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Ride / The Haunted Mansion

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Welcome, foolish mortals.

"When hinges creak in doorless chambers,
And strange and frightening sounds echo through the halls,
Whenever candlelights flicker where the air is deathly still...
That is the time when ghosts are present,
Practicing their terror with ghoulish delight..."
Opening narration

The Haunted Mansion is a dark ride found in multiple Disney Theme Parks around the world centering around spooky residences, usually populated by a multitude of ghosts and ghouls. The original version of the ride at Disneyland opened in 1969, with it and all other versions of the ride still operating today.

The ride spent a long time in Development Hell, having even been first thought of in the earliest plans of Disneyland. The area for it was set aside early on, and the exterior façade of the mansion was fully built by 1963, but the actual ride didn't open until 1969. Various stories and ride concepts were considered and rejected, and it was eventually decided to make it a simple ride-through with a minimalist story about a retirement home for the dead. Of course, this hasn't stopped many from speculating and creating their own interpretations about the nature of the house and its inhabitants, sometimes even being played with by Disney themselves through the mansion's assorted incarnations.

Trope Namer for Beware of Hitchhiking Ghosts and Silly Spook.

Each Magic Kingdom-style Disney park has a version of this ride:

  • Disneyland, Walt Disney World, and Tokyo Disneyland have the "classic" version simply known as the Haunted Mansion, a ride through the creepy residence of 999 ghosts (with room for a thousand…), though specific scenes and details vary from venue to venue. Tokyo's mansion is the closest to how the ride appeared on opening day, lacking most of the later changes made to the American mansions.
    • From 2001 onward, the Anaheim and Tokyo parks give the original version of the ride a special overlay from September to January each year: Haunted Mansion Holiday, in which Jack Skellington and company have decked it out for the Yuletide. Notably, the gingerbread house dominating the Grand Ballroom table is different every year. The Orlando park doesn't feature the overlay, with the original parts designed for it having been sent to Tokyo.
  • Disneyland Paris has a Darker and Edgier Weird West version of the ride known as Phantom Manor, located in Frontierland, in which a malevolent phantom torments a woman by killing her fiancé and haunting her into old age. The ride has an extensive backstory that ties the house to the town of Thunder Mesa that forms the rest of Frontierland, and underwent significant refurbishment for the first time in 2019 to bring it more up to date.
  • Hong Kong Disneyland has the Lighter and Softer, ghost-free Mystic Manor, in which a magical music box is monkeyed around with by...well, a monkey, the pet of the manor's world-explorer owner Henry Mystic. Now the exotic relics on display in the house come alive and go ape!

The ride throughout all of its incarnations has become one of the most iconic parts of the Disney Parks, so much that Disney has spawned an entire franchise from it. Most notable are the three films Disney has made from it, starting with a 2003 film, a 2021 Muppet-ified version, and another live-action attempt released in 2023.

"Kindly step all the way in, please, and make room for everyone. There's no turning back now..."

