Today marks the 47th anniversary of Disneyland’s classic attraction The Haunted Mansion! The concept of this attraction dates back to 1951 but officially opened to the public on August 9th, 1969.. 14 years after Disneyland’s opening day.
The look of the outside of the house came from inspiration of the Evergreen House in Baltimore, MD. and the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, CA. Also, if you see the white hearse in the front of the mansion that was purchased in the 90’s to be used for an Indiana Jones stunt show. Unfortunately, that show never happened. If you also notice, there is a black collar in the front that makes it look like there is an invisible horse. This idea was suggested by Disney legend, Tony Baxter. They used this idea at other Disney parks.
Once you make your way into the mansion, you’re introduced by the Ghost Host. This unique room not only transports you underground, acting as an elevator but it creates the illusion that the room is stretching. There were many ways thought of on how this attraction would be hosted such as Walt Disney, Captain Gore’s butler or a Raven. You are likely to hear a raven around the mansion if you listen carefully. There are 4 ravens you will see. There is one over the coffin just as you enter the mansion, one above Madam Leota’s chair, one as you fall out of the attic to the graveyard and one over the doorway before seeing the hitchhiking ghosts.
The Haunted Mansion is so huge! You don’t really think about it when you’re actually on the ride. The attraction is inside of a giant studio that was built on the other side of the train tracks. It’s a green studio, and you’ll be able to spot it when on the monorail, tram or from the Mickey and Friends parking structure.
Madame Leota is one of my favorite characters in the Haunted Mansion. The way they show her during the ride is quite cool! You will see her head floating around in a crystal ball. Though she is not a hologram but a physical head in a glass ball, her face is projected onto the face creating the illusion that it is a talking head floating. Madame Leota’s head didn’t start floating until 2006. Fun fact: The speaking voice of Madame Leota is voiced from Eleanor Audley, who also voices Lady Tremaine from Cinderella and Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty. The original face of Madame Leota is Leota Toombs’ face, who was an Imagineer.
In the 1970’s, a man who was on the ride brought a gun and shot one of the panes of glass that lets you see the ghosts’ reflection during the ballroom scene of the ride. Disney had an artist paint a spider web over where the bullet hit it. Try looking directly in front of you instead of down below at the ballroom to see if you can spot it.
Another cool fact is that the organ in the ballroom scene of the Haunted Mansion is the same one that Captain Nemo played in 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. The organ just gives the Haunted Mansion that classic touch and sound.
The singing busts names are Ned Nub, Uncle Theodore, Rollo Rumpkin, Phineas Pock and Cousin Al. Here’s a photo of them below:
I’m sure you’ve also seen these guys below! The short one is named Gus, the tallest one is Ezra, and the one with the hat is Phineas.
As you’re about to leave the Haunted Mansion, you’re greeted by a small doll like bride. Her name is Little Leota but is not the same character as Madame Leota. Her voice is voiced by Leota Toombs.
I hope you enjoyed this post on a little bit of the history of The Haunted Mansion, I’m sure I’ll be doing more on this attraction once the Halloween season starts 😉
Credit to all the photos used.