Haunted Mansion’s 50th: Are There Really 999 Happy Haunts?

Haunted Mansion’s 50th: Are There Really 999 Happy Haunts?

This month 50 years ago the original Haunted Mansion at Disneyland opened its doors. I remember that summer well as I waited in the heat along the Rivers of America for my older brothers who stood in a very long queue, too scared as a seven year old to enter. Yes, I was a wimp. But the rumor of how scary this place would be nullified any interest in entering.

The original Antebellum style mansion at Disneyland. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

Since then other mansions have been created. Most don’t know that Imagineers were tasked originally with building not one but two Haunted Mansions. The spirits for the Haunted Mansion at Walt Disney World were prepared at the same time, then stored while other attractions were built for the opening of Walt Disney World two years afterwards. Tokyo Disneyland would follow a dozen or so years later with a fairly similar mansion to Magic Kingdom. Phantom Manor would bring a whole new frontier-style twist at Disneyland Paris. And Mystic Manor would reinvent the genre altogether.

Fans of the original mansions will note that there are 999 happy haunts. But are there? Just how many can you find if you were to count them all? Which ones do you count if you are trying to figure out how many ghosts there actually are in the Haunted Mansion? You may recall that in the narrative, the Ghost Host shares the following:

“They have all retired here to the Haunted Mansion. Actually we have 999 happy haunts here, but there’s room for a thousand. Any volunteers? If you should decide to join us, final arrangements may be made at the end of the tour.”

Our focus today is going to be on the actual number found in The Haunted Mansion at Walt Disney World. But the Ghost Host in the Disneyland version says something fairly similar:

 “There are several prominent ghosts who have retired here from creepy old crypts all over the world. Actually, we have 999 happy haunts here — but there’s room for 1,000. Any volunteers? If you insist on lagging behind, you may not need to volunteer.”The first thing to note in both statements is that the question isn’t quite how many ghosts, but rather, how many haunts? That opens up that number somewhat to include illusions and other creepy things. But what constitutes a haunt?  For this purpose, I am assuming the following criteria (note, spoiler alert from here on out):

1. The purpose is to count those objects that are haunting or at least enchanting in some way. That means we count more than audio-animatronics. We include everything from the bat weathervane to a tomb of Mr. Toad in the pet cemetery. More than simply built by an expert craftsman, there should be “spirited” artistry involved in its execution to make it part of our haunted total. Therefore, I’m not counting chandeliers with webs, or simply ornamental vases, because those are objects you can find elsewhere. 

Unique features can be found in the Magic Kingdom version, from the top weather vane to the unique conservatory on the side. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

2. Some objects appear more than once. For instance, there is not one, but two stretch rooms. So I’m counting all objects in there twice.

3. Please know, that I’m trying to be generous in my accounting of what counts. I want to see if one can truly get to 999. So you may question whether an item should be counted, or whether it may be counted more than once. Know that we’re trying to be honest, but generous in getting to that number.

4. Also to be factored in is that not all haunts are present and accounted for. An attraction like this works in so many features because they know that for ongoing maintenance, or when a particular haunt breaks down, they can take it out, have it repaired, and yet still not impact the overall experience. In “it’s a small world” next door, there are usually half a dozen dolls being cycled out for ongoing maintenance at any time. The same challenge exists in The Haunted Mansion as well. So we don’t always have a perfect number. But we can still get a fairly good estimate. Moreover, we can see if we can approximate 999.

So let’s walk through this. Let’s see how many haunts are there. We’ll go room by room, and add some narrative in between. See how many you remember.


Bat Weather Vane1
Red Eyed Bench Dogs-Two Dogs on Two Benches4
Ghost Horse & Hearse Driver2
Passing Spirits at Night2

Exterior Graveyard

Cousin Maude1
The Twins2
Uncle Jacob1
Aunt Florence1
Grandpa Marc1
Frances Xavier1
Master Gracey1
Touch Tomb Instruments 17
Ravenscroft Organ1
Raven Above Organ1
Skulls Above Organ7
Touch Tomb Instruments 27
Captain Culpepper Clyne1
Active books on Two Book Shelves77
Prudence Pock1
Cousin Algernon1
Ned Nub1
RIP Dear George1
Haunting Harriet1
Uncle Myall1
Dave in a Cave1
Unnamed Markers6
Gordon Across the Jordan1
Uncle Blaine Mausoleum1
Friend Ken Mausoleum1
Brother Roland1
Mister Frees1
Uncle Theodore1
Bartholomew Gore1
Dearest Dorothea1
Wathel R. Bender1
Good Old Fred1
Man Named Martin1
Cousin Huet1
Mister Sewell1
Brother Claude1
Madame Leota1
Headstones honor former contributing Imagineers. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

