Here's an interesting bit of California Disneyland Mansion lore. Around the summer of 1974, someone with a firearm within the park fired off multiple rounds. Two confirmed gunshots struck both the ballroom wall in the Haunted Mansion, and a snowflake on Adventure Thru Inner Space. A third hole was found in the Primeval World diorama on the train. Later investigation by Anaheim Police determined the holes to be .22 caliber with bullet fragments matching between the holes.
This left Disney with a problem. The panes of glass at the Ballroom scene are so large, the roof of the building would have had to be removed (i.e. destroyed) to replace them. Disney's solution was to cover up the hole in the glass by disguising it as a spider web and place a fake spider right over the hole. So next time you ride the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland, when you leave the ballroom scene just before entering Madame Leota's room, look for a spider and web on the last pane of glass in front of you.
@ hauntedmansionbackstage / hauntedmansionbackstage.tumblr.com
Top Haunted Mansion Secrets You Probably Don’t Know!
Do you think you know all there is to know about Haunted Mansion ? Think again! We’ve done some digging and uncovered several Haunted Mansion secrets that even the most die-hard fans don’t know. In this article and video pairing, we’ll be exploring some of these lesser-known facts about this classic Disney attraction. So strap in foolish mortals, we shall be your host this evening!
Real Bullet Hole
Did you know that in the Disneyland version of the Haunted Mansion attraction, there is a real bullet hole present in the wall? Before the days of tight security, there was a guest who brought a gun to Disneyland, and decided to make their mark on the attraction.
Near the end of the ballroom scene, there is a section that features two portraits that are shooting at each other, and this Disneyland guest decided to join in the scene by firing it at the wall. Thankfully, no one was harmed during the incident, and the resulting hole is still present in the wall to this very day.
Now, the hole in the wall has been dressed up with cobwebs and a spider to obscure it, but as you’re ending the ballroom scene, take a close look and you can still see this weird addition.
No One Gets Out Alive!
Disney always does a great job of immersing their guests in the theming of their attraction, but this ride takes it to the next level by symbolizing each guests death in a peculiar way.
After you exit the attic scene and you see the hat box ghost, you ascend down into the graveyard scene. As your doom-buggy turns around and tilts slightly backwards, this movement is meant to symbolize your death, with each of the guests that ride this attraction being laid to rest. In this way, no one ever really gets out of this ride alive!
Get To Know Your Ghost Host
In Disney’s Haunted Mansion attraction, the Ghost Host is the character who talks to you throughout the ride. He will tell you stories and explain different parts of the Haunted Mansion. But did you know that the Ghost Host is actually based on a real person?
The Ghost Host’s voice was created from an amalgamation of various actors, but one of the main people who contributed to his voice was actor Paul Frees. He provided all the iconic lines for this character, and Frees’ unique vocal style can be heard in Haunted Mansion attractions all over the world.
So if you ever find yourself on Haunted Mansion, be sure to give a shout-out to your Ghost Host and thank Paul Frees for his iconic performance.
Nemo’s Organ Is A Recycled Movie Prop
You probably didn’t know that the Haunted Mansion in Disneyland has a secret! The pipe organ in the ballroom was used in a movie called “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea”, and was recycled from it’s use in the movie to take it’s rightful place forevermore in the Disneyland version of this classic attraction. The organ was played in the movie by an actor named James Mason, who played the role of Captain Nemo in the popular film. So if you ever go to Haunted Mansion, make sure to check out this cool secret!
The Haunted Mansion has been a fan favorite for decades, and we hope you enjoyed uncovering some of these Haunted Mansion secrets. Now that you know some of these insider facts, be sure to take another ride on this attraction and see if you can pick out any more details!
Stay tuned to the DVC Shop blog for all the latest developments from inside the theme parks, and around the Disney Vacation Club resorts.
Rachel Van Norman
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The ONE “Problem” With Disney’s Haunted Mansion Attraction
in Disneyland Resort
Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion in New Orleans Square is a staple attraction and fan-favorite ride since it opened in 1969. Filled with grim, grinning ghosts, this foolish fright also features some fantastic features that are fatally flawed.
The history surrounding the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland has grown in popularity over recent years and is well-known among many Disney Parks fans. Everything from hidden names on the tombstones to the Pepper’s Ghost Effect is run-of-the-mill fun facts that fans of the mansion like to share, but there’s one major problem with the Haunted Mansion that you probably didn’t know about.
Right after you’ve enjoyed the impressive ballroom scene, where friendly ghosts (including Julius Caesar, who’s not friendly) come out to socialize at the Ghost Host’s gathering, and before you turn left and climb into the attic scene, look straight ahead at the third-to-the-left pane of glass utilized for the Pepper’s Ghost illusion, and you’ll see a spider. It will catch your eye if you look straight toward the two portraits shooting at each other.