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    In General 
  • All Are Equal in Death: One motif of the ride. Two cases of "murderer and victim brought down to equality" are shown with the tombstone of a cat next to several bird tombstones in the pet cemetery, and with the headless knight singing alongside his executioner. A more subtle example is implied with Constance, who ends up in the same place as everyone else despite her murdered husbands going unseen.
  • Animate Inanimate Object: Some objects in and out of the mansions become active on their own either by possession, enchantment or simply being fiddled with by an invisible force. Perhaps one of the most notable examples is Madame Leota's Seance Room.
    • The exotic items at Mystic Manor collected by Henry Mystic come alive after being enchanted from a magical music box.
  • Beware of Hitchhiking Ghosts: The Trope Namer comes from the finale, where, after seeing them waving to you, your cars are spun to face a mirror revealing the reflection of one of the three Hitching Ghosts riding along in your car. In Phantom Manor post-refurbishment, Melanie Ravenswood's ghost appears in your vehicle (before, the Phantom appeared over the top of the vehicle), and in Tokyo Disneyland's Haunted Mansion Holiday, Lock, Shock, and Barrel fill the role of the original ghosts (at Disneyland, they just jump up in front of the mirrors and presents materialize inside your carriage).
  • Bigger on the Inside: The mansion's exterior, in all versions, couldn't possibly contain the long, winding passages one sees on the ride. It only houses the Stretching Rooms, and the actual ride is in a giant nondescript warehouse hidden from within the park by trees and other scenery.
  • Bilingual Bonus:
    • WDW's gift shop, Memento Mori, is named after a Latin phrase that means "remember that you will die", and it plays on the English word "memento", which can be defined as "souvenir".
    • In Mystic Manor (Hong Kong)'s pre-show, Lord Henry Mystic welcomes the guests to Mystic Manor, then repeats his welcome in accented Cantonese.
  • Bizarrchitecture:
    • The Orlando Mansion has the impossible Escher-styled Endless Staircase.
    • Mystic Manor's facade is designed to look like a Victorian house mashed up with architectural elements from each of the countries Lord Henry Mystic has visited.
    • And, of course, a stretching portrait gallery with no windows, no doors, and a disappearing ceiling.
  • Black Comedy: This is how most of the ride is played.
  • Bloodless Carnage: Of course, being a Disney ride. Despite all the implied violence, there is no blood present in the scenes or wounded characters.
  • Blonde, Brunette, Redhead: The three versions of the Bride. Most of the Beating Heart bride figures had light hair, Constance has brown hair (more apparent in her portraits) and Melanie in Phantom Manor has auburn hair.
  • Book Ends: The exit of the Walt Disney World mansion drops guests off right outside the main gate.
    • Also, Mystic Manor begins and ends in the Acquistions & Cataloguing Room.
  • Boyfriend-Blocking Dad: Henry Ravenswood of Phantom Manor. After discovering his daughter was to leave town after getting married, he was determined to stop the wedding at all costs. He died in an earthquake that ravaged the whole town, but his spirit goes on to murder his daughter's suitors from beyond the grave and make Melanie suffer for the rest of her life in the abandoned house.
  • Christmas Episode: During the holidays, the Disneyland and Tokyo Disneyland versions of the Mansion get decorated up in a "The Nightmare Before Christmas meets The Haunted Mansion" theme.
  • Creepy Changing Painting: The Imagineers really love showing off here.
    • The Stretching Room plays with the idea- at the beginning, it seems like a normal chamber with normal portraits, but as the room elongates, so do the paintings, which reveal increasingly macabre scenes.
    • The paintings in the portrait hall play it straight, with pictures that transform from unassuming images to more macabre ones with a flash of lightning. For a time they slowly morphed before the lightning was brought back.
    • Then there's the wedding pictures in the attic, which will occasionally shift to reveal the grooms' shared fate.
    • Phantom Manor's original Stretching Room paintings were much like the original Mansions', but showing Melanie (and in one case, Melanie and Jake) with terrible horrors just below view. The 2019 refurbishment then made them the most complex stretching portrait effect in the Mansion rides by combining them with the theme of Constance's wedding photos: the paintings all show Melanie and a suitor, and before the paintings stretch, Melanie fades away, leaving only the suitors to the more realistic perils that are revealed.
    • Mystic Manor has a few examples of animated artwork, but the only one played for horror is a large mosaic in the Mediterranean Antiquities room, which suddenly switches from Medusa in her beauty to Medusa the hideous Gorgon.
  • Cultural Translation: One thing you'll notice is that no two versions of the ride are the same. For instance, the external mansion visible from within the park (the actual ride itself, in all versions, takes place in a giant warehouse hidden from sight by trees) differs from park to park, and each version is situated in a different land depending on what park you're at. For example:
    • In Disneyland, the Haunted Mansion is located in New Orleans Square, and thus the exterior mansion has the appearance of a plantation house so it doesn't disrupt the area.
    • In Walt Disney World, the Haunted Mansion has a Gothic appearance to its mansion, owing to the location in Liberty Square, and it also signifies the tone of the ride while fitting into the park.
    • To the Japanese, ghosts are a major element of myths and legend, so the Haunted Mansion in Tokyo Disneyland is in Fantasyland. Gargoyles outside were added to help connect it to the surrounding area.
    • The French, meanwhile, have a thing for the American Old West, and so Phantom Manor is in Frontierland. As a result, the backstory and setpieces are changed to reflect the setting (Phantom Manor's backstory is incidentally tied in with Big Thunder Mountain), which includes replacing the graveyard sequence from the other rides with a trip into a literal ghost town. In addition, there is no Ghost Host narrating during the ride itself (since the voice-over would have had to be in both French and English, which in turn would have made things far too confusing and drawn out; plus many of the guests don't speak either language anyway) with an orchestral score taking its place.
    • Chinese culture has immense respect for ghosts and ancestry, which means that Hong Kong's Mystic Manor doesn't include any spirits. Instead, it's located near Adventureland and owned by Lord Mystic, whose artefacts come to life thanks to an enchanted music box.
  • Dances and Balls: The big ballroom scene. It becomes a mock wedding party in Phantom Manor.
  • Dark Is Not Evil:
    • The entire concept of the Mansion, as the ghosts ultimately turn out to be harmless. Constance Hatchaway, added in the American Mansions, is a notable exception.
    • Completely averted with Phantom Manor. Everything's dark, and it's all evil.
    • Played with in Mystic Manor. While harmless things are included in the chaos, all of the potentially dangerous and scary artifacts behave accordingly.
  • Darker and Edgier:
    • The Disneyland Paris version, Phantom Manor, is much scarier and tells a story of macabre gothic/western horror. It even has an impact on other rides, because Phantom Manor shares a backstory with Big Thunder Mountain, Frontierland's roller coaster and anchor ride.
    • The Walt Disney World Haunted Mansion's exterior was designed to be gothic and angular to send a better message about the scariness of the ride, since there were complaints that the New Orleans plantation house facade used for the Disneyland Mansion fooled parents into thinking that it was suitable for very young children, but it scared them too much, prompting a redesigned building for WDW.
    • Even the "classic" Haunted Mansion was this compared to other attractions in Disneyland. Most of its jokes are about people experiencing rather horrifying deaths, including some suicide jokes, one joke about a character struggling and begging to be let out of his coffin, and let's not forget Constance Hatchaway, a Gold Digger who has killed several men for their money (a fact they don't gloss over).
    • With the exception of Mystic Manor, there is one thing common to every version of the ride, in the Ghost Host's reminiscing on his "escape." It may be the single darkest line of dialogue in any Disney ride.
  • Dem Bones:
    • Ezra and the Hatbox Ghost are the two significant characters of this model, and the Bride was originally skeletal, too.
