The Haunted Mansion is a Disney haunted house attraction that was established in 1969 in Disneyland, and 1971 in Walt Disney World, with various other mansions appearing in the various Disney parks all over the world, including Tokyo, Japan, Paris, France, and Hong Kong, China, with the French version being known as Phantom Manor and the Chinese version being known as Mystic Manor. It had ghosts such as Madame Leota, Little Leota, the Hitchhiking Ghosts and of course, the Ghost Host.
The Haunted Mansion started conceptual development in the 1950's, when Walt Disney decided to have a haunted house near the Disneyland park that he and his first team of Imagineers (the combination of imagination and engineering) were currently in the process of forming. However, the original concept for the mansion was a rather spooky, run-down manor up on a hill. When Imaggineer Ken Anderson took up the idea and began forming a story around it in the late 50's or early 60's, plans for New Orleans Square were being created as a segway between Frontierland and Adventureland. However, Walt realized that having a dreary and run-down mansion would detract from the overall beauty of Disneyland after a visit to the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, California, which lead to him famously deciding that Imagineers would handle the outside of the attraction and the ghosts would take care of the inside.
In 1963, the construction of the mansion facade was complete, however the work on the inside of the mansion halted due to the New York World's Fair. After the fair ended, work started up again, and the mansion was previewed in conceptual form on an episode of Wonderful World of Color. However, the development team was split into two different camps, Imagineer Rolly Crump and his group wanted a more humorous, gag-filled attraction known as The Museum of the Weird, which was later considered to be a restaurant side to the Mansion until the idea was abandoned, but the group led by Claude Coats wanted a serious and spooky attraction. Eventually, the Coats camp won out and the key feeling of the attraction is one of humor, though some spooks and surprises can be found in the attraction.
Work on the mansion halted, however, after Walt Disney's death in 1966, but in the meantime, a sign was posted outside the gates of the mansion advertising for post-lifetime leases by the Ghost Relations Department of WED Enterprises, making the Haunted Mansion seem like a rest home for wandering ghosts. The Haunted Mansion was also considered to be a walkthrough attraction, allowing the guests to see all the spooks and surprises at their own pace, but that idea was dropped with the development of the Omnimover, a ride vehicle that could keep moving guests through the attraction, which was tested in the long abandoned Disneyland attraction "Adventures Through Inner Space" in Tomorrowland. Eventually, the developers on the Haunted Mansion decided to use the Omnimover system in the mansion, making the attraction of ride-through and making the Ghost Host character a possibility, as the Omnimover had on board speakers.
And so, after several previews and soft openings, The Haunted Mansion opened its doors on August 12, 1969 to an immediate success.
Different versions and updates
Two years after The Haunted Mansion opened in Disneyland, Walt Disney World opened with its own Haunted Mansion in Liberty Square, however it looked very different from the original. The Disney World version was not a beautiful 18th Century mansion from Louisiana, but a spooky, dreary Colonial mansion from the days of the American Colonies. It also received a refurbishment in 2007.
In 1983, a version opened along with the first international Disney park, Tokyo Disneyland. Aside from some updated lighting, it was an exact duplicate of the Disney World version, before the 2007 refurbishment.
On April 12, 1992, the French version of The Haunted Mansion, known as Phantom Manor, opened with Euro Disneyland, now known as Disneyland Paris.
In 1995, the Disneyland Haunted Mansion was updated. A phantom piano player sat at the piano in the attic scene, much like the music room in the Disney World version, but instead of a sinister Rachmaninoff-esque version of Grim Grinning Ghosts being played, a dark version of Richard Wagner's Bridal March is played.
In 2001, two changes occurred. The first being a more detailed and bilingual safety spiel being added to the Doom Buggies. And the second was the premier of the seasonal overlay for the Disneyland version of the attraction, known as Haunted Mansion Holiday, which arrived on October 3 and featured characters from the film The Nightmare Before Christmas. Eventually, Tokyo Disneyland received the overlay for their own Haunted Mansion on September 15, 2004.
In 2006, the bride in the attic scene was replaced by another, known as Constance Hatchaway, a black widow bride who, in life, married wealthy men and killed them for their riches. The character was added to the Disney World version the next year.
In 2007, not only was Constance Hatchaway added, but there was also a more elaborate transformation in the foyer's portrait, new sound, visual, and audio effects were added to the Stretching Room, and a new Endless Staircase scene was added just before the guests would see the endless hallway, replacing two rubber spiders that were there originally.
In March 2011, a new "interactive queue" was added to the Walt Disney World version with crypts and tombstones honoring Imagineers, a murder mystery for guests to solve featuring the sinister Dread Family, the Composer Crypt, which featured various instruments playing variations of Grim Grinning Ghosts when touched, the Mariner's brine-filled sepulcher, whose ghost sings and sneezes within, and a crypt for Prudence Pock the poetess, which features moving books and Prudence's ghost writing invisibly in her poem book, and guests could solve the unfinished poems by speaking into microphones on the crypt. The Fastpass+ line, however, skips over this all together and leads guests straight to the foyer doors.
In 2013, an attraction spiritually inspired by The Haunted Mansion, known as Mystic Manor, opened in Hong Kong Disneyland. However, unlike the other versions, no ghosts are present, being replaced by objects brought to life by a man named Lord Henry Mystic, due to differences in traditional Chinese culture.
On May 9, 2015, the iconic Hatbox ghost was added back to the Disneyland version of the attraction. The Hatbox ghost was originally part of the attraction when it first opened, but it was removed when it was deemed unconvincing as people could see the effect he created (that being his head appearing in the hatbox he was holding which was supposed to be timed to the beating of the attic bride's heart) too early.
On April 2, 2019, PhotoPass was added to the attraction in Walt Disney World, where guests get their photos taken just after the Ghost Host asks that no flash pictures be taken during the ride, and the photo is added to the guests' PhotoPass account.
- According to numerous reports, several guests have been escorted out of the park for spreading the ashes of their loved ones around the Haunted Mansion in Walt Disney World starting in October 2018.