Walt Disney World Memories: Room For One More in the enchanted mansion

For more than 50 years, guests have come face to face with the 999 ghouls, ghosts and happy goblins in the enchanted mansion of Magic Kingdom Park. My first otherworldly encounter with this opening day attraction was in July 1983. Before that visit, I had never been inside a haunted house. I, at the age of seven, only heard the attraction during that first trip, as I had buried my head in my mother’s lap throughout the trip. Five years later, I finally saw the playful spirits and quickly fell in love with the mysterious mansion. Since today is Halloween, we are once again visiting this Disney park classic for the most magical celebration in the world.

Throughout 1970, the construction of this attraction moved rapidly to Florida, as Walt Disney Imagineers had produced props, stage pieces, and Audio-Animtronics figures for the Disneyland and Walt Disney World versions at the same time. The show building was one of the first buildings to be completed in Magic Kingdom Park in the spring of 1971.

The exterior of the enchanted mansion in Magic Kingdom Park

Unlike the New Orleans-inspired mansion that opened at Disneyland Park in August 1969, the Florida version resembles a large mansion that is possibly located in the Hudson River Valley of the state of New York. With its Gothic Renaissance architectural style, I always feel an “aura of foreboding” as I approach the outside.

Tombstones outside the enchanted mansion in Magic Kingdom Park

The cemetery plot outside the mansion contains some of my favorite details. The headstones salute the Disney Imagineers who worked on this attraction, such as Claude Coats, Yale Gracey, Marc Davis, Fred Joerger, Gordon Williams, Harriet Burns, Dave Burkhart, Chuck Myall, Bob Sewell and Wathel Rogers.

For the opening of the attraction in 1971, the tombstones were created with the same molds as those found at Disneyland. Years later, they were replaced in Florida by versions of real stone.

Madame Letoa's tombstone outside the enchanted mansion in Magic Kingdom Park

In early 2002, spirits communicated from regions beyond those that a new tombstone would soon materialize outside the mansion. I quickly went out with my film camera to capture images of the tombstone of Madame Leota, which is a tribute to Walt Disney Imagineer and Disney legend Leota Toombs Thomas. He appears as the incorporeal fortune teller in the session hall scene. Don’t blink or you might miss out on a little extra magic.

The mansion cemetery was expanded in 2011, adding new creepy headstones and crypts with which guests can interact on the way to the attraction.

A collage of the enchanted mansion at Magic Kingdom Park at night

The night is my favorite time to visit. In October 2002, Disney Parks Merchandise held the “999 Happy Haunts Ball,” a themed event at Magic Kingdom Park to celebrate this beloved classic attraction. I brought my camera back to capture the beautiful mansion and pet cemetery nearby.

I invite you to “come back quickly” to the enchanted mansion in the next 18 months as Walt Disney World Resort celebrates its 50th anniversary.th Birthday. Beware of ghosts hitchhiking if you decide to join us. Be sure to follow Disney Parks Blog and #DisneyWorld50 on social media as we continue to document this amazing moment in our history.

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