Related: How Props From Haunted Mansion Ended Up at Jungle Cruise
While many rumors and stories surrounding this spooky spider are found on the internet, reports indicate that sometime in the summer of 1974, a Guest entered the Southern California Haunted Mansion with a .22 caliber rifle and reportedly shot at the ghost.
Fun fact, you can’t shoot ghosts (because they’re dead, duh!), but you can shoot at the thick pane of glass that separates the Haunted Mansion’s doom buggies from the ballroom. This huge glass was placed in the attraction’s foundation before the show building was actually completed. So essentially, Walt Disney Imagineering built the Haunted Mansion around this multi-million-dollar glass.
As a result of the bullet hole, a spiderweb-like fracture formed in the glass.
Related: There Is a Secret Donald Duck Inside the Haunted Mansion
According to Haunted Mansion Backstage , as well as other avid Disney fans and Haunted Mansion historians, the cost to replace this glass would be monumental and would require the show building’s roof to be completely removed to tear down this glass wall.
In the height of Disney’s dark ages after Walt Disney’s unfortunate passing in 1966, The Walt Disney Company was tight on money and resorted to covering this bullet hole with a simple artificial spider.
You can see the famous spider in the Haunted Mansion in the video below:
Related: Should Haunted Mansion’s Stretching Room Return? Fans Speak Out
That’s right, a cheap, plastic spider fixed one of Disney’s scariest problems.
What a fun fact! Never would you imagine someone sneaking in a rifle to shoot at ghosts, but this cutting-edge technology in the 1970s seemed to spook some Guests! Of course, in this day and age, this wouldn’t happen, but it is an interesting piece of Disney Park history.
While Space Mountain at Tomorrowland or Mickey’s Toontown features some interesting secrets that help tell the magic at this popular Orange County theme park, Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion showcases one of the greatest “problems” of the beloved attraction.
Did you know this about the Haunted Mansion? Let us know in the comments below!
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To Tell The Truth: The Ballroom Spider In Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion
If you have never participated in a “To Tell the Truth,” here is how you play. I will ask a question and supply 4 stories that answer that question. However, only one of them is true. You then leave a comment below telling me which is true and why you think that specific story is accurate. I will announce which was correct in my next installment of “To Tell The Truth.” Consider it a multiple choice question, except for fun since it doesn’t count for a grade. 🙂
The last edition’s “To Tell the Truth” was regarding the Partner’s Statue and the height of Mickey Mouse. The correct choice was Story 1 , Walt showing for a split second how tall he imagined Mickey to be when recording the audio for “The Pointer.” According to an article written by Jim Korkis, Animator Frank Thomas recalled the moments during the audio when Walt “felt like Mickey” and added “gestures that were spontaneous to him.” Mr. Thomas further recalls how Walt put his hand out to indicate that Mickey was about 3 feet tall. He describes this as “the only time we knew how big Walt thought Mickey was.” Some of you thought that they figured out the height because in Fantasia Mickey appears beside a conductor, but that story was clarified by Marty Sklar who remembers “being amazed seeing Blaine Gibson (artist) and John Hench (Imagineer) spending hours discussing just exactly how Walt’s five-fingered hand should hold Mickey’s four-fingered one. It was finally decided to base it on the one time that an animated Mickey held the hand of a real person.” That, of course, was in the movie Fantasia where Mickey shook the hand of the conductor. So, in reality, the Fantasia reference was strictly for hand positioning. Thanks to everyone who played along!
Now, for this month’s edition of “To Tell the Truth.”
One of my favorite attractions is the Haunted Mansion. As a child, it used to terrify me to no end. Now, I would ride it multiple times with no problems. In the ballroom scene, there is a spider deliberately placed in Disneyland, and because they wanted the mansions to be nearly identical, they put a spider in the same location in the Walt Disney World attraction. Why was this particular ballroom spider placed in Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion in the first place ?
The first year Imagineers transformed Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion into the lovable Tim Burton movie The Nightmare before Christmas theme, this spider was placed in the ballroom scene and was a deep red with green accents to represent the colors of the holiday. When trying to remove this spider, they realized that it was immovable. The way the spider was secured was impossible to undo. Therefore, they painted the spider with black and purple, and left it there. A matching spider was added to the Haunted Mansion in Florida so that they matched once again.
