10 Frighteningly Fun Facts About the Haunted Mansion

While some may accuse me of hyperbole, it is my completely unbiased opinion that the Haunted Mansion is the single greatest attraction ever built. In terms of human achievement, it ranks alongside the Dole Whip and, perhaps, the wheel for historical importance. Honestly, I’d write about it every week if I were allowed, but I’m not. I asked. However, during the Halloween season I have permission to gush about the world’s greatest dark ride. So, settle into your Doom Buggie and get ready for some frighteningly fun facts you may not know about the Haunted Mansion.




1. What’s In A Name?

Before entering the Haunted Mansion, you must wind your way through the queue, which takes you through a cemetery. Pay special attention to the names featured on the graves and monuments, because many of them are tied directly to the history of the attraction. The pipe organ at the end of a crypt bears the name Ravenscroft, a reference to Thurl Ravenscroft, who served as one of the Mansion’s singing busts (among other Disney contributions). Nearby, you’ll also find the plot of Master Gracey, master of the Mansion. The name is also an allusion to Imagineer Yale Gracey, who created several of the effects found within the attraction. In the graveyard you’ll also see reference to numerous other Imagineers. Detailing them all would be its own article, but among those represented are: Grandpa Marc (for Imagineer Marc Davis), Francis Xavier (for Xavier Atencio), Brother Claude (for Claude Coats), Good Old Fred (for Fred Joerger), Cousin Huet (for Cliff Huet), Harriet (for Harriet Burns) , and Madame Leota (for Leota Toombs).



The Dread Family

2. Can You Solve A Series of Grizzly Murders?

Outside of the Mansion, you’ll also encounter a series of busts representing the Dread Family. However, these are not simply decorations. A mystery surrounds the busts, as each member of the family (Jacob, Bertie, Florence, Wellington, Forsythia, and Maude) died under, let’s say “mysterious” circumstances. Pay special attention to the little details found on the sculptures, they provide clues to each murder. It’s up to you to figure out who did what.



Haunted Mansion Stretching Room

3. Is This Haunted Room Actually Stretching?

The short answer is, “Yes!” It’s not just your imagination. But does is it stretch up or down? Unlike its counterpart in Disneyland (which is an elevator that descends two stories very slowly), the stretching room in the Magic Kingdom stretches upward, elongating the portraits you see. The elevator in Disneyland was created as a matter of necessity, but was not required in Walt Disney World. As an added note, resist the urge to leave this room too quickly. If you linger a bit, you’ll hear the gargoyles in the room hissing, “Get out!”



Rolly Crump

4, Ghoulish Delights

When the Haunted Mansion was originally being developed, it seems that the janitors working after hours asked that the lights inside be left on during the evening. Otherwise, it was just too spooky. According to Imagineer Rolly Crump, this gave the Imagineers an idea. They set the room up with motion sensors. Once tripped, the lights would go off and all the spooky effects would activate. Crump said that the next morning they found a broom laying in the middle of the floor and no sign of the janitor.



Jungle Cruise Caretaker

5. Your Face Looks Familiar…

After your slow fall from the attic window, your Doom Buggie will approach the graveyard. Outside the graveyard, you’ll spot a rather frightened looking caretaker and his dog. At this point you may feel a prickle up the back of your neck, a curious sensation that tells you that you’ve seen his face before. Well, you’re right! He appears on he Jungle Cruise as well. His face is the same as that of the man just above the tip of the rhino horn. The poor guy can’t seem to catch a break.



Leota Toombs and Kim Irvine

6. All In The Family

Imagineer Leota Toombs (above left) provided the face for Madame Leota, as well as the face and voice for Little Leota at the end of the attraction. She is, without question, one of the most iconic and beloved portions of the Haunted Mansion. While she isn’t present in the Magic Kingdom, Toombs’s daughter (and Disney Imagineer) Kim Irvine (above right) is also featured in the Haunted Mansion. During the Haunted Mansion Holiday overlay, she serves as the “new” face of Leota. Irvine also made an appearance in the recently released Muppets Haunted Mansion, where she acted as a maid cleaning the crystal ball that housed Madame Pigota (the Missy Piggy version of Leota).



Museum of the Weird

7. Museum of the Weird

The original vision for the Haunted Mansion included a walk through portion known as the Museum of the Weird, with a variety of bizarre props created by Rolly Crump. A co-worker had informed Crump not to let Walt see the designs, because they were simply too strange. However, Walt caught sight of them. The next day, he approached Rolly to say he hadn’t been able to get them out of his head. Though the Museum was never built, a number of elements from it can be found within the Haunted Mansion, such as the anthropomorphic chair with a face on it. However, it is a bit different from Crump’s original vision, which would have seen the chair speaking with Guests. The seance chamber in the Mansion was influenced by Crump’s designs for the Museum, as are the musical instruments on the organist’s crypt in the queue area, and a number of other features.



The Haunted Mansion Raven

8. The Raven

Traveling through the haunted abode, you may notice a rather sinister looking raven who keeps appearing (near the skeleton trying to escape its coffin, by Madame Leota in the seance room. and just prior to encountering the hitchhiking ghosts). That’s because in early drafts, the raven was meant to serve as your guide through the mansion. He was later replaced by the Ghost Host, but he remains throughout the attraction to remind us that our souls from out the shadow that lies floating on the floor shall be lifted…nevermore, or at least until we exit our Doom Buggie.



Haunted Mansion Hidden Mickey

9. The Disappearing Hidden Mickey

Hidden Mickeys have become an obsession for many Guests who visit Walt Disney World. The quest to find the little images of Mickey hidden by Imagineers is a great way to further explore the parks, hotels, and more. However, not every Hidden Mickey is recognized as official. As you pass through the ballroom, you may notice that several of the plates on the table are arranged to resemble a classic Mickey Mouse head. Or…you may not. It seems that this Hidden Mickey wasn’t originally meant to be there. Whether or not you spotted it depended on whether or not the Cast Members had arranged it that way. Often times they would, but every once in a while a manager or the like would reset the plates to their “proper” position (meaning no Mickey). At least, that’s the logical explanation, but of course it could be that a ghost is rearranging the dishes when the lights are out. The general consensus today is that the Mickey has proven so popular that it was actually made official (similar to the Bride’s Ring found outside in the queue), but even that detail is shrouded in a bit of mystery.



X Atencio

10. Grim Grinning Ghosts

The song “Grim Grinning Ghosts” is one of the most memorable pieces of Disney Parks music. This is all the more remarkable given that it was co-written by a man who never aspired to music. In fact, he didn’t even know he had a talent for it. Xavier Atencio was an animator with Disney before Walt asked him to help out with WED (later Imagineering). In addition to writing the lyrics for “Grim Grinning Ghosts” (with music written by Buddy Baker) he also wrote the lyrics for “Yo Ho (A Pirate’s Life For Me)” (this time sharing writing credits with George Bruns). Reflecting on this years later, Atencio said, ““I didn’t even know I could write [song lyrics], but somehow Walt did. He tapped my hidden talents.”

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