Disney World fandom erupts in controversy over the upcoming Hatbox Ghost in The Haunted Mansion

For decades after the original Haunted Mansion opened in Anaheim, California's Disneyland in 1969, rumors swirled around the legendary Hatbox Ghost that originally appeared on the ride, but then quickly was removed. Apparently the effect, a ghost whose head disappeared and then reappeared within the hatbox he was holding, didn't work in the ride's lighting.

So when Disneyland added a new Hatbox Ghost to its Haunted Mansion attic scene in 2015, there was great rejoicing among Haunted Mansion fans. And it was done in great taste, with a perfectly designed figure and perfectly executed effect.

Naturally, the next question among Haunted Mansion fans was whether a Hatbox Ghost would then be added to the virtually identical Haunted Mansion ride in the Magic Kingdom in Orlando, Florida's Walt Disney World.

Last year, it was announced to almost universal celebration that a Hatbox Ghost would be coming to Orlando in 2023. But last week, it was announced that he would appear not in the attic scene, but rather in the endless hallway scene. Link to the article on Disney Tourist Blog here.

Walt Disney World announced:

Later this year at the Walt Disney World Resort, one of our most iconic specters will set up residence in the Haunted Mansion of Liberty Square in Magic Kingdom Park.

The Hatbox Ghost will appear to guests as they pass the Endless Hallway, welcoming himself inside from the swinging wake in the cemetery and grinning at the Doom Buggies as they set off deeper into the mansion. Guests will soon see temporary barriers materialize as we await his apparition.

His placement by the Endless Hallway instead of in the attic scene caused great consternation among Haunted Mansion enthusiasts.

Walt Disney World has indicated that Hatbox Ghost will appear as guests pass the Endless Hallway. This is much earlier in the ride, where guests see a candelabra floating in a never-ending hallway (hence the name). Outside the Endless Hallway, there's an armor suit on one side and a chair on the other; our guess is that one of those is being replaced–probably the chair–by Hatbox Ghost.

This means Hatbox Ghost will appear before Madame Leota's Séance Circle, and the narration indicating that the "happy haunts have received your sympathetic vibrations and are beginning to materialize. They're assembling for a swinging wake…"

The placement of Hatbox Ghost in Haunted Mansion at Magic Kingdom is thus bound to upset some fans. He'll be the first ghost to appear in the attraction, and come before Madame Leota has summoned them. Prior to this point in the attraction, there's the casket–but that's technically a corpse and not a ghost.

Foxx Nolte, a prominent Disney theme parks scholar, and author of Boundless Realm: Deep Explorations Inside Disney's Haunted Mansion, took to her Twitter/X/Whatever @Passport2Dreams account to implore Walt Disney World to reconsider.

And fans mocked Disney World's decision, proposing other incongruous placements for Hatbox Ghost.

Here is a ridethrough video of Disneyland's Haunted Mansion. Hatbox Ghost appears at 8:14.