On May 1, Disney Parks Blog released the re-appearance date for the Hatbox Ghost to Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion. The Hatbox Ghost will once again grace the dark ride with his presence beginning May 9, just ahead of the official start to the Disneyland’s 60th anniversary celebration.
The Hatbox Ghost originally appeared in the attraction when it opened in 1969. In a history traced by Haunted Mansion-focused fan site Doom Buggies, the figure used a special effect that would make his head disappear from his shoulders and reappear within the hatbox he held, hence his name. The effect wasn’t successful, and the Hatbox Ghost was removed shortly after the attraction opened.
Despite his brief residency in the Haunted Mansion, the Hatbox Ghost has kept quite a following among Disney fans. And it’s something Disney has played to in promoting recent events, including upcoming Disneyland’s 60th anniversary.
Disney Parks Blog had first hinted at the return of the Hatbox Ghost to Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion back in January. The site referenced updates to the attraction that appeared with the removal of Haunted Mansion Holiday, the ride’s seasonal Christmas overlay. By that time, Disneyland had added a window that appears when Omnimover vehicles, known as Doom Buggies, leave the attic scene and head toward the cemetery scene near the ride’s end.
Sharp-eyed Disney guests had noticed the new window and had questioned whether that small window was a simple enhancement. Many speculated, correctly, that a more substantial addition would come to Haunted Mansion part of the Disneyland Resort Diamond Celebration, the official name for the anniversary. The hope was those additions would include the Hatbox Ghost.
The Hatbox Ghost also has been featured prominently in park promotional materials and merchandise, so his ghostly presence remained felt. The Hatbox Ghost has become something of a cult figure among Disney fans, something the Disney Parks recognized in celebrating the attraction’s 40th anniversary in 2009 with the release of related merchandise.
In 2013, the D23 Expo revealed a new version of the Hatbox Ghost, a large Audio-Animatronic (A100 figure) that moved fluidly, albeit without the hatbox. At the expo Imagineers wouldn’t confirm or deny the Hatbox Ghost’s return to the Haunted Mansion, but its presence was taken as a sign Walt Disney Imagineering was planning to re-introduce a version of the figure as part of Disneyland’s 60th anniversary.
The reappearance of the Hatbox Ghost to Haunted Mansion is several special enhancements to attractions debuting to mark Disneyland’s 60th anniversary. The Disneyland Resort Diamond officially begins May 22.