Happy haunts, materialize. And begin to vocalize. Grim Grinning Ghosts, come out to socialize!
Now wouldn’t that be a totally ghoul school anthem? Fans of the iconic Disney Park attraction will know that tune as the theme of the Haunted Mansion ride at Disneyland’s New Orleans Square and in Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom Liberty Square.
Inspiring Halloween merchandise, parades, movies (starring Eddie Murphy and now Owen Wilson), and even The Muppets Haunted Mansion Disney+ show, the Disney attraction features a ride-through tour from a Ghost Host in Omnimover vehicles called a Doom Buggy. But did you know that Disneyland’s spooky attraction had a secret classroom inside?
The beloved Disney dark ride is one of the theme park giant’s most popular and classic attractions. Disney’s haunted house uses a range of clever technology tricks to create its famous 999 happy haunts (like Madame Leota and Constance the bride), including spectral Audio-Animatronics and optical illusions like Pepper’s Ghost.
Most Guests think they know all the fun facts and tidbits of the ride, but many might not realize that it once held a school for a very special pupil. In a special panel at the D23 Disney convention in Anaheim, California on September 11, 2022, teen icon Donny Osmond told a whimsical story about his schooling inside the Haunted Mansion attraction itself!
Former teen idol Donny Osmond used to, of course, perform alongside his brothers, and in 1970 the Osmond Brothers filmed “The Wonderful World of Disney” alongside E.J. Peaker and Kurt Russell for a Halloween special celebrating Disneyland’s new attraction at the time, the Haunted Mansion.
Osmond explained to D23 Guests that “We didn’t have social media then, so to launch an attraction, Walt made a television special. Kurt Russell was the star of it with the Osmond Brothers. The attraction was the Haunted Mansion.” Disney describes the special as:
“The Osmond Brothers, accompanied by Kurt Russell and E.J. Peaker, come to Disneyland to perform at a show being held there. But Donny and Jay Osmond go off to explore the park. Worried that they will miss the performance, the rest of the cast go to try and retrieve them before it is too late. They also visit the then-newest Disneyland attraction at the time, the Haunted Mansion.”
Osmond continued “I’m 11 years old – I’m still in school, obviously – so they needed to find a place for me to have school. There was a room – I think it was on the second floor of the Haunted Mansion – that wasn’t being used. They turned that into a school room. I think I’m the only person who can say the Haunted Mansion was my schoolhouse.”
With 999 happy haunts, it would seem he had a large class at this spooky school!
It’s also fun that Donny Osmond, who famously sang the hit song from Disney’s Mulan (1998) “I’ll Make a Man Out of You,” confirmed there is a secret second-floor room in Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion. We wonder where the entrance to this room is – or if it is just a storage room now for items from the Nightmare Before Christmas overlay.
If you want to see The Osmonds’ 1970 television special The Magical World of Disney, you can watch it below:
The Haunted Mansion is currently adorned in its popular holiday overlay, featuring favorite characters from Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas – Jack Skellington, Oogie Boogie, Sally, and Zero. At D23, Chairman of Disney Parks, Experiences, and Products, Josh D’Amaro, revealed that the famous Hatbox Ghost that finally made its way into the Disneyland Park version of the ride will be appearing in the Walt Disney World Resort Haunted Mansion at the Magic Kingdom in 2023.
D23 Expo Guests were also treated to a trailer for the upcoming Haunted Mansion movie, directed by Justin Simien. The unreleased trailer shown on stage provided looks of Haunted Mansion, coming March 2023, as well as cameos from Winona Ryder, Dan Levy, Hasan Minhaj, and Jamie Lee Curtis.
Haunted Mansion can be found at Disney Parks across the globe, albeit in different forms and variations. The classic Haunted Mansion is located at New Orleans Square at Disneyland Resort and Liberty Square at Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World, while it is called Phantom Manor in Frontierland at Disneyland Paris, and Mystic Manor at Hong Kong Disneyland and Fantasyland at Disneyland Tokyo. The ride spooks Guests with its stretching room, Doom Buggy vehicles, Master Gracey, Madame Leota, its Ghost Host, and Grim Grinning Ghosts – and now, ghostly school!
So, next time you’re visiting those 999 happy haunts, think about that eerie classroom on the second floor! Students would have to keep their eyes on the lesson on the board as their ghost teacher goes through it!