Hatbox Ghost Returns to the Haunted Mansion

May 9, 2015, 9:44 AM · The legendary Hatbox Ghost rematerialized at Disneyland's Haunted Mansion this morning:

Hatbox Ghost

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:

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Replies (20)

May 9, 2015 at 10:47 AM · THAT'S IT! Disney is #1! Universal Shumniversal. They can't keep up with THAT! And just wait for the Peter Pan refurb. BOOM!
May 9, 2015 at 11:19 AM · The video barely showed the trick. More like Top Hat Ghost.
May 9, 2015 at 11:32 AM · The cycle of the trick roughly matched the amount of time that your Doom Buggy can see the Ghost. In my case, I picked up the Ghost when his head was in the hat, so most of the time I saw him he was in "normal" mode. Your experience will vary, based on the timing of your Doom Buggy against the trick cycle.
May 9, 2015 at 11:34 AM · It's a thing of beauty. There's a good high def video here:


There's also close up footage during a ride stop:


It's bootiful!

May 9, 2015 at 5:17 PM · Thanks for the post and video! Will be viewing Mr. Hattie tomorrow. Can't wait!!!!

May 9, 2015 at 5:25 PM · It looks awesome. I just wish the shoulders-to-box/box-to-shoulders cycle was a little faster, so that most people have a chance to appreciate it. I feel like if you don't know what it is beforehand, you won't get it by seeing only one cycle. Maybe they'll speed it up as the tweak based on guest response...
May 9, 2015 at 7:10 PM · The ghost cycles 4 times a minute. The doom buggy takes 10-12 seconds to pass depending on ride speed.
May 9, 2015 at 7:52 PM · That's top notch. I'm all for improvements and changes so long as they are implemented well. Now if Disney could improve that sad pathetic "ghost bride" replacement they added a few years back...
May 10, 2015 at 5:58 AM · This guy should get together with the "Head-Dealer" from Jungle Cruise
May 10, 2015 at 11:35 AM · Based on this, the Yeti should be working by the year 2053. (forgot to sign in)
May 10, 2015 at 4:49 PM ·
May 10, 2015 at 5:36 PM · Can't wait to see him at the Disneyland 24 hour event
May 10, 2015 at 8:59 PM · This was actually pretty outstanding!
May 11, 2015 at 8:27 AM · I saw it yesterday. It didn't thrill me. Not scary at all. It's a bit like a greeter. Meet my head. Meet it over here. Meet it over there. A little Dr. Seuss.
May 11, 2015 at 10:41 AM · Is anything at the Haunted Mansion scary? (Assuming that you're older than about 8.)
May 11, 2015 at 10:52 AM · Yeah... I don't see why there's criticism here... It's a very solid looking animatronic and the switch effect looks solid. I think as dust builds up a top layer on the figure he'll look more and more like he fits into place.

Nothing is scary on that ride. Spooky or eerie, and sometimes campy, but not scary.

May 11, 2015 at 11:34 AM · There is one thing scary about Haunted Mansion...the wait times!!!
May 11, 2015 at 12:31 PM · There were some scary elements that they seemed to have toned down. The original head in the crystal ball was scarier when it wasn't hovering around as it is doing now. The attic had popping heads from boxes. I didn't see any popping heads in this latest trip. They had some standing figures (perhaps actors) in the hall that scared guests along the way at one time in its history. The graveyard seems more scarier before than today.

From the art work, I imagined the Hatbox Ghost as a taller (7 feet) and a more imposing figure. The skeletal face is more at your face with fingers that appear to claw at you. Perhaps the effect could be improved if the hatbox was at a higher level with eyes that stared at the guests at both places.

May 12, 2015 at 9:51 AM · It's just not like the good old days when literal ghosts literally followed you home after the ride. Things were better when I was a kid before the gosh darn millennials hecked everything up with their gosh darn electronic music and tame haunted mansion gags. Harumph.
May 12, 2015 at 3:07 PM · And it still was never scary "back in the day."

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