The Haunted Mansion may be the closest thing to a perfect theme park attraction. Here are 30 fun and frightful facts.

1. Where In The World Is The Haunted Mansion

The Haunted Mansion is the only attraction located in four different lands in four different Disney Parks;

  • New Orleans Square at Disneyland
  • Liberty Square at Walt Disney World
  • Fantasyland at Tokyo Disneyland
  • Frontierland at Disneyland Paris

2. Coast to Coast

The Disneyland Haunted Mansion was greatly inspired by the Victorian-era Shipley-Lydecker House in Baltimore, Maryland.

3. A Walk Through The Mansion

Believe it or not, The Haunted Mansion was originally conceptualized as a walk-through attraction. However, the idea was canned due to the growing concern that select illusions would require specific timing and vantage points that would otherwise not be controlled if guests were free to roam at their own pace.

4. A Haunted Boat Ride

You read that right! Soon after the idea of making The Haunted Mansion a walk-through attraction was scrapped, there were plans to turn it into a boat ride inside an old plantation house in the bayou.

5. Plan In Advance

Imagineers produced the Audio-Animatronics figures, props and set pieces for both the Disneyland and Walt Disney World versions of The Haunted Mansion at the same time!

6. You Don’t Know That You Know The Ghost Host

They may not know it… but you know the Ghost Host. The omnipresent narration is performed by legendary voice actor Paul Frees, the voice of Ludwig Von Drake, Boris Badenov, the Pillsbury Doughboy and a myriad of the Pirates of the Caribbean, including the Auctioneer.

7. Location, Location, Location

Early drafts of The Haunted Mansion film script were set in upstate New York, with a manor house inspired by the Walt Disney World attraction. However, director Rob Minkoff and production John Myhre felt the movie should showcase a mansion mirroring that of the Disneyland version, and the setting was moved to New Orleans.

8. Killer Bride

Despite the drastic changes that The Haunted Mansion underwent throughout its conceptual phase, the bride was featured in almost every Disneyland version, including Imagineer Ken Anderson‘s first creative treatment in 1957.

9. Sergeant Pepper’s Ghost

If there is one illusion that can send chills down your spine, it is the “swinging wake” ballroom scene! This magic trick is known as “Pepper’s Ghost” and it dates back to the 1800’s. Named after John Henry Pepper, objects are reflected onto glass making them appear translucent and holographic. Under the platform, your doom buggy rides lie moving manikins. The large pane of glass reflects them back to us and we see them as “ghost-like” figures.

10. Abbott, Costello, and Eddie Walk Into A Mansion

Eddie Murphy had been looking to do a comedy in the classic style of Abbott and Costello when he learned about Disney’s Haunted Mansion film and immediately asked to see the script.

11. The Real Mr. Gracey

X Atencio’s tongue-in-cheek epitaph eulogizing “Master Gracey” — a not-so-subtle nod to Imagineer and master of illusion Yale Gracey — has led fans to consider him the true (unofficial) lord of the manor.

The Haunted Mansion creatives decided to honour the tradition and dub the master of their house “Gracey,” as well.

12. The $7 Million Dollar Mansion

The original attraction in Disneyland cost roughly $7 million. In case you’re wondering, that would be about $45 million today!

13. Stretching Your Imagination

Perhaps one of the most popular scenes from the beloved attraction is the “Stretching Room.” You may recall, this is where the four paintings grow longer and longer, as the Ghost Host asks “Is this haunted room actually stretching, or is it your imagination?” The fact is… it depends!

You see if you are at Disneyland or Paris’s Phantom Manor, the room is actually an elevator platform that moves you down to the entrance of the ride. However, Walt Disney World’s version stays stationary as the ceiling moves upward.

Regardless of which version you prefer, the “stretching room” illusion is outrageously effective!

14. Keeping An Eye On You

The Haunted Mansion’s infamous creepy “eye wallpaper” was a collaboration between “Museum of the Weird” creator Rolly Crump and Claude Coats.

15. The Pet Cemetery

In the early 1980s, Kim Irvine, Walt Disney Imagineering’s senior concept designer for Disneyland and the daughter of Leota Toombs, purchased pieces of statuary from local nurseries, then asked show writer Chris Goosman to compose humorous epitaphs for dead pets.

The original pet cemetery could be found on the right side, near what is now Splash Mountain. This hidden spot proved to be such a hit among guests that it later became a permanent pet cemetery, located along the attraction’s queue.

16. The Whispering Gargoyles

Next time you’re in the stretching room, take note of the gargoyles! If you hand back while the rest of the ghosts depart, you’ll hear them whispering a special message just for you…. “Get out!”

