One of our favorite Disneyland attractions turns 51 today! On August 9th, 1969, the doors to the Haunted Mansion first creaked open to welcome guests from around the world. Since its debut, the attraction has quickly become a fan favorite inside New Orleans Square. Let’s revisit the rich history of how this ride came to haunt foolish mortals all year round!
Construction on the ride began in 1961 and was completed two years later. Afterward, it sat dormant in the park while Imagineers toiled away on showpieces for the World’s Fair. Participating in the fair meant a large investment in technology – some of which ended up being utilized in the Haunted Mansion. The ride was broadly announced to fans during a preview in the television series, World of Color, in 1965. Four years later the ghost hosts started the party that’s been raging on for the last five decades!
While Walt Disney reviewed many early concepts of the Haunted Mansion, he sadly never saw it completed, marking it the first major attraction to open without his direct supervision. Luckily the mansion proved to be a smash hit – attracting record crowds in its opening weeks!
It wasn’t until 2001 when Sandy Claws descended upon the ride for a seasonal refresh that featured The Nightmare Before Christmas. The update has been enjoyed by guests each Fall and Holiday season since!
Here are some fun facts that Disney shared with us via the Disney Parks Blog:
The idea for a haunted house at Disneyland was included in an early concept design sketch by Harper Goff dating back to 1952, when Disneyland was still being conceptualized.
20 tombstone tributes exist both inside and around the exterior of the attraction. The epitaphs on the tombstones were written to honor several Disney Legends and Walt Disney Imagineers who created and maintain the attraction.
The final exterior concept for the house is heavily influenced by the Victorian-era Shipley-Lydecker House in Baltimore, Maryland.
Thurl Ravenscroft is the voice of “Uncle Theodore” who leads the “Phantom Five” quintet of singing headstones. His voice can also be heard at Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room as the voice of both Fritz and Tangaroa.
The pipe organ seen in the ballroom sequence was featured as Captain Nemo’s pipe organ in the Disney film classic, “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.”
Leota Toombs, a former Walt Disney Imagineer and Disney Legend, served as the famous face of Madame Leota.
The Hatbox Ghost was featured in Haunted Mansion when the attraction first opened. Then, he mysteriously vanished, only to reappear in 2015 in time for the 60th anniversary of Disneyland.
Happy 51 to all 999 happy haunts! We’ll always have a special place in our hearts for this ride!