Good evening, darlings, and thank you for reading. Welcome to our last Haunted Mansion Mondays for The MonsterGrrls' 31 Days Of Halloween, and today we will talk about a most legendary figure of this hallowed haunt--one who is not a feature of the Mansion but still regarded as its most iconic figure. That's right, it's none other than the Hatbox Ghost!
Depicted as an elderly, Victorian-era-dressed ghost in a cloak and top hat holding a hatbox, the Hatbox Ghost was originally developed for the Attic scene in the Mansion, where one meets the mysterious Bride of the Manse just before escaping through the window to the Graveyard Party below. While our dear old fiend may or may not have been a possible suitor for the ghastly grande-dame, the idea for the Hatbox Ghost was that his head would disappear from his body and reappear in the hatbox in his hand, all in time with the Bride's beating heart. Unfortunately, as noted in a DoomBuggies.com interview with Imagineer Chris Merrit, the effect was unsuccessful due to lighting problems.
"The gag was based purely on lighting. The ghost's head was illuminated by black lighting. A light inside the hatbox he held would rhythmically illuminate and hide the head in the hatbox, while, in tandem, the actual head on the ghost's shoulders would be hidden by extinguishing the black lighting."
Ambient lighting within the scene, plus the character's closeness to the Doom Buggies, prevented the spectre's face from disappearing fully. Though the Hatbox Ghost was removed from the Mansion before its public opening on August 9, 1969, he was present for several park-employee previews on August 7th and 8th, and a number of visitors claim to have seen him within the Attic for several weeks following the Mansion's grand opening, suggesting that attempts were made to make the Hatbox Ghost work properly before being removed permanently.
Shortly after the removal of the figure, the Hatbox Ghost disappeared (as did a second HBG figure produced, but never installed, for the Walt Disney World Mansion). While no one knows what has become of this singular figure (a true mystery in the annals of Disney), the Hatbox Ghost has become something of a legend in the eyes of many Mansion fans, and been prominently featured in the artwork for Disney's Haunted Mansion record albums. Also, Disney has continued to market the Ghost's image, and the Hatbox Ghost has been made the official "spooksperson" for both Disneyland Resorts' O-pin House pin trading event and this year's Haunted Holidays event.
Considering the advances made in special effects since its opening, it's certainly not impossible that the Hatbox Ghost could someday return in glory to the Haunted Mansion. All I can say to that is, hurry back... and be sure to bring your death certificate if you care to join us...
Do return tomorrow for The MonsterGrrls' 31 Days Of Halloween, darlings, as the grand and glorious day is almost upon us.
Warmest regards for the Halloween season,
POST-MORTEM: More information on the Hatbox Ghost may be found at the delightful and frightful Doombuggies.com website; merely click the link in our post above. I wish all of our readers a wonderful and joyous Halloween.
Also, I agreed to post on Tuesday instead of Monday so our Mad Doctor could promote his bloody book, so I apologize for any confusion you may be undergoing at this point.--B.R, Esq.