Disneyland Resort Celebrates 50 Frightful Years of the Haunted Mansion
On Aug. 9, 2019, Disneyland Park celebrates the 50th Anniversary of the beloved Haunted Mansion attraction. The mansion overlooking the Rivers of America is home to the most “spirited” attraction in New Orleans Square. A steady stream of “Doom Buggies” carries guests on a tour of the Haunted Mansion, which is inhabited by a lively collection of 999 happy haunts and filled with stunning special effects, haunting show sets and ethereal music.
(Joshua Sudock/Disneyland Resort)
What’s New: The Disney Gallery at Disneyland Park features a new exhibit entitled “Happy Haunts Materialize – The Art of Haunted Mansion.” The exhibit showcases the evolution of an idea. It is the first to display early sketches and sculptures of the Haunted Mansion concept, and it describes how they evolved into the attraction that guests experience today.
Limited Time: In August, guests may choose to attend one of the special events, “The Haunted Mansion: Celebrating 50 Years of Retirement Unliving.” These after-hours events at Disneyland are filled with chills, thrills and frightful fun. Guests will unearth commemorative anniversary merchandise items, delight in spirited sips and bites, enjoy special entertainment, character encounters, photo ops, and access to several west-side park attractions.
To celebrate the 50th anniversary of this classic attraction, here are 50 frightful facts about the Disneyland Resort Haunted Mansion.
- The idea for a haunted house at Disneyland was included in an early concept design sketch by Harper Goff dating back to 1952, when Disneyland was being conceptualized.
- The designers of the attraction originally wanted to make the outside of the mansion look scary. Walt Disney, however, wanted to keep the outside looking like a stately mansion, while letting the ghosts take care of the inside.
- The exterior of the attraction was built in 1962-63. It was unoccupied until 1969 while Walt Disney participated in the 1964-65 New York World’s Fair and his Imagineers were re-tasked to work on those timely projects. The World’s Fair experience made way for some of the technology that’s used in the Haunted Mansion.
- On August 9, 1969, after more than 15 years of development, the Haunted Mansion opened to the public.
- Within a week of the Haunted Mansion’s opening, Disneyland celebrated what was then its highest single-day attendance.
- The Haunted Mansion at Disneyland was the first major Disney attraction created without the direct supervision by Walt Disney. Although Walt reviewed many of the early vignettes, he never saw the completed show concepts.
- In 1966, New Orleans Square, where the Haunted Mansion is located, became the first new land added to Disneyland since the park opened on July 17, 1955.
- Originally, the Haunted Mansion was going to be a walk-through attraction where guests were led in small groups by a cast member who would describe scenes that lasted two to three minutes each.
- In 2016, Marvel Comics debuted the “Haunted Mansion” comic book series.
By The Numbers
- 999 ghosts haunt the attraction with “room for one more.”
- 13 candles sit on top of the birthday cake in the Grand Hall in the Haunted Mansion.
- 3 hitchhiking ghosts are looking for a ride out of the Haunted Mansion: Ezra Beane, Professor Phineas Plump and Gus.
- 20 tombstone tributes exist both inside and around the exterior of the attraction. The epitaphs on the tombstones are written in honor of Disney Legends and Walt Disney Imagineers who created and maintain the attraction.
- 7 tombstones are featured in the pet cemetery outside of the attraction.
- 1 unique exhibit at Disneyland Park, “Happy Haunts Materialize – The Art of Haunted Mansion,” provides an inside look into the story of the Haunted Mansion for a limited time at the Disney Gallery.
- 3 of the trees located at the Haunted Mansion are: Southern Magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora), Weeping Mulberry Tree (Morus alba “Chapparal”) and Tolleson’s Blue Weeping Juniper (Juniperus scopulorum).
- Since 2001, the Haunted Mansion has been transformed each fall into Haunted Mansion Holiday, a tradition celebrated by guests year after year.
- More than 400 flickering candles create a ghostly glow on the façade of the attraction during Haunted Mansion Holiday.
- Nearly 7,500 square feet of snow cover the graveyard inside Haunted Mansion Holiday.
- More than 200 bones are gathered by Jack Skellington’s ghost dog Zero in Haunted Mansion Holiday to use as décor, garland and presents for the seasonal overlay.
Ghosts and Characters of the Mansion
- The Hatbox Ghost was featured in Haunted Mansion when the attraction first opened. Then, he mysteriously vanished, only to reappear in 2015 in time for the 60th anniversary of Disneyland.
