Posted on Monday, May 11th, 2015 by Peter Sciretta
Last month we learned that Ryan Gosling is in talks to star in Guillermo del Toro‘s long-in-development big screen adaptation of Walt Disney’s classic theme park ride The Haunted Mansion. When del Toro announced the film at the 2010 San Diego Comic Con International, he revealed that the Hatbox Ghost would be a pivotal character in his adaptation. The hatbox ghost is a Disneyland legend, a character that appeared originally in the attraction but mysteriously disappeared shortly after the attraction’s debut. Good news for Disneyland fanatics like me, the Mouse House have finally brought the Hatbox Ghost back to his home over the weekend.
Update: Disney has released a new behind the scenes video showing how the Hat Box Ghost has been resurrected for Disneyland’s 60th annual diamond celebration. Watch that video below:
Disney has also released a bunch of photos of the new Hatbox Ghost from the classic Haunted Mansion attraction:
I was lucky enough to visit Disneyland over the weekend and get a first hand glimpse of the Hatbox Ghost back where he belongs in the mansion. The projection effect looks amazing, and yet somehow the audio animatronic figure looks like he fits right in with all the other characters in this attraction. I was a little bit worried that the effect might look out of place compared to the props and figures that proceed and follow the character’s appearance, but somehow the Disney Imagineers were able to retain a classic appearance for this new addition. What follows is our original story from April 10th 2015:
When The Haunted Mansion opened in 1969, The Hatbox Ghost could be seen in the ride’s attic scene. Described as “an elderly ghost in a cloak and top hat, leaning on a cane with a wavering hand and clutching a hatbox in the other,”and the moment was built around an effect that would have seen his head vanish from atop his shoulders and reappear alternately inside his hatbox, supposedly in time with an adjacent bride figure’s beating heart.
The character disappeared from the attraction, as rumor has it the illusion didn’t quite work due to its close proximity to the ride vehicles. Here is some more information on the character from wiki:
The Hatbox Ghost was installed inside The Haunted Mansion and in place for cast member (park employee) previews on the nights of August 7 and 8, 1969.Almost immediately, it became apparent that the effect had failed, as ambient light in the attraction’s attic scene prevented the specter’s face from disappearing fully, despite the turning off of its designated spotlight. Attempts were made to remedy technical problems, but the effect wasn’t convincing enough, and the ghost was decommissioned after a few months. … While it is unknown what became of The Hatbox Ghost, there are speculations as to his fate. … Because the Hatbox Ghost featured prominently in artwork and narration for popular Haunted Mansion record albums sold for many years at Disney parks, and because Disney continues to market the ghost’s image, he has never been forgotten and has become somewhat of a legend, complete with cult following. Many fans of the ride wish to see him returned and have gone so far as to circulate petitions calling for the figure’s restoration.
Well those fans will finally have their day in May as the figure will return to the classic Walt Disney theme park dark ride. And just in time for the possibly now-back-on-track Disney feature film adaptation. Disney has even released a teaser concept art image of the new Hatbox Ghost, which you can see below.
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