Hundreds of people visit the Haunted Mansion in Disneyland every day. In fact, it holds a record for being the most visited Dark ride ever. Disney ‘Imagineers’ as they are called, worked hard using old magician’s tricks to create these illusions. What they may not have known was that there are several real ghosts haunting the place. Let’s take a closer look…
In the early 1950s Walt Disney and one of his top ‘Imagineers’ Ken Anderson, began working on the idea of a new attraction, it was to be a walk through haunted house. The inspiration came from a Disney cartoon about the Headless Horseman. The visitor was to enter a New England style house and follow the story through the attraction until it reached a climax in a graveyard scene.
Anyone who has visited the attraction knows that the initial ideas changed and that Disney and Anderson eventually developed a New Orleans style house that the visitor rides through on a "Doombuggy". The ride does, however, retain the graveyard scene form the original plans.
Construction of the building was put on hold in 1962, but was completely halted in 1966 when Walt Disney died. The designers were in a quandary as Walt had not completed the planning. For a few years the public could see the frame of the building poking over the construction fence. Urban legends surfaced about how the ride was being re-designed because it was so scary that it supposedly caused a man to have a heart attack. The attraction finally did open in the Summer of 1969.
While the building was built on property that had no previous construction on it, it did manage to attract someone who had died nearby. In the 1940s a man who had been piloting a small plane crashed in a lake near where the park was later to be built. His ghost has settled into the Haunted Mansion. Referred to by Cast Members (employees) as "the man with the cane" he is often seen late at night, especially after closing time.
"The man in a tuxedo" is another spirit, though no one really knows who he is. One day an employee was working in the area where passengers disembark. There is a mirror there, so the attendant can see when the riders come up behind her. She kept seeing a shadow in the mirror, and when she turned around no one was there. The figure seemed to be wearing a tuxedo. Then, she felt a chill and a hand placed on her shoulder. Of course, she turned to find no one there. The woman ran out of the Haunted Mansion and soon refused to return, in fact she was so scared she simply quit her job.
There is a legend concerning a woman who wanted to scatter her young son's ashes inside the Haunted Mansion, but was forbidden by Disney officials. She snuck the ashes inside and covertly scattered them. Apparently, this may NOT have been her son's last wish as since she did that people have sometimes seen the apparition of a crying boy sitting near the exit.
Though there have been many stories circulated, one person actually did died in the Haunted Mansion. Each year Disneyland sponsors "Grad Night", which is for high school seniors. Two teenage boys were riding along in a ‘Doombuggy’ when one of them decided that he wanted to see the room called "Séance Circle" up close. The young man stepped out on to the black painted walkway that was next to the tracks. What he did not realize was that there was a gap between the walkway and the platform on which the display sat. He stepped off the walkway and plunged fifteen feet to the floor, breaking his neck. Some say you can now hear him scream and fall (with a loud bone breaking thud). "Séance Circle" has been odd since the beginning. A sound designer was setting up equipment in the area before the attraction was open to the public. He kept hearing music coming from behind one of the new walls. He surmised that a radio had been walled up accidentally. After several days the music had never ended and no radio announcer ever came on. The man could never find the source of the sound, so he arranged for a speaker to go in the area and drown it out.
There have been many legends associated with the Disney Haunted Mansion. It just reminds you of how weird our world really is! And remember if you ever visit, keep your eyes open. You may just spot a real ghost!
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