    • For all of Phantom Manor, the titular Phantom takes this form. He originally appeared in a more human rotted state at the very end of the ride, but the refurbishment made that appearance match all the others, so he keeps his clean skeletal look all the way through, either to tone down the scariness or eliminate possible confusion about his identity. In the underworld scene, there are several skeletal denizens, and the dancing skeletons in particular were directly inspired by the Silly Symphony The Skeleton Dance.
  • Downer Ending: Completely subverted and Played for Laughs. "Now I will raise the safety bar...and a ghost will follow you home, ha ha ha ha ha ha!"
    • Played straight in Phantom Manor, especially as of the 2019 update. The Phantom has succeeded in killing all of Melanie's suitors and evidently convinced her to stay in the Manor. Melanie herself has been Driven to Madness, and begs any guests to let her marry them. The last time we see the Phantom is in the graveyard scene, offering a noose to passing guests, implying that even you may not survive the experience.
  • Driven to Suicide: The Ghost Host.
    The Ghost Host: Of course, there's always my way. (cue hanging corpse)
    • In the Paris version, this scene was originally the Phantom showing that Melanie's fiancee has been hanged. As of 2019, it's just the Phantom holding a noose for a potential victim.
  • Endless Corridor: One of the scenes in the Mansion is the Endless Hallway, which is created with mirrors. While the original effect was to be an unseen force stomping down the hall, and speakers were even built for the auditory illusion, this effect was scrapped and replaced by the floating candelabrum in the middle, and Melanie appears periodically holding it in Phantom Manor. 2019 adds the Phantom behind her, fading in and out as she does.
  • Everyone Is Related: George Hightower, one of Constance Hatchaway's many former husbands and victims (seen on the tombstone in her gallery portrait), is allegedly a relative of Harrison Hightower III, adventurer and owner of Hotel Hightower from the Japanese version of the Tower of Terror.
  • Evil Laugh:
    • While he might not be evil, the Ghost Host provides a rather good one.
    • While also presumably not evil, the lead singing bust has one as well.
    • The Phantom in Paris — who, unlike the original Host, is truly evil — gets one too, courtesy of Vincent Price.
    • The Hatbox Ghost does a grim chuckle before his head vanishes.
  • Extremely Dusty Home:
    • The interior of the Mansion gets worse as the ride goes on. A possible explanation is that once the ghosts are freed from the workings of the house, the architecture and furniture deteriorates without them trapped inside.
    • The Paris version, even from the outside: while Walt Disney wanted the Mansion rides to be in good upkeep to not spoil the park's welcoming mood, the Manor, made after his death, was designed to look dirty and abandoned even when you enter the gardens to fit the backstory, which some Imagineers objected to.
  • Foreign Remake: Phantom Manor in Paris and Mystic Manor in Hong Kong both reinterpret the idea of the Haunted Mansion to fit the country's mythologies. Phantom Manor takes advantage of the country's affinity for Westerns and cowboy movies, and gives the ride a new setting and more detailed backstory to fit into the surrounding Frontierland. Mystic Manor, on the other hand, avoids the Unfortunate Implications of a house full of malevolent spirits due to the Chinese relationship with spirits and ancestors, and instead focuses on an unused concept idea for the Mansion as a Museum of the Strange and Unusual.
  • Grave Humor: The queue line and exit areas for the Mansion are all either puns or shout-outs to Imagineers. Even the otherwise Darker and Edgier Phantom Manor has a few in its Boot Hill.
  • Haunted House: A defining example, though Mystic Manor is a noticeable aversion.
  • Hellevator:
    • Each of the Haunted Mansions starts with a "stretching room," where the walls seem to stretch, causing seemingly innocent portraits to expand and reveal more morbid details. In the Disneyland and Disneyland Paris versions of the ride, the room is in fact a disguised elevator. The effect is achieved by lowering the floor and raising the ceiling. The scene lowers guests from park level to an underground passageway containing the changing portraits corridor. This underground passageway takes guests under the park railroad and over to the actual ride, which takes place in a separate building hidden from within the park by foliage.
    • In Tokyo Disneyland and the Magic Kingdom, where there was more room, the loading area for the ride takes place at the same level as the exterior facade. Since the show building and the visible mansion are on the same level, the stretching room is not an elevator, but the effect was so beloved that it was kept and achieved by simply raising the ceiling instead.
  • Jump Scare:
    • There are pop-up ghosts hiding behind various tombstones in the graveyard. If one is paying attention, it will become clear that they all go off at the same time, at the end of every verse of the song. They're sort of like a visual exclamation point. Prior to the Constance update to the Attic, there were screaming pop-up ghosts in the Attic as well, which at one phase shouted mocking "I do"s to the Bride.
    • In the very first days of the Mansion, there were also "blast-up" ghosts in the Attic taking the form of ghost-scream faces that would pop out of hatboxes. They left with the apparent murder story of the original Attic setup when the Hatbox Ghost was first scrapped.
    • The Medusa mosaic in Mystic Manor acts like one, though it's foreshadowed seconds before the startling transformation with a hissing sound.
    • WDW actually has one in Memento Mori, aka the gift shop. Go ahead, look into that suspicious-looking mirror placed at eye level. What could be behind it? Madame Leota says hi.
  • Karma Houdini:
    • The Phantom in the Paris version, who torments his daughter to death and madness.
    • Constance Hatchaway, who faces no punishment in the afterlife and is implied to haunt the scene of her crimes until she is put to justice.
  • Losing Your Head:
    • The Headless Knight in the Graveyard, seen singing beside his executioner.
    • Uncle Theodore of the Phantom Five singing busts is broken at the neck, so his head rests beside the rest of his statue.
    • The Hatbox Ghost's head tends to disappear from his shoulders, fly into his hatbox, then re-appear on his shoulders again.
    • Emphasis on "Your" regarding the Magic Kingdom's version of the ride. The Hitchhiking Ghosts will literally mess with your heads. The illusion is given off of them making your head disappear, as well as taking your head off and either then swapping their head with yours, or swapping your head with the head of the person riding with you.
    • Phantom Manor has the Mayor of Phantom Canyon, who tips his hat...and takes his head with it.
    • Mystic Manor has an Animate Inanimate Object version with the singing suits of armor, whose helmets are mounted above and to the right of their bodies, yet move and talk.
  • Mood Whiplash: The graveyard scene can act as this after the dark attic scene, as the graveyard is a jubilant and silly gathering of ghosts with none of the terror and tragedy just shown in the attic. Phantom Manor's version of the scene is peppered with comedy, but doesn't lose the general darkness of the rest of the ride.
  • Multiple-Choice Past:
    • The Haunted Mansion's backstory is pretty much whatever the ride operators decide it is that day, the only solid thing being that the house is a retirement home/boarding house of the spirit world.
    • One of the original story lines was about a bloodthirsty pirate captain who built the mansion for his wife who found out his secret. He then killed her, after which she came back to haunt him, which caused him to kill himself. Remnants of this story can still be seen in the mansion. Another one of the original stories was that it was the home of a murderous family known as the Family of Blood. The original record had this story on it.
    • Only Phantom Manor has an official backstory, which is tied to the theme of Big Thunder Mountain and the rest of Frontierland, but even this story was not totally concrete until a 2019 overhaul chose to stick firmly with the one named suspect for the Phantom's identity.
  • No Antagonist: In the classic rides, there doesn't really seem to be a "villain" per se even though the majority of the spirits appear to be malevolent, and most are revealed not to be by the end. However, Constance in the Mansions and the Phantom in Phantom Manor are unquestionably evil people who carry menace with them.
  • Off with His Head!:
    • The Headless Knight sings next to his executioner.
