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EVERY Ghost In Disney’s Haunted Mansion And Their Story
For well over 60 years, The Haunted Mansion has been one of Disney’s most beloved — and studied — attractions. Many of us have long been fascinated with the backstories of the “Grim Grinning Ghosts” featured in the ride.
You’re in luck. We’ve assembled a complete guide to nearly every one of the major happy haunts who appear in the iconic attraction .
Haunted Mansion Ghosts
Arguably the most developed character on the attraction who utters the famous “Welcome, foolish mortals” line, the Ghost Host serves as the Haunted Mansion’s narrator. That’s of course in addition to his hanging corpse appearing in the stretching room, arguably the singular most iconic visual in the attraction.
Victor Geist is the cape and top hat-wearing pianist who played the grand piano located in the Mansion’s grand hall.
Constance Hatchaway is the murderous bride who inhabits the Haunted Mansion’s attic, wielding her hatchet and waiting for another groom she can marry and then, well, separate their head from their body.
The tallest of the three hitchhiking ghosts, who lives his afterlife as a vagabond.
Professor Phineas Plump
The most rotund of the three Hitchhiking Ghosts, Phineas was a snake oil salesman who “traveled the country hocking snake oil at train depots. He crossed over to the spirit realm while experimenting with a new miracle concoction and still keeps his trusty carpet bag by his side, eager to make another sale.”
The third and shortest of the three Hitchhiking Ghosts, Gus was a prisoner who “committed no crimes” in life, but was still cursed to wear a ball and chain in death.
One of the singing busts who serenades guests with “Grim Grinning Ghosts” in the graveyard, Rolo Rumkin’s name is a tribute to legendary Disney Imagineer Rolly Crump.
Uncle Theodore is another of the busts in the Haunted Mansion graveyard, with vocals and performance provided by Thurl Ravenscroft. His bust is notably the only broken one of the group, a story choice that developed as a way to fix a technical issue with the footage of Ravesncroft.
Another of the singing busts, Cousin Algernon is recognizable as he’s the only of the busts to be wearing a hat.
The fourth singing bust, Ned Nub’s vocal and projected acting performance is provided by Jay Meyer.
The fifth of the singing busts, Pock is notable for having a tombstone that reads “Here Lies Phineas Pock. Laid to Rest Beneath this Rock” outside the Disneyland version of the attraction. A character of the same name appeared on a Haunted Mansion radio ad voiced by Paul Frees.
The iconic Hatbox Ghost was long been an urban legend amongst Disney fans, as the original animatronic was removed from the Mansion’s attic scene very shortly after opening. After decades of rumor, a new version of the figure was added back into the Disneyland version of the attraction in 2015. A backstory for the character has never been confirmed, though many speculate that he is either one of Constance’s victims or her accomplice. Given the casting of Jared Leto in the upcoming film, it’s likely that the character will be getting a backstory pretty soon.
Madame Leota – AKA the floating head in the crystal ball — is one of the most recognizable and merchandised Haunted Mansion characters. Leota has had several backstories, with the Disneyland version having been a medium who performed seances, brewed potions, and cast magic spells while the Walt Disney World version presents her as a witch who served the infamous Salem Witch Trials. In addition, the Memento Mori gift shop is themed to have been her home during corporeal life.
Graves/Busts in the Haunted Mansion Cemetery
Captain culpepper clyne.
Captain Clyne is a sea captain whose tub-shaped crypt sits outside the Walt Disney World version of Haunted Mansion, with an inscription that proclaims he “braved the seas and all her wrath, but drowned on land while taking a bath.” The character is loosely based on the painting of The Mariner that has long hung in the Mansion, which itself was based loosely on the character of Captain Gore, a holdover from Ken Anderson’s original blue sky version of the attraction known as Bloodmere Manor.
Master Gracey, named after Imagineer Yale Gracey, is one of the best known names amongst Haunted Mansion characters thanks to a tombstone outside the attraction which reads “Master Gracey laid to rest. No mourning please at his request.” While fan speculation — and the 2003 film — name Gracey as the master of the house, it’s never been canonically established in the attraction.
