Iconic Hatbox Ghost materializes at Walt Disney World's Haunted Mansion

Nov 30, 2023 in "Haunted Mansion"

Hatbox Ghost at Magic Kingdom Haunted Mansion
Posted: Thursday November 30, 2023 8:18am ET by WDWMAGIC Staff

The highly anticipated Hatbox Ghost has been unveiled at the Haunted Mansion in Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom.


The Hatbox Ghost has set up residence near the Endless Hallway scene, which is in a different location from his counterpart in Disneyland's Haunted Mansion attic. Watch below for on-ride POV video of the Hatbox Ghost. (4K YouTube)

The Hatbox Ghost emerges through a cobalt blue glass-paned door under the cloak of night. Traces of muddy footprints mark his path as he arranges his cart of hatboxes and luggage. Lit by the moon and the warm glow of a dim lantern, guests come face-to-face with the Hatbox Ghost, grimly grinning as he takes fiendish delight in unnerving visitors with his heady parlor trick.

Disney announced in September 2022 that the Hatbox Ghost would be coming to Magic Kingdom's Haunted Mansion, with fans waiting more than a year for his arrival.

The Hatbox Ghost was originally conceptualized as part of the Haunted Mansion attraction in Disneyland 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 Disneyland's 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 briefly present at the attraction, 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.

The addition of the Hatbox Ghost is likely the last piece in a series of upgrades at Walt Disney World's Haunted Mansion, which have included an updated Madame Leota figure, the return of the mummy figure in the graveyard, updated load and unload belts, refreshed lighting in the stretch room, and the addition of the Candle Man figure in the attic. Find out more.

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JD8022 days ago

HMF22 days ago

It is worse off because of it. If he were in his proper spot it would be better off.

Basil of Baker Street22 days ago

I don't get the fanfare for HBG. It's ok but I can't say HM is a better ride because of it.

Captain Barbossa22 days ago

Just when I thought Heimlich’s Chew Chew Train was the Greatest Innovation in Imagineering History, I find this out!

JustInTime23 days ago

Exactly that! Lol

ToTBellHop23 days ago

Fixed.

zann28523 days ago

Seriously, I'm sure life must get tiring just standing there waving that candelabra around all day.

UNCgolf23 days ago

I think the scene was better without HBG and I wish they'd either found somewhere else to put him or not added him at all... and it would still be difficult to call it a negative. They added a impressive new AA figure; it's hard to complain much about that even if you prefer the scene without him (like I do).

doctornick23 days ago

I think the primary appeal was "this is a cool addition with neat visuals that plusses the ride". I'd love to see any survey data on public appeal for the HBG (whether from Disney or from a third party like @lentesta) but would actually be very surprised if the majority of riders view the addition as a negative.

ToTBellHop23 days ago

Is its ghost on vacation?

celluloid23 days ago

Who the heck else is the Hatbox Ghost making a legendary return for? Incredibly small niche group of fans(kind of too many adjectives there. You protest too much) The thing clearly did not go where it was meant to and shoehorned to lesser levels. The amount of people who know where it should go is irrelevant to it not working. Of course some people here are going to defend it, it is a tiny, miniscule, minority, micro, fringe group of fans(even smaller niche if you work for Disney and feel the need to defend it) ;)who see it as a great. It is a character that was touted as a legendary return because it was once an attempted character in a massive ride of other gags, dark ride effects and characters. It is as niche as Disney attractions get. Do you think its primary appeal was for the masses that do not know who he is? That would book a trip based on the character?

JustInTime23 days ago

FYI, they are waiting on a part for the candelabra. It will return.

peter1143523 days ago

Lol. No, it was projecting.

Bocabear23 days ago

Unless it really is not working....then it is a fact.... and stating your opinion about something, is stating your opinion...I don't see it as projecting on others unless they say "Everyone thinks it is not working" when the effect is working as intended and by "working" they mean stylistically....