    • In Mystic Manor, a laughing samurai suit of armor tries to slice off Albert the monkey's head. There are three medieval suits of armor in a castle-themed display case, with separate singing helmets and weapons. Also, a Mongolian suit of armor holds aloft some helmets on a spear.
    • Played with in the case of the Hatbox Ghost, who may or may not be a victim of the Bride.
  • Only Six Faces: The grinning skull face is seen on Ezra, pop-up ghosts, pictures in the Corridor of Doors, the Hatbox Ghost, the Grim Reaper in Leota's spellbook, and the ticket-booth zombie in Phantom Canyon.
  • Oracular Head: Madame Leota, who appears as a head inside a crystal ball.
  • R-Rated Opening: Downplayed, but the Walt Disney World version's Gothic exterior was done in response to complaints that the plantation house used for the Disneyland mansion misled parents into thinking the relatively frightening attraction was fine for kids of young ages.
    • This is also the case with Phantom Manor in Disneyland Paris, which features a noticeably run-down exterior, with plants and trees having grown wild. In this case, however, the change was made so that guests at the park, regardless of what language they spoke, would be able to tell that it's a haunted house.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Look closely at Madame Leota's book. At Disneyland, that's the incantation from Blackbeard's Ghost on its page.
    • A Victorian era attired ghost can be seen in the ballroom, drunkenly swinging from the chandelier by his cane. He was inspired by the character Pickwick from The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens.
    • The phantom organist is a shout-out to the 1925 film adaptation of The Phantom of the Opera, and the singers in the graveyard are a Visual Pun reference to the same.
    • The one-eyed black cat that appears on the tomb of the composer at Walt Disney World's mansion (itself taken from an earlier draft of the attraction) is inspired by the gruesome Edgar Allan Poe tale, The Black Cat.
    • The Mayor in Phantom Manor is heavily based in appearance on Dreamfinder from the original version of Epcot's Journey into Imagination.
    • Outside of the Walt Disney World Haunted Mansion is the tomb of the murderous Bluebeard (died 1440) and his wives. The inscription reads, "Six of them were faithful, but the seventh did him in."
    • At Walt Disney World, in the back of the pet cemetery, there is a headstone of Mr. Toad in tribute to Mr. Toad's Wild Ride, which closed in 1998, to be replaced by Winnie the Pooh.
    • The Corridor of Doors is a shout-out to The Haunting (1963) (based on the novel The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson), which a bunch of the WED Imagineers, and Walt Disney, went to see together.
    • The human arm sconces in the crypt were inspired by the 1946 film La Belle et la Bête, the French film adaptation of the Fairy Tale Beauty and the Beast. La Belle et la Bête was one of Rolly Crump's favorite films.
    • The Endless Staircases in the Walt Disney World Mansion is a shout-out to M.C. Escher's "Relativity".
    • The pharmacist in Phantom Manor is a shout-out to The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson.
    • Also at Phantom Manor, the final act's dancing skeletons reference Disney's classic 1928 short The Skeleton Dance.
    • The claw coming out at you in the clock hall is a shout-out to Nosferatu.
    • The drummer of the graveyard band is based on the folk story of the Drummer of Tedworth.
    • Mystic Manor at Hong Kong Disneyland has plenty of shout-outs to the Haunted Mansion. In the Mediterranean Antiquities Room, there is a mosaic of Medusa that transforms into her monstrous Gorgon form complete with red eyes, a conservatory with huge Venus flytraps, and in the Armory, three knight's suits of armour singing cheerfully.
    • Mystic Manor also references another Disney attraction entirely in its "Tribal Arts Room"—some of the statues are nigh-identical in design to some of the Tiki figures from the Enchanted Tiki Room.
    • Phantom Manor's mansion facade is clearly based on the Bates' residence from Psycho.
    • Phantom Manor lacks the duelist-painting ghosts in the ballroom, but the 2019 update references them with a lightning-changing painting in the portrait hall, showing Henry and another man about to duel, which changes to Henry shooting his opponent in the back before he had a chance to turn.
    • Ignatius Knight's stretching portrait in the Phantom Manor refurbishment is very similar to the Mansions' stretching portrait of an unnamed dignitary, as both are revealed to be standing on lit explosives.
    • The refurbishment of Phantom Manor adds some distinct similarities to the Constance story that was implemented in the American Mansions, with there now being a series of dead lovers for Melanie, and portraits showing Melanie fading before illustrating the mens' demise. However, in Phantom Manor, the men were killed by Melanie's father and she never married them, rather than being killed by Constance for their money, and the portraits are in the stretching gallery, showing Melanie leaving entirely before they extend to show the doom that claimed her suitors, rather than the men's heads disappearing to illustrate their deaths.
  • Source Music: The ride has a diegetic soundtrack, to include music without breaking the idea that you're actually in real life exploring a creepy old house. The dirge in the Foyer? It's being played far away on the only organ in the house, seen later in the Grand Ballroom. The Bridal Chorus in the Attic? Why, there's a shadow playing the piano in the corner (A similar ghostly pianist provides mood music before the Corridor of Doors in the WDW Mansion and Phantom Manor.) The graveyard jamboree needs no explanation. Phantom Manor averts this on the whole, though, opting for a cinematic experience rather than a firsthand eyewitness feel, and Mystic Manor plays with it- while playing instruments are only present in the first scene, the magical dust that brings it all to life is produced by a music box, and may account for the continued presence of music in the rest of the ride.
  • Special Effects Evolution: Evident in several updates of the ride, including the "floating Leota", Constance (and her own update with a new projection for WDW), and the updated Hatbox Ghost. Several Audio-Animatronics were updated in Phantom Manor in 2019 as well.
  • Stylistic Suck: While nobody can deny that the Mansion's got impressive flair and tricky illusions, all of the effects are deliberately kept simple and as low-tech as possible, to replicate the feel of Victorian-era magic shows. This arguably works in the ride's favor, as this contributes to the old haunted house feel, which becomes more effective the longer it's running.
  • Wight in a Wedding Dress: All three incarnations of the Bride (the nameless figure, Constance Hatchaway, and Melanie Ravenswood) are ghosts in wedding dresses whose stories are defined by marriage gone wrong. The first Bride was intended to be a murderer, but made into a vague mournful figure once the original Attic setup failed, Constance fleshed out the murderous bride story later on in the American versions, and Melanie fleshed out the lonely bride story for Phantom Manor.
  • Worse with Context: The stretching room portraits. They all start out seemingly innocent, but then the portraits stretch revealing a bizarre second third and an ominous lower third.
    • The classic group:
      • There's a lady...walking a frayed tightrope.. over an alligator's jaws.
      • A distinguished official...wearing no trousers...standing on a powder keg being set alight by a candle.
      • An old woman...sitting on a tombstone...of the husband she murdered.
      • A businessman...on the shoulders of another man...on the shoulders of another man waist-deep in quicksand.
    • Phantom Manor's original portraits of Melanie Ravenswood:
      • Melanie having a picnic with ants raid the picnic...along with a rattlesnake, scorpion, spider and beetle.
      • Melanie holding a a boat...about to go over a waterfall.
      • Melanie picking roses...from above a tombstone...from which a zombie skeleton is emerging.
      • Melanie outside...wading through a a water monster reaches for her foot.
    • Phantom Manor's 2019 portraits start as portraits of Melanie Ravenswood with her four suitors. Then Melanie is erased from them and they stretch:
      • Barry Claude...sitting on a tree branch, missing one of his shoes...while an angry bear and her cub roar at him from below.
      • Sawyer Bottom...straddling a log...being sawed in half by a huge industrial buzzsaw.
      • Captain Rowland Falls...riding in a rowboat...about to head over a huge waterfall.
      • Ignatius "Iggy" Knight... standing atop several crates of TNT...and a barrel of dynamite being licked by flames.