The patriarch of the Dread family, whose poisoning at the hands of Bertie led to the deaths of the whole family. His epitaph reads, “Greed was the poison he had swallowed. He went first, the others followed.”
Bertie Dread is one of the members of the Dread family whose tombstones are located in the crypts outside the Magic Kingdom Mansion. Big game hunter Bertie was shot to death by Florence Dread in retaliation for his use of venom from his prized snake — which is featured on his tombstone — to poison her husband Jacob Dread.
Florence Dread, whose epitaph read that she “Never did a dishonorable deed, yet found face down in canary seed” was the matriarch of the Dread family. She murdered Bertie in relation for his murder of her husband, Jacob. Florence herself was killed by the young twins Wellington and Forsythia Dread .
Wellington and Forsythia Dread are the young twins of the Dread family who murdered Florence Dread in order to steal her inheritance. However, they themselves would be murdered by Cousin Maude.
The final surviving member of the Dread family, Cousin Maude murdered the twins with a hammer in order to acquire the inheritance of every one of her deceased family members. She herself would perish when her home burned down — due to the matches she used as hair-pins. Maude is notable for being the only Dread family member to appear inside the Mansion, as a painting of her surrounded by flames is seen in Phineas’s bag during the Hitchhiking Ghost scene.
The epitaph for Francis Xavier reads, “Requiescat Francis Xavier. No time off for good behavior “R.I.P.” which is a tribute to Xavier “X” Atencio who wrote the script for the Haunted Mansion, and the lyrics for “Grim Grinning Ghosts.”
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3 Replies to “EVERY Ghost In Disney’s Haunted Mansion And Their Story”
I’ve been listening to the original recording of the Haunted Mansion since I was very little. I was born in 1969 so it’s close to my heart. Even though I have tattoos of Madame Leota and the Hat Box Ghost, I have to say the Ghost Host is my favorite. The voice will forever be imbedded in my fondest memories. Still to this day, I play the original story for all the neighborhood kids every Halloween.
I love them all, but always in awe at Madame Leota and the Hat Box Ghost. Another favorite is the little ghost above you as you area almost to the end that talks and says “come back, come back”. What is her story?
Hi Janelle! Fun fact, the little ghost (or as we like to call her “Little Leota”) over the exit that says “Hurry back” is Leota Toombs, who was a Disney Imagineer. It’s her face they used for Madame Leota in the seance room, but because her voice was a bit higher they chose to use Eleanor Audley’s voice (who also provided the voices for Lady Tremaine in Cinderella and Maleficent in Sleeping Beauty, but it’s Leota Toomb’s real voice that you hear from Little Leota. 🙂
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The Phantom Five in Disneyland, with two owls behind them.
The Phantom Five are a group of ghostly minstrels that appear in the graveyard scene of the Haunted Mansion .
- 1.1 Appearance
- 1.2.1 Effects
- 1.2.2 Origins
- 2.1.1 Walt Disney World
- 3.1 The Haunted Mansion (2003 film)
- 3.2 The Haunted Mansion (video game)
- 3.3 Disney Kingdoms
- 3.4 Disney Crossy Road
- 5 Referances
Description [ ]
Appearance [ ].
Each member of the band is seen playing an instrument: one a small harp, one a horn, one a flute, one a bagpipe, and one a set of bones to pound the tempo with on a tomb. The band has its own music tracks separate from the ride's base track. A family of cats and some owls can be seen and heard joining in as well.
Development History [ ]
Effects [ ].
Interestingly, the instruments they appear to be playing are not always those which were actually used in the soundtrack's recording. In place of bagpipes, an oboe was used since the bagpipes proved too difficult to work with. Some tracks, such as those of both the Flute and the Trumpet, were created by recording the music being played backwards (exact retrograde), then playing the track in reverse to create odd, unnatural breath effects. The music for the Bagpipes was actually provided by an oboe, played out of tune, and the drumming sounds were produced by banging stones together. The Harp is the only instrument played normally.
