When leaves fall off the trees and birds begin to scatter…
Then the air gets cool and shutters start to clatter…
Halloween fast approaches with a ghoulish delight…
And 999 happy haunts yearn to give you a fright.
So sit back….look alive….and read my 10 facts…
About Disney’s Haunted Mansion…
There’s no turning back!
10. Legend says that Walt Disney visited the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, California to get ideas and concepts for The Haunted Mansion. The house was owned by Sarah Winchester, the eccentric widow of William Wirt Winchester, who made his fortune from the rifle manufacturing company bearing his family name. The construction of the Winchester mansion took place 24/7 for almost 38 years and resulted in stairs to nowhere, doors that lead to nothing and seemingly never-ending twists and turns. Sarah was told by a medium that her family was cursed and if construction ever halted on the home, she would be taken from this world. What an eerie place for some inspiration!
9. The Haunted Mansion’s doors creaked open in Disneyland on August 9, 1969, in Walt Disney World on October 1, 1971 and Tokyo Disneyland on April 15, 1983. Disneyland Paris and Hong Kong Disneyland have Haunted Mansion-inspired rides that follow very different story lines.
8. Do you want to get to the Doom Buggies faster? At the Walt Disney World attraction, stand under the portrait of the girl with the parasol in the stretching room. The door that leads to the ride is always located under this portrait.
7. The Ghost Host that leads us on The Haunted Mansion tour was played by voice actor, Paul Frees. Frees had a long career with Disney and is remembered for his narration on television and in movies; most notably for his portrayal of Professor Ludwig Von Drake. You may have also heard him during your adventures with the Pirates of the Caribbean. Frees was the voice of the role of the Auctioneer and warns us all that, “Dead men tell no tales.”
6. When Disney Imagineers where searching for the face of the crystal ball, they did not have to look very far. One of their own, Leota Toombs was the perfect choice; not only in name, but her look was exactly what they needed to complete the seance room. It took two actresses to fill the role. Toombs was the face on the ride, while Eleanor Audley was the voice calling out to the spirits. Audley was already Disney royalty; having played Maleficent in Disney’s, “Sleeping Beauty.”
5. Take a close look at the dining table during the ballroom scene. You may notice an image of our favorite mouse amongst the dishes and bowls. There are several more Hidden Mickeys throughout the ride, so keep an eye out for some special appearances.
4. The attic-dwelling bride whose five husbands meet their untimely doom is aptly named Constance Hatchaway. Take a close look at Ms. Hatchaway’s neck in each of her wedding portraits to see what “pearls” her efforts may have afforded her. One additional necklace is added for each new victim…er, I mean husband.
3. Throughout the ride we see a raven that was based off of Edgar Allan Poe’s famous character. During the initial planning stages of the ride, it was rumored that the raven was going to play a major part with a featured speaking role as one of our guides. This plan, however was brushed aside in favor of offering the role to the eloquent Ghost Host.
2. As you ride past the singing busts in the graveyard scene, listen very closely for a familiar voice. Thurl Ravenscroft, the actor who brought us the famous Tony the Tiger and who sang the iconic song, “You’re a Mean One Mr. Grinch,” sings along in harmony with the graveyard quintet.
1. Speaking of the singing busts… Did you know they have names?
Rollo Rumkin, Uncle Theodore, Cousin Algernon, Ned Nub and Phineas P. Pock croon, “Grim Grinning Ghosts,” as guests take in the sights and sounds of the mansion’s graveyard scene.
Bonus Fact: After Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride closed at the Magic Kingdom in 1998, cast members wanted to remember the reckless amphibious driver. He can now be found resting in peace in the pet cemetery as you exit the mansion. Give him a big ol’ Toad Hall style wave the next time you walk past!
Do you have any fun facts or experiences about the Haunted Mansion that you would like to share? Do the Fall months get you in the mood to “hurry back” to the mansion?