This week our Happy Haunts series is taking a look at the true lady of the house – The Bride. (This character’s storyline varies a bit at Haunted Mansion attractions around the world, so we’ll focus mainly on her appearance at Magic Kingdom Park).
(Art by Morgan Davidson)
Imagineer Ken Anderson developed one of the first storylines for the Bride, who was a young woman named Priscilla set to be wed to a sea captain named Captain Gore. Throughout this version of the attraction – which at first was being developed as a walk-through experience – guests would follow Priscilla as she found evidence that her love was actually a wicked pirate. Priscilla then vanished and was never seen again, although her spirit presence in the mansion was said to have driven the Captain mad. In another version of the Bride’s storyline, Walt Disney himself was set to narrate the attraction (think of Walt as the “Ghost Host”), and was to reference a bride character who had “lost her head” before the big day.
The Bride’s storyline was finally solidified when Imagineers Marc Davis, Claude Coats and X. Atencio were handed the project in the mid-1960s. Set in a creepy, cluttered attic full of shadows and surprises, the Bride waited for guests at the end of the room with a red pulsing heart and a flowing dress. Over the years, her storyline became more prominent, with wedding mementos placed throughout the attic, a louder thumping heartbeat, and the tune of the Wedding March plunked on a harpischord in the background. Later changes indicate that it was the groom that really lost his head inside the mansion: the Bride currently holds an ax, and nearby portraits of the happy couple reveal a headless groom when the lightning flashes.
In the artwork above, artist Morgan Davidson gave the Bride a Halloween twist. What do you think? Tell us in the comments section below!
For more Happy Haunts, check out the posts below:
Of all the Disney Parks attractions with catchy theme songs, I sure don’t mind when this one gets stuck in my head. “Grim Grinning Ghosts,” the theme of The Haunted Mansion, is both merry and spooky at the same time, and is perfectly fitting for one of our guest-favorite attractions.
As our Halloween celebration continues, here are 10 things you may not know about this tune.
- The success of the catchy theme song, “Yo Ho Yo Ho (A Pirate’s Life For Me),” at Pirates of the Caribbean spurred interest in creating a similarly compelling tune for the (then under-construction) Haunted Mansion attraction. Without “Pirates” we may never have had “Ghosts!”
- “Grim Grinning Ghosts” composers Buddy Baker and X. Atencio were proven to be Disney songwriting successes when put on the project. Atencio had penned lyrics to the song “Yo Ho Yo Ho (A Pirate’s Life For Me)”, while Baker’s theme park contributions included scoring Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln and the Carousel of Progress.
- Popular voice actor Thurl Ravenscroft sang baritone for the track. His voice can also be heard in “One Hundred and One Dalmatians,” “The Sword in the Stone,” “Mary Poppins,” “The Jungle Book” and “Pete’s Dragon” among other Disney films.
- Thurl’s quartet, The Mellomen, also contributed harmony to “Grim Grinning Ghosts.” The group had previously lent their voices to “Alice In Wonderland,” “Peter Pan” and “The Jungle Book.”
- The arrangement of the tune progresses throughout the attraction, starting off on an eerie piano in the library and funeral scenes, then bolder as organ music in the dining room and a whooping party in the graveyard scene.
- “Grim Grinning Ghosts” hits a high note in the graveyard scene, where a set of singing busts await “to shriek and harmonize.” Did you know that each of these busts has a name? They are: Rollo Rumkin, Uncle Theodore, Cousin Algernon, Ned Nub and Phineas P. Pock.
- The face of singer Thurl Ravenscroft appears on one of the singing busts – Uncle Theodore, which you can identify at Magic Kingdom Park attraction as the “broken” bust.
- Buddy Baker, X. Atencio and Thurl Ravenscroft have all been named Disney Legends in years past for their contributions to Disney Parks and films.
- The pop band Barenaked Ladies did a cover of “Grim-Grinning Ghosts” in 2003 for the film “The Haunted Mansion” which starred Eddie Murphy.
- A reference to a “Grim Grinning Ghost” (note “ghost” is singular, not plural) appears in the William Shakespeare poem “Venus and Adonis” which was completed in 1593.
Well, they aren’t exactly photos, but I think some of the coolest images we shared this week appeared in our “999 Happy Haunts” series, in which we’re taking a closer look at the residents of The Haunted Mansion attraction.
Each post in the series focuses on a different ghost or other resident of the mansion – and each post features a unique piece of artwork created especially for it by a different artist.
Two more posts are set to run in this series. Which image is your favorite so far? Tell us in the comments section below.
Our weekly series in which we take an in-depth look at the ghostly residents of The Haunted Mansion continues this week with a look at a fan-favorite: The Hitchhiking Ghosts.
(Art by Mercedes Crespo)
The Hitchhiking Ghosts were actually some of the final ghoulish “residents” that were added into the plans for The Haunted Mansion. Not only that, but their look (designed by Imagineer Marc Davis) and their location within the attraction changed throughout the development process. According to Jason Surrell’s book “The Haunted Mansion: From The Magic Kingdom To The Movies,” some of the earlier ghosts designed to be in the hitchhiking trio were moved up to other scenes within the attraction.
(Art by Kyle Olson)
In the end, the three hitchhikers were designed as a traveler with a top hat and carpetbag, a tall skeletal figure and a fuzzy bearded fellow carrying a ball and chain. The three were later dubbed Ezra, Gus and Phineas by fans.