The Musicians who recorded the Music used for the instruments are; Gordon Schoenberg (oboe/"bagpipes"), Chet Ricord ("drummer"), Art Smith (flute), Doris Hultz Johnson (Harp), and Cappy Lewis (trumpet/"horn").
Origins [ ]
Concept art of the Phantom Drummer of Tedworth
The ghostly drummer's design greatly resembles a character from a piece by Marc Davis . The character, who is labelled as the Drummer of Tedworth, is a ghost named William Drury, taken from real life folklore, who haunted his former landlord by tormenting him with the sound of his drumming after being evicted for his association with a Romani Band. 
Appearances [ ]
The haunted mansion [ ].
The Phantom Five appear in the graveyard playing an instrumental of Grim Grinning Ghosts in a small plot surrounded by trees. Animals such as owls and cats sing with them as the Hellhound howls on a nearby hillside.
Walt Disney World [ ]
The instrument of the Phantom Five can be seen etched into the Composer 's crypt in the queue for this attraction and play music when touched. The other side of the crypt has more macabre instruments including objects inspired by the Museum of the Weird and the One-Eyed Black Cat .
Other Appearances [ ]
The haunted mansion (2003 film) [ ].
The Phantom Five appears in one scene in the form of musical instruments when Jim Evers enters Madame Leota's chamber and begin annoying him when he and Leota are levitated, wherein the latter warns the former to save himself and his family. The band later chases Jim through the halls until he enters a room containing a set of stairs to the attic wherein he slams the door shut and the instruments collide.
The Haunted Mansion (video game) [ ]
The Phantom Five appear in the Conservatory after clearing the room. Two of them comment about the band needing "more cowbell".
Disney Kingdoms [ ]
In Disney Kingdoms' Haunted Mansion comics, the Phantom Five are ghosts summoned by Madame Leota to guide Danny Crowe through the Endless Hallway to the Grand Hall . They are later seen in a crowd of ghosts lead by Pickwick .
Disney Crossy Road [ ]
All but one (the flute player) Phantom Five members are playable characters in this mobile game.
- Because they are more famous, the Singing Busts are often mistaken by fans as being the Phantom Five (due to both being musical groups in the graveyard made up of 5 undead musical artists)
- If the Drummer ghost is truly intended to be the Drummer of Tedworth then this puts him (and quite possible the rest of the band) in the same distinction as Medusa , Dracula and the Flying Dutchman of being a character appearing the mansion who is a figure in real life stories of the supernatural.
Referances [ ]
- ↑ https://longforgottenhauntedmansion.blogspot.com/2010/07/phantom-five-and-drummer-of-tedworth.html
- 1 Alistair Crump
- 2 Hatbox Ghost
- 3 Madame Leota
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The Haunted Mansion MagicBand+
This will ship on or around 01/01/2500. You will be notified via email when it is ready to ship.
Product Details Product Details Product Details Safety Warnings Inside
MagicBand+ lets you engage with Disney moments like never before as it reacts to select park interactions with lighting effects and gesture recognition. Make your trips to the Parks spooktacular with this design inspired by The Haunted Mansion attraction.
- Includes one MagicBand+ with The Haunted Mansion design
- Strap features geometric design with characters from The Haunted Mansion including Constance Hatchaway, Hatbox Ghost, the Singing Busts, Pickwick and more
- Tappable icon features the Hatbox Ghost
- Inspired by The Haunted Mansion attraction
Immerse yourself in Disney stories using some exciting features of MagicBand+, including:
- Customizable, full-spectrum color-changing lights that interact with select nighttime spectaculars
- Vibrations that bring experiences to life in an immersive way
- Gesture recognition, enabling magical surprises
- Bluetooth pairing and connectivity to smart devices, allowing you to customize and manage your band through the My Disney Experience app or the Disneyland app
- Star Wars: Batuu Bounty Hunters interactive quest, which lets you be a bounty hunter at Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge (valid theme park admission and park reservation required)
- Enchanting interactions with the Disney Fab 50 Character Collection, the golden sculptures spread throughout the Walt Disney World Resort theme parks
Plus, MagicBand+ allows you to:
- Enter theme parks at Walt Disney World Resort and the Disneyland Resort (valid park admission and reservation required)
- Check in at Lightning Lane entrances (separate valid Lightning Lane entry required)*
- Link Disney PhotoPass photos to your Disney account
At Walt Disney World Resort, you can also unlock your Disney Resort room with a single tap and easily charge food and merchandise purchases to the payment card on file at your Disney Resort hotel room during your stay.
