The Haunted Mansion in Disneyland (and the Magic Kingdom) is one of my favorite rides and this year we got to see the newest addition that is actually a return from the earliest days of the ride – the Hatbox Ghost. Fortunately, we captured him during the ride and even though he was in the longer video I wanted to pull this section out because of the significance of the character and his return.
The Hatbox Ghost is an animatronic character that appeared originally in the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland but was removed shortly after the attraction’s debut. Located formerly in the ride’s attic scene, the figure is described as “an elderly [male] ghost in a cloak and top hat, leaning on a cane with a wavering hand and clutching a hatbox in the other.”
The Hatbox Ghost figure 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 its designated spotlight going dark. Attempts were made to remedy technical problems, but the effect wasn’t convincing enough, and the ghost was decommissioned after a few months.
On April 10, 2015, it was officially confirmed that the Hatbox Ghost figure would return to Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion in May 2015. It was later announced that the first day of the character’s return would be May 9, 2015.
The 2015 installation of the Hatbox Ghost figure is a new animatronic, designed to resemble the original. The new version’s face is an animation that is projected onto the figure, similarly to the “Constance the Bride” figure. The character looks back and forth and narrows his eyes before his head dissolves into mist and vanishes. As the head vanishes, a chuckle can be heard. The head then appears inside the hatbox before disappearing again, but without an accompanying chuckle, and the head vanishes into the shadows without any mist. [SOURCE]