    American Mansions 
  • Aborted Arc: Three notable examples.
    • The animatronic raven was originally going to be the "narrator" of the ride, which ended up being much better implemented with the "Ghost Host" being piped in through the Doom Buggy's individual speakers. The ravens, however, are still situated throughout the ride, flapping and beaking as if they were saying something, possibly because it looks creepy. According to ride engineer Tony Baxter, the idea of the raven being the narrator was likely abandoned due to the hired voice actor giving a very poor line reading of the dialogue.
    • Around 2003, various signs began to appear in the park suggesting that a monumental Canon Welding operation tying together the Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Tom Sawyer's Island attractions was going to take place, centered around pirate Jean Lafitte. Due to the idea's creator being fired for other reasons before the project's completion, a few clues (such as a walled crypt) can still be seen in the Mansion and the other two attractions, but do not lead anywhere.
    • The character of the Hatchet Man was apparently going to become more prominent in the ride, as part of the same "refurbishing" as Constance Hatchaway's creation. A few clues, such as the character's face appearing briefly during Madame Leota's séance, and the Imagineers systematically removing from sale any item referring to the old backstory (with the Ghost Host as Master Gracey), began appearing, but once more, the idea's creator's departure stopped the project, and the Gracey fanon was allowed to be recognized again.
  • Arc Number: Actually more like a numerical Easter Egg, the chandelier in the Disneyland foyer has 6 branches, each branch has 6 candles, and each candle has 6 crystals hanging under it.
    • The number 13 appears throughout the ride as well: the clock in the hall of doors has 13 numbers instead of the typical 12, and in the Haunted Mansion Holiday, Madame Leota has 13 tarot cards for the 13 days of Christmas.
  • Arc Welding: Averted The Disneyland version was intended to get its own welding for the other rides in/around New Orleans Square (namely, Pirates of the Caribbean and Tom Sawyer's Island), but this was abandoned.
  • The Artifact: The heartbeat in the Attic soundtrack has been a staple since the beginning of the ride, but it no longer made sense after Constance was implemented. Originally, it was associated with the mournful Bride character who had a visible glowing heartbeat, but ever since she was replaced by the murderous Constance, it doesn't seem so appropriate. The Disneyland Mansion dropped it altogether sometime before reinstating the Hatbox Ghost, but the sound has since returned as of 2018.
  • Ascended Extra: The Bride became more important once Constance took over the role, as the character gained a voice and developed backstory. Phantom Manor had already done this to the Bride through Melanie Ravenswood, then did the same thing to the Phantom in the 2019 refurbishment that finally confirmed him to be Henry Ravenswood, Melanie's father.
  • The Bluebeard: This was once considered for the backstory of the ride.
  • Bury Me Not on the Lone Prairie: There has been at least one instance of a family attempting to scatter a loved one's ashes within the halls of the ride, causing Disneyland to purchase a HEPA vacuum cleaner to clean up any remains dumped in the ride.
  • By the Lights of Their Eyes: In the Walt Disney World Mansion, there are animated blinking glowing eyes which transition into the static demon wallpaper.
  • Comic Trio: The Hitchhiking Ghosts are generally portrayed like this in Fanon with Ezra (the skeletal one) as the schemer, Gus (the bearded convict) as the dumb one and Phineas (the carpetbagger) as the powerless one.
  • Creepy Twins: Wellington and Forsythia Dread of the Florida version's new queue extension.
  • Creepy Ravens: Ravens are placed throughout the ride to add to the creepy atmosphere, as noted in Aborted Arc.
  • Crusty Caretaker: An old caretaker appears before the Graveyard, and he's the only mortal character in the ride.
  • Defanged Horrors: The ride starts off scary, with threatening invisible spirits trapped within the workings of the house, but once they materialize, the audience sees that the ghosts are just there to have fun and were probably just frustrated by not being able to manifest.
  • Deal with the Devil: An unused changing portrait, "the burning miser", shows a rich man ultimately being claimed by fire from a Faustian devil, who displays a large "SOLD" label.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: In Disneyland, the plantation house representing the exterior of the mansion just sat around in New Orleans Square for a few years before the attraction opened. The only sign something was brewing was an advertisement on the door asking for ghosts to apply for residency.
  • Expanded Universe: The original ride had no real backstory other than the mansion being a "retirement home" for ghosts, and even that never explicitly factors into the ride proper. However, spinoff materials such as comics, a video game, and the Memento Mori gift shop have offered more elaborate backstories for the Mansion's characters.
  • Giant Spider: The Disney World version used to have a couple of them, later used for enemies in the video game adaptation.
  • Gold Digger: Constance the ghost bride in the American Mansions.
  • Halloween Episode: Played with; the Haunted Mansion Holiday (described in Christmas Episode above) overlay begins during when the Halloween overlays are put up in the rest of the park, and stays until the Christmas overlays are taken down. Therefore, it's as much a Halloween episode as it is a Christmas episode (similar to the argument over whether The Nightmare Before Christmas is a Halloween movie or a Christmas movie).
  • Heartbeat Soundtrack: The grim "Bridal Chorus" in the Attic is underscored by a heartbeat. Before the dark Bridal Chorus track, the heartbeat (and the screams of pop-up ghosts) were the only sounds in the attic.
  • Hell Is That Noise: Immediately after the famous Lightning Reveal of the Ghost Host's hanging corpse in the Stretching Room, it's followed up on by 1) a bloodcurdling scream of terror and 2) the sound of his body smashing into the ground with wood snapping and bones audibly crunching.
  • It Kind of Looks Like a Face: This is used everywhere in the attraction to create pareidolia paranoia. The most obvious example is the monster-face wallpaper in the Corridor of Doors, but even the realistic, "normal" wallpapers preceding it can be easily twisted into monstrous visages, and the architectural details of the Mansion's interior hide faces everywhere.
  • I Will Wait for You: The original Bride figure in the Attic had this story attributed to her by fans, and for a time, it was made canon with mocking groom ghosts, since the early removal of the Hatbox Ghost made the evident Black Widow murder story in the Attic unfeasible without a punchline. With the Hatbox Ghost also went some pop-up heads in hatboxes, but his failure meant the removal of all sinister implications. In the 2000s, the Haunted Mansions implemented a new black widow bride that no longer needed the Hatbox Ghost for context...yet, once they found a way to bring back the character as intended, he fit into his old home at Disneyland just fine.
  • Large Ham: the Ghost Host, among others.
  • Lightning Reveal:
    • The ceiling in the elevator goes to black, and the Ghost Host is revealed to have hanged himself in life. Phantom Manor instead reveals the corpse of the groom being hanged by the Phantom.
    • The original Stock Sound Effect for this was "Castle Thunder" (which many pre-1988 Disney animated features and shorts used), but in 2007, the Disney World version replaced it with newer, more realistic thunder sound effects.
    • Several paintings show monstrous views of their subjects, which reveal the monstrous side in time with the lightning flashes "outside" the mansion.