If you have a MagicBand+ for Walt Disney World Resort or Disneyland Resort, you can use your band as a DisneyBand+ on your Disney cruise.
MagicBand+ features will vary between different Disney vacation experiences.
For the best experience, fully charge your MagicBand+ prior to use. Interactive experiences, lights, vibrations, and automatic photo association require a battery charge, but access features like tapping to enter theme parks, Lightning Lane entrances and Disney Resort hotel room doors at Walt Disney World Resort do not require a charged band.
Remember to pair your MagicBand+ with your smartphone and make sure you have the latest software updates using My Disney Experience or the Disneyland mobile app.†
Learn more about MagicBand+ at Walt Disney World Resort. Learn more about MagicBand+ at the Disneyland Resort. Learn about DisneyBand+ on board Disney Cruise Line ships.
What's in the Box:
- One MagicBand+
- Integrated rechargeable battery and charging cable
What Is MagicBand+? MagicBand+ allows you to engage with many of the plans and vacation choices you've made for Walt Disney World Resort or the Disneyland Resort. With a simple tap to a touch point, you can check in at Lightning Lane entrances (separate valid Lightning Lane entry required), enter Walt Disney World Resort or the Disneyland Resort theme parks (with valid park admission and a theme park reservation), connect Disney PhotoPass images to your account and more!
MagicBand+ is a colorful, waterproof wristband—resembling a watch or bracelet—that you can quickly and easily tap to touch points located throughout the Walt Disney World Resort and the Disneyland Resort. You can assign your admission ticket via the My Disney Experience app or the Disneyland app and then use your MagicBand+ to enter the Walt Disney World Resort or Disneyland Resort parks (with valid admission and a theme park reservation).††
- MagicBand+ provides comfort and flexibility in how the Guest chooses to wear the technology.
- Every MagicBand+ has two different sized bands built in and can be sized to fit most Guests' wrists.
- To make the band a smaller size, push the inner band away from the outer band by using a thumb or index finger. Peel the MagicBand+ swiftly for best results.
- Plastic tabs clip securely into holes on the MagicBand+ wrist strap.
- Make sure the MagicBand+ is fitted securely against your wrist with the square sensor facing up. The visual ID is etched on the back of the center icon of your band.
*If purchased via Disney Genie+ service or individual Lightning Lane entry.
**Unlocking your Disney Resort Hotel room door and charging privileges are only available to Guests who stay in a Walt Disney World Resort hotel.
†The My Disney Experience app and the Disneyland app are available for iPhone®, iPad® and smartphones for Android™. Message, data and roaming rates may apply. Availability subject to handset limitations and features may vary by handset or service provider. Coverage and app stores are not available everywhere. If you're under 18, get your parents' permission first. iPhone is a trademark of Apple Inc., registered in the US and other countries. App Store is a service mark of Apple Inc. Android is a trademark of Google Inc.
†† Park admission is not included with MagicBand+ purchase. Both a valid park admission and reservation for the same park on the same date are required for theme park entry.
Please Note: Due to the unique nature of this item, there are no refunds, exchanges or returns.
