Discovering Hidden Secrets of the Haunted Mansion
Back when I was a Cast Member at Walt Disney World, I had the amazing opportunity to take a backstage tour of The Haunted Mansion. Now this was no ordinary tour, as we got to walk the entire ride and even enter the famous ballroom. This tour is only allowed for Disney Cast Members due to the intimate nature as well as the insurance issues involved. We literally walked within inches of the ballroom dancer animatronics as they twirled around and around. The best part of this tour was learning about the hidden Jack Skellingtons throughout the ride.
Why The Haunted Mansion Holiday never happened at WDW
During this Cast Member only version of The Haunted Mansion tour, we got the insiders details on the story behind the hidden Jacks. It seems that WDW wanted to get their own version of Haunted Mansion Holiday like the one at Disneyland, but after surveying guests and doing some research they discovered that while Disneyland’s guests are mainly locals who can always pop back once the rider is open again, while Walt Disney World caters to a more worldwide guest mix who at best visit every couple of years, or at worst only once in a lifetime. As it requires a month or so to change out the sets for this holiday version of the ride, these once in a lifetime guests can’t ride this famous attraction (and don’t have the option to come back.) When Disney Imagineering needed to shut down the ride for some well needed maintenance and new effects installed, international guests were very angry when the ride went down for just a few weeks. Shutting down the ride for this long is not usual, but you must remember the ride is generally running nonstop for over 12 hours a day, 365 days a year! Disney realized they didn’t want to disappoint guests or make them angry like that every, single year. They simply could not close a signature ride for a few weeks every year.
This is where the story gets interesting
As a compromise to the disappointed attractions hosts, when The Haunted Mansion went down for refurbishment, Imagineering placed some hidden Jack Skellingtons within the ride. Now to be clear, these are in plain view of the guests on the ride, but almost impossible to spot if you have never seen them or don’t have the luxury to walk the ride after hours. They are visible in photos, but as a courtesy to other guests you wouldn’t want to impede on their experience by using the flash on your camera. There is really no way for a regular guest to see them. We weren’t allowed to take any photos of the tour other than from the perspective of a guest, meaning in a Doom Buggy with the lights off. The next time you ride the Haunted Mansion you can play spot the Hidden Jacks!
1. Jack is on the book in the library flat on the floor to the right side of the Doom Buggy, in front of the table and to the left of the chair.
2. Located to the far right as you enter the attic scene. You almost need to turn backwards to five-o-clock to see a stuffed figure of Jack on a shelf.
3. To the left side of the Doom Buggy in the middle of the floor as you round the corner in the attic, it is the easiest to spot as it’s illuminated from above. Jack is clearly visible on the book cover.
4. The fourth is really two that are to the hardest to see. Look right, about 3-o-clock and back pretty far as just as you are leaving the attic. It’s a Jack Skellington snow-globe and Sally stuffed toy.
One more fun fact
Another cool fact is that the floating Madame Leota in the séance room uses top-secret proprietary technology for the realistic facial projection (not kidding). So valuable to Disney that if the pressure sensitive mats along the ride path are triggered, it gets pulled to the ceiling using a wire it’s attached to. This way no one can hop over the railing, steal it and sell it on eBay. Pretty cool!