17. Pirates of the Haunted Mansion?

The pistol-wielding duelists emerging from their portraits in the ballroom scene are just two of the Audio-Animatronics face sculpts recycled from the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction. Designed by Blaine Gibson, one of the duelists was actually the famous Auctioneer himself!

18. An Empty Attraction

The building that hosts the Haunted Mansion ride in Disneyland was built in 1963. However, it remained empty until the ride was added in 1969.

Why the long wait? Originally the ride was delayed due to Walt Disney’s involvement in the 1964-1965 World’s Fair. But when Walt passed away in late 1966, it was redesigned into the ride we know and love today.

19. Captain Nemo’s Ballroom Organ

The organ used in Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion is the same organ used in the Disney film 20 Thousand Leagues Under the Sea.

20. Singing Busts

Legendary creature designer Rick Baker originally modelled the Haunted Mansion film’s singing busts after Marc Davis, Thurl Ravenscroft, Blaine Gibson, Paul Frees and Walt Disney! Sadly, only Frees and Ravenscroft busts made it into the film. What can we say… film is a tough business to break into!

21. Madame Leota Was An Imagineer

You can’t possibly talk about The Haunted Mansion without mentioning Madame Leota! The spooky fortune teller was actually modelled after a real, very much alive Imagineer, Leota Toombs Thomas.

Leota started working at the Disney company in 1940 as a member of the ink and paint department.  Later, she transferred to Animation where she met her husband Harvey Toombs.

While working on The Haunted Mansion Imagineer Yale Gracey asked her to pose for the head to make sure it worked according to plan. After the trial ended they decided to keep her likeness and named the character “Madame Leota.”

22. Real Live Ghouls

In an attempt to keep The Haunted Mansion fresh for repeat visitors, Disney hired actors to play suits of armour knights. These noblemen would then jump out and attempt to scare guests. However, this addition to the classic dark ride was short-lived, as it resulted in many masked actors getting punched in the face by frightened guests. In fact, one performer was rendered a broken nose!

23. 13

The unlucky number 13 is a recurring design element in The Haunted Mansion.

  • 13 tombstone epitaphs are tributes to Disney Imagineers, including Disney Legends X Atencio, Claude Coats, Rolly Crump, Marc Davis, and Yale Gracey.
  • In the Grand Hall, 13 candles sit on top of the birthday cake.
  • The spell book in Séance Circle, titled Necronomicon—Book of the Dead, is opened to pages 1312 and 1313.
  • The anthropomorphized Grandfather Clock found in the Corridor of Doors is shaped like a demon’s head, with the crooked hands moving backwards past the number 13—not 12.

24. Invisible Horse

In the early 1990s, Imagineer Bob Barnick convinced Disneyland to buy a hearse from a local antique dealer to use in a proposed Young Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular. When plans for the show were abandoned, Barnick pitched parking the hearse outside The Haunted Mansion. Disney Legend Tony Baxter, Disneyland’s creative lead at the time, argued that to do so would require a tie-in to the Haunted Mansion story. Inspired by the popular “invisible dog on a leash” park toys, Baxter suggested hitching the hearse to a phantom horse.

Contrary to urban legend, the Disneyland hearse was not used to bring Brigham Young to his final resting place. However, the Walt Disney World hearse had been used in the 1965 Western The Sons of Katie Elder.

25. The Tomb Stones Are Named After Imagineers

When you get into the queue for The Haunted Mansion you will notice several tombstones with fun epitaphs on them. Pay close attention to the names, as they are dedicated to the various Imagineers who worked on the ride.

Watel Rogers

“Wathel Rogers “Here rests Wathel R Bender -he rode to glory on a fender”

Weather was an animator who worked on Pinocchio, Bambi, Alice in Wonderland, and Sleeping Beauty.  He helped Walt create “Project Little Man” which was the first audio-animatronic for Disney.

Cliff Huet

Cliff Huet “Rest in peace cousin Huet – We all know you didn’t do it”

Mr. Huet was the lead interior designer for the Haunted Mansion.

Fred Joerger

Fred Joerger “Here lies good old Fred- a great big rock fell on his head”

Fred was a set designer and model builder.  In fact, he designed all the rock work at Walt Disney World.  He also worked on the miniature models before construction.

Francies Xavier

Francies Xavier “Requiescat Franies Xavier- Not time off for good behaviour”

Francies Xavier best known as X. Atencio was an animator at Disney before joining WED to work on attractions like Pirates of the Caribbean and the Haunted Mansion.  The voice begging to be let out of the coffin in the conservatory, that’s him.  He also is 1/2 the reason we have the amazing Grim Grinning Ghosts song as co-writer with Buddy Baker.

Leota Toombs

Leota Toombs Thomas “Dear sweet Leota- beloved by all in regions beyond now having a ball”

Leota worked in Ink and Paint, Animation and then in WED.