- One band fits most
- Thermoplastic polyurethane / electronics
- Bands each: 10 1/2'' L x 1'' W x 1/4'' D
Disney may be able to infer your location when you choose to carry your MagicBand+ at select Disney parks, Disney Resort hotels and Disney vacation experiences. If you're setting up and linking a MagicBand+ on behalf of another Guest, ensure you have the necessary consent to do so. Read answers to frequently asked questions about Guest privacy. FCC Compliance Information This device complies with Part 15 of FCC Rules. Operation is subject to the following two conditions:
- This device may not cause harmful interference
- This device must accept any interference received, including interference that may cause undesired operation
Item No. 419071153063
This item cannot be shipped internationally. This item cannot be shipped to an APO or FPO address.
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Haunted Mansion Hitchhiking Ghosts Open Edition MagicBand released
August 22, 2016 Ethan MagicBands , Themed 17
The second of the five new MagicBands I predicted would be released soon is now out. This one is an Open Edition band for $22.99 and features the Hitchhiking Ghosts from the Haunted Mansion attraction. The SKU/barcode is 400000689562 and can be found today in the Shop Disney Parks mobile app or at the Walt Disney World theme parks.
This band is a normal gray base band with graphics, despite this picture from Disney showing it on a dark gray-blue band color.
- haunted mansion
- Hitchhiking Ghosts
Great magicband! Have you heard any rumblings of Dumbo being released soon? I’m shocked he hasn’t got his own band yet.
Nope, still nothing. I am surprised as well!
I’m waiting for Dumbo too! He’s been my favorite for my entire life, and I know I’m not the only one, so I can’t believe Disney’s leaving him out of all the MagicBand fun!
Someone needs to mention this to Disney. It’s been years since Magicbands have come out, and their missing a major character who also has a flagship ride!
I saw that today. I hope someone finds out if the band is thin Gen 2?
If by “Gen 2” you mean the thinner style, then the answer is yes. All new bands (meaning new graphic bands previously not released) are all the thinner style now. Even old designs are switching to the thinner style slowly.
It is ‘glow-in-the-dark’?
Good question! Hopefully someone who has it can chime in.
No I purchased one two days ago in the parks, it does not glow in the dark although the light blue color may appear it glow in a dark ride, like a white shirt would as well.
Does this make a special sound effect when you scan for a fast pass?
Nope, that’s only for Limited Editions.
When on earth are the food and wine bands out?
I’m not sure if they are making Food & Wine bands this year… which is shocking to me. We still have a few weeks left until it starts, but I still haven’t heard a peep about them.
It appears to be the same grey as the standard magicband grey. It doesn’t flow in the dark either.
I bought the band the day it was released! I wish it glows in the dark (it appears it would) but unfortunately it does not! It’s still a cool design though!
Hitchhiking Ghosts from the Haunted Mansion color in computer rendering really rocks from band color to ghost colors. The actual band is too bland in coloring. Glad I didn’t buy one online. I prefer to see one in person rather than buy if the design works.
Still hoping against hope a King Louie, or TRON, or Robin Hood band shows up between now and the end of the month!
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New Haunted Mansion Dooney and Bourke MagicBand
Posted on Last updated: April 30, 2021
Dooney and Bourke’s latest Disney MagicBand has made a ghostly appearance at Disney World! The new limited edition Haunted Mansion MagicBand by Dooney & Bourke is a frightful addition to the Haunted Mansion 2020 collection released in September 2020.
Haunted Mansion Dooney and Bourke MagicBand 2021 Box Lid – Photo by WDWNT
Similar to other Disney Dooney & Bourke MagicBands, it comes in a beautiful gift box.
Haunted Mansion Dooney and Bourke MagicBand 2021 – Photo by WDWNT
The MagicBand features the same allover print inspired by Disney’s iconic attraction The Haunted Mansion in a playful, pastel color palette with pinks, greens, purples, and blues on a beautiful teal background.
The pattern includes characters from the Haunted Mansion ride, including Madame Leota, the Hitchhiking Ghosts, Caretaker, the Hatbox Ghost, singing busts, the Bride, Stretching Portraits and more.
The MagicBand also includes a gold “Dooney & Bourke” removable slider.
This Dooney & Bourke MagicBand retails for $58 + tax and is a limited edition to 2,500 pieces.
