One of our all-time favorite attractions at the Disney Parks is without a doubt the Haunted Mansion. We've taken the tour of Gracey Manor so many times that we now know the Ghost Host narration by heart. We all adore the 999 Happy Haunts that give the mansion life from beyond the grave, but that wasn't always the main idea.
In fact, the idea for a Disney haunted attraction was tossed around at least a decade before the park opened. So many concepts and ideas came and went before we finally got the ride we know today. Join us as we summon the spirits of Imagineers past, and discover 10 Haunted Mansion Concepts they cut from the ride.
10 A Walkthrough Attraction
Originally, the idea for the Haunted Mansion began as a simple walkthrough attraction, not unlike some of our modern haunted houses. Guests would be led through the doors and into several different rooms where illusions caused by ghosts would play out. A simple and effective idea, but one that would require a lot of time.
The Imagineers definitely had some impressive concepts and methods for their illusions, but they all took time to reset and perfect. Obviously, this had to be scrapped and replanned in order to create a better flowing experience.
9 Live Character Actors
Another feature the walkthrough attraction concept would have used was the presence of live character actors as guides and ghosts. The guide, dressed as a butler, would lead guests through the halls of the manor and at times trigger illusions or effects. Some actors would even portray ghosts or suits of armor to jump out for scares.
Though these were both ideas that would later be used in more modern haunted attractions, they didn't exactly fit in with Walt's idea of a family-friendly atmosphere. There was also the concern for actor safety to consider. Again, the idea was scrapped.
8 Peter Lorre as The Lonesome Ghost
When the idea for having a guide was still on the table, the studio considered enlisting the voice of Peter Lorre as a narrator or guide character that would lead the guests through the mansion, occasionally making dark jokes and one-liners along the way. It was a simple guide narration at first, but soon evolved into a planned character.
Inspired by the Mickey Mouse short of the same name, Lorre was to have portrayed the Lonesome Ghost, a ghost of the Haunted Mansion with an affection for humans. Though this never came to pass, it did lead to the inspiration for Paul Frees's Ghost Host.
7 There Was a Tie-In to Pirates of the Caribbean
A concept that has seen a sort of revival in recent years involved two attractions in the Disneyland park to be interwoven in terms of backstory and imagery. Most of the concept ideas involve the famous pirate Jean Laffite being the anchor that links the two together.
With Laffite's Landing being a location in the original Pirates ride and the ghost of Laffite supposedly appearing in the manor, it's easy to see the connection. From Laffite himself being the mansion's resident pirate to a treasure hidden beneath the manor, ideas for a tie-in were tossed back and forth. Today, remains of the ideas exist mainly as Easter-eggs to fans who know their Disney lore.
6 The Tale of Captain Gore
We can't talk about pirates in the Haunted Mansion without mentioning Captain Gore. Before we got Captain Clyne in the graveyard, the mansion's sea captain ghost was originally a murderous pirate antagonist featured in a much scarier Haunted Mansion narrative. This version involved a grizzly murder plot and several morbid scenes that obviously did not make the final cut.
Taking a page from Bluebeard, Captain Gore was said to have murdered all of his wives in order to protect his treasure, but then later was driven to hanging himself by their restless spirits. Obviously, this was not something appropriate for the park's image, but he did return in the manor's comic series.
5 A Haunted Wedding
There was another unused concept that was a little more family-friendly than a bloodthirsty, murdering, pirate captain, but it still had a little bit of an edge. It involved the Blood Family and a hazardous wedding party that quite literally brought the house down. Definitely more than a swinging wake...
In this story, guests would have entered the manor to be attendees at a ghost bride's wedding reception. The spirits of the family Blood would recreate an enormous paranormal wedding ceremony before the roof caved in and recreated their demise. The idea was scrapped, but parts of it can be seen reused in Disneyland Paris's Phantom Manor.
4 Special Guest Monsters
The haunted wedding theme was tossed around for a bit and soon led to a monster wedding, which then became a monster party that would have ended up as the grand finale of the ride. Along with the happy haunts, famous horror monsters would have appeared as guests of honor at the wedding/afterparty.
Concept art showed appearances by Dracula, Frankenstein's Monster, and even the Phantom of the Opera. As cool as that idea would have been, the licensing ordeal would have been scarier than any ghost in the ride. So, being the smart company they are, Disney decided to make its own characters and stick with them.
3 Museum of the Weird
One of the most talked-about concepts that did leak its way into bits and pieces of the final ride is the famous Museum of the Weird. Designed by Imagineer, Rolly Crump, and praised by Walt Disney himself, the museum was to have been a collection of oddities put on display as a sort of exit attraction to the manor.
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Though it never came to be, pieces of the museum do currently reside scattered throughout the manor. The face-chair, demonic clock, and various magic artifacts are just a few of the museum's features you can find today.
2 Leota's Gypsy Caravan
An accompanying idea to Crump's Museum of the Weird was Leota's Vardo or caravan which would have sat at the exit of the attraction. This magnificent gypsy cart would have advertised some of Leota's services, including fortune-telling, tarot readings, and various other magical services.
There is a cart outside of the Disneyland version outside of the ride but in our opinion, Disney World's Memento Mori. It takes more elements from the Museum of the Weird and adds an extra level of immersion by seeping into Liberty Square. It's certainly one of our favorite places to visit in the park.
1 A Sleepy Hollow Attraction
When the Walt Disney World Resort was first being developed, one idea tossed around was giving the Florida park its own unique haunted attraction. The story of this brand new attraction? None other than Disney's version of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.
A ride themed around the famous tale of Ichabod Crane definitely sounds like an attraction we'd use our Fastpass+ for. The experience would have recreated Ichabod's ride into Sleepy Hollow and ended with the infamous encounter with the Headless Horseman. Unfortunately, the idea did not come to flourish, although a nod to both Sleepy Hollow and Ichabod Crane can be found in Liberty Square.