Secrets of Disney’s Haunted Mansions

Secrets of Disney's Haunted Mansions

Photo credit: EmilyGracey via Foter.com / CC BY

Early concept drawings of Disneyland featured an eerie house filled with happy haunts. While most haunted houses were filled with terrifying ghosts and ghouls, Walt Disney wanted his haunted house to present a more comedic experience for his guests. The ghosts would sing, dance, and play jokes on each other creating an attraction fitting for guests of all ages. In 1969, Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion opened to the delight of park guests. Just a couple years later, on Walt Disney World’s opening day in 1971, a second Haunted Mansion opened in Orlando, Florida. A haunted mansion style attraction has since been built in almost all Magic Kingdom style parks throughout the world. Let’s take a look at some of the secrets of this mysterious Disney attraction.

  • While Disney imagineer Leota Toombs is known for being the face of Madame Leota, the voice of Madame Leota is one you may recognize as well. Actress Eleanor Audley, who voiced Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty and Lady Tremaine from Cinderella, can be heard as the voice of Madame Leota.
  • Thurl Ravenscroft, known for the voice of Tony the Tiger and singing “You’re A Mean One, Mr. Grinch,” can be heard as one of the singing busts in the Haunted Mansion
  • The Ghost Host is voiced by Paul Frees. Other characters voiced by Frees include Boris from Rocky & Bullwinkle and Ludwig von Drake.
  • The pipe organ seen in the ballroom of Walt Disney World’s Haunted Mansion is the same organ used in Disney’s film, 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea.
  • Much of Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion is housed underground. In order to transport guests to the lower level, the Stretching Room was actually built as an elevator.
  • Walt Disney World’s version of the attraction is housed in a ground-level show building hidden from guest view, so there is no need for an elevator in the Stretching Room. At the Haunted Mansion in Orlando, the ceiling simply rises to create the illusion of the stretching room.
  • The tombstones seen at the Haunted Mansion are tributes to many of the imagineers who helped develop this classic attraction. Master Gracey gets his name from imagineer Yale Gracey who created many special effects for the attraction. Dear departed Grandpa Marc is none other than Marc Davis, known for his work on numerous Disney attractions including the Haunted Mansion, Pirates of The Caribbean, and so many more.
  • The story of Disneyland Paris’ Phantom Manor is designed to be scarier than the other Haunted Mansion attractions. Phantom Manor’s storyline was inspired by the never built Western River Expedition attraction and is centered around Henry Ravenswood, a settler who discovered gold in Big Thunder Mountain
  • Hong Kong Disneyland’s Mystic Manor is the first Haunted Mansion style Disney attraction to use a trackless ride system.
  • Mystic Manor features a score written by Danny Elfman, who also write the score for The Nightmare Before Christmas.

Knowing some of the stories behind the Haunted Mansion make the attraction even more fun and magical. Do you know any more Haunted Mansion trivia? Share it in the comments below!

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Kimberly's love of Disney began at an early age and grew even more when her family won a Walt Disney World vacation from a local radio station. She grew up visiting the parks every one to two years and is fascinated by Disney history and trivia. Whether at the parks or at home, Kimberly is constantly looking for hidden Mickeys. She enjoys sharing tips and helping others plan their Disney vacations. In addition to Frontierland Station, her writing can also be found at The Magical Blogorail, Sand 'n Sea Adventures, and Blogsprout.

Latest posts by Kimberly (see all)

  • Jojams

    Wow, I had no idea about these! Great ride with interesting history!

    • It’s one of my favorite attractions. Knowing the history definitely adds to the magic!

  • Oh how i love the haunted mansion. I love learning about disney history and facts. The detail and thought that Walt and the team put into everything just makes it that much more magical. Walt was truly a genius and a visionary. I wish I could have met him, or even better worked with him.

    • He truly was! If I could meet anyone from history, I would definitly pick Walt. I’m constantly amazed by everything he accomplished and how much thought and detail went into everything he did.

  • keklar

    Have always wanted to check Disney out, never gotten the chance. Awesome that Thurl Ravenscroft is represented!

    • You should definitely go there for vacation sometime! So much fun!

  • MediaManiac

    I love anything to do with haunted houses/themeparks/castles so Disney’s Haunted Mansions, while seeming tamer, still seems right up my alley! Thanks for writing about it 🙂

    • It’s one of my favorites too! Glad you enjoyed the post! Thanks for checking it out!

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