Since its opening five decades ago, the Haunted Mansion has been one of the Walt Disney Company’s most beloved attractions. Nearly every Disney resort around the world features some variant of the concept, and Mansion has infiltrated popular culture from a feature film to Funko Pop! figurines. However this popularity combined with the Haunted Mansion’s macabre aesthetic has led to many myths about the attraction. Today we’ll be looking at five of the most commonly believed stories, only four of which are true.
Myth #1: The Original Version of the Haunted Mansion Scared Someone to Death
There are two versions of this story; one involving a construction worker and the other involving a “test” rider. While the specifics are slightly different, the overall gist of the tale is the same: that the “original version” of the Haunted Mansion was so terrifying that it led to someone suffering a heart attack and dying. According to the myth, this led to an extensive retooling of the ride, adding in a humorous tone and delaying the Mansion’s opening from the early 1960s to 1969.
Sorry the burst the bubbles of true believers, but it’s simply not true. The myth likely stems from the fact that Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion facade was erected in the early 60s, and stood in New Orleans Square mystifying guests until 1969. However, the reason for the delay had nothing to do with anyone’s death. Rather more mundane issues relating to what the attraction’s story would actually be as well as other projects including the 1964 World’s Fair and the building of Pirates of the Caribbean taking precedence were to blame.
Myth #2: Madame Leota’s Spell-book
A long-running urban legend about the Haunted Mansion revolves around Madame Leota’s spellbook. For decades, stories have circulated that the tome on the seance room table is actual an authentic 14th century spellbook containing real spells used for witchcraft.
This myth has grown large enough to encompass stories from cast members claiming that the book has a habit of moving on its own. While we can’t speak to that, we can tell you that the spellbook is an Imagineering-produced prop, no more from the 14th century than the Doom Buggies ride vehicles.
Myth #3: Brigham Young’s Hearse
Moving from the Mansion’s interior to its exterior, another long-running myth contends that the horseless hearse long-parked outside Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion was used in the funeral of Mormon religious leader Brigham Young.
The genesis of the myth seems to have been collector Dale Rickards, who sold the hearse to Disney in the 1970s and who publicly proclaimed for decades that the hearse was used in Young’s funeral. However, in 2001, Glen M. Leonard, director of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ Museum of Church History, debunked the story entirely, telling Deseret News simply, ”Historical evidence shows no hearse was used.”
Myth #4: Walt Disney Appears in the Graveyard
Many guests believe that Walt Disney’s image was used for one of the singing busts in the attraction’s graveyard section as a final tribute to Disney, who passed away three years prior to the Haunted Mansion’s reopening. However, as we’ve previously reported, this isn’t the case.
The busts are actually the Mellomen, a popular singing group who sang in several Disney films, as well as numerous Elvis Presley films. The specific members immortalized in the Haunted Mansion are Thurl Ravenscroft (often mistaken for Walt!), Jay Meyer, Verne Rowe, Bob Ebright, and Chuck Schroeder.
Myth #5: Many Guests Have Their Ashes Spread in the Haunted Mansion
Our final prevalent myth – that there are ashes of hundreds of guests scattered through the various Haunted Mansion attractions – arguably has enough truth to be considered true while at the same time not being entirely factual.
It is true that many guests over the years have tried to scatter the ashes of loved ones throughout the Mansion, despite this not only being against Disney’s rules, but also highly dangerous and illegal. However, these remains are quickly cleaned up Disney’s custodial staff due to the potential health hazards, meaning that there are no real human remains in the Haunted Mansion.
Status: True… Kind Of
Have you heard any wild myths about The Haunted Mansion? Do you believe them, or think they’re simply urban legends? Let us know in the comments below.