September 8, 2009

Retro Lookback: The Hatbox Ghost

Today we will board the Lookback Glass, and take us way back to 1969 the only time when our featured character was seen, and only for a few days for that matter. Today we will be taking a look at the legend that was the Hatbox Ghost. As with many of the fun and famous characters of the Mansion, the Hatbox Ghost was originally conceptualized by Marc Davis. (concept art below)Originally in testing of the attraction, the Hatbox Ghost is where the Bride is today, and she was to be "with" him and to have him as her groom. And with the HBG where the Bride is today, the Bride was to be in the exact opposite corner. And for years the DoomBuggies were positioned to turn and face where the bride was suppose to be and they looked at a "boring" area.Only actually in the attraction for only a couple of days, the Hatbox Ghost is a lengend that was, and never seen again, only a few pictures of him actually exist. And many wondered why did he "leave" and what happened to him? The simple answer to why he left was, he simply didnt work. As originally planned, the HBG stood by the Attic's window exit, he leaned on his cane to his right, and held a hatbox in his left hand. And with every beat of the Bride's heart, his head would disappear from his body, and reappear in the box.The whole illusion was created by a carefully timed lighting effect. The HBG head was illuminated by a black light, and then his head in the box was lit by a small pin spotlight. When the black light faded down, the pin spotlight would light up, which would make his head look like it would disappear and reappear. And with the next beat of the Bride's heart, his head would go back on his body and disappear from the box. Due to the closeness of the guests to the figure, and the Attic's ambient light, the illusion never had a dark enough area to make the effect truly convincing to the guests. Also, the speed at which the DoomBuggies were moving past the figure also ensured that there would never be enought time to run the entire effect for the guests to see. Days later it was removed from the Mansion entirely before it opened to the general public, and never was seen again.There have been reports that the Hatbox Ghost structure was reused in America Sings, but that has been denied by many sources, just because of the shear facts. Supposedly he was reused as Sam the Eagle in America Sings, but that has been proven to be false becasue the HBG had no moving parts, he was just a static structure with disappear and reappearing head. (Actual pic from HM attraction in 1969 below). Most recently there have been rumors around the internet, here and there, that the Hatbox Ghost was to be returning to the Haunted Mansion for the 40th Anniversary, but that didnt come to fruition. Then, after the 40th many sites are saying rumors that the figure will come back in January after the Nightmare Before Christmas overlay is taken down. It would use a new technology of video projections and not just lights. But only time will tell.Later this week, at the D23 Expo, a handcrafted recreation of the Hatbox Ghost will be auctioned off for the Expo's Live Auction, and here are a few pics of it from the artist Kevin Kidney's blog and the auction printouts.However, recently there have been many pins featuring the Hatbox Ghost.. This one has to be the first HBG pin to be release in the early 2000s...This WDI ID Badge shows that he was hired in 1969 and is still in Then this summer, with the Hatbox Ghost as the "real estate agent" for the O-Pin House Summer Pin Festival at Disneyland Resort, brought many many new pins featuring him...These final two are WDI pins, recently released... The bottom one has a Leticular effect so his head disappears and reappears between the body and box..

Pics and Info from, and

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