Meet the Real Ghost Who Resides at Walt Disney World's Haunted Mansion
Welcome, foolish mortals...
If you've ever visited the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World, a place known for the magic of animated classics coming to life, you'll likely be familiar with the darker corners of the park. The ancient looking Mansion looming at the edge of Liberty Square dares guests to come inside so that the 999 ghosts can "socialize." The guest brave enough to venture within will find room after room of strange occurrences, grim grinning ghosts, and graveyard surprises.
Since the opening of the Haunted Mansion in 1971, young and old guests alike have delighted in the "wall to wall creeps and hot and cold running chills" that the Mansion provides-- all thanks to the amazing planning of Walt Disney Imagineering. The technology used within the Mansion was a first of its kind, still amazing guests to this day with surprises around each and every corner. While many visitors familiar with the Mansion have read the name "Master Gracey" time and time again in the graveyard, only those who take the time to research the history of the dark ride will know it's true meaning.
Your Ghost Host
Yale Gracey, a legend of Disney Imagineering, was personally placed on the Haunted Mansion project from it's inception by Walt Disney himself. Although he is responsible for many of the effects still seen in the ghostly estate to this day, perhaps the most mesmerizing of them all are the translucent ghosts. Using what is known as a Pepper's Ghost illusion, Gracey was able to make not just basic animatronic characters (as he had previously in the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction), but characters that were completely see-through.
Since Imagineers never physically sign their finished work, those who completed the massive project of the Haunted Mansion were allowed to immortalize themselves in the attraction in another way: with their names upon the gravestones in the queue's cemetery. Today, guests can still read "Master Gracey's" tombstone epitaph: "Master Gracey, laid to rest. No mourning, please, at his request. Farewell."
There's Room for a Thousand
While he continues to live through his creations and in the hearts of adoring fans throughout the world, Yale Gracey has successfully extended his legacy long past his physical life, which ended in 1983. Some Cast Members suggest that Gracey didn't move on that quickly, however-- and that he still isn't ready to leave his beloved attraction behind for the afterlife.
Those who have taken a journey into the Mansion will be familiar with the loading belt after the stretching room, the place where you first board your Doom Buggies to "carry you into the boundless realm of the supernatural." Here Cast Members walk endlessly on a treadmill-like belt, ensuring that the safety bar is lowered and everything is set for your ride.
Working the often deserted loading belt late at night (when guests are few and far between before closing), empty Doom Buggies glide past Cast Members endlessly, waiting for another guest to arrive from the stretching room.
It is here... in that moment... with nothing but the echos of the Mansion to keep them company during the late night shifts, that Cast Members report seeing the man with the cane. Seemingly out of nowhere, a thin old man with a cane across his lap appears, sitting in a doom buggy and looking straight ahead into the darkness with a thin lipped grimace.
According to reports, any attempts at conversing with the man or getting his attention by workers are ignored; the man with the cane's dead expression fixed on some unknown point in front of him. Seeing the strange sight has caused Cast to head to the exit with their lead supervisors, eager to catch another glimpse of the strange man who seemingly appeared before their eyes. Strangely, he never exits the ride.
Those who have ventured to describe what the man looked like to older Cast Members who have been with the Walt Disney Company for decades have gotten a strange look and and even stranger response: they've just described the long dead Yale Gracey.