The Ghost is Out of the Box: Disney shares when the Hatbox Ghost will join the Haunted Mansion at Walt Disney World

Sep 09, 2023 in "Haunted Mansion"

Posted: Saturday September 9, 2023 9:40am ET by WDWMAGIC Staff

The long-awaited Hatbox Ghost will finally materialize at Walt Disney World's Haunted Mansion in late November 2023.

The announcement was made during this morning's Destination D23 event in front of fans at Disney's Contemporary Resort.

The Hatbox Ghost will set up residence near the Endless Hallway scene, which is in a different location from his counterpart in Disneyland's Haunted Mansion attic.

The Hatbox Ghost was originally conceptualized as part of the Haunted Mansion attraction before it opened in 1969. Created by Disney Imagineers, including the legendary Yale Gracey and Harriet Burns, the character was meant to be one of the mansion's 999 happy haunts. The ghost was an elderly figure holding a cane in one hand and a hatbox in the other. The gimmick was that his head would vanish from atop his shoulders and reappear inside the hatbox.

The Hatbox Ghost was initially placed in the attic scene of the Haunted Mansion, just near the bride character. However, the illusion of the disappearing/reappearing head was only partially convincing due to the proximity of the animatronic to the ride vehicles and the ambient lighting in the area. As a result, the figure was removed shortly after the attraction's debut, becoming something of a legend among Disney enthusiasts.

As time passed, the legend of the Hatbox Ghost grew. While he was only present at the attraction briefly, early promotional materials featured the character, fueling the mystery surrounding him.

In 2015, after much speculation and fan anticipation, Disney announced that the Hatbox Ghost would return to the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland. Modern technological advances made it possible for the illusion of the disappearing head to be more convincingly executed. He was reintroduced to the attraction just in time for the Haunted Mansion's 60th anniversary, and he has been a fixture there ever since.

Disney announced in September 2022 that the Hatbox Ghost would also be added to Walt Disney World's Haunted Mansion in Magic Kingdom.

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Touchdown22 days ago

Do you want to know how it works? Because I’ve seen it not work properly at DL The head screen is very quickly lowered into the body and back up. I also believe the screen may constrict a little as well but I’m not sure on that. It’s hidden by the puff of smoke animation. The animation was not working properly one time I rode. Doesn’t really spoil the effect for me, just makes me appreciate it more

Kittlesona22 days ago

I very much assumed this was how the heads work. Now I’m wondering why the effect isn’t more timed with the positioning of the doom buggies. The different practical effects of the mansion are fascinating!

yensidtlaw196923 days ago

The only lenticular I can think of that featured inside one of the Mansions was this one from the wall that hid Disneyland's Hatbox Ghost install. Bats like the ones from the stanchions appeared to fly around inside the window as you rode by. Never quite understood what they were going for there, but it was a lenticular:

TeriofTerror23 days ago

I'll leave those to the Country Bears. 😉

MisterPenguin23 days ago

Well, then, I stand corrected! Maybe it's the pearls....

RainbowFigmentum23 days ago

In each of the photos with the husband, she gains a pearl to her necklace, as his head disappears.

Mireille23 days ago

Is this a Liberace joke?

VicariousCorpse23 days ago

It's actually a two layer scrim with lighting in front and behind. At 8:35 you can see the doom buggy stopped and the transformations continue looping. While Disney loves their lenticulars for promos and merchandise, they're even on the construction walls for the mansion at Disneyland, I don't think they've ever been used inside any mansion.

yensidtlaw196923 days ago

The portraits aren't lenticular - if your Doombuggy gets stopped in the Attic the portraits will still continue changing. They're a modified version of the Changing Portrait Hall portraits.

MisterPenguin23 days ago

The effect is positional. If you stayed still, there would be no transformations. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lenticular_printing

VicariousCorpse23 days ago

The timing is independent of the doombuggies. They just switch back and forth between the two with equal amount of time. It's just coincidence and timing of your riding.

HMF23 days ago

Most likely, No.

Kittlesona24 days ago

Slightly off topic, but am I the only person who seeing the headless portraits in reverse? By that I mean, EVERY one of them I see the man headless first and then he “regains” his head as I continue to view it. Surely it’s meant to be seen the other way right? So that we know they all lost their heads? My fixation on that each time I ride takes me out of the malevolence of the attic each time.

𝕴𝖒𝖆𝖌𝖎𝖓𝖊𝖊𝖗9724 days ago

Constance has got to go someday, right?