Let’s stop here, and note some things about the graveyard. First of all, there are a lot of tombs when you actually count them. And we haven’t even entered the mansion. Second, some items are simply difficult to count. The interactive books are a case in point. There are 13 books on each shelf, with 12 shelves, and two sides. That comes out to 312 books, which would be nearly 1/3 of all the haunts in the mansion. Do we count all 312? Not all are interactive. Observation and video of which ones are active would be helpful. That’s how we came to 77.


Ghost Host Voice1
Portrait with Six Aging Versions6
Bells in the Early Exit Hallway7

Stretch Room

Four Portraits with 7 Characters Times 2 Rooms14
8 Gargoyles Times 2 Rooms16
1 Hanging Host Times 2 Rooms2

Loading Area

Portrait of Traveling Man with Sack1
Portrait of Man With Dagger1
Portrait of Mariner at Sea1
Portrait of Man with Hatchet1
Portrait of Pensive Bearded Man1
Portrait of Woman With Cat1
Portrait of Dracula1
Bats on a Rope Chain15

In the foyer, there is only one portrait, but there are six aging versions, so we count all six. We mentioned two stretch rooms earlier. There are only four portraits, but there are seven characters (including a gator) in the portraits. There are also gargoyles surrounding each. They all help to push up the number of residents. 

We now head toward the Doom Buggies:


Woman in Portrait1
Upstairs Couple Portrait2
Portrait of Cat Lady & Version with Lighting2
Portrait of Ship at Sea & Version with Lighting2
Portrait of Horseman & Version with Lighting2
Portrait of Medusa & Version with Lighting2
One of two infamous stretch rooms. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.


Marble Busts6
A Rocking Chair1
Books Moving on the Shelves2
Ladder Moving Back & Forth1

Music Room

Piano Playing & Shadow of Pianist2
Griffin at the Foot of the Stairwell1


Two Stair Step Sets on the Right2
Two Stair Step Sets on the Left2

Endless Hallway

Eyes Flashing in the Darkness on the Right12
Eyes Flashing in the Darkness on the Left16
Suspended Candelabra1
Haunted Chair1


Man in Coffin 1
One of the most macabre images of the mansion. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.


Shaking Doors on Left4
Shaking Doors on the Right4
Miscellaneous Pictures on the Left18
Miscellaneous Pictures and Portrait on the Right14
Clock Ticking 131
Shadow Over the Clock1

The magical footprints in the stairwell is one of those illusions that isn’t always working consistently. It seemed at one time that most every stairwell had a set of footprints (I’m counting each set as one haunt). But recently, there haven’t been as many sets of foot prints. For our purposes here, I’m counting two sets on each side of the vehicle path.

Of course, not every haunt or illusion is animated. The pictures in the hallway are one example. Yet, they are creative drawings. So we count each one. 

The eyes flashing in the darkness give way to the wallpaper. We will discuss that facet at the end.

Let’s move on to some of the most enchanting parts of the Haunted Mansion:

Madame Leota’s Chamber

Madame Leota 1
Snare drum1


Guests Entering Through Door6
Guests Entering Through Window5
Rocking Chair Grandmother1
Man on the Fireplace Mantel1
Guests Around the Chandelier3
Guests at and Under the Birthday Table6
Duelists Paintings & Ghosts4
Ballroom Dancers12
Skulls Rising From Organ 10 Spindles Times 440
Final Portrait Upstairs on Left1


Marriage 12
Marriage 22
Marriage 32
Marriage 42
Marriage 52

Most were fairly easy to count. Skulls rising up from the organ are the trickiest, but a behind-the-scenes photo showed ten spindles with four skulls on the edge of each set, creating a total of 40 skulls rising. The exercise also brought to my attention a portrait at the very end of the ballroom on the wall that transitions you to the attic. Creating this post was the first time I noticed the picture, which is very difficult to see in the dark.

