May 9, 2015, 9:44 AM ·
The legendary Hatbox Ghost rematerialized at Disneyland's Haunted Mansion this morning:
Here is a video, from someone lucky enough to be stopped at just the right moment:
The Hatbox Ghost was one of the early residents of the Haunted Mansion, featuring an effect where the ghost's head would disappear, then reappear in his hatbox. The effect relied on lighting and wasn't particularly convincing, so Disney removed it from the Mansion within a few months of the attraction's opening in 1969.
Two years ago at the D23 convention, Walt Disney Imagineering showed off a new Hatbox Ghost animatronic, reviving fans' hopes that an improved version of the Hatbox Ghost would return to the Mansion. Earlier this year, Disney announced the Ghost's return, inspiring hundreds of Mansion fans to rush to the attraction at rope drop this morning to see its debut.
A new window had appeared at the end of the attic scene in the Mansion around the time of Disney's announcement, prompting fears among some fans that the Hatbox Ghost would be a screen effect, occupying that new window. This morning, however, that window and the wall around it were gone, revealing an open space in which the Hatbox Ghost performs his new, and much more convincing, disappearing "hat trick."
Update:May 11 Disney has released a behind-the-scenes video from Imagineering about the return of the Hatbox Ghost: