2023 is an exciting year for Disney’s Haunted Mansion, between the new film release inspired by the iconic theme park attraction coming this summer and a new update for the ride in the Magic Kingdom.
The Haunted Mansion was in the works in some form within Walt Disney Imagineering (then WED Enterprises) since the 1950s despite the ride opening in Disneyland Park later on in 1969. Originally dreamed up as a walkthrough attraction that may have even featured a “Museum of the Weird,” per the late Disney Legend and Imagineer, Rolly Crump, and Yale Gracey, the Haunted Mansion as we know it today is the product of several creative minds coming together with some of the best storytelling techniques of any theme park ride to date.
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Despite its notoriety as the best of the best, not only in Disney Parks but in the themed entertainment industry as a whole, Walt Disney World’s version of the Haunted Mansion has one noticeable effect missing from its attraction. This year, however, this highly anticipated effect will make its Magic Kingdom debut.
The Haunted Mansion is home to 999 “happy haunts,” including the hitchhiking ghosts, Phineas, Ezra, and Gus, and Constance Hatchaway, the bride seen in the attic, and Madam Leota, just to name a few. At Disneyland Park, the Haunted Mansion also features the infamous Hatbox Ghost as Guests exit the attic scene.
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The Hatbox Ghost was first spotted in Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion on its opening day in 1969, but the technology at the time had not yet caught up to the effect that Imagineers, namely Marc Davis, who created the original sketches for the character, had hoped would work on the ride.
In 2015, the Hatbox Ghost made his first appearance in New Orleans Square at the Haunted Mansion in Disneyland, and for the past eight years, this one of the 999 happy haunts has been a staple for the Anaheim theme park alone. At last year’s D23 Expo, Disney confirmed that the Hatbox Ghost would finally be heading east and that the effect would debut at the Haunted Mansion in Walt Disney World sometime this year.
While we have not yet learned of a more specific timeframe, the official Disney Parks social media team did recently take to TikTok to share a look at the effect and once again remind fans that the ghost would be heading to the Magic Kingdom in 2023:
The legendary Hatbox Ghost will be materializing this year at Walt Disney World 👻✨ #Disney #DisneyParks #HalfwaytoHalloween #Halloween #HauntedMansion #HatboxGhost
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The Hatbox Ghost effect takes the head of the ghost and makes it appear inside the hatbox he is holding as Guests’ doom buggies pass through the show scene. The effect was very well received by fans at Disneyland when it first appeared in the mansion in 2015, so Guests whose go-to Disney Park is the Magic Kingdom are thrilled to see the new character arrive in the attraction later this year.
This ghost, portrayed by Jared Leto, along with several other familiar faces from the theme park attraction, will be featured in the upcoming Haunted Mansion movie set to hit theaters this summer.