In years past, gun laws were much looser than they are now. Some people were determined to have a gun on them at all times for safety reasons. On one particular ride through the Haunted Mansion, in the summer of 1974, while riding through the ballroom scene, a guest had a gun that (accidentally, we hope) went off. Thankfully the .22 caliber round didn’t hit anyone. However, it did puncture the glass of the ballroom scene. The ghost dancing illusion is created by the classic “Salt and Pepper” reflection trick, and the whole ceiling is made from glass so that the illusion is possible. In order for Disney to fix this hole, they would have had to take the roof of the Haunted Mansion off, then remove the glass and purchase a whole new piece because it is all one continuous piece of glass. Instead, Disney decided to hide the hole by putting a spider there. Then of course, since Disneyland and Disney World wanted symmetry in their Haunted Mansions, Imagineers placed a similar spider in the same spot in Magic Kingdom, except there was no bullet hole to cover.
Okay, Disney fans, which one of these stories explains why the ballroom spider was added to Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion? Let me know which you think is correct (or if you prefer, which ones are not) below.
See ya REAL soon!
Quote of the Week: “Disneyland is a work of love. We didn’t go into Disneyland just with the idea of making money.” ~ Walt Disney
Makena is a 15 year old high school student who spends much of her free time researching Disney. She enjoys sharing Disney facts and even plans Walt Disney World vacations (including searches for secrets and Hidden Mickeys) for friends and family. You can follow Makena on twitter @Makattack98 or on Facebook (Makena Wolcott). Makena began blogging for WDW Radio in December 2011.
- November 5, 2013
About Lou Mongello
Lou Mongello is a former attorney who left the practice to pursue his passion, and is now a recognized Disney expert, author, speaker, and host of WDW Radio. Learn more…
Live golf cart tour: halloween decor at fort wilderness resort & campground, new adventureland treehouse set to enchant disneyland visitors on nov. 10, 2023, all-new haunted mansion parlor bar sets sail on the disney treasure, wdw radio # 752 – top ten moments in walt disney company history – part 1.
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22 Small Details About Disney's Haunted Mansion Ride That Will Delight Any Foolish Mortal
Since 1969, Disneyland's Haunted Mansion has been delighting millions of foolish mortals with its 999 happy haunts, stretching portraits, and Doombuggies. And with five versions of the Mansion available to visit around the world, it quickly became a guest favorite and a Disney icon.
Over the years, tasty tidbits, eerie info, and tantalizing trivia have been gathered and shared by die-hard fans about the deliciously dark ride. Here are just a few selected details and trivia about both the Disneyland and Magic Kingdom versions of the Haunted Mansion, guaranteed to make a grim ghost grin from ear to ear.
There Is A Real Bullet Hole In The Ballroom Scene
In the large glass pane used for the Pepper's Ghost illusion in the ballroom scene, there is a small bullet hole from when a guest who brought .22 onto the ride back in 1974. The hole is covered by a small rubber spider. A similar spider is used in the Magic Kingdom version as well, although it does not hide a bullet hole. It is there for symmetry.
The Disneyland Haunted Mansion Was Inspired By The Shipley-Lydecker House
The Disneyland Haunted Mansion was inspired by the Shipley-Lydecker House in Baltimore, Maryland, which featured detailed iron work and railings.
The house was demolished in 1967.
The Black Widow Bride Is Featured Throughout The Mansion
Constance Hatchaway is first spotted as an older woman sitting upon her husband's tomb as a stretching portrait in the elevator before guests meet her in the attic, surrounded by the portraits for her five former husbands.
The Three Hitchhiking Ghosts Have Names And A Backstory
Ezra Beane, Professor Phineas Plump and Gus each have their own backstory. According to the official Disney blogs, the tallest ghost Ezra was a "vagabond" while alive and is considered the leader of the group. Top hat wearing Phineas was a snake oil salesman who sold cure-all remedies, which he carried with him in his carpet bag. And the smallest ghost Gus went to prison for a crime he did not commit.
Madam Leota Is Based On A Real Person
Posted by u/ res30stupid :
Madame Leota, the face in the crystal ball on the Haunted Mansion ride, is named after Disney Imagineer Leota Toombs Thomas who provided her face for the character.
The Haunted Mansion Has Many Homes
According to D23:
The Haunted Mansion is the only attraction located in four different lands in four different Disney Parks: New Orleans Square at Disneyland; Liberty Square at Walt Disney World; Fantasyland at Tokyo Disneyland; and Frontierland at Disneyland Paris.
Mr. Toad Has A Headstone As A Tribute To Defunct Ride
Posted by u/ MorsesTheHorse :
Mr. Toad has a headstone in the pet cemetery at the Haunted Mansion in Magic Kingdom at Disney World as a tribute to the now extinct Mr. Toad's Wild Ride.
An Early Version Of The Mansion Was A Water Ride
Imagineer Claude Coats first envisioned the iconic Disneyland dark ride as a water ride in which guests would float through an old haunted plantation house that was submerged in a swamp.
