Welcome, foolish mortals, to the WDW Fan Zone. I am your host, your …ghost host. Kindly step in and make room for everyone. There’s no turning back now…
I am sure if you are a fan of Walt Disney World, you recognize this “welcome” from the park…The Haunted Mansion. It’s almost Halloween, what better time to look a little closer at this fan favorite! I thought I would share some wonderful facts about the Haunted Mansion you may not already know.
Did you know the Ghost Host is voiced by Paul Frees, who also happens to be the auctioneer voice on the Pirates of the Caribbean ride? Madame Leota tries to conjure up some spirits as you go through the Corridor of Doors. Her face is the likeness of Imagineer Leota Toombs, who also voices Madame Leota. As you are walking through the cemetery be sure to look for her tombstone, she may just open her eyes and look back at you!
Speaking of the cemetery, have you noticed the tombstones are actually nods to Disney Legends and the Imagineers behind the Haunted Mansion. “Here Rests Wathel R. Bender. He rode to glory on a fender. Peaceful Rest” is a nod to Disney Legend Wathel Rogers who was pioneer in the field of animatronics. There is a trio of tombstones together in the cemetery the first (“In Memory of Our Patriarch Dear Departed Grandpa Marc” is a tribute to Marc Davis who was the creative mind behind not only the Haunted Mansion, but also Pirates of the Caribbean and The Jungle Cruise. The second (“Requis cat Frances Xavier, No Time Off for Good Behavior”) is a tribute to Xavier (X.) Atencio, the Disney Legend who wrote “Grim, Grinning Ghosts” and “Yo Ho, Yo Ho, a Pirates Life for Me.” The third (“Here Lies a Man Named Martin. The lights went out on this old Spartan”) is actually to honor two Disney Imagineers, Bud Martin, who was in special effects when the Haunted Mansion was developed, and Bill Martin who was an art director and set designer. Find out more about the cemetery tributes here.
As for the back story of the Haunted Mansion, some say the Master of the Manor had already lost 6 wives and had just married the 7th. On their wedding night she was going to play a joke on him and hide in a trunk in the attic to scare him. Somehow she got locked in the trunk, suffocated and died. He had her body placed in a carriage to be taken to the cemetery, As he held his wife’s hand for the last time, something spooked the horse and it bolted. The carriage was found at the cemetery the next morning, but the horse, driver and her body, were nowhere to be found. Unable to take anymore heartache, he hanged himself.
The Mansion is full of wonderful nuances, you can find something new every time you visit. If you would like to learn more facts about the Haunted Mansion Gus, Ezra and Phineas, better known as the Hitchhiking Ghosts, say here is a good place to start. But for now, in my best Ghost Host voice…
“There are several prominent ghosts who have retired here from creepy old crypts from all over the world. Actually, we have 999 happy haunts here, but there’s room for a thousand. Any volunteers?”