The Haunted Mansion has one of the most complex story lines of any ride at Walt Disney World. Rumors run rampant about the strange tales and mysterious details included in this attraction. Here are a handful of fascinating tidbits to look for on your next trip through this chilling attraction.
1. THE MISSING KNIGHT
Google “Dutch Gothic Revival” and one of the first image results you’ll see is the Haunted Mansion. Gothic Revival architecture gained favor as part of the Picturesque movement between 1840 and 1880. It’s characterized by steeply pitched roofs, tall slim chimneys, turrets and towers, intricate ornamentation, and gothic styling. Chess pieces are incorporated in the styling of the Haunted Mansion along the roof, but you’ll notice one significant piece is missing. There’s no knight in the architecture, because it’s always night at the Haunted Mansion.
2. THE HAPHAZARD LAWN
The lawn in front of the Haunted Mansion is designed to look a little worse for the wear. The ghostly building doesn’t get the landscaping attention it needs, as its inhabitants are no longer of this world. To achieve this look, the grass on the lawn is cut by hand. This doesn’t happen right on the front lawn, however. The grassy expanse you see in front of the mansion is really sod laid over plywood that covers a maintenance area, so instead of trimming the grass, the sod is simply re-laid regularly.
3. THE FAUX COBWEBS
Guests often wonder if the generous layer of cobwebs throughout the Haunted Mansion is authentic. Surely one could achieve the effect realistically simply by neglecting their housekeeping duties? Alas, the cobwebs at the mansion require far more work. They’re made from a secret proprietary material that’s applied with a propulsion gun. The cobwebs only last for a couple weeks before the general accumulation of real dust and debris from thousands of passing guests makes them too grimy to stay up. The mansion gets new cobwebs twice a month.
4. THE HISTORIC MUSIC ROOM
In the music room of the Haunted Mansion, you’ll see a piano, violin, trumpet case, and bass. The piano is an exact replica of the piano on the Queen Mary. The Queen Mary served as both a transport ship in World War II and a luxury ocean liner. Nearly 50 deaths have occurred on the ship, and it’s well-known for the chilling tales of hauntings that occur onboard.
The piano in the Haunted Mansion is playing Grim Grinning Ghosts. The instrument is over 100 years old. If you can tear your eyes from the haunted piano, take a look at the music stand in this room. It features a grand total of four hidden Mickey’s.
5. THE EERIE CLOCK
The clock hallway features a masterpiece originally designed by Imagineer Rolly Crump for the Museum of the Weird. Instead of 12 markings, it features an unlucky 13. The clock has a face, feet, and bloody fingers. The pendulum looks like either a tail or a tongue depending on how you approach it.
6. THE FIVE HAUNTED HUSBANDS
After the Haunted Mansion’s update, it received a fresh new storyline about a murderous bride with a string of unlucky husbands. The attic is one of the most intriguing rooms in the mansion, so you’ll want to watch for the dozens of details that pull the story together here. Each husband is progressively more wealthy than the last, as the bride works her way up the social ladder. After absorbing each man’s wealth, she beheads the hapless husbands. There’s a separate area in the attic for each marriage, heralded by a portrait of the couple. The husbands’ heads disappear periodically, hinting at their final fate.
Among the wedding detritus for every husband is a marriage certificate, cake toppers, and strand of pearls. Most have a bird cage, signifying that the bride has “flown the coop” so to speak. The pile of wedding gifts for each celebration gets larger as you progress.
The first husband is Ambrose Harper, who marries the black widow bride in 1869. He’s the son of a wealthy farmer, yet the least wealthy of the lineup.
Second is Frank Banks, an aptly named banker who weds Constance in 1872. The wedding dress that Constance wears in all her portraits is hanging in the back of this scene.
Husband number three is Marquee DaDoom. His is the shortest marriage. DaDoom takes his vows in 1874, yet Constance is married again the very next year. This husband’s name comes from the sound the bride’s heart made in the last incarnation of the mansion.
Reginald Caine enters the scene with the bride’s fourth marriage in 1875. He’s a railroad tycoon and avid hunter. This is the only husband who doesn’t have a birdcage, as he preferred to kill rather than cage his animals.
In 1877, Constance takes her last husband, George Hightower. His family owns the Hollywood Tower Hotel you can find on Sunset Boulevard in Disney’s Hollywood Studios. In her picture with George, Constance holds a rose. This echoes another portrait of her that you’ll find in the stretch room of the Haunted Mansion. There, she’s clutching a rose in old age and sitting atop George’s tombstone. The tea set on display with this wedding scene is from the high tea at the Grand Floridian.
Finally, you’ll see a hat rack holding a hat representative of each of the husbands. There’s also a stack of hatboxes nearby, although I’m not sure we want to know what’s inside.
The Haunted Mansion is packed with details like these that make the attraction one of the most popular and storied locations in the park. Pay attention to the little things and you never know when you’ll uncover a new piece of the puzzle in this mysterious dark ride.
Source: Theme Park Tourist
Banner Photo Credit: Disney