Welcome, Foolish Mortals...to the second part of The History of the Haunted Mansion. So glad you could join us...

The...end...is so close. Be sure to hang on, and remember...

There's no turning back now...

If you didn't catch part one of our story, you can scare it up here: The History of the Haunted Mansion Park One.

After finally deciding how they wanted the Mansion to play out, Imagineers worked endlessly to make the attraction come to life.

This was the task facing MAPO, the manufacturing division of WED (the original name of the Imagineering department): they had to bring three-dimensional life to two-dimensional drawings. MAPO stands for 'Manufacturing And Production Operations,' which basically meant they were in charge of creating the inner workings of attraction audio-animatronics.

It was also a play on words, referring to Mary Poppins, the first film that made use of an audio-animatronic (a robin!).

MAPO had spent a lot of time developing and honing their techniques for the attractions at the World's Fair. They used their knowledge to create truly state-of-the-art achievements for the Mansion. When combined with the old school theatre tricks, it created a truly marvelous show.

While MAPO was busy working on bringing the ghosts to life (which, I assure you, was no easy task!), Francis Xavier Atencio was thinking how to tie everything together.

X, as he was known to his friends, had a knack for storytelling, which Walt recognized when he first brought him over to work on the script for Pirates Of The Caribbean. Much like the Imagineers, however, Atencio never had the chance to get much input from his employer before Walt died.

Atencio was leaning toward the 'fright' side of the attraction, but he realized that most of Disneyland's guests were children. So, Atencio crafted a comical script, but with some scarier undertones to satisfy his darker side.

Originally, a black cat would guide guests through the Mansion, popping up at various times during the ride. The Imagineers soon dispensed with the black cat and replaced it with a raven, which does actually show up in the Mansion during a few of the scenes, such as in the conservatory, with the skeleton attempting to claw its way out of the coffin, perched on Madame Leota's chair, and at the end of the ride right before the hitchhiking ghosts.

Despite the raven's presence, it was not used as a guide, because the Imagineers preferred the idea of an unseen host, and from that arose the character of the Ghost Host whose voice 'follows' guests through the Mansion but who himself is never seen.

Remembering how popular 'Yo Ho (A Pirate's Life For Me)' was for the Pirates of the Caribbean ride, Atencio knew he had to create a memorable song for the Mansion. He worked on lyrics while Buddy Baker crafted the tune. The result: Grim Grinning Ghosts.

The song itself follows guests throughout the entire ride (much like some of the ghosts!) to help unify the attraction. Hoping to avoid the repetitiveness of the it's a small world song, Baker changed the style and feel of Grim Grinning Ghosts throughout the Mansion, creating a fresh and unique take every time we hear it.

Since the facade had been up for years, by the time the Haunted Mansion was about to open in late 1969, public interest was at an all-time high. The Mansion had been appearing in guidebooks since 1966, and a wide variety of souvenirs were being sold to promote its imminent debut. One such collectible was a record entitled 'The Story and Song from The Haunted Mansion', which featured the voice of Ron Howard as a teenager spending the night inside the Mansion.

Rumors of the Mansion's long delay began to circulate. A popular urban legend at the time was that the ride's terrifying interior had to be entirely reworked, because someone had been literally scared to death while testing it out! Though none of these rumors were true, they did help generate interest.

The Disneyland attraction finally opened to much fanfare on August 12th, 1969. The many years spent designing and developing the ride paid off, as it was a resounding success for Disney, and attendance hit an all-time high shortly afterward. The same can be said for the Walt Disney World version of the Mansion, as its popularity gave rise to its own advertising campaign, separate from that of the park!

The Haunted Mansion has gone through a few changes over the years, but none that significantly change its story. However, we all know how Disney likes to 'plus' their attractions, creating new experiences for guests to enjoy.

In 2007, the Walt Disney World Mansion closed for a major refurbishment. Aside from general maintenance and upkeep for the attraction, several new effects were added to liven up the place (so to speak, that is). The gigantic spiders and their webs were replaced with an MC Esher-esque staircase, where ghostly footsteps could be seen going up, down, sideways, and upside down. The creepy wallpaper that looked as if it was staring at you can now be seen blinking its eyes as you pass. The attic had the most drastic changes done to it, fleshing out the ghostly Bride's back story to show what a black widow she truly is!

Just recently, the Disney World Mansion underwent further refurbishment, but this time mostly to the outside! Some of the queue was redone to make it more interactive. Much like the new queue for Winnie The Pooh, this new portion of the graveyard contains interactive crypts including musical instruments that play when you touch them and a homage to the original sea captain story.

Master Gracey's headstone, which was once out of reach to guests, now resides in the queue, making a great photo opportunity.

The infamous ending of the ride, where everyone's favorite hitchhiking ghost trio is projected into the Doom Buggies, has also been updated to make it more interactive.

