The Hatbox Ghost is one of the most notorious ghosts in Disney Park's Haunted Mansion franchise.
As it stands, the Hatbox Ghost only physically appears in Disneyland's original Haunted Mansion where he appeared in two incarnations, the original and the modern version. The original incarnation presented the Hatbox Ghost in a white suit appearing alongside the Attic Bride where his head disapeared from his shoulders and reappeared inside of his hatbox, implying that he was either killed by the bride herself or killed while pursuing her as a suitor. The modern version of the character has a more life-sized and advanced animatronic whereing a black suit who appears on the balcony outside of the attic alongside a collection of hatboxes (which in DisneyWorld's mansion are implied to contain the severed heads of the Bride's husbands). The Hatbox Ghost lets out an evil chuckle before performing his famous hatbox head trick.
Although he does not physically appear in any other incarnation of the Haunted Mansion he is referanced in an easter egg found in the Corridor of Doors where his face appears in several of the "family portraits" found on the walls, with the hatbox ghost wearing a diferent hat in every portrait. One has him wearing his iconic top hat, in another it's a bowley hat, and in the "King Leer" portrait he wears a crown.
The Hatbox Ghost's popularity is almost entirely due to the real life mystery which surrounded the character. Throughout the 1960s leading up the the opening of the Haunted Mansion, the Hatbox Ghost was featured in severeal advertisements. When the ride finally opened, some reported that the Hatbox Ghost was there while others claimed that the Hatbox Ghost was removed prior to opening due to the figure's effects not working as planned. Whichever it was, the Hatbox Ghost was removed from the mansion due to the effects but WED never acknoledged the figure's removal and in fact continued selling merchandise of the character with the figure even appearing the the "Story and Song of the Haunted Mansion" storybook. A popular urban legend was that the figure was removed because it scared a guest into having a heart attack and Disney refused to referance the character was in the finished ride to avoid a lawsuit, this story is completely false. When Disney finally did acknoledge the figure's removal, the popular belief became that the figure was recycled into the Sam Eagle animatronic found in the now extinct America Sings attraction (which would later be recycled into the Br'er Fox animatronic of Splash Mountain) but when DIsney auctioned off the blueprints of the Hatbox Ghost's animatronic it was revealed that the figure was to simple to have been used for Sam Eagle or Br'er Fox and the Disney Imagineers stated that they had no idea where the Hatbox animatronic was. The figure wound up being reinstalled into Disneyland's Haunted Mansion in 2015 with modern technology making the figure fully functioning.
The Mystery of the Manse
Unlike most of the other most popular Haunted Mansion characters who appeared in the Ghost Gallery and the 2003 film, the Hatbox Ghost's only officially released alternate version is in the the Slave Labor Graphics comic book series. In this version of the story, the Hatbox Ghost is reimagined as having been named Captain Randall Pace, a stern merchant captain who's headstrong nature lead his first mate William Gracey (a composite of the Ghost Host, Master Gracey and Captain Gore) to decapitate the captain and lead a mutiny. William placed the captain's head in a hatbox, planning to give him proper burial when they returned to port. Years later, Randall was summoned by Madame Leota to murder William's bride-to-be Emily DeClaire on her wedding day. Randall approached Emily in the attic, explained his past to her, and proceeded to murder her then when William arrived to find them, Randall made a quip about the events to Gracey and told him to blame Leota.
House of Mouse
In the episode "House Ghosts", the Hatbox Ghost joins the Hitchhiking Ghosts, the Bride and the Executioner in singing "Grim Grinning Ghosts" along with the Lonesome Ghosts and the Skeletons from The Skeleton Dance to scare Pete out of the club.
- Despite being one of the Haunted Mansion's most popular characters, the Hatbox Ghost has no official or semi-official name unlike characters like the Bride (Constance Hatchaway), the Aging Man (Master Gracey), the Raven (Lucifer), or the Hitchhiking Ghosts (Phineas, Ezra and Gus).