Disney's Real Haunted Mansion
Before Disney Land opened at Anaheim, CA in the 1950s Walt Disney had been toying with the idea of including a haunted mansion for nearly 20 years. Originally, the plans called for a New England style house, but as we all know in the end it was built in an early 19th century New Orleans style which finally opened in 1969. It continues to be one of the most popular attractions in the theme park.
The attraction had become a source of urban legend even during its construction which was halted in 1966 upon Disney’s death from lung cancer…with the mansion’s plans not completed. For a while the builders were undecided as to how it should be completed. Should it be filled with scary spooks or comical ones? The decision was made to make it a combination of both.
While it was still closed rumors had begun circulating it was being redesigned because one man taking a demo ride had found it so terrifying he dropped dead from a heart attack. Of course, this has never been substantiated.
Visitors to the mansion are treated to a cast of fake ghosts created by using mirrors, lights and other old fashioned magician parlor tricks. However, a few genuine spirits have reportedly since joined the crew.
It’s been said one is a pilot who died in a plane crash during the 1940s close to where Disney Land would later be built. He is known by park employees as "the man with the cane." He usually makes his appearances late at night after closing and walks with a limp.
Then there is an unidentified apparition known as "The man in a tuxedo." No one knows this guy’s story, but he’s apparently fond of coming up behind mansion employees and placing a cold hand on their shoulder. One female attendant had the experience and when she turned around no one was there. Reportedly, she immediately vacated the premises and quit.
One of the more popular legends concerns a grieving mother who wanted to scatter her dead son’s ashes in the mansion. However, Disney management wasn’t too keen on the idea and refused her request. Regardless of the decision, she managed to sneak the ashes in anyway. The boy’s apparition is sometimes said to be seen sitting and crying at the exit. Security and custodial crews say the request is actually so common they have to monitor the ride with surveillance cameras and search for piles of ashy remains and bone fragments after hours.
According to another story one person actually died in the Haunted Mansion. Two teenage boys were riding along in their “Doombuggy,” what the park calls the rides’ conveyance, when one decided he wanted to get out and see the mansions’ inner workings up close. He stepped out on to the black painted walkway. His next step plunged him down into a 15 foot deep chasm breaking his neck.
On another occasion a sound designer was working inside before the attraction had been completed. He kept hearing music emanating from behind a wall. At first, the worker thought someone may have accidentally walled up a radio, but after several days noticed it was only music playing, never any announcer or commercials.
Not surprisingly, the Haunted Mansion isn’t the only place in the “Magic Kingdom” where spirits have been claimed to be spotted. The ghost of a young girl is often said to be seen on the Space Mountain roller coaster ride even after the park has closed. Some say even Walt Disney himself has been seen roaming around his creation of “The Happiest Place on Earth.”
If anyone is anticipating on visiting Disney Land’s Haunted Mansion, it might be advisable to keep an eye open…an encounter with a real ghost could be in the offing.