'Hidden Mickey' In The Ballroom Scene In Disneyland
There is usually a "Hidden Mickey" (a Mickey head formed from shapes hidden in plain site) on the dining table in the ballroom scene.
The Pipe Organ In The Disneyland Haunted Mansion Is Eerily Familiar
Posted by u/ Pugano :
The organ seen in the ballroom on the original Haunted Mansion ride at Disneyland is actual organ played by Captain Nemo in 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea .
The organ in the ballroom scene of the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland is an original set piece from "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea" #DisneyFYI — Disneyland Resort (@Disneyland) May 15, 2013
The Ghost Host Is Quite Famous
The voice of Disneyland's Ghost Host Paul Frees also provided voices for Ludwig Von Drake in The Magical World of Disney , Santa Claus in Frosty the Snowman, Boris Badenov in Rocky and Bullwinkle , both John Lennon and George Harrison in The Beatles animated show, and the Pillsbury Doughboy.
The Grave Of Sea Captain Culpepper Clyne Is A Tribute To A Cut Character
Sea Captain Culpepper Clyne was a character created by Disney Legends Rolly Crump and Yale Gracey who was meant to haunt the Magic Kingdom Mansion, but he was cut from the final version of the dark ride.
There Used To Be A Jump Scare Featuring A Cast Member In A Knight Costume
Posted by u/ random-guy-here :
Disneyland's Haunted Mansion used to have a cast member dressed as a knight that would jump out at guests.
The Hearse Used In The Magic Kingdom Haunted Mansion Was A Movie Prop
Fun Fact: The hearse at the Haunted Mansion in Magic Kingdom was used in the 1965 John Wayne film “The Sons of Katie Elder.” #disneyfyi — Walt Disney World (@WaltDisneyWorld) October 22, 2011
The Voice Of Maleficent Also Voiced Madame Leota
Actress Eleanor Audley provided the voice of Madame Leota in the seance scene, as well as Maleficent in Sleeping Beauty (1959) and Lady Tremaine in Cinderella (1950).
The Forgotten One-Eyed Cat
In the original design, a one-eyed cat was meant to stalk guests as they made their way through the Magic Kingdom Haunted Mansion, but the character was cut from the dark ride. The mysterious kitty is featured in the ride queue as a design element.
People Keep Attempting To Scatter The Cremated Remains Of Loved Ones On The Ride
It is common for fans of dark ride to attempt to scattered the ashes of their dearly departed from their Doombuggies. There is even a code to the Cast Members to alert others of the potential attempt: "HEPA cleanup," which refers to the type of vacuum needed to remove the ashes.
According to the Wall Street Journal :
Current and former custodians at Disney parks say identifying and vacuuming up human ashes is a signature and secret part of working at the Happiest Place on Earth. It is grisly work for them, but a cathartic release for the bereaved, who say treating Disney parks as a final resting place is the ultimate tribute to ardent fans.
The Look Of The Magic Kingdom Mansion Was Inspired By The Harry Packer Mansion
Did You Know? The Harry Packer Mansion in the Poconos provided inspiration for the look of the Haunted Mansion at Magic Kingdom. #disneyfyi — Walt Disney World (@WaltDisneyWorld) September 27, 2012
The 'Grim Grinning Ghosts' Singing Bust Quintet Have Names
The Phantom Five found in the graveyard are called Rolo Rumkin, Uncle Theodore, Cousin Algernon, Ned Nub, and Phineas Pock.
Small Details In The Ballroom Scene
There are 13 candles being "blown out" on the birthday cake in the ballroom scene of the Haunted Mansion #DisneyFYI — Disneyland Resort (@Disneyland) February 20, 2013
It Runs In The Family: The Daughter Of Leota Toombs Thomas Also Played Madam Leota
It Was Almost Called Bloodmore Manor
Did You Know? Early names for Disneyland's Haunted Mansion included old Gore Mansion and Bloodmere Manor. #disneyfyi — Disney Parks (@DisneyParks) October 8, 2011
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Disneyland Hidden Disney: Secrets & Details > New Orleans Square > Haunted Mansion - The Ballroom Spider
Haunted mansion - the ballroom spider.
Eagle eyed guests may have spotted a giant spider, attached to the glass in the Haunted Mansion's Ballroom. The spider and its web were placed to cover a large crack in the glass sheet that helps project the Ballroom's ghastly effects.
The Disneyland Legend is that a kid with a slingshot created the crack, although it could have been a stray bullet from the ghostly duel. Since the giant panes of glass were positioned before the Haunted Mansion's construction was completed, it would have taken a great deal of effort and money to replace the broken glass. Placing a giant spider and web over the crack created a creepy and inexpensive solution to the problem.