There are several different versions told of the story that you see inside the Haunted Mansion. Part of the reason is because there were several different Imagineers working on the ride, all wanting to add their own element. Read "A Little History on the Haunted Mansion" written by Jonathan Briehl, and you'll get an idea as to why several different stories have come about.
|Photo courtesy of My Dreams of Disney|
The storyline I'm going to inform you of was relayed to me on a Keys to the Kingdom Tour back in 2005. For me, the Haunted Mansion ride makes so much more sense now that I've heard the following storyline and explanation...
The Story: Many years ago, Master Gracey and Emily were engaged, but Madame Leota was also in love with Master Gracey. Leota believed that if Emily were “gone” Master Gracey would then fall in love with her and they could get married. On Master Gracey and Emily’s wedding day, Leota killed Emily and put her body in a trunk and put the trunk in the attic of the mansion. Well, Master Gracey was so distraught over Emily’s death that he hung himself. Madame Leota was left to haunt the mansion after she presumably died of old age.
Explanation of the Ride: Did you know that you become the 1000th happy haunt within the Mansion? The ride begins with You entering this haunted house many many years after these 3 have died. As you enter, you “think” you see the pictures on the walls following you or changing (in the first room). Then you walk into the stretching room and you’re still not sure if your eyes are playing tricks on you or not. Suddenly the lights go out, and when you look up, you see the hanging body of Master Gracey. You are now scared so you “run” to find a way out of the house... (this is where you board a doom buggy). You “run” through the hallway, and library, where you see the pictures looking at you. You enter a room where you see Madame Leota calling up the ghosts/spirits to haunt the house and scare you away (this is where you see her face in the glass ball). Now that Madame Leota has "awakened" the ghosts, the ballroom scene is the first room that you actually see "real" ghosts. You keep running and find yourself in the attic where you see the ghost of Emily in a wedding dress (and heart beating), next to her is the trunk containing Emily’s body – (if you look closely, you’ll see her wedding dress hanging out of the trunk.) Emily is angry, restless, and strikes out at the first thing she sees (which is you). Emily pushes you out the window (this is when the doom buggy tips backward and you descend down a hill – if you look to the right you’ll see the broken attic window that you just "fell" out of). You do not survive this fall and are killed, this is why the care taker and his dog are shaking when they see you... you are now a ghost... and the ghosts in the grave yard are celebrating your death. Since you are a ghost now, the other ghosts appear more “solid” to you. The ride ends with Madame Leota (that freaky little doll in the purple dress) telling you to remember to bring your death certificate if you want to return and "retire" at the mansion.
So the story has already taken place when you enter the haunted house, the ride is “your story” of entering the house, becoming scared, trying to find a way out, but getting killed by Emily and becoming the 1000th ghost.
Again, I'll say that the above story is just one of many versions. Tomorrow, Jonathan will give a few more side-stories explaining what some of the imagineers had envisioned for the Haunted Mansion.
The Walt Disney World Trivia Book: Secrets, History & Fun Facts Behind the Magic, Louis A. Mongello. 2004.