If you’re a Disneyland aficionado, the animatronic character known as the Hatbox Ghost from the Haunted Mansion attraction has long been the stuff of urban legend. A creepy spirit whose head vanishes from his neck and then suddenly appears in a hatbox that he’s holding, the character has shown up on tons of officially licensed merchandise for the Mansion since the attraction opened up way back in August of 1969, despite the character not actually being in the ride itself.
For years, park guests from back in the day swore they saw old ‘hatty in the ride, even though Disney’s official word on the Hatbox Ghost has always been that he never actually appeared in the Mansion, due to the effects not working properly. However, it was recently discovered that the character was indeed one of the 999 Happy Haunts, thanks to some digging done from a hardcore Haunted Mansion fan, but only for a few days.
But now as part of Disneyland’s 60th Anniversary celebration this year, the Disney Imagineers have decided to finally bring the Hatbox Ghost home, with an all new animatronic figure created with modern special effects technology. Ol’ Hatty is back in the attic scene, right where he was always meant to be. Imagineering is also adding several new updated features to many of the classic Disneyland rides for the park’s 60th, including a new Yeti for the Matterhorn Bobsleds and a new nursery scene for Peter Pan’s flight, but the Hatbox Ghost is the first of the new additions to debut. Rumor has it that the Hatbox Ghost will feature prominently in Guillermo del Toro’s long in development Haunted Mansion movie, so that could be another reason why he’s making his long-awaited return.