One of the most beloved attractions in all of Walt Disney World is the Haunted Mansion in the Magic Kingdom’s Liberty Square. Taking guests into the home of Master Gracey, the attraction puts them face to face with nine hundred and ninety nine happy haunts who frolic in every room. Filled to the brim with eerie details, creepy ghosts, and sight gags, the Haunted Mansion is the perfect balance of spooky and silly making it a favorite of many. Part of what makes the attraction so amazing is the incredible attention to detail. Each detail helps to add depth to the story of the attraction and helps to give it a history. In addition to many details, there are plenty of hidden secrets throughout the Haunted Mansion which guests love stumbling upon and enjoying on each visit. Here are seven hidden secrets in the Haunted Mansion in Walt Disney World.
7. Master Gracey
When guests wind their way through the queue for the attraction, they pass through an interactive graveyard where the tombstone of Master Gracey is permanently displayed. After entering into the house, guests witness a portrait of the man age from young adult to skeleton. Master Gracey was named after Imagineer Yale Gracey who was handpicked by Walt Disney to create many of the effects for the Haunted Mansion. Gracey was influential in creating scenes and effects including the beloved ballroom where the ghosts are out for a swinging wake. As a tribute to his hard work and dedication for the attraction, the master of the Haunted Mansion was named after Gracey.
6. Two Leotas
One of the most iconic characters from the Haunted Mansion is Madame Leota. Guests first catch a glimpse of the psychic while approaching the house’s front doors. Leota’s tombstone can be found gazing serenely out at guests and occasionally opening her eyes to peer into this world from regions beyond. Once inside of the attraction, guests move through Leota’s séance room where her head can be found suspended in air and summoning the spirits to materialize.
When constructing the attraction, Imagineer Leota Toombs was asked by Disney to be used as the face of the Madame who was then named after her in turn. Disney found Leota’s face to be perfect, but thought that her voice was too sweet for the sinister character. Instead voice talent Eleanor Audley was brought in since she already voiced famous Disney villains like Lady Tremaine from Cinderella and Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty. Leota Toombs’ actual voice can be heard at the very end of the attraction as Little Leota who beckons guests to “hurry back, hurry back.”
5. A Lost Narrator
The Haunted Mansion took many years to progress from concept to actual attraction. Along the way, there were many different ideas about how what effects should be used, what type of experience it should be, and who the narrator should be. An early concept called for a raven character to be the narrator who followed guests throughout their tour of the mansion. While the raven was eventually replaced by the disembodied Ghost Host, the bird can still be seen throughout the attraction peering at guests with a glowing red eye. Guests should look for the raven in several scenes of the Haunted Mansion including Leota’s séance and the conservatory.
4. A Familiar Voice
In the graveyard scene of the attraction, guests get to see plenty of the happy haunts having a great time belting out the classic song “Grim Grinning Ghosts.” The main voices that guests hear belong to a set of five marble busts who have come to life and are singing along. One of the voices might seem particularly familiar to guests as it belongs to veteran voice actor Thurl Ravenscroft. In addition to singing in the Haunted Mansion, Ravenscroft can be heard as the voice of several pirates on Pirates of the Caribbean, as Buff at the Country Bear Jamboree, and as Fritz in Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room. In addition to being featured in so many attractions in the Magic Kingdom, Ravenscroft also has a small tribute in the interactive graveyard on the Haunted Mansion’s queue. One of the interactive elements is a ghostly organ which guests can play simply by pacing their hands on the keys. Above the keys is the name Ravenscroft, paying homage to a great vocal talent!
3. A Creepy Corridor
One of the Imagineers who contributed greatly to the Haunted Mansion was Marc Davis. Known for his comical sketches, Davis could convey plenty of laughs and visual gags in intricately designed scenes, examples of which can be seen on Pirates of the Caribbean. While coming up with concepts for various scenes in the Haunted Mansion, Davis was inspired by the classic movie The Haunting which features an ominous corridor of doors. Davis used the inspiration from the film to conceptualize the corridor of doors seen today in the Haunted Mansion where ghosts are knocking and attempting to escape from each doorway.
2. A Dinner Hidden Mickey
The ballroom scene of the Haunted Mansion is full of amazing detail including the waltzing duos, dueling ghosts high above, and a birthday celebration. Seated at the end of a large dining table is a ghost ready to blow out the candles on their eerie birthday cake. Guests who gaze down at the dining table can spot a trio of plates that have been arranged to form a classic Hidden Mickey.
1. A Tombstone Tribute
Many of the tombstones found along the queue and exit ramp of the Haunted Mansion pay tribute to the individuals who worked to make the attraction a reality. One tombstone in the graveyard reads: “At peaceful rest lies Brother Claude, planted here beneath this sod.” The tombstone is paying tribute to Claude Coats, an Imagineer who was skilled at creating the mood of a scene by determining the tones and setting. Coats designed the eerie feeling found in many scenes during the first half of the attraction and it is fitting that his spirit lives on via his tombstone at the Haunted Mansion today!