- Constance is the far-from-blushing bride who is bedecked in pearls and heavily armed. Constance can be found in the attic as well as featured in the portrait chamber atop her husband’s tombstone.
- Madame Leota floats in the dead center of the room, calling out for “serpents and spiders, tail of a rat,” during her séance to bring about the happy haunts.
- Sarah “Sally” Slater, a delicate young girl, can be found inside the portrait chamber balanced on a tightrope, as if from a circus.
- Alexander Nitrokoff is a distinguished looking man but, as his portrait stretches in the Portrait Chamber, he is shown to be wearing nothing but striped under shorts and socks from the waist down. He is standing on a barrel of dynamite, and a candle lights the fuse.
- Victor Geist, the quirky German-born organist, plays the Haunted Mansion’s signature tune in the ballroom to everyone’s ghostly delight.
- Pickwick, the spirit from the era of Dickens, is found swinging from the chandelier in the Haunted Mansion’s ballroom.
- The Phantom Five, the singing bust quintet, is made up of Rolo Rumkin, Uncle Theodore, Cousin Algernon, Ned Nub, and Phineas Pock.
- The Ghost Host, one of the 999 happy haunts who call the Haunted Mansion home, welcomes the “foolish mortals” into the attraction.
- Each year, Jack Skellington gives the Haunted Mansion a holiday makeover, complete with jack-o-lanterns and wreaths, a real gingerbread house and kooky characters from “Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas.”
- Jack Skellington’s ghost dog Zero makes a surprise appearance among the spooky, transforming portraits in the gallery corridor when the attraction transforms into Haunted Mansion Holiday.
Behind The Scenes
- The Haunted Mansion is the only attraction that is featured in four different lands in four different parks. This includes the Phantom Manor attraction at Disneyland Paris.
- The pipe organ seen in the ballroom sequence was featured as Captain Nemo’s pipe organ in the Disney film classic, “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea”.
- During Haunted Mansion Holiday, the haunting scent of tasty gingerbread wafts throughout the Grand Hall, tempting Happy Haunts and guests alike. Every year, a new ghoulish concept for a gingerbread house is created for the celebration scene in the Mansion’s Grand Hall.
- The pet cemetery that features humorous epitaphs was added in front of the Haunted Mansion in the mid-1990s.
- In spring 2005, the séance scene was updated to include the crystal ball floating overhead.
- In 2005, the Walt Disney Imagineers were able to sync the changes in the portraits along the portrait hall to the lightning strikes.
- In spring 2006, Imagineers enhanced the attic scene, replacing the translucent, static bride with a ghostly dimensional bride.
- Portraits of Constance feature each of her former husbands in the attic, and the heads of the grooms magically disappear. As the ghostly bride recites her vows and marriage phrases, an axe appears in her hands, then disappears again.
- Several Disney Legends contributed to the attraction including Marc Davis, Claude Coats, Rolly Crump, Yale Gracey, X Atencio and Leota Toombs.
- The title of the spell that appears in the book in Séance Circle is taken from the Disney film, “Blackbeard’s Ghost”. The large book of incantations is entitled Necronomicon—Book of the Dead and is opened to pages 1312 and 1313.
- The final exterior concept for the house is heavily influenced by the Victorian-era Shipley-Lydecker House in Baltimore, Maryland.
Voices and Faces of the Haunted Mansion
- Paul Frees is the voice of the Ghost Host and is known for also being the voice of Professor Ludwig Von Drake.
- Eleanor Audley is the voice of Madame Leota. She was also the voice of Lady Tremaine in Cinderella (1950) and Maleficent in Sleeping Beauty (1959).
- Leota Toombs, a former Walt Disney Imagineer and Disney Legend, is the original face of Madame Leota.
- The holiday version of Madame Leota uses the face of Kim Irvine, an Imagineer and daughter of Leota Toombs, the original Madame Leota.
- The lyrics of the Haunted Mansion theme song “Grim Grinning Ghosts (The Screaming Song)” were written by Disney Legend X Atencio.
- Disney Legend Buddy Baker created the music for the Haunted Mansion theme song.
- Thurl Ravenscroft is the voice of “Uncle Theodore” who leads the Phantom Five quintet of headstones. His voice can also be heard at Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room as the voice of Tangoroa.
- The Mellomen is the real-life singing group who voices the Phantom Five singing busts.