  • Lighter and Softer: Also, the Haunted Mansion Holiday, which has the citizens of Halloween Town join the denizens of the Haunted Mansion to help bring around their version of Christmas. Not to say that the movie wasn't dark (ie - the scene where a child receives a human head as a Christmas present, for starters) but Christmas motifs and large, cartoony characters generally soften the blow of the Mansion's spooks.
  • Long Runner: The original mansion's been housing spirits from all over the world since 1969.
  • Meaningful Echo: The ride begins and ends with discussion on ghostly activity. At the beginning, it's an ominous monologue about frightening hauntings ("When hinges creak in doorless chambers..."); at the end it's a song about the partying antics the spirits get up to ("When the crypt doors creak and the tombstones quake..")
  • Mythology Gag: Disney Parks' "Attractionistas" dolls includes the HM doll Gracey, named for the alleged character named on the tombstone/the Imagineer who helped to create the ride.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: Several advertisements for Walt Disney World's Haunted Mansion show scenes that are exclusive to Disneyland Paris's Phantom Manor, such as the skeletons in the underworld.
  • No Animosity in the Afterlife: The ride features a ghost decapitated knight singing happily next to his ghost executioner in the ghosts' graveyard jamboree at the end.
  • "No Talking or Phones" Warning: A memorable example: "Do not pull down on the safety bar. I will lower it for you! And NO flash pictures, PLEASE; We spirits are frightfully sensitive to bright lights."
  • Nothing Is Scarier: The ride is decently scary before you see any ghosts, as you watch impossible visions and bizarre warpings occur in the building around you. Once Madame Leota frees the spirits, you see they're mostly a jolly bunch and that they were just frustrated that they couldn't materialize.
    • In the classic Mansions, there's the Corridor of Doors, whose knobs are rattling violently (and a couple of doors that are breathing in an unsettlingly organic fashion), but absolutely no sign of what's on the other side.
    • Not far from the hallway of doors, there's a grandfather clock whose dials are spinning frantically. Whenever the hand strikes thirteen, the shadow of a massive demon's claw hand moves across the clock, but nothing else. Made especially creepy because there's nothing even remotely demonic anywhere else in the ride, all the other spooky ghosts are clearly humanoid.
    • At the end of the goofy and lighthearted graveyard scene in the Florida version, visible through the door of an open crypt is an extremely ominous specter that vaguely resembles a hooded humanoid figure holding a lantern. Unlike all the other ghosts in the graveyard, its design is far less cartoony and more minimalistic and looks more than anything like The Grim Reaper. This ghost doesn't even do anything, it you.
  • Ominous Pipe Organ:
    • The ballroom scene. The Disneyland organ is the actual prop from Disney's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea movie. Everywhere else, a replica is used.
    • invoked The foyer, where a slow funeral dirge version of "Grim, Grinning Ghosts" plays, is much eerier. Unlike the ballroom scene, where the organ is in plain view, the source of the foyer music is left up to the guest's imagination, though it's implied to be coming from the same organ, heard from far away.
    • The WDW Mansion has a pipe organ headstone in its queue. It plays "Grim, Grinning Ghosts" when interacted with.
  • Parasol of Prettiness: The ballerina in the Mansions' stretching paintings, to help the contrast with the grim situations in the full paintings.
  • Punny Name:
    • Constance Hatchaway, the Bride. Her marriages involved her constantly using her hatchet, and she "hatched away" at wealth to achieve her goals. Doubles as an Ironic Name- she lacks marital constance entirely.
    • The elderly woman in the stretching gallery, now retconned to be Constance, used to be known as "Abigale Patecleaver", referencing the gruesome tombstone showing George's head being split open (or, his pate being cleaved) by an axe.
  • Quicksand Sucks: As we see in one of the Mansions' stretching paintings.
  • Re-Release Soundtrack: When the Haunted Mansion at Disney World was renovated in 2007, a good bulk of the ride soundtrack was redone. Many of the original Stock Sound Effects were replaced with newer sound effects that sound more realistic and scary, several of the instrumental music pieces were re-recorded (though the original foyer organ was used but played at a slightly slower speed to sound spookier), and many of the voices were re-recorded save for the Ghost Host and the Singing Busts.
  • Retcon:
    • The Attic scene evolved several times and each change was treated like the only version of the scene ever there.
    • Upon his return, the Hatbox Ghost's original brief backstory no longer works with the current Bride. This actually works to the hatbox effect's advantage, since he's no longer required to sync his head trick to the heartbeat, and now has time to perform more animations.
  • Reptiles Are Abhorrent: One of the stretching portraits in the original Haunted Mansion depicts a young woman with a parasol walking across a tightrope over an aligator with its mouth open.
  • Southern Gothic: The Disneyland version is a horror-themed ride in the New Orleans Square area.
  • Stealth Pun:
    • The outdoor section of the Florida version's queue has a secret message in the symbols on the stone books carved into the side of Prudence Pock's tomb. The way it's coded; with a cryptogram.
    • The April-December portrait plays on the assumption that the word "April" in the corner is initially perceived as the woman's name. Then the word changes to different months as she ages until the text reads "December", revealing the context to be a grim joke about a lifespan being compared to a year.
  • Tightrope Walking: The pretty young lady with the parasol in the stretching room portraits. If only she were performing over a net.
  • Token Human: On the way to the Graveyard in the Mansions, an old caretaker and his dog can be seen frozen in fear and awe at the scene. They are the only living characters in the ride.
  • Troll:
    • The Ghost Host, with mortals as his targets.
    • The Hitchhiking Ghosts in Magic Kingdom's version of the ride, with the riders also being their targets.
  • Tuckerization:
    • Madame Leota is named for Leota Toombs, who provided her visage.
    • Several tombstones are named after the Imagineers who worked on the ride, the most famous being Master Gracey after special effects designer Yale Gracey. Other ones include Grandpa Marc (Marc Davis), Brother Claude (Claude Coats), Francis Xavier (X. Atencio), and Brother Dave (Dave Schweninger). The WDW queue also has one for Mister Frees (Paul Frees, the voice of the Ghost Host), one for "Brother Ken" (Ken Anderson), and features a Ravenscroft brand organ.
  • Unfinished Business: Constance seems to hang around in the Mansion because she was never brought to justice; the location of the Hatbox Ghost seems to tell visitors where some incriminating evidence can be found in the attic. All of the other ghosts, however, are hanging out in the mortal world for the fun of it.
  • Updated Re-release: Throughout the years, the mansions at Disneyland and Disney World have seen many changes throughout the years. The most notable ones include the addition of new characters like Constance and the Hatbox Ghost.
  • Visual Pun:
    • The ghost opera singers are a visual pun on The Phantom of the Opera, and the fact that they're placed very near the end of the ride means "It's not over until the fat lady sings."
    • The Grand Ballroom scene quite literally features "Great Caesar's ghost!"
  • The Voice: The Ghost Host.
  • When Trees Attack: When descending from the Attic to the Graveyard in the Mansions, some monstrous trees can be seen.