The tombstone for Leota is amazing and she even opens her eyes and “looks” at you.

Bill Martin

Bill Martin “Here lies a man named Martin-the lights went out on this old Spartan”

Bill Martin helped design and build Disneyland.  He was made the Vice President of Design at WED in 1971 and he was responsible for the design of the Utilidors and some of the riverboats.

Dave Burkhart

Dave Burkhart “Dear departed brother Dave- He chased a bear into a cave”

Mr. Burkhart was originally a model maker for Disney.  Later on, he worked as a field art producer and show designer.  In 1974 he was named the Superintendent of Decoration at Disneyland and then in 1984, he was assigned to the Tokyo Disneyland Project.

Gordon Williams

Gordon Williams “RIP Good friend Gordon- Now you’ve crossed the river Jordan”

Gordon Williams was an audio-animatronic and sound expert.  He did most of the sound effects you hear in the Haunted Mansion ride.

Claude Coats

Claude Coats “At peaceful rest lies brother Claude- planted here beneath this sod”

Mr. Coats was a background artist for Disney Animation.  Then he was a show designer and helped design the Haunted Mansion‘s interior.

Chuck Myall

Chuck Myall “In Memorium Uncle Myall – here you’ll lie for quite a while”

Myall was one of the planners for Disney World and a project designer for WED.

Marc Davis

Marc Davis “In memory of our patriarch – dearly departed Grandpa Marc”

Mr. Davis was one of Disney’s Nine Old Men.  He was the concept artist for many of the scenes in Pirates of the Caribbean and the Haunted Mansion.

Bob Sewell

Bob Sewell “RIP Mister Sewell – the victim of a dirty duel”

Bob became part of WED in 1955 and was the head of the Model Shop at WED.

Yale Gracey

Yale Gracey “Master Gracey laid to rest – no mourning please at his request”

Yale Gracey was the driving force behind almost all the Haunted Mansion‘s special effects.

26. Servants Quarters No Entry

There are several “hidden” callbacks to various Imagineers hidden in the attraction. One example is the Walt Disney World version.

There is a door that is labelled “Servants Quarters No Entry” in the attraction.  Through that door cast members can exit into the queuing area for the ride. Hidden in that hallway is a set of bells. Each bell corresponds to a location inside the Haunted Mansion.

The bell locations are:

  • Ambassador Xavier’s Lounging Lodge
  • Madame Leota’s Boudoir
  • Grandfather McKim’s Resting Room
  • Uncle Davis’ Sleeping Salon
  • Master Gracey’s Bedchamber
  • Colonel Coats Breakfast Berth
  • Professor Wathel’s Reposing Lounge

27. Leota’s Past

Although the majority of Leota’s origins remain a mystery, what is known about her past varies from park to park.

Disneyland: In Disneyland, Madame Leota’s Vardo can be found outside of the mansion with the cart advertising Leota for having been a medium, psychic, palm-reader, potion brewer, clairvoyant, and an oracle. This added to the setting of New Orleans Square tells us that Disneyland’s Leota was a (likely Romani) street magician during the 19th century.

Walt Disney World: Disney World’s Leota’s backstory is greatly expanded by the shop Memento Mori. The gift shop details how Leota was originally a witch living in the town of Salem, Massachusetts during the 1690s until she inadvertently caused the notorious Salem Witch Trials and was forced to flee the state, relocating to a village in Hudson River Valley, New York. In this village, Leota opened a store called “Memento Mori Curios and Curiosities” which sold supernatural relics, and potions, and offered “spirit photography”. Through unknown events, Leota became such close friends with the wealthy Gracey Family which lived in the village’s large mansion, that upon Leota’s death she was buried in the Gracey Family Plot.

Phantom Manor: Leota’s backstory in Phantom Manor is currently unknown but what is known from a poster hung up during 2018 renovations is that Leota was a medium and fortune-teller who likely operated in the town of Thunder Mesa during the mid-19th century.

28. Meet The Hitchhiking Ghosts

The names of the three hitchhiking ghosts guests encounter at the end of the ride are Gus, Ezra, and Phineas. Gus is the short one with the ball and chain, Ezra is the tall, skeletal one with the bowler hat, and Phineas is the one carrying the carpet bag.

29. 999

From the very start of The Haunted Mansion, Disneyland press materials touted that 999 ghosts resided in the mansion. Although the number of actual ghostly figures has never been officially tallied, we have it on good authority there is always room for one more.

30. Inspiration

Three films played as inspiration for the Imagineers as they worked on the attraction.

  • Jean Cocteau’s 1946 version of Beauty and the Beast
  • The Haunting, Robert Wise’s 1963 adaptation of Shirley Jackson’s novel The Haunting of Hill House
  • 1927 version of The Cat and the Canary.