Tuesday, August 10, 2010


Userbars are online signature graphics used to express the interests and personality of the writer.  Sometimes, a number of userbars are stacked at the end of forum messages, social networking site correspondence, blog comments and general emails; and, other times, they appear as a single, animated bar that scrolls through many subjects.  Their standard size is 350 pixels wide by 19 pixels high, which makes them very compact, unimposing and ideal for adding to just about any footer.  In fact, most userbars are quite attractive and improve the overall appearance of a posted message's conclusion.  For the time being, at least, everyone seems to enjoy userbars.

As many of you know, it has been said that I've amassed what might be considered a "cult following" of avid fans who want me restored to The Haunted Mansion attractions at both Disneyland and Walt Disney World.  This got me thinking — which can be a dangerous and tricky undertaking, since my head seldom stays put.  Nonetheless, when I was able to brainstorm outside the hatbox, I thought, "Why not form a Cult of the Hatbox Ghost?"  Apart from relieving yourselves of your legwear and lopping off your own noggins (practices not advised for even the most foolish of mortals), what better way to show your support for and/or interest in my return than to proudly display your very own Cult of the Hatbox Ghost userbar(s).

So, here they are — the first batch of Cult of the Hatbox Ghost userbars:

By Yours Ghoully

By Redback93

Copy them from this blog article, upload them to your own online image and/or file storage site (e.g., Flickr, Photobucket, Picasa), and embed them in whatever signatures and footers your little, beating hearts desire.  If these instructions prove too confusing and/or difficult, you can go to The Userbar Archive, search for "Hatbox Ghost" and every single one of them will pop up, along with their individual embed codes.  Furthermore, to those of you who know how, I invite you to create and share your own Cult of the Hatbox Ghost userbar designs.  Simply leave them as comments to this blog entry and I will add them to the growing selection.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Hattie, Go Home!

NOT-SO-GRIM GRINNING: A rare photo in color of the original Hatbox Ghost.

As many of you wise mortals know, it was foretold that I would re-materialize inside the attic of Disneyland's Haunted Mansion earlier this year — January, to be exact. Despite what many reporters of matters Mouse have been saying, that was not a rumor; it is fact. I was slated to be re-installed; but, at the last minute, there were problems, both financial and technical. The financial problems were the result of corporate decision-makers "reallocating funds," the businesslike way of saying, "pulling the plug" and putting a project on hold indefinitely while cash is spent elsewhere (or not). And the technical problems were, once again, due to me not being seen in my best light, a problem that can be remedied (hopefully) with a little switcheroo of set dressing, prop placement and lamp diffusion and blocking.  (Although, I have my own solutions, in addition to some great ideas on how to build a better Hattie.  But no one listens to a ghost, and especially not one that's man-made.)

HOW IT MIGHT'VE BEEN: Some of Imagineer Marc Davis' original concept art for The Hatbox Ghost.

Today, MiceAge Columnist Al Lutz revealed a little more about the ongoing saga concerning my whereabouts. According to Lutz:

"The Hatbox Ghost is one of those projects that [Walt Disney Imagineering Senior Vice President of Creative Development] Tony Baxter still wants to finish up and get installed at Disneyland's Haunted Mansion. The new version of the Hatbox Ghost was all ready to begin fabrication in the early summer of 2009, for installation into a slightly reworked Attic Scene after the popular Holiday overlay was removed at the end of the Christmas season. But a rather last minute shifting of funds by Team Disney Anaheim (TDA) execs put the project on hold as the money was spent on another ghostly attraction instead. In short, all of the money originally dedicated to the Hatbox Ghost for 2009 was shifted over to the Space Mountain Ghost Galaxy project at the last minute, and that budgetary infusion helped boost the exterior dome show from what was just supposed to be some basic lighting effects into the much more impressive audio and visual projection show Disneyland ended up with.

