As a long-time Haunted Mansion fan, I’m familiar with the Hat Box Ghost, though of course I’ve never actually seen him in the ride. This friendly fella was among the original 999 Happy Haunts of the Haunted Mansion, with a decidedly spooky trick, wherein the head on his shoulders vanished and reappeared inside the hatbox he held. Unfortunately, technical limitations – well – limited his use. They just couldn’t quite get him working right, so shortly after the HM opened, Hatbox Harold (I made that name up just now) was retired.
I don’t know where ghosts retiring from the Haunted Mansion would go. I always figured the Haunted Mansion was where ghosts went upon retirement. Y’know, for the party!
Anyway, Hatty has such a great, off-putting design that he’s retained a good deal of popularity among HM fans over the years, in spite of his abruptly shortened afterlife-span; you can learn more about him at various websites like DoomBuggies.com, Wikipedia.org, and so forth. Fans have been hoping he’d make a triumphant return to the Haunted Mansion for years now… and there have recently been hints that maybe he just might. 😀
Hint #1: The emergence of Hatty Harold (Rebecca! Stop making up names for canon Disney characters!) on a variety of Disney merchandise, including this really wicked awesome t-shirt! Need a Christmas gift idea for me? I’m linking on purpose, guys. 😉 No, but seriously, with a new Haunted Mansion movie in the rumour mill, Disney is cashing in on some new HM merchandise and I have NO complaints about that. The inclusion of the Hat Box Ghost might just be a nod to dedicated fans, but maybe it’s a suggestion that he may soon play a bigger role in the Haunted Mansion?
Hint #2: Hat Box Ghost is at D23 2013!! Hatty made it to the Expo! Touringplans.com reports on their blog that Hatty is appearing in the “Journey Into Imagineering” pavilion at the Expo. Now, this could easily be done as a relic, something that they designed years ago and didn’t quite work out and they’re showing it since they have it. Right? Except that’s not the case. According to Touringplans.com’s, article, this is a modern recreation of the Hat Box Ghost animatronic. He’s not holding the Hat Box, but in the promotional video for this pavilion, the speaker says that this is a showcase of “what they are working on” as well as some of their “greatest hits”, and the Hat Box Ghost animatronic is described – somewhat awkwardly – as something that “could have been created for the Haunted Mansion”. Hmmmm…? It’s statements like that which make us stop and give pause. 😉
So I don’t know about you, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed that this is the start of a great big, beautiful tomorrow for Hatbox Harold. Whose name is not actually Harold, I remind you for the third time.