Room for One More

It just seems I keep saying this, but the Haunted Mansion, HM in text speak, is another iconic attraction. Maybe I should just dub all attractions iconic.  It seems each is worthy of reminiscing on history and creativity. 

My first memory of the Haunted Mansion was actually BEFORE IT WAS BUILT!  It was Disneyland’s 10th Anniversary (1965 available on YouTube).  Walt introduced Disney Legend Julie Reihm-(Casaletto) as the first Disneyland Ambassador.  During this revelation, Walt walks us through all the goings on in Disneyland and shows Julie some Haunted Mansion designs.

The idea for the Haunted Mansion started as something else.  This was not uncommon with attractions.  They would morph from one thing into another through the design process.  Originally, it was supposed to be The Museum of the Weird.  Here Walt and Julie are talking to Disney Legend Roland (Rolly) Crump about the Museum of the Weird.

Credit: D23

My next memory of the Haunted Mansion was again before I even walked in.  It was the silk screen art.  I remember my first visit after the opening and walking through the tunnel.  The poster was taller then I was.  I just stopped and stared, my parents grabbing my arm and dragging me into the park.

Credit: Poster Arts of the Disney Parks Copyright 2012 First Edition, Danny Handke and Vanessa Hunt Introduction by Tony Baxter

The Haunted Mansion is a wonderful presentation of how the Parks are not just about a ride.  The queue is not just a place to wait.  It whets the appetite.  The hearse, the graves, the pet cemetery,  Leota Toombs eyes staring at you while you’re in line.  Everyone knows the floating head is Leota Toombs Thomas, but Harriet Burns, the first Female Imagineer was the first model. Walt felt her features were too delicate. 

The Haunted Mansion is home not only to ghosts, but rumors and history.   The cleaning crew has a bit of history with this attraction. When the attraction was first in use, the cleaning crew removed all the dust and cobwebs. When the opening crew came back in the morning, they had to scramble to stage the attraction.  Then there was the time Rolly Crump set the ride to turn on when the crew broke an electric eye. When they returned in the morning, all the ghosts were animated and there was a broom in the middle of the floor.  HR told Rolly and the crew they had to clean the ride themselves, the crew is never coming back. One of the biggest mistaken rumors is that Walt is one of the singing busts.  This is Thurl Ravenscroft, the voice behind Tony the tiger and the Grinch. Chuck Schroeder, Bob Ebright, Jay Meyer, and Verne Rowe round out the post-mortem musical group.

The ghost host, or narrator, was originally supposed to be a raven (like the skull in PoTC).  This is why you see the bird at numerous points throughout the ride.  Paul Frees was the original voice of the ghost host. And let us not forget the Hatbox Ghost! It was only a part of the attraction a couple of weeks and had to be removed due to technical difficulties, but ooooh what a two weeks.  People talked about this ghost for decades, and he was brought back by popular demand making a curtain call that spawned a bevy of souvenirs! Here you see Yale Gracey making an adjustment to the original.  Yes, the Haunted Mansion’s namesake was named after Disney Legend Yale Gracey.

Credit: Walt Disney Archives

Ironically, The Haunted mansion’s main technological tool is a technique called Pepper’s Ghost first demonstrated in 1862.  107 years later, Pepper’s Ghosts along with cutting edge space age technology, audio-animatronics, populate an attraction that people love and enjoy the world around. The Haunted Mansion is a very dynamic design. It is in a different land in every park and has a different theme.  In France, it is a Wild West motif. Take a visit to YouTube and watch people ride through the attraction around the world.  It is fascinating how far this attraction has come.   

50 Years later, here we are.  An iconic attraction rich in history, diverse in every park, spawned a made for TV movie, posters, and even a curtain call from a famous ghost long past. So sit back and enjoy the spectacle, and you are welcome to come back, just don’t forget to bring your…… death certificate.

dngnb8 is one of our contributors to D-COT and helps provide some very interesting historical info as well as the latest official Disney news.


  1. Very cool post, neat history! This is one of my favorites; always make sure to ride it.

  2. Interesting article! :up: The Haunted Mansion is one of my favorites and I have bought many souvenirs! :leota: :bride:

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