"It can't be stressed enough how last minute the decision was to move the funding for the Hatbox Ghost over to Ghost Galaxy, but that's exactly what the top TDA executives are paid to decide in oftentimes stressful planning sessions held in a fancy conference room on TDA's 4th floor. TDA knows the Hatbox Ghost will be a big hit with the diehard Mansion fans and hardcore Disneyland experts [Yeah, now they do! More about this later.], but they also were trying to ensure that their second attempt at a Space Mountain makeover was a success with a wider and far larger audience.


"The Hatbox Ghost is still kicking around on the short list of Tony Baxter's projects for the park. But he only has so much money to work with on these smaller projects, as the big ticket expansion funds for major new attractions coming to Disneyland have to be voted on by the Board of Directors up in Burbank. Tony's pot of cash is basically given to him by TDA year to year and project to project, and it's TDA's money to spend or re-allocate to keep the park fresh. [SNIP-SNIP!]

"It would be nice if Tony had access to a larger fund for all these little pluses he wants to add to Disneyland [HECK, YEAH!], but compared to the situation out in Orlando where the executives there hate to spend money on anything that doesn't involve a time share condo or a pin cart, Anaheim is doing pretty well with this financial setup between a sympathetic TDA and a passionate Disneyland fan like Tony Baxter. [Fan??? He's Walt incarnate!!!] If the Hatbox Ghost gets the green light (again) [If? IF???], we'll try to ensure that our readers will be among the first to know, outside of that fancy TDA conference room of course."

(For more on this and other Disney-related subjects, the entire column can be viewed HERE.)

IMAGINEER TONY BAXTER: He's not giving up on the ghost.

While I'm not at liberty to disclose the source of my information, let it be known that Mr. Baxter is a hero and champion among Haunted Mansion and Disney fans, because a lot would not get done in the parks, were it not for this visionary's heartfelt passion, fan sympathy and keen insight.  And I do not use the term "visionary" loosely, because there are so few of them left.  But if anyone has his Midas touch on the pulse of what Disney attraction lovers want and enjoy, and what would bring more guests to the parks, it's Baxter.  And it's Baxter and a small corps of his colleagues who've been vying for my return — for quite some time.  Furthermore, I have it on more-than-good authority that this old ghost is "kicking" on more than just a short list.  He's been built and preliminary testedBut the suits just aren't getting it, when it comes to my importance to Haunted Mansionistas.  For the afterlife of me, I don't know why or what it's going to take.  (Although Mr. Lutz's report gives me some hope.)

Disney pays hundreds of millions of dollars to outside companies to troubleshoot and build new effects and animatronic figures for their attractions, especially those that can be tied-into products and/or projects for marketing purposes.  But this rather inexpensive ghost, who has so much more potential than what's being tapped and who's managed to create a stir, cause buzz and develop a cult-like following, despite being absent for more than 40 years, is repeatedly shoved aside.

That's corporate thinking for you.  Execs will search far and wide for the next big thing, throw money into all manner of research, studies and reports, retain smooth-talking consultants (outsiders) for their advice; restructure, revamp, reorganize, remodel and re-everything, when the very thing they need and what consumers want is sitting right underneath their very noses.  And they've been told that! — but not by their marketing experts, only by the good souls struggling to carry on Walt Disney's original promises, vision and creative legacy.  And only the fans.

I wanna go home!  Please, if you haven't already, sign the petition to restore me to The Haunted Mansion.  And if you're on Twitter, you can add your user name to a similar Twitition as well.

ON A ROLL: The original Hatbox Ghost, all wrapped up with his strangely simple machinations.

THESE LOAFERS WERE MADE FOR HAUNTING: What part of this went to Eagle Sam?

Also, for those among you who might still think that I'm wearing pants, breeches, tights or other legwear, not only am I not but I have a flat rear end and a little pot belly!  (Well, groin really, if I'd show you my entire disproportionate profile.)

A GHOST, A HEAD OF HIS TIME: Making use of clear vinyl before the days of disco.

(Images courtesy of an anonymous private collector.)