(Art by Richard Page)
Something that has made this trio a favorite of many Haunted Mansion fans is their unique ability to “follow you home,” which they appear to do by hopping into (or on top of) your Doom Buggie in the following scene.
The Hitchhiking Ghosts were enhanced at the attraction at Magic Kingdom Park in 2011 with additional special effects (watch a behind-the-scenes video on that here).
For more on the residents of The Haunted Mansion, check out the spooky good posts below:
There’s “No Turning Back Now!” Not only is that the title of the newest Ink & Paint Cel from Disneyland park, featuring Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse in front of the Haunted Mansion, but I can pretty much guarantee once you see it, you won’t be able to resist getting it. See for yourself!
This new piece, available now at Disneyana in Disneyland park is limited to an edition size of 1000. The cel will be available in a variety of formats including Unframed ($150), Framed ($240), Framed Cel with Postcard ($260) and Framed Cel with Postcard and Pin ($280). All framed pieces available with your choice of black or gold frames. For additional cel details please click here.
If you’re curious about the limited-edition pin (LE 750) that is only available if you choose the framed postcard and pin option, wonder no more. Here’s a sneak peek at what it will look like!
Unable to make it to the Disneyland Resort? A limited number of cels will be available to purchase online for a limited time only. Applicable tax and shipping fees apply. Discounts available on framing only. Order yours today here!
This week’s look at the ghosts of The Haunted Mansion focuses on the Hatbox Ghost – aren’t familiar with him? That’s because he was originally planned as a part of the attraction but never, well, materialized.
(Art by Austin Hillebrecht)
According to Jason Surrell’s book “The Haunted Mansion: From The Magic Kingdom To The Movies,” this ghostly apparition was supposed to appear across from the Bride in the attic scene, holding a hatbox. With every beat of the Bride’s heart, the Hatbox Ghost’s head was supposed to disappear and reappear in the hatbox he was holding. Alas, the Hatbox ghost was eventually cut from the plan due to technical difficulties.
Which Haunted Mansion ghost would you like to see featured here next week? Tell us in the comments section below!
For more about the ghosts from The Haunted Mansion, visit the post below:
I’m delighted to announce that Memento Mori, the Haunted Mansion-themed merchandise shop, is officially open in Liberty Square at Magic Kingdom Park. You may recall reading about this new location in early September on the Disney Parks Blog. Once considered the abode of Madame Leota, this shop is the destination for a variety of Haunted Mansion Authentic merchandise created especially for Disney Parks.
If you are planning a visit, here are a few important things to know:
- There will be a purchase limit of six items per style, per guest, per day for products carried in the shop.
- The new Haunted Mansion open edition pins will be carried in both Memento Mori in Liberty Square and Frontier Trading Post in Frontierland.
- The Haunted Mansion-themed Dooney & Bourke bags will be released in Uptown Jewelers on Main Street, U.S.A. starting on October 6. They will not be found at Memento Mori or at Cherry Tree Lane at the Marketplace Co-Op in Downtown Disney Marketplace. For guests in California, the Dooney & Bourke bags will also be released on Monday, October 6 at Vault 28 in Downtown Disney District. There will be a purchase limit of two items, per style, per guest, per day.
Finally, the Disney Parks online store will also be carrying select items from the Haunted Mansion Authentic program beginning on October 6. I invite you to visit http://www.DisneyStore.com/HauntedMansion.
In honor of the upcoming Halloween holiday, we’ll offer an up-close look at a different resident of The Haunted Mansion right here on the Disney Parks Blog each Friday. Today, we’re focusing on one of the ladies of the house – Madame Leota.
(Art by Cameron Garland)
Leota first appears in the Seance Circle room, summoning the Mansion’s spirits from within an illuminated crystal ball that appears to float on its own above the table. Her famous line, “Serpents and spiders, tail of a rat. Call in the spirits wherever they’re at!” was recorded by Eleanor Audley, then Disney’s go-to gal for voicing the perfect villainess. (Audley also supplied the voices of Lady Tremaine in “Cinderella” and Maleficent in “Sleeping Beauty”). Leota’s visage was a visual of Imagineer Leota Toombs, an Imagineer/model builder whose face fit the dimensions the team was looking for and agreed to participate in a demo – and nailed it.
The character of Madame Leota appears in another form later on in the attraction. Just before you disembark your Doom Buggie, “Little Leota”, appears up high and beckons guests to hurry back. Here’s a fun fact – although Eleanor Audley supplied the voice for Leota in the Seance Room, it’s both the voice and face of Leota Toombs that combined to create Little Leota.
Earlier this week, we shared a special reading from “Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas” from the film’s composer, Danny Elfman, in front of Haunted Mansion Holiday at Disneyland park. While he was here, we caught up with the Elfman, the man who provided the singing voice for Jack Skellington himself! We were amazed to learn that this was Elfman’s first time experiencing this holiday overlay. In the video below, he describes what it was like to hear his music blended with his favorite Disneyland attraction.
Early this morning, musician and composer Danny Elfman stopped by Haunted Mansion Holiday at Disneyland park to record this special reading from “Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas.” A longtime collaborator with Tim Burton, Elfman created the film’s music and also provided the singing voice for Jack Skellington.
Elfman, a four-time Oscar nominee, will be performing in the Los Angeles area in just a few weeks, live in concert featuring music from the films of Tim Burton. The Disney Parks Blog video team was able to catch up with Elfman during his visit – check back soon for our interview with him at Haunted Mansion Holiday.