A Storyline behind the Haunted Mansion - WDW Hints (2024)

Jul 10, 2012TerriUncategorized115

There are several different versions told of the story that you see inside the Haunted Mansion. Part of the reason is because there were several different Imagineers working on the ride, all wanting to add their own element. Read “A Little History on the Haunted Mansion”written by Jonathan Briehl, and you’ll get an idea as to why several different stories have come about.

Photo courtesy of My Dreams of Disney

The storyline I’m going to inform you of was relayed to me on a Keys to the Kingdom Tour back in 2005. For me, the Haunted Mansion ride makes so much more sense now that I’ve heard the following storyline and explanation…

The Story: Many years ago, Master Gracey and Emily were engaged, but Madame Leota was also in love with Master Gracey. Leota believed that if Emily were “gone” Master Gracey would then fall in love with her and they could get married. On Master Gracey and Emily’s wedding day, Leota killed Emily and put her body in a trunk and put the trunk in the attic of the mansion. Well, Master Gracey was so distraught over Emily’s death that he hung himself. Madame Leota was left to haunt the mansion after she presumably died of old age.

Explanation of the Ride: Did you know that you become the 1000th happy haunt within the Mansion? The ride begins with You entering this haunted house many many years after these 3 have died. As you enter, you “think” you see the pictures on the walls following you or changing (in the first room). Then you walk into the stretching room and you’re still not sure if your eyes are playing tricks on you or not. Suddenly the lights go out, and when you look up, you see the hanging body of Master Gracey. You are now scared so you “run” to find a way out of the house… (this is where you board a doom buggy). You “run” through the hallway, and library, where you see the pictures looking at you. You enter a room where you see Madame Leota calling up the ghosts/spirits to haunt the house and scare you away (this is where you see her face in the glass ball). Now that Madame Leota has “awakened” the ghosts, the ballroom scene is the first room that you actually see “real” ghosts. You keep running and find yourself in the attic where you see the ghost of Emily in a wedding dress (and heart beating), next to her is the trunk containing Emily’s body – (if you look closely, you’ll see her wedding dress hanging out of the trunk.) Emily is angry, restless, and strikes out at the first thing she sees (which is you). Emily pushes you out the window (this is when the doom buggy tips backward and you descend down a hill – if you look to the right you’ll see the broken attic window that you just “fell” out of). You do not survive this fall and are killed, this is why the care taker and his dog are shaking when they see you… you are now a ghost… and the ghosts in the grave yard are celebrating your death. Since you are a ghost now, the other ghosts appear more “solid” to you. The ride ends with Madame Leota (that freaky little doll in the purple dress) telling you to remember to bring your death certificate if you want to return and “retire” at the mansion.

So the story has already taken place when you enter the haunted house, the ride is “your story” of entering the house, becoming scared, trying to find a way out, but getting killed by Emily and becoming the 1000th ghost.

Again, I’ll say that the above story is just one of many versions. Tomorrow, Jonathan will give a few more side-stories explaining what some of the imagineers had envisioned for the Haunted Mansion.


The Walt Disney World Trivia Book: Secrets, History & Fun Facts Behind the Magic, Louis A. Mongello. 2004.

Keys to the Kingdom Tour. Tour Guide: Corey. 2005.

Want more Haunted Mansion fun? We’ve teamed up with Mouse and Memos.com and My Dreams of Disney to bring you this themed week! Check out the entire week’s worth of articles:

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A Storyline behind the Haunted Mansion - WDW Hints (2)


Terri is owner, creator and an author for WDW Hints. She enjoys taking less-traveled paths of WDW and sharing her lesser-known discoveries with you!

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A Storyline behind the Haunted Mansion - WDW Hints (2024)


What is the story behind the Haunted Mansion? ›

The official story is that the Mansion was built by the Imagineers and the Ghost Relations Department in an effort to re-house various ghosts made homeless by the destruction of old haunted buildings. Walt Disney himself stated that the mansion was meant to house lost souls from all over the world, and a sign hung up ...

What is the plot of the Haunted Mansion ride? ›

The attraction's theme is a visit to a haunted house in which the ghostly residents have taken full possession of the premises. The attraction inspired the 2003 movie of the same name, starring Eddie Murphy and its 2023 reboot Haunted Mansion.

