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

23 days ago 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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FettFan20 days ago

That’s part of their game though. Essentially they paywall huge chunks of story, because there is always another movie, D+ series, novel, or comic book to sell. Case in point - In the 1990s, Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire was released as a massive multimedia event, including a comic book series, a novel, and a video game adaptation for PC and Nintendo 64. Shadows was set in the years between Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, and directly connected to those two movies. However, because it was released over a decade after those movies, it wasn’t required viewing. You could still watch ESB and RotJ without it, and wouldn’t miss anything. Contrast that to what Disney is doing with Marvel. You can’t just watch Endgame and then Dr. Strange in the Multiverse of Madness…you need to buy a Disney+ subscription and watch WandaVision to know what’s going on. Why was Wong training Abomination as a cage fighter in the Shang Chi movie? You need to watch She-Hulk on D+ for that. Whats the connection between Kamala Khan, Carol Danvers, and Monica Rambeau? You better get to watching WandaVision and Ms. Marvel.

JustInTime21 days ago

Has anyone heard anything more on the candelabra missing from the concept art?

Disnutz31122 days ago

It just blows my mind that we can't even get this animatronic installed in less than a 3 1/2 month period. It has to have been already made and sitting somewhere when they announced it a year ago, right? How long does it take for a 3rd party company to produce an Audio-Animatronic these days? 6 Months? Did this simple addition really get hung up in approval tape within Disney for the rest? Will Disney ever take note on Universal's proper announcement strategy to opening plan they do so well?

lazyboy97o22 days ago

That is simply not true. The Haunted Mansion specifically rejected the use of a specific lore and narrative story. Trying to force one through supplemental materials isn’t care and thought because there is no actual delivering on the work.

vicariouscorpse22 days ago

Every single Disney ride has supplemental reading. The average person doesn't need a comic to justify why a ghost is in a haunted house, because at the end of the day, that's what he is. They went through a lot of effort to justify his placement and background for people that care about the lore and story. The care and thought behind him is leaps and bounds above what modern day Disney standards have been set at.

lazyboy97o22 days ago

Which is meaningless. If people need supplemental reading to understand an experience then the experience has failed to communicate its story.

flynnibus22 days ago

Ugh this nonsense needs to die…

celluloid22 days ago

Yeah, that was a weird placate and just pandering. It plays more as a joke, or should. And it also does not make it well explained.

vicariouscorpse22 days ago

To give Disney a little credit, they have been trying to introduce the idea that the Hatbox Ghost can travel between mansions through the endless hallway for years now with the Haunted Mansion comic.

aladdin200723 days ago

Im getting SE chariot vibes with the candelabra, really hoping not but just cant help but wonder now.

lazyboy97o23 days ago

Structural as in the structure of Disney as an organization and how decisions are made. Not structural as in the physical structure of the attraction.

lazyboy97o23 days ago

Saying it at a fan event is meaningless. It is something that needs to be communicated in the ride.

TheMaxRebo23 days ago

Even in the past he was able to leave the mansion, his storyline being that he travels between the mansions around the world, so definitely has always been a bit different than the other spirits Was stated in this thread earlier that there are logistical /structural reasons why he could not go I the exact same spot as in DLR Like I said, I am sure won't satisfy some people but they did address it vs ignoring it

Consumer23 days ago

When did the Hatbox Ghost become such a main character that he can violate the laws of the Mansion with impunity? His location makes zero sense and will only lead to cluster. Why is he not going outside of the attic like his Disneyland counterpart? Why not even just find a way to put him in the attic? Ridiculous reasoning.