. If you watch her long enough, you may notice that she blinks!
- Leota Toombs was an Imagineer who worked on the attraction as well, and she served as the model for Madame Leota inside the ride.
- Unfortunately, Leota Toombs didn’t have a very scary voice. So, while her face is in the ride, her voice was replaced with that of Eleanor Audley, aka the voice of Maleficent and Lady Tremaine.
- However, when you pass by the miniature Leota at the end of the ride and hear her say “Hurry back, hurry back,” that’s actually Leota Toombs.
- The Haunted Mansion queue at Magic Kingdom was rethemed to be more interactive back in 2011. The first part of this section of the line includes a “whodunnit” game with 5 different busts. Read the inscriptions on each to find out who killed who!
- If you look at the bust of Aunt Maude in this section, you’ll notice that she died in a house fire. Wonder why? Glance at the back of her head and you’ll spot some matches stuck into her bun! Women used to light matches, then put them out and stick them in their hair so that the smoke fumes would hide any body odor. It looks like she forgot to take them out before she went to bed!
- Look for the name on the organ in the queue — it says Ravenscroft. This is a nod to singer Thurl Ravenscroft, who you’ll also spot inside the ride. (More on that in a minute!)
- Take a look on the ground in the interactive queue area, and you may just spot an engagement ring. Who does it belong to? Constance, the murderous bride from the attic!
- The stretching room is one of the most iconic parts of the pre-ride experience. In Disneyland, it’s actually an elevator to take guests underneath the train tracks. In Disney World, guests remain stationary while the ceiling raises.
- Constance, the scary murderous bride in the attic, has killed all five of her husbands. If you look at her portraits, you’ll notice that each time one dies, she gets a new pearl necklace. By the end, she’s got five sets of pearls!
- You can also spot Constance in the stretching room — look for the portrait of the old woman sitting on a tombstone. She’s wearing five pearl necklaces!
- The ballroom scene is created using an effect called Pepper’s Ghost. It makes use of large panels of glass and actual animatronics to create a ghostly look.
- When you encounter the singing busts in the graveyard, many people often mistake one bust for Walt Disney, but it’s actually Thurl Ravenscroft. He’s one of the singers of “Grim Grinning Ghosts” and the voice behind Tony the Tiger.
- After you leave the ride, make sure to check out the pet cemetery. In the back, there’s a grave dedicated to Mr. Toad, whose ride was removed from Magic Kingdom and replaced with The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. It’s rumored that his tombstone reads “Here lies Toad, sad, but true. Not nearly as marketable as Winnie the Pooh.”
There you have it, 25 fun facts about Haunted Mansion that you may not have known! Stay tuned to DFB for more details and fun tidbits from the Disney parks!
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Do you love this ride? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!
Chris Day says
I loved this! I learned a lot about my favorite ride!
Fun facts, I loved them…
I was told the chess piece story isn’t really true. Is it?
Harold L. Jarvis, Jr. says
Great fun facts. Really enjoyed reading this article.
I once copied down the chess position to analyse it. It turned out to be very strange indeed, and whoever set it up clearly knew a lot about chess! Of course the position could change and I haven’t rechecked it lately.
Wow, I actually didn’t know a lot of these! I keep forgetting about the ring in the queue as well. I’ll have to re-check the statue for the matches as well!
The thing with the engagement ring is a retcon, not a design by Imagineering. That is actually a piece of an old line stanchion. Cast members started telling people that story and now it is out there.
My absolute favorite ride in MK! I just love it! Facts like this are so much fun. TY! 😊
The engagement ring is a super fun thing for the kids! Its around the que leading up to the ride. My kids will always remember looking for this and finding it!
Matthew Brewster says
Correction, X Atencio only wrote the LYRICS to Grim Grinning Ghosts. I believe George Bruns wrote the music.
Loved the article, well done! I consider myself a Haunted Mansion nut and still learned some facts! Thanks for writing this one!
Deb O’Toole says
You guys never cease to amaze me. This was so fun and informative even for someone who thought she knew a lot of the trivia about this ride. I’ve never heard of the matches in the hair trick. Fascinating!
There’s way more important details to the embedded ring fact. The original WDW queue had what was an old line stantion pole that was sawed off that fans mistook and/or had fun believing was a thrown out wedding ring based on CM-made mansion backstory lore. So when the new queue was being built imagineers decided to make the ring lore official and embed a proper looking one.