What is the story of the new Haunted Mansion? ›

Plot. Ben Matthias is an astrophysicist who meets a woman named Alyssa, a ghost tour guide at a New Years Eve party, and becomes entranced with her belief in the supernatural.

What happened to Ben's wife in Haunted Mansion? ›

During a New Year's party, Ben Matthias, an astrophysicist developing a camera to detect dark matter, meets ghost tour guide Alyssa and becomes entranced with her belief in the supernatural. Ben marries Alyssa, who later dies in a car crash. Distraught, Ben gives up his career and continues to run her ghost tour.

Who is the killer wife in the Haunted Mansion? ›

The Haunted Mansion

Following this murder, Constance inherited George's estate and stashed the trophies and evidence of her crimes within the attic of the mansion. While known to at-least some as, "The Black Widow Bride", Constance was never convicted of her various murders.

Who is the little ghost at the end of Haunted Mansion? ›

Little Leota appears in the exit crypt in all versions of the Haunted Mansion where she stands atop the ledge of the crypt holding a bouquet of dead flowers as she invites the guests to, "Hurry Back" and to remember to bring their death certificates.

Was the Haunted Mansion based on a true story? ›

While the mansion itself is not modeled after any specific real-life structure, a few houses did inspire the look of the mansion.

What is Disney World Haunted Mansion based on? ›

Haunted Mansion Disneyland Exterior. The Mansion's antebellum exterior was designed to resemble the architecture found in the French Quarter of New Orleans, Louisiana. The Victorian Shipley-Lydecker House in Shipley Hill, Maryland also inspired the design.

Will Haunted Mansion be closed in 2024? ›

Disneyland has now released on the refurbishment calendar that the Haunted Mansion will close starting on January 22, 2024. The attraction will remain as the Haunted Mansion Holiday overlay until this date.

What was the curse in Haunted Mansion? ›

They eventually learn that all of the mansion's residents are actually ghosts, cursed a century ago by Gracey and Elizabeth's suicides and can only move to Heaven when they are reunited, and Gracey believes Sara is Elizabeth's reincarnation.

Who is the dark spirit in the Haunted Mansion? ›

A bit of research (and a cameo from Hasan Minhaj) leads the team to discover that the Hatbox Ghost is actually the spirit of Alistair Crump, a sad*stic millionaire who murdered countless people before being beheaded — hence the hatbox.

What is the Tater Tot cat in Haunted Mansion? ›

Tater Tot Is A Callback To Ben's Wife In Haunted Mansion

In the Haunted Mansion ending, after the crew has defeated the Hatbox Ghost, Ben returns home to his New Orleans house where he finds a seemingly stray cat. Ben looks at the collar and sees the cat's name: Tater Tot.

Who is the woman in the crystal ball in the Haunted Mansion? ›

The millions of guests that have explored the shadowy confines of the Haunted Mansion have seen Leota “Lee” Toombs Thomas—or at least the likeness of her face. She appears as Madame Leota, the disembodied head that speaks from inside a crystal ball at Disney's creepiest and most ghoulishly fun attraction.

What happened to Travis' dad in Haunted Mansion? ›

Travis is missing his father a lot throughout the film. The story hides that his father died until the finale when Crump tempts the boy by faking being his ghost. He sends messages and tries to get the child to make a deal. However, one has to wonder why Crump antagonized the boy in the first place and scared Gabbie.

Who is the lady in the ball in Haunted Mansion? ›

Madame Leota is a ghostly character from the Haunted Mansion franchise. Originally conceived as a character to be featured in Disneyland's version of the attraction, Leota's character has been expanded, to be featured in multiple Disney attractions, as well a few feature films.

Why was the Haunted Mansion cursed? ›

In the 2003 film, the Haunted Mansion is apparently cursed in its entirety due to its owner Edward Gracey having had commit suicide after his butler Ramsley murdered his bride Elizabeth and faked the death as suicide.

Why is there a bullet hole in the Haunted Mansion? ›

There is a real bullet hole in the Haunted Mansion. Near the end of the ballroom scene, two portraits are shooting at each other. Several years ago someone shot at the portraits and put a bullet hole in the glass. Look closely and you can see it, even though it is covered by a spider.


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