Origins of the Ghostly Hitchhikers

Last year we acquired the Ghostly Hitchhikers from the Haunted Mansion at Disney World, Florida. Since then, they’ve been exemplary co-tenants with us in the office. They’re also wonderful conversation starters when clients visit. Almost everyone who’s been to Disneyland or Disney World recognize them immediately on sight. The attraction is one of the most popular at either theme parks.

Having recently been to the Haunted Mansion at Disney World, I can’t help but realize how much thought went into its creation. There is so much going on during the ride that I always see something new each time. The lighting, music, overall narrative, side stories, animatronics, pace & cadence of the ride, smoke and mirror effects–all require intricate planning and precise execution. It’s simply a marvel how it all comes together.

Of course, all that is a result of inspirations that came from somewhere. If you are a fan of the Haunted Mansion and are curious to know the ins and outs of this fan-favorite ride, then you must read this terrific blog called, Long Forgotten. The tagline is great: “Things you’re just supposed to know.” The site is “dedicated to critical examination and historical review of the Haunted Mansions.” It sets out to explore “ruminations and revelations concerning the history and artistry of the Disney Parks’ richest and most eccentric masterpiece.”

The most recent post is in part about the origins of Ghostly Hitchhikers. Citing comic books, Twilight Zone episodes and 19th century magazines, the post concludes with this:

The Haunted Mansion version may best be described as an amalgam of several different elements from several different ghost stories and urban legends. It is possible that the Strand illustration  was one source of inspiration contributing a few ingredients to the finished recipe, but we’ll probably never know.

Needless to say, the new CG hitchhikers at WDW (which may well wind up in Disneyland eventually) take their inspiration from different sources altogether.

Read the rest of the post for a more in-depth analysis.