Where to buy Haunted Mansion MagicBand by Dooney and Bourke
This MagicBand is only available at Disney Parks. Can't go in-person? Connect with a personal shopper to arrange a pickup.
We’re not sure if it will be available for sale online but make sure to subscribe to our email list and you’ll be the first to know if it is released
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Grim Grinning Ghosts: The Music of Walt Disney’s Haunted Mansion
When the Haunted Mansion finally opened to guests in August 1969, its 999 resident ghosts were ready to socialize. But, as we all know, spooks don’t come out for a swinging wake without suitable musical accompaniment. Here’s how “Grim Grinning Ghosts” materialized…
Pirates Paving the Way
In the mid-1960s, Walt invited X Atencio—a WED Enterprises newcomer—to work on his upcoming pirate-themed Imagineering project. Atencio possessed decades of Disney animation experience, having lent his talents to movies such as Fantasia (1940), The Parent Trap (1961), and Mary Poppins (1964), and was keen to get involved with shaping this brand-new Disneyland offering.
In addition to his original task of creating a script , Atencio spent time considering how the pirate attraction might develop. “…I suggested to Walt maybe we should have a song in this one,” he later recalled. “I had a lyric in mind and kind of a melody, so I half sang it and half recited it.”
Walt was impressed with Atencio’s idea and advised him to take it further, with George Bruns at the musical helm. Bruns had previously composed music for a variety of Disney films, perhaps most notably Sleeping Beauty (1959). Following Walt’s instruction, Bruns and Atencio worked together to write “Yo Ho (A Pirate’s Life for Me)”, which would go on to become synonymous with Disney Parks across the world
The Vision for the Haunted Mansion: Scary or Humorous?
Atencio’s next task was to somehow replicate the success of his Pirates theme song and script for Walt’s new “ghost house” attraction, which had been discussed and shelved several times since the 1950s. But following Walt’s death in 1966, the Haunted Mansion project had become clouded by creative disagreement. “Great debate arose between Marc [Davis] and Claude [Coats] about whether the Haunted Mansion should be scary or funny,” explained Atencio’s daughter, Tori Atencio McCullough.
In the midst of the confusion, it was up to scriptwriter X Atencio to decide how to tie a range of conflicting ideas into one solid storyline, supported by music and lyrics. The team’s haunted house—a symbol of classic spooky thrills—needed to take a uniquely Disney angle and work for a family audience.
Ultimately—and poignantly—it was Walt’s vision that reigned. “Almost by default, X returned to Walt’s original concept of a retirement home in which displaced spirits could spend their afterlives haunting any unsuspecting guests who came calling,” wrote Disney Historian Jason Surrell, in his book The Haunted Mansion: Imagineering a Disney Classic. Now that a final idea had been selected, Atencio could move forward with the attraction music.
Buddy Baker, the Music Mastermind Behind "Grim Grinning Ghosts"
Composer Buddy Baker had previously contributed to Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color , and later scored both “Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln” and the “Carousel of Progress” attractions for the 1964/65 New York World’s Fair. Already familiar with Imagineering projects—and a highly-respected veteran within his field—he was brought in to work on the Mansion ’s theme composition with Atencio.
The finished arrangements and lyrics skilfully towed the line between funny and frightening, just as Atencio had planned: “[The ghosts] terrorize, but their main point was to socialize. Walt bought that idea… ‘Socialize’ is the key word,” he explained. Atencio named the finished number “Grim Grinning Ghosts (The Screaming Song)”—a nod to the Shakespeare poem Venus and Adonis and a suitably juxtaposing title for such a genre-blending attraction.
Walt’s Lasting Impact on the Haunted Mansion
Although Walt had passed away almost three years before the Haunted Mansion ’s opening, his impact on the project was deeply felt, from X Atencio’s consideration of Walt’s original “retired ghosts” concept to the Imagineers’ memories of his leadership. “I didn’t even know I could write music, but somehow Walt did,” Atencio later reminisced. “He tapped my hidden talents.”
