Mystery of the Haunted Mansion Hatbox Ghost: solved!

For many years, Disneyland Haunted Mansion fans have debated the truth of the Hatbox Ghost, featured extensively in the Mansion's early publicity. No one was sure if Hattie never made it into the running, public Mansion, or whether he was there briefly and vanished. Now the first known footage of Hattie in situ has surfaced, and is on proud display at the Disney History Institute.

Who is the most famous ghost in the Haunted Mansion? Without doubt, the Hatbox Ghost, a ghoul who lived there for only a few days. Short, pasty and decapitated--one of the most frightening figures to ever take up residence in the attic. But for decades fans wondered if this ghost actually existed in the finished attraction. Had it been removed before the Mansion's grand opening? And then four decades after opening day, DoomBuggies.Com posted the first photo of the Hatbox Ghost installed in the Mansion at Disneyland. And now, DHI comes limping into second place with some extremely rare home movie footage of dear, departed Hattie and his amazing hatbox. So rev up your DeLorean and journey with us back to the Summer of Love. Footage of the Mansion (pre-opening) comes from 1968; Footage of the Mansion (newly opened, with its shiny, gilt sign) comes from 1969. And of course footage of Hattie in the attic is marked August, 1969. The footage from my own collection and the never-before-released reference photos from Paul's collection.
Actual Home Movies of the Hatbox Ghost - 1969 (via The Disney Blog)


  1. Once again voiced by the great Paul Frees (he also did the voice-over for the vintage Barbie TV ad a few weeks ago). Once you learn to recognize him, he’s everywhere!

    Oh, but wasn’t the Summer of Love in 1967?

    1. Oh, but wasn’t the Summer of Love in 1967?

      Yeah! 1969 was the rather opposite Summer of Manson.

  2. I guess it’s really just the opening dialogue (“Just a big old mansion”) by Paul Frees, not the whole thing.

  3. As a kid, the hatbox ghost was always one of my favorite illustrations on mansion-related materials from Disney. Truly over-the-top evilness! So great to know that at least a few lucky riders got to see him!

  4. Wow, that is awesome!

    A few years ago, I was hired by Disney to write a series of short films surrounding the Mansion’s lore. We snuck in a little nod to the hatbox ghost in one of the stories.

    As a side note, I got to walk through the ride completely turned on. It was amazing. I walked through the ballroom floor.

  5. Not only is the “Just a big old mansion” portion Paul Frees, the narration at 3:41 is Thurl Ravenscroft.

  6. So… was the mystery really whether or not he was ever part of the attraction that guests actually saw, or is the mystery why he was really removed and then what happened to him? It seems to me the second question is more interesting, and it remains unanswered…

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