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Who Are All Those Ghosts in the Haunted Mansion?

You’ve visited the Haunted Mansion more times than you’ve visited some family members’ homes. You know every word to “Grim Grinning Ghosts.” You automatically know to move to the dead center of the Stretching Room (though still closest to the wall panel that disguises the exit door).

In short, you’re a Haunted Mansion master.

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But can you name all 999 of the happy haunts?

Well, of course not. Nobody can; they aren’t all named, and there are not really 999 specific ghosts inside the mansion. But there are a lot of ghosts to be seen in the vaunted, haunted attraction, and quite a few of them have names and backstories about which you may be unaware.

Now, as they say, “look alive,” and let’s go on a little tour of (some of) the many ghosts of the Haunted Mansion, focusing on the Disneyland and Walt Disney World versions of the attraction.

Ghost Host Haunted Mansion

Credit: Orange County Register 

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The Ghost Host

Perhaps the most prominent spookster in the Haunted Mansion is the humble narrator, who declares himself our “Ghost Host” as we begin the attraction walking into the Stretching Room. Though many Guests think that this voice belongs to Master Gracey (more on him later), in actuality he has no name beyond the Ghost Host, whose ghoulish intonations come from legendary voice-over artist Paul Frees.

All we really know about him is that he has a love for puns and became a part of the mansion’s 999 happy haunts by hanging himself in the cupola above the stretching room. This hanging – perhaps the grisliest moment in the attraction – is a nod to an early concept for the Haunted Mansion, which would feature an antagonistic pirate ghost named Captain Gore who would also appear – still alive – in Pirates of the Caribbean, creating an explicit storyline crossover between the two rides. If you keep an eye out later on in the attraction, you may spot paintings of the Ghost Host after he cut the rope to let himself down. 

Haunted Mansion

Credit: hauntedmansion.fandom.com

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Madame Leota

After the Ghost Host, the Haunted Mansion character we spend the most time with is Madame Leota, the face in a crystal ball who commands a ghostly sĂ©ance that summons the rest of the spirits for the ride‘s second and third acts. She’s such a familiar face to fans that she was even one of the very few ghosts to appear in the 2003 film adaptation starring Eddie Murphy.

Though in the film she is portrayed by Jennifer Tilley, on the attraction Madame Leota is a combination of Imagineering model builder Leota Tomb’s face and the distinctive voice of Eleanor Audley, who portrayed the wicked queen in Snow White and Maleficent in Sleeping Beauty.

Haunted Mansion

Credit: Pinterest

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Pickwick

The name of this ghost may not ring any bells, but Guests will recognize him as the figure on top of the chandelier in the ballroom scene. According to Jason Surrell’s The Haunted Mansion: From the Magic Kingdom to the Movies (the source for much of the information in this article),

The ghost swinging from the top of the chandelier is the only character other than Madame Leota referred to by a specific name-Pickwick-in Walt Disney Imagineering show documentation. The moniker can likely be attributed to the Dickensian appearance. But could it also have something to do with the fact that many of the in-joke-loving Imagineers drove past a banquet hall called the Pickwick Center every day on their way to the WED campus in Glendale? The world may never know for sure.

So, lift a glass to Pickwick, the ghost-with-a-name who is otherwise pretty unmemorable, to be honest.

haunted-mansion-bride

Credit: Disney

The Bride & Her Grooms

Constance, or the “Black Widow Bride” (no relation to Scarlett Johansson), is the star of the attic scene in the mansion, a beautiful woman whom we first see from our doom buggy in a series of portraits with grooms – Ambrose, Frank, “The Marquis,” Reginald, and George – whose heads have a nasty habit of disappearing. In each picture she adds a strand of pearls to her neck, showing the increase in her wealth that her gold-digging (and black widowing) habits have brought her.

This iteration of the character came to prominence in the early 2000s when the attic scene was redone on both coasts to make her storyline clearer. As we pass her by and a shimmering axe appears in her hand, we realize just what has happened to her poor husbands and exactly how she’s managed to get ahead in life.

Hatbox Ghost Haunted Mansion

Credit: Disney

The Hatbox Ghost

Fittingly for a haunted house attraction, the Haunted Mansion is home to its own urban legend. Many Disneyland Guests of a certain age swear that they remember seeing a ghost whose head would disappear and then reappear in a hatbox next to him, yet nobody could say quite when this figure had been there and when it had disappeared.

As it turns out, the Hatbox Ghost – initially the groom to the bride in the attic – was part of the plans for the Mansion but ended up axed because the effect just wasn’t up to snuff. However, the figure was present at least during Cast Member previews of the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland and perhaps during a soft opening to Guests, proving this urban legend to be true.

In 2015, with technology significantly advanced beyond where it was at the Mansion’s opening in 1969, the Hatbox Ghost turned legend into reality by making a glorious return to the Disneyland Haunted Mansion, and it will soon be coming to Florida, as well!

Haunted Mansion

Credit: Disney

Gus, Ezra, & Phineas (a.k.a. the Hitchhiking Ghosts)

This trio is probably the most popular – and most merchandised! – group of ghosts from the Haunted Mansion, perhaps because Guests really do want these hitchhikers to follow them home! Surprisingly, though, there’s no clear backstory for these gentlemen, nor even official names.

However, the names used by fans and Cast Members have become so much a part of accepted lore that they have appeared on merchandise and even in early drafts of the script for the 2003 Haunted Mansion movie. The ghost with a carpetbag, sometimes called the Traveler, is Phineas; the tall, skeletal gent doffing his cap is Ezra, or the Skeleton; and the Prisoner, or Gus, is the short, hirsute convict holding his ball and chain. So now you know what to call the new, permanent houseguests who came home with you from your vacation!

Haunted Mansion

Credit: Brittany DiCologero / Disney Tips

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Master Gracey

One final ghost of note within the Haunted Mansion never actually appears anywhere in the mansion or on its grounds – its owner, Master Gracey. This character comes from a tombstone outside the Walt Disney World mansion with the inscription, “Master Gracey, laid to rest, no mourning please at his request.” So many Guests – and Cast Members! – have taken this to mean that somebody named Gracey was the “master of the house” that it has become part of the accepted lore (and the name of a character in the 2003 film adaptation), despite not being an official part of the initial story.

In fact, the tombstone was never intended to be key to the mansion’s story, but was just intended as a tribute to Yale Gracey, one of the Imagineers who designed the special effects for the attraction.

These are just a bare handful of the 999 ghosts found in the various version of the Haunted Mansion across the globe. Perhaps as new renovations – and innovations – come to the attraction in the future we’ll get richer backstories on some of the other happy haunts.

Or maybe you’ll just have to be the foolish mortal who finally provides their own backstory for ghost number 1,000….

About Andrew Friedenthal