Disney Sponsors Real Ghost Investigation Into Haunted Mansion

in Disney Parks, Haunted Attractions, Movies

For many years, The Walt Disney Company has maintained its unrivaled position as leader in the realm of theme park entertainment. Disney as a company is renowned for providing exceptional Guest experiences and incorporating cutting-edge technology in its parks worldwide — all on top of being powerhouses in the animation and movie-making industry.

Goofy, Minnie, Mickey, Pluto, and Donald dressed up for the Walt Disney World Halloween celebrations.
Credit: Walt Disney World Resort

Related: Disney Debuts New Haunted Mansion Mystery For Park Guests to Solve

Since its founding in Anaheim, California by Walt Disney, the Disneyland Resort has become renowned as “The Happiest Place On Earth.” Over time, the concept of the Disney Resort expanded globally, encompassing iconic destinations such as the Walt Disney World Resort and the Magic Kingdom. The Disney Resort brand further expanded its presence to international locations, including the Tokyo Disney Resort, Hong Kong Disneyland Resort, Shanghai Disney Resort, and the Disneyland Paris Resort.

But the most important aspect about these theme parks around the globe? Arguably Disney’s iconic rides, and their utmost commitment to immersion and storytelling.

Disneyland Attraction 'Haunted Mansion' and Phantom Manor
Credit: Inside the Magic

The Haunted Mansion, a Disney icon

The Haunted Mansion debuted at Disneyland in Anaheim, California on August 9, 1969, as one of the original attractions at Disneyland’s New Orleans Square.

Over the years, the immersive experience that Walt Disney never managed to see to fruition himself has become a beloved and enduring part of Disney park lore, known for its memorable characters, catchy theme song “Grim Grinning Ghosts”, and timeless appeal. To this day, the Haunted Mansion is a favorite among Disney fans, continuing to delight Guests of all ages with its mix of spooky thrills and Disney’s signature storytelling magic.

Disney Story Beyond Tokyo Disneyland Haunted Mansion Ballroom
Credit: Disney

Related: The Hidden Details You MISSED In the ‘Haunted Mansion’ Movie Trailer

Throughout the Haunted Mansion, there is a perfect blend of eerie ambiance, clever illusions, and lighthearted humor. The attraction’s theme and design vary slightly between different Disney parks, but the core elements and the iconic Ghost Host narrator remain consistent.

However, over the years, various urban legends and tales have circulated about the Haunted Mansion being haunted by real spirits. These stories often involve sightings of ghostly figures or strange occurrences attributed to supernatural activity — from rumors of hearing a little boy lost on the ride to specters leaving the Mansion caught on camera.

Haunted Mansion at Disney World
Credit: Disney Fanatic

Apart from the urban myths that surround the spooky locale, it’s become a known (alleged) fact that the Haunted Mansion is frequently subject to real-life attempts by visiting Guests wishing to scatter the ashes of their dead friends or relatives, within the ride itself.

The paranormal investigation that Disney is sponsoring

Recently, Disney sought out the media company Watcher Entertainment, who predominantly produce video content for YouTube, to conduct an investigation of the real-life “Haunted Mansion”.

Tokyo Disneyland Disney Story Beyond Constance Hatchaway Heart Bride Haunted Mansion
Credit: Disney

The ghost-hunting duo, Ryan Bergara (a believer) and Shane Madej (a skeptic), are well-known in internet spaces for their multiple successful paranormal and true crime-related web shows, originating from their Buzzfeed: Unsolved series, which saw many seasons garnering millions of views per episode. The pair subsequently branched out, starting an independent media company of their own with another ex-Buzzfeed colleague, Steven Lim, and eventually began their own, self-produced/hosted web show titled Ghost Files.

Disney Story Beyond Tokyo Disneyland Haunted Mansion Hitchhiking Ghosts
Credit: Disney

Ghost Files sees Bergara and Madej journeying to a myriad of haunted locations, treating viewers to at once fascinating history lessons and spine-tingling nighttime excursions. Equipped with and array of ghost-hunting tools and gadgets that sense temperature fluctuations, pick up sensitive recordings, and allegedly allow communication with spirits, the pair of investigators have been tasked by Disney to enter the intriguing Winchester Mystery House — a real life Haunted Mansion and one of the key inspirations for the Disneyland attraction.

Winchester Mystery House, in San Jose, California
Credit: Winchester Mystery House

The Winchester House is a unique architectural and historical marvel located in San Jose, California. Built by Sarah Winchester in the 1800s, widow of firearm magnate William Wirt Winchester, the house is known for its peculiar design due to construction that continued for decades with constant additions and renovations, due to the widow’s alleged paranoia that the ghosts of the men killed by Winchester rifles would haunt her if she stopped construction on the house. This resulted in an immense, sprawling structure with numerous staircases, doors that lead to nowhere, and secret passageways — just like Disney’s Haunted Mansion.

Haunted Mansion 2023
Credit: Disney

It’s no wonder that Disney have sponsored this as an out-of-season episode of Ghost Files, titled The Chilling Labyrinth of the Winchester Haunted Mansion to give viewers (and Disney fans) in-depth dive into the Winchester House that inspired the Haunted Mansion itself — which also helps promote the brand new film, Haunted Mansion.

Madej and Bergara have been tasked by Disney to re-enter the Winchester House once again (it being one of their first ever investigations), in order to collect evidence of hauntings or spirits. As ghost skeptic Madej and paranormal believer Bergara journey further into the home, the two hold a séance, talk to ghosts, and get lost — all while discussing the upcoming Haunted Mansion film slated to debut in theaters soon.

The new Haunted Mansion movie

Disney is clearly hoping for another Pirates of the Caribbean success story with the upcoming Haunted Mansion film that’s set to release in theaters July 28, 2023.

Haunted Mansion (2023) is directed by Justin Simien with a screenplay by Katie Dippold. Rosario Dawson stars as single mom Gabbie, while LaKeith Stanfield is paranormal investigator Ben Matthias. Joining them are Chase W. Dillon as Travis, Gabbie’s son, Owen Wilson as a priest named Kent, Tiffany Haddish the psychic as Harriet, Danny DeVito as Bruce, a college history professor, Jared Leto as Alistair Crump/Hatbox Ghost, and Jamie Lee Curtis as Madame Leota. Currently undisclosed roles include those for Hasan Minhaj, Dan Levy, and Winona Ryder.

What do you think about Disney sponsoring paranormal investigations like this to promote Haunted Mansion? Did you watch the Ghost Files episode? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

in Disney Parks, Haunted Attractions, Movies

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