    Phantom Manor 
  • Arc Welding: Disneyland Paris's Phantom Manor is welded into the backstory of Frontierland and Big Thunder Mountain.
  • Art Imitates Art: The original version of the Bride's Boudoir scene in Phantom Manor, with fog in her vanity mirror forming the shape of a skull, is based on the famous optical illusion print known as "All is Vanity". The refurbishment replaces it with a reflective (though subtly skull-shaped) mirror that the Phantom's visage periodically appears in next to Melanie.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: In Paris, Phantom Manor appears to give off this implication, as the Phantom successfully got his revenge, only failing in killing the riders. It becomes worse in the 2019 refurbishment, where he has successfully prevented at least four of his daughter's marriages and driven her to madness in the afterlife.
  • Big Bad: The Phantom in Paris's version, who torments Melanie the Bride and then sets his sights on you.
  • Buried Alive: A portion of Phantom Manor when you go into an open grave, though you enter an underground town through it.
  • Canon Welding: Phantom Manor at Disneyland Paris is subject to this as it and Big Thunder Mountain share the same backstory, which is tied in with the rest of Frontierland (themed as a mining town called Thunder Mesa).
  • Driven to Madness: Melanie in the 2019 update to Phantom Manor. After four (or more) of her suitors are killed by the Phantom, she begs the guests riding the ride to marry her in the "Hitchhiking Ghosts" segment. Even as they leave, she pleads for them to hurry back.
  • Faux Affably Evil: The Phantom in Phantom Manor. He takes the role of Ghost Host, but we see he is the antagonist of the attraction, tormenting the Bride whose fiances he killed, and ultimately trying to take you into the underworld.
  • The Fourth Wall Will Not Protect You: Phantom Manor replaces the Hitchhiking Ghosts with a ghost of Melanie Ravenswood, who begs the rider to marry her. Considering what the Phantom does to Melanie's suitors...
  • I Will Wait for You: Phantom Manor took the story of a bride tragically unlucky in love and turned it into the ride's main story.
  • Mama Bear: The stretching room portraits in Phantom Manor reveal that a literal one of these was responsible for the death of one of Melanie's suitors.
  • One-Woman Wail: The Bride's singing throughout Phantom Manor.
  • Punny Name:
    • All four of Melanie's suitors in the 2019 update, including:
      • Barry Claude, who was clawed to death by an angry bear and her cub.
      • Captain Rowan D. Falls, who fell to his death when he went over a waterfall in a rowboat.
      • Sawyer Bottom, who was killed by an industrial logging buzzsaw.
      • Ignatius "Iggy" Knight, who was killed by a dynamite explosion.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: In Phantom Manor, the Phantom's eyes glow red within his skull.
  • Reptiles Are Abhorrent: Before the 2019 refurbishment, one of the stretching portraits in the Phantom Manor depicted Melanie wading through a river while a crocodilian humanoid reaches for her ankles. Another depicted her having a picnic with Jake while a snake, along with several venomous insects, is about to attack them.
  • Retcon: The 2019 overhaul of Phantom Manor firmly sticks with the "Phantom is Henry Ravenswood" story and accordingly, has expanded on his disapproval of Melanie's suitor by merely making the man only one in a series of suitors that he has gotten killed and buried deep in the crypts below. Rather than the stretching portraits showing generic doom for Melanie and her one suitor, they now tell the specific ends of different suitors.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: Phantom Manor's music is significantly different than the other mansions, to fit the darker, more serious tone of the ride, except for the Singing Busts, who are cheerfully singing "Grim Grinning Ghosts" to swing jazz like in every other version of the ride.
  • Token Human: In Phantom Manor, Melanie Ravenswood is the only living character seen, as the other characters are posthumous or returned from the dead. Melanie eventually joins their ranks, tormented her entire life.
  • Unfinished Business: Melanie in Phantom Manor post-refurbishment gets reduced to a ghost begging for someone to marry her.
  • Updated Re-release: Phantom Manor was updated in 2019 with an expanded backstory. In the new backstory, the titular Phantom is explicitly revealed to be Henry Ravenswood, the father of the bride Melanie. Melanie was also revealed to have at least four different suitors, all of whom died due to "accidents" that Henry himself had arranged because he felt they were unworthy of marrying his daughter. The ending also makes Melanie a ghost hanging around for a husband.

