How They Haunt – Behind the scenes of Disney’s Haunted Mansion

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“Welcome, Foolish Mortals” are the words that you hear when you board one of Disney’s most popular rides, The Haunted Mansion.

The original ride opened in 1969 in Disneyland’s Magic Kingdom, and in 1971 at Walt Disney World. While the idea behind the ride was thought up by Walt himself, he was not alive to see the finished product. The Imagineers had to finish the ride’s design and construction on their own after Walt’s passing in 1966. The ride represents their ability to come together after such a tragedy and to produce something truly amazing on their own.

There are so many things going on in the attraction, from the gravestones with funny inscriptions outside, to the spooky ghouls and spirits inside, it is truly amazing, and I know I see something new every time I visit The Haunted Mansion!

Here are some of the ways Disney scares us with this attraction:

The Endless Hallway: This one is actually pretty simple, as you look down the hallway that appears to go on forever, there is actually a mirror at the end of it, which fools you into thinking you can see twice as far as you actually can, and since it’s dark, the mirror portion of the hallway just seems to continue on into darkness

The Crystal Ball: Madame Leota’s head is created through digital projection – the face is projected onto a head sculpture within the crystal ball. Fun fact – the other floating objects in this area are suspended by fishing wire

The Ballroom: A common thought is that the ghosts in the ballroom are holograms. This is actually not the case – how it really works is a row of columns in front of the mezzanine are supporting gigantic panes of glass, which are nearly invisible to the guests. The “ghosts” are merely the reflections in the glass of audio-animatronic figures, located in rooms above and below the mezzanine, where the walls are painted entirely black.

The Hitchhiking Ghosts: Ever wonder how they get the ghosts at the end of the ride to actually appear to be sitting next to you in your Doom Buggy? Well, its actually quite simple – the mirrors in which you are seeing the ghosts are actually two way mirrors, and the ghosts are audio-animatronics in a room behind the mirrors. They move along in sync with the Doom Buggies, and weak lights shining on them allow them to be seen through the mirrors.

A few random Haunted Mansion facts:

  • When Cast Members are hired for The Haunted Mansion, they are given a book as a part of their training that explains the “official” backstory of the ride, as well as various safety rules/regulations, and detailed maps of the ride itself.
  • Walt’s original vision was to have the attraction as something guests would walk through, but the Imagineers ultimately decided a sit down ride with the “doom buggies” made more sense

Remember….there are 999 Happy Haunts currently residing in the Haunted Mansion…who knows, maybe you could be their lucky 1000th resident!


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Catie Hiltz is an avid Walt Disney World lover who has been vacationing there since she was tall enough to ride Space Mountain. She believes there is something for everyone at WDW-and especially writing about the benefits of vacationing there as an adult
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