The holy grail for most Mansion fans is The Hatbox Ghost, a long-lost citizen of the Disneyland attraction. This effect, located in the attic, had The Hatbox Ghost's head disappear from his shoulders and reappear in the hatbox he held in his hands. But the illusion did not work as well as the Imagineers wanted, and it was quietly removed shortly after opening day. Despite his brief appearance, the Hatbox Ghost has left a lasting impression on fans of the ride.

Due to the tireless efforts of the folks over at the Disney History Institute, something that every thought never existed recently "came back from the dead." While logging hundreds of hours of 8mm home movie footage from Disneyland's early period, they stumbled across a scene that looked vaguely familiar, and never forgotten.

That's right...they found video of The Hatbox Ghost in his original, natural habitat...BEFORE he was "spirited" away into parts unknown.

Rumor has it that we haven't seen the last of The Hatbox Ghost, though. With the new hitchhiking ghosts sequence added at the end of the ride, technology that wasn't available back then could help implement some of the original ideas that just weren't feasible when the attraction first opened, truly proving that the real chills have yet to come.

No matter its incarnation, the Mansion remains one of the most beloved Disney attractions of all time. It is truly a timeless attraction that will be enjoyed for many years to come.

And before you go, there's a little matter I forgot to mention... beware of hitchhiking ghosts!

Haunted Mansion Quick Facts, Part 2

Despite being home to 999 happy haunts, the Mansion also houses many hidden secrets, hidden tributes, and amazing effects! See if you can spot some of these the next time you wander through its endless hallways:
  • While waiting on line for the ride, be sure to check out the names on the tombstones all around you. Each of these whimsical epitaphs pays tribute to the Imagineers who brought the Haunted Mansion and its ghostly denizens to life. While there were originally 13, since the refurbishment, a few more have been added.
  • No, you are not seeing things - Madame Leota's grave IS looking at you! Watch carefully and you'll see her eyes open every so often to take a peek at visitors.
  • Despite the Ghost Host's warning to stay together, linger behind other guests when exiting the stretching room. You will begin to hear the gargoyle's eerie child-like laugher before it fades away.
  • Madame Leota's seance is one of the most memorable sequences of the Haunted Mansion. To keep her head and crystal ball in synch, a small projector displays Leota's image onto the glass from INSIDE the crystal ball.
  • Those ghostly effects in the ballroom are created with an early 19th century theatre trick called Pepper's Ghost, an optical illusion involving large glass panels and reflections. The 'ghosts' are actually located directly above and beneath your Doom Buggy as you travel past, and the lights shining on them make them appear and disappear before your eyes!
  • There is a slight problem with the dancing ghosts in the ballroom - the women are leading the men! This is because the Pepper's Ghost effect creates a reflection, or reverse image, of projected objects. The Imagineers built the ghosts with the men leading, but when the image is reflected, it looks like the women are leading.
  • During the ballroom sequence, look at the dinner table. Some of the plates are arranged to create a Hidden Mickey! This is not an 'official' Hidden Mickey, however, so Imagineers sometimes remove it. Don't worry, though - playful Cast Members (or ghosts?) always replace it!
All photos copyright Disney
Except for Banner Image, which is copyright Brandon Hardy

Tickets are now on sale for the


Come celebrate EPCOT's 30th Anniversary in style with a live taping of MiceChat's Communicore Weekly! Join co-hosts Jeff Heimbuch & George Taylor, along with MiceChat's Dusty Sage and the Communicore Weekly Orchestra, for a fun-filled night of fandom and frivolity as they tape a special hour long episode of the hit show, Communicore Weekly.

Join us on the evening of Saturday, September 29th 2912 in the Norway Pavilion Special Events Lounge in EPCOT's World Showcase for this one of a kind event!

Your ticket includes:
  • Admission into the live taping of CW in the Norway Pavilion of EPCOT (note: admission into the park is NOT included)!
  • Meet special guest, Ron Schneider, the original Dreamfinder!
  • Decadent dessert reception!
  • Short scavenger hunt event before the show will be available to those who would like to participate (prizes will be awarded)!
  • Prizes, giveaways and more!
  • The chance to be a part of EPCOT and Communicore Weekly history!
  • Endless Five Legged Goats and perhaps even a real life Bathroom Break!
  • Exclusive late night ride after park closing on a selected EPCOT attraction to cap off the evening!

For more tickets and more information, be sure to visit MiceChat.com/store!

by Jeff Heimbuch

If you have a tip, questions, comments, or gripes, please feel free email me at [email protected] or leave a comment below. I'd love to hear from you!

Jeff can help you plan your perfect Disney vacation with Fairy Godmother Travel! Call him at 732-278-7404 or email him at [email protected] for a free, no-obligation quote for Walt Disney World, Disneyland, Disney Cruise Line, Aulani or Adventures By Disney.

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Jeff co-hosts the weekly VidCast Communicore Weekly as well!

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