Walt Disney World Resort More Walt Disney World Resort Stories

10 Things To Know About The Haunted Mansion Theme ‘Grim Grinning Ghosts’

Jennifer Fickley-Baker

by , Editorial Content Manager, Walt Disney World Resort

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.

hmghmg839111

As our Halloween celebration continues, here are 10 things you may not know about this tune.

  1. 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!”
  2. “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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.”

hmghmg736002

  1. 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.
  2. “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.
  3. 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.
  4. Buddy Baker, X. Atencio and Thurl Ravenscroft have all been named Disney Legends in years past for their contributions to Disney Parks and films.
  5. The pop band Barenaked Ladies did a cover of “Grim-Grinning Ghosts” in 2003 for the film “The Haunted Mansion” which starred Eddie Murphy.
  6. 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.

Comments

  • I loved these fun-facts, but I have to be a stickler and correct one of them.

    #9 says “The pop band Barenaked Ladies did a cover of ‘Grim-Grinning Ghosts’ in 2003 for the film “The Haunted Mansion” which starred Eddie Murphy.”

    The Barenaked Ladies version of this song was actually released in 1996 as a part of the compilation album “Music from the Parks” which was released to celebrate the Magic Kingdom’s 25th anniversary.

    Here’s the full track list from that album:
    1. Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah – Patti Austin
    2. Yo Ho (A Pirate’s Life For Me) – The Pointer Sisters
    3. It’s A Small World/When You Wish Upon A Star Medley – Etta James
    4. The Ballad Of The Davy Crockett – Tim Curry
    5. Grim Grinning Ghosts – Barenaked Ladies
    6. I Just Can’t Wait To Be King/Hakuna Matata Medley – The Rembrandts
    7. Circle Of Life/Can You Feel The Love Tonight Medley – Richard Page
    8. SpectroMagic Medley (Instrumental) – David Benoit
    9. A Dream Is A Wish Your Heart Makes – Linda Ronstadt
    10. Part Of Your World – Olivia Newton-John
    11. Mickey Mouse March/Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah Medley (Instrumental) – The Disney Big Band
    12. When You Wish Upon A Star – Take 6
    13. Remember The Magic (Theme Song) – Brian McKnight

  • Thank you for this trivia! I am a huge Haunted Mansion fan, and have a memorabilia collection to prove it.

    However, I have one slight change to your trivia. Although the Barenaked Ladies cover was featured on The Haunted Mansion film soundtrack, the original recording came from a 1996 album entitled “Music From The Park”. The only reason I know this is because I had the tape when it was released.

  • The Barenaked Ladies version of “Grim Grinning Ghosts” came out in 1996 on the Disney album “Music from the Park.” They didn’t do it for the Eddie Murphy Haunted Mansion movie.

  • William Shakespeare
    Venus and Adonis
    paragraph – #155

    ‘Grim grinning ghost

  • You’re right, Jeffery, every household has different standards and expectations. We had our girls on there aged 1, and though they’ve sometimes gotten re-afraid as they aged, we always remind them that the Haunted House is “fun scary,” and that the ghosts are their friends. I think the opening elevator is the scariest part for them–once we’re walking the hall toward the doombuggies, we’re all already singing the song.

    Truly, one of the greatest attractions ever built. Is it possible that another Haunted Mansion or Pirates could ever be built today, with so much atmosphere and attention to detail? I hope so.

  • HM is one of my favorites. I have to make one correction to your article, though: Thurl Ravenscroft was a bass, not a baritone.

  • Thank you for this trivia. I never knew Grim Grinning Ghost came from a Shakespeare poem. That blows my mind!

  • I love the song, especially the organ intro. As for cover versions, I like the Los Lobos recording on their “Los Lobos Goes Disney” album!

  • Thanks for the trivia! This is a great song. We play it in the car and around the house during Halloween and I took my 6 year old to the Haunted Mansion for the first time a couple of weeks ago (He kept bugging me to go on it. I was 10 when I first rode it). Anyway, He was so nervous and it paused a couple of times during the ride. I kept saying to myself, “I hope we can get to the singing cemetery part” because I knew that it would relieve his ‘fear’ of the ride. Sure enough, he loved it when it got to this part and we all sang along. (Note: I’m not recommending this necessarily for young kids. Every family is different on age appropriateness for rides.) My older kids and I think this ride is the perfect Haunted House in the true vein of ‘ghosts’ etc. compared to modern day graphic Haunted House rides that pop up during Halloween each year. We really enjoy it, especially at night.

Comments are closed.