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Orange Bird Photo Hunt


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ABANDONED DISNEY: Haunted Mansion Hitchhiking Ghosts

Take a look behind-the-scenes of a four-decade favorite that is no longer what it used to be.... Magic Kingdom's Haunted Mansion Hitchhiking Ghosts.

How it worked

It is no secret that holograms were never used in The Haunted Mansion. Old stage techniques including Pepper's Ghost effects and the use of two-way mirrors are about as low-tech as you can get while still accomplishing jaw-dropping "how'd they do that" illusions. 

You'll notice in the above diagram that the "ghosts" were on a revolving track lined up with the Doombuggies on the opposite side of what look like normal mirrors. Light reflecting off human guests would reflect off the surface of the mirrors. At the same time light shining on the hitchhikers behind the mirrors would be visible through the mirrors, allowing both ghosts and humans to be seen together. Get it? It's like walking by a highly reflective office building and seeing yourself in the windows and seeing electric lights inside the building all at the same time.

The right lighting conditions were needed to pull off the illusion. If the house lights in the room behind the mirrors were to turn on, the mirrors from the other side would look more or less like clear glass. 

Disneyland or Magic Kingdom?

Seen here are two fantastic pics from Long-Forgotten where we learn that Disneyland's Hitchhiking ghosts on the "ghosty-go-round" have no hands. Hands were included in the Magic Kingdom and Tokyo Disneyland versions.

Dark Beards?

You'll notice the handless Disneyland figures happen to have white hair. And these Magic Kingdom figures have dark hair. They both are supposed to have white hair as to better reflect light through the mirrors. As was mentioned in a previous post, oil, grease, and dust cake the artificial hair of the Haunted Mansion ghosts and the hair becomes far less visible especially in the Ballroom and with the Hitchhiking Ghosts. Occasionally fresh hair could be spotted along side old dingy hair, illustrating the importance of clean, white hair.

So long, fun illusion that entertained us so well for all those years.

For the time being, we still have Disneyland's low-tech, high-entertaining, original effect:



Related posts:

The Haunted Mansion Like You've Never Seen It
I Miss Paul Frees
Little Box of Treasures
ABANDONED DISNEY: MK Fantasyland Skyway Tower
If This Doesn't Scare You.....
Pirates of the Caribbean Like You've Never Seen It
Carousel of Progress Like You’ve Never Seen It


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Reader Comments (16)

Thank You so much for this awesome post. I am a huge haunted mansion fan as well as disney fan. I really enjoyed this post. I actually got the opportunity to walk around Disneylands haunted mansion while it was closed however i did not go back behind the mirrors. Thank You.

July 27, 2011 | Unregistered Commentercamerond

It sucks that we worked there when things were so poorly maintained:(

July 27, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterdave ensign

You can tell the Walt Disney World Haunted Mansion ghost-go-'round figures from Disneyland's by their hands. Disneyland's don't have any.

July 28, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterH. B. Ghost

I do wonder what's become of the WDW figures. Have they already followed somebody home or are they laying on the floor next to Max now.

I believe that the former WDW Haunted Mansion ghost-go-'round figures are slated to be sold at auction, hazardous material innards and all.

You didn't think that Disney was going to give them away, did you?

July 30, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterH. B. Ghost

H.B. Ghost must be on the "inside" :) Asbestos covers the inside of the HM and has yet to be abated. Some folks think that Its a Small World was completely refurbished just to make it look nice again. Wrong. It rained down asbestos 24/7 and had to be taken care of! Same as Mansion and Pirates do today. Even the Jungle Cruise has heavy amounts in the temple scene. I don't want a hitchhiking ghost in my house.

August 1, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterdave ensign

Niether do I, sounds like they take thier grave job way too seriosly.

Has anyone seen how the new one looks? I missed the new ones by a week! We got the stupid projected ones! :P Maybe I should YouTube it!

August 7, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterEmily Oriotis

I bid on these figures at the D23 Expo Auction a few weeks ago. I have a link showing them in the Auction Preview Room:
The threesome sold for $38,000.00 – the highest price at the auction!

September 7, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMark Hickson

I rode the Fla Haunted Mansion and saw the new effect a week ago. They've done some amazing visual effects with what they have... HOWEVER, just like the Pepper's ghost trick in the Tower of Terror, they assume they can use cheap flat film/video (instead of animatronics in the reflection) and we won't notice the lack of dimension to these characters. It's a neat effect but the flatness is too tell/tale.

Works well in ads or commercials, but in real life, it's an insult to our stereoscopic vision/depth of field.

November 11, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSteve Ross

Hate the new projections....

April 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBrad

Wait, wait ... they no longer end the ride this way??

October 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBrian Johnson

How do they do the current effects of switching guests heads around? Is it digital now?

November 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAndrew

Thank you for noting that "It is no secret that holograms were never used in The Haunted Mansion". This is often assumed by the casual Disney guest. Actually Holograms, defined as freestanding projections of light, do not exist on ANY Disney attraction. They actually don't exist at all and it is a common misconception that they do.

In every instance that you see a hologram like effect you are actually seeing something else. In many instances the image is projected as was mentioned above, onto foggy glass, steam or another surface. In other instances a variation of Pepper's ghost is used or other classic optical principles. The only "hologram" that would be used is similar to the hologram you see on your credit card. It is an interesting illusion but it is not a projection of light into space.

December 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJosh B.

Many people exaggerate their own perceptions, either when visiting a place they believe to be haunted, or when visiting a site which they know unpleasant historical events have occurred.

October 1, 2014 | Unregistered

They shouldn't have politically corrected the Pirates of the Carribean. The horror! A pirate chasing a girl! A total joke in today's world, where LITERALLY anything goes. They escaped from the freak\mutant compound and have taken over the streets.
I also loved the 20,000 leagues submarines. Another foolish elimination. I hope they are preserved, somewhere!

February 1, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJeffy

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