There’s a Hidden Cemetery at Disney’s Haunted Mansion Attraction

Samantha Franco
Photo Credit: Jeff Gritchen / MediaNews Group / Orange County Register / Getty Images
Photo Credit: Jeff Gritchen / MediaNews Group / Orange County Register / Getty Images

Disneyland is a magical place where fairytales can come to life, but there’s one part of the park that we hope remains just a story. The Haunted Mansion attraction has been spooking guests for over 50 years, but there’s an intriguing hidden secret that many people don’t know about.

The Haunted Mansion is one of the most popular attractions at Disney

Postcard of the Haunted Mansion from the 1970s
The original Haunted Mansion attraction is captured in a 1978 postcard. (Photo Credit: MetaGrrrl / Flickr CC BY-NC 2.0)

The Haunted Mansion attraction is one of the most popular attractions at multiple Disney locations. It’s the only ride to be found in five different locations around the world, including California, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Paris, and Florida. The first one, in California, opened to the public in 1969 and was one of the last attractions that were overseen (in part) by Walt Disney himself.

As soon as it opened, the Haunted Mansion became the topic of legend and mystery. The story behind the attraction is steeped in murder, deceit, and suicide, which made some guests begin to question if the tale was based on fact or not. The ride was fun and spooky, and it quickly became a huge success. Shortly after, a new addition to the grounds of the Haunted Mansion added even more mystery to the ride.

It’s not the only secret at the Haunted Mansion

Cobwebs hanging from chandeliers with a staircase
Atmosphere and Props and Sets from Disney’s “The Haunted Mansion” Film at El Capitan Theatre “Haunted Mansion” Hollywood. (Photo Credit: Barry King / WireImage / Getty Images)

All of Disneyland is filled with little “Easter eggs” that guests have to search for. The Haunted Mansion has more than one secret that some visitors might not know about. One of these is a quiet spot inside the Mansion that’s perfect for studying. Donny Osmond took lessons there during the filming of The Wonderful World of Disney: The Haunted Mansion in 1970, which also featured Kurt Russell.

“There was a room on the second floor of The Haunted Mansion in a small corner that was not being used for the ride,” he explained. “That was where I had school with my teacher during filming. I’m pretty sure that I’m the only person that can claim that The Haunted Mansion was my schoolhouse, and that’s why it is still my favorite ride.”

There are pet gravestones

A tombstone of a dog holding a basket behind a fence
A view of a grave from the original Pet Cemetery only seen from the wheelchair-accessible entrance. (Photo Credit: Loren Javier / Flickr CC BY-ND 2.0)

In the 1980s, a pet cemetery was installed on the west side of the Haunted Mansion structure that was only visible to those who used the wheelchair-accessible entrance on the side of the ride. The cemetery was said to be thought up by Imagineer Kim Irvine who is the daughter of the late Imagineer Leota Toombs. Toombs was actually the inspiration for Madame Leota in the Haunted Mansion attraction.

The secret pet cemetery features gravestones for a variety of pets, including a skunk named Stripey, a frog named Bully, a dog named Big Jake, Miss Kitty the cat, Penny the Elephant, and an unmarked grave that is meant to commemorate all of the pets who have died without a burial.

A new cemetery distracts from the original

Gravestones on a hill behind an iron fence
The new cemetery is located along the ride’s queue, visible to visitors that use the main entrance of the Haunted Mansion attraction. (Photo Credit: Wacky Windjammer / Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 4.0)

The secret pet cemetery was well hidden but was a favorite of guests who were able to catch a glimpse. In 1993, a new pet cemetery was installed near the main entrance’s ride queue so that more guests could enjoy this macabre feature of the Mansion. As the newly installed cemetery gained more attraction, the original pet burial area became less visited.

Today, it’s unclear whether the original pet cemetery has been removed or not. In past years, it was only accessible to Cast Members who work at the park. Some Cast Members were willing to take visitors to see the cemetery, but only if you caught them on a good day (like this YouTube vlogger in 2014).

More from us: The Once-Abandoned ‘Wizard of Oz’ Theme Park

If the pet cemetery does still exist, one might be able to convince a friendly Cast Member to take them in for a peek.