Now on to the most difficult part, the cemetery:

Interior Graveyard

40 Spirits Rising Vertically Times 3120
Haunted Tree1
Heads Popping Out Throughout6
Merry Minstrels5
20 Spirits Rising Cyclically Times 240
Teeter Totter2
Singing Busts5
Hand For Tea Out of the Grave1
Tea For Two at a Table2
Two By a Hearse2
Sitting on the Ground For Tea1
Sitting on a Grave For Tea1
Spirits Circling on Bikes3
Pouring Tea into a Grave1
Tomb Bricks Busting1
Emaciated Dog1
Man with Hearing Aid1
Apparition From Tomb1
Opera Singer1
Accompanying Male Singer1
Headless Knight1
Bearded Convict1
Man Digging Out From Grave1

The most difficult thing to count are rising spirits. There appears to be two types. One is a cyclical sort that seems to move in circular rotation. There seems to be two of these with roughly 20 per set. The other is a set of rising spirits. There seems to be three different sets of these, with a complete cycle of approximately 40 spirits per set.

Let’s exit the attraction:

Hitchhiking Ghosts

Hitchhiking Ghosts3
Accompanying Hitchhiking Ghosts Variations 12
Torches Gripped by Hands2


Little Leota1
Torches Gripped by Hands3

Exterior Mausoleum

Paul Tergyst1
Dust’n T. Dust1
Hail N. Hard1
Rusty Gates1
Pearl E. Gates1
Asher T. Ashes1
M T Tomb1
I. M. Ready1
Love U. Trudy1
I Trudy Dew1
I Ial Lusinashun1
Bea Witch1
Hap A Rition1
Manny Festation1
Metta Fisiks1
Claire Voince1
C. U. Later1
Wee G. Bord1
I. Emma Spook1

Pet Cemetery

Puppy with Basket1
Standing Cat1
Lying Cat1
Mr. Toad1
J. Thadeus himself. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

Note that there is a rotation of effects done with the Hitchhiking Ghosts riding with you in your Doom Buggy. There were originally a set of 12 mannequins that rotated opposite in alignment with your vehicle. Now they are digitally done, but there seems to be about 12 variations of that. Note that I also added to the count one of my favorite features, the torches held up by hands. 

Finally you exit the attraction, and count the individual mausoleum pieces there.  With a pet cemetery, to include Mr. Toad, we now come to a conclusion.

So What’s the Grand Total?

According to the way we have counted, the number comes to 787. Many of those numbers come because of counting every possible headstone, and each of the many rising spirits. Still, make no mistake, this is a lot of haunts! Try counting them next time you visit. Your head will spin!

Are we missing more? Let’s hear what Imagineer Tony Baxter had to say about the 999 count. Tony talks about how faces are worked into the set. The chair in the endless hallway is an example of just that. But then he goes on to talk about the wallpaper:

“When I’m asked, ‘Well, count out the 999 happy haunts.’ We’re going to come up short if we’re talking about audio animatronics and illusions. So, then I tell everyone, ‘Well have you counted all the faces in the wall paper?’ And they go, ‘Well, no.’ And I say, ‘Okay, there are your 999.’”

In truth, the math is very difficult for determining how many haunts appear in total on the wallpaper all while riding the attraction. But here are some rough estimates, giving you a good sense of where the total number goes. There are some 10 haunted faces in a pattern that is roughly 2.5 square feet. Rough out the number of feet in the hallway where that particular wallpaper appears, and then figure that floor to ceiling is about 12 feet.  Putting all of those figures together gives you a number well into the thousands. Even if my estimates are way over, that would actually make the number of haunts way beyond the 999. 

Here’s what the math might look like:

100 Feet of Hallway On One Side120
80 Feet of Hallway On Other Side 80
Total Feet of Hallway on both sides180
Times 12 Feet in Height For Total Square Feet2160
Divided by 2.5 Square Feet864
Times 10 Ghosts in Print For Total8640

In truth, you don’t need to count the wallpaper to get close to 999. With nearly 800 haunts already counted for, all you need is another 200. There are 160 Doom Buggies in operation at any moment. There are also twinkling candelabras, lightning and special lighting FX. Add them up and you pretty much have your number there.


The purpose of this exercise is not so much to get a perfect, accurate number, but to gain a greater appreciation of just how much detail is packed into the Haunted Mansion. Imagineers have created an amazing experience, and the attraction represents the epitome of what one imagines as a haunted house. It is a timeless experience and worthy of visiting again and again. One can’t help but notice something new every time you visit. It is worthy of its founder, Walt Disney, who conceived the idea, and who insisted that Imagineers labor on it—even after his death–until it was the very best. Of course, nothing is perfect, and there’s always room for improvement. As they say,

…there’s always room for one more.

Forgot the sign. Make that 788! Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

J. Jeff Kober

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