    Mystic Manor 
  • Adventurer Archaeologist: Lord Henry Mystic is one, and he displays the fruits of his travels inside his Mystic Manor.
  • Artifact of Doom: Lord Mystic's music box. While it in itself is not harmful, the animating musical dust that spreads throughout the museum brings everything to life and causes a great deal of chaos.
  • Black Comedy Burst: Due to the absence of ghosts, Mystic Manor is largely lacking in the other rides' macabre humor...except for one notable example with a Roman fresco depicting a group of women happily drinking in a courtyard with a mountain in the distance. When Lord Mystic's magic dust touches the fresco, the volcano in the background erupts and overflows, burying the courtyard and all the women in lava...except for their hands, still above the lava, which clink their goblets together.
  • Lighter and Softer: Mystic Manor in Hong Kong Disneyland, which has artifacts coming to life via a mysterious music box, but no ghosts. See for yourself here.
  • Mischief-Making Monkey: Mystic Manor involves Lord Mystic's mischievous monkey Albert as the cause of its supernatural occurrences.

"Hurry baaaaack...hurry sure to bring your death certificate, if you decide to join us. Make final arrangements now. We've been...dying to have you..."


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Phantom Manor, Mystic Manor


The Haunted Mansion

A defining example, though Mystic Manor is a noticeable aversion.

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Example of:

Main / HauntedHouse

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