Baker agreed, fondly remembering Walt’s belief in his team: “During the 28 years I worked at the Studio, Walt never came to a recording. He had confidence in me and in everybody else. He trusted his people.”
Walt’s faith in his workers allowed them to stretch their own abilities and push the boundaries of what a Disney Park might look like. He may not have been able to experience the Haunted Mansion in person, but this attraction, which has enchanted and spooked Disney Parks guests across the globe for over fifty years, is still very much a part of his lasting legacy.
– Sophie Jo
Sophie Jo is a writer and long-time Disney fan from England. Find her tweeting @sophiejowrites or happy-crying over ' it's a small world .'
Image Sources (in order of appearance):
- McKim, Sam; concept painting of Haunted Mansion ; Courtesy of Walt Disney Imagineering; © Disney
- X. Atencio drawing Winnie the Pooh for Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree (1966); courtesy of the Walt Disney Archives Photo Library, © Disney
- Walt with Claude Coats and pirate maquette, ca. 1965, courtesy of the Walt Disney Archives Photo Library, © Disney
- Walt Disney with sculptures and pirate head, ca. 1966; courtesy of the Walt Disney Archives Photo Library, © Disney
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How ‘Haunted Mansion’ Incorporated ‘Grim Grinning Ghosts’ Into Its Score
By Jazz Tangcay
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When director Justin Simien was looking for a composer to score Disney’s “ Haunted Mansion ,” he called his frequent collaborator Kris Bowers . The two had worked together on “Dear White People” and Simien’s last feature, “Bad Hair.” “I’ve always wanted to have that relationship with the director where you work on a number of projects and develop this trust,” says Bowers.
Although it’s inspired by the ride, which is established and beloved IP, the film delves into themes of grief and relationships. What was your path to scoring the themes?
I started talking to Justin about how we might approach themes. The thing that stood out to me was this aspect of family or community. We meet Ben [Stanfield] at a point in his life where he’s rejecting people and not wanting to be in any relationship. So this idea of this group of people who help him with all that he’s gone through … made it clear to me that that would be the main theme.
In a lot of the big sections, what you hear is this familial theme. The other thing that stood out is the love theme for Ben and his wife. That sound is something that only happens a handful of times, but it’s at really impactful moments.
“Grim Grinning Ghosts” was one of the first challenges Justin mentioned to me. He wanted to see how we could reinvent it and use it in a way that didn’t feel over the top, and honor the song and ride. I found a way to create a few moments where we hear that theme, either fleshed out or reworked into variations. Other times, the first four notes are used in a leitmotif, especially when the ghosts are doing creepy things. The organ becomes useful to call us back to the sound of the ride.
What techniques did you use?
How did you pay homage to the sound of new orleans.
When you’re in Disneyland and you see the mansion, it’s so iconic, and Justin wanted to make it clear that the film was set in the city. We did a second-line piece with the Soul Rebels, and that’s the opening of the film. I wrote that with the band, and it’s a variation on “Grim Grinning Ghosts.” But throughout there are jazz elements. Sax-section moments are playing along with the orchestra. When you’re in the ghost realm, there’s a lot of improvisatory jazz that sounds like frenetic energy.
You also scored Disney+’s “Secret Invasion,” Netflix’s “Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story” and Searchlight’s “Chevalier.” What is it like having these projects come out?
This is a special collection of work that I’ve put a lot of effort into, and at a particular time in my life. “Chevalier” and “Secret Invasion” were around the time my daughter was born. It’s nice to be at a point where I can sit back and watch them with people I love.
Up next is ‘The Color Purple,’ what can you tell us about that?
I remember seeing the musical on Broadway and crying. People asked me why would they want to make another? It’s going to be worth it because Blitz Bazawule is an incredible filmmaker.
And, there’s the Bob Marley biopic ‘One Love’ also set to be released later this year, what can you share there?
It’s been amazing to see Kingsley Ben-Adir go from being in ‘Secret Invasion’ to being Bob Marley. He’s so convincing and incredible.
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