Saturday, April 10, 2010

I See London, I See France. I See Hattie's Got No Pants.

The Hatbox Ghost has been described as a shaky, old spook.   But it could be that he's just cold.

As the story goes, in 1969, shortly after The Haunted Mansion's debut, I was exorcised from the attraction for not using my head. Although the Imagineers tried repeatedly to make me cooperate, I was prone to unbooly conduct. In fact, Disney designers focused so much attention on my upper half that they all but forgot my lower extremities. I was displayed, albeit briefly (though not "briefed"), with no pants. And if that were not humiliating enough, the only garments I was provided were transcendentally transparent.

Don't believe me? Have a look for yourself — but please, don't stare. That's my job. Well, it was, anyway.

AN UNWITTING FLASHER: With all of that ecto-plastic, is it any wonder that I'm fresh?  (From the Collection of Paul Clemens at DoomBuggies.com.)

BARELY THERE: The evidence is clear.

Indeed, either I'm alfresco or I share the same tailor with one famed and gullible emperor and an unintelligible and highly volatile duck.  Last year, I addressed this revealing issue in an online Disney forum, and was met with opposition from fans who could not accept such a slighting of slacks.  They saw everything from breeches to leggings in the above images.  The meaningful debate continued until, laughably, Photobucket deleted these very pictures for what they claimed were "content violations regarding the posting of nudity."  (I kid you not!)

But I didn't stop there.  I pressed the pants question to Artist Kevin Kidney, sculptor of the coveted 2009 D23 Live Auction afterlife-size Hatbox Ghost recreation, a figure whose airy attire happens to look like this:

Is it just me or is there a draft in this room? (Photo & Figure by Kevin Kidney)

Housecoat from Frederick's of Hollyweird or Lili St. Cyrightthroughit. (Photo & Figure by Kevin Kidney)

Though not in pants, Mr. Kidney's response, at least, had me in stitches. The clever craftsman waxed poetic:

Dear Spirit 'neath the attic's eaves —
Somewhere, some haberdasher grieves
That he was not allowed to craft
Some worsted wool to ease your draft.

It was instead felt quite enough
To leave you void of pleat or cuff,
A dandy as Beau Brummel teaches:
Your withered limbs in stirrupped breeches.

Surrounded in your cobwebbed aerie
By so much storage antiquary,
Your cloak and hat speak, evidentary,
Of styling from the nineteenth century.

Trousers then were snug and sleek
(The better to hear the old bones creak),
And with the cobblers in cahoots,
The tailors tucked their hems in boots.

Upon your feet — oh, fashion treason!
You wear loafers, for some reason.
This secret, silent as the grave is...
Perhaps just known to one, Marc Davis.*

In summation, Fabled Wraith,
I ask you then to keep the faith
And though your legwear's circumspect,
It gives us all gauze to reflect!

To which, I replied:

Then gauze it be, O' Craftsman Kind
And friend who's covered my behind.
What fabric used is immaterial,
When your britches are ethereal.

*Marc Davis is the artist and Imagineer responsible for The Hatbox Ghost character concept.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

The Hatbox Ghost Makes A Cartoon Appearance

Fast forward to about 0:30 — or just watch.

LOOK! They took Barney Bear's pants too!!!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Hatbox Ghost Is Captured On Film!

Pay attention at around 4 minutes 29 seconds into the video, where you'll see me helping with lending a hand to the king. In fact, there I am in the preview frame, sans topper. (OK, so I'm not very tall. While I may be short in stature, I'm long on legend. Besides, I wasn't finished!)

Kurt Russell and The Osmonds — now, that's SCARY!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Michael, You're Making Me Homesick

Does any of this look familiar to you?

It sure does me. *SIGH*

To refresh your memory, I suggest:

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Who Is The Hatbox Ghost?

Me, in all of my para-abnormal (and pantless) splendor.

The following is the current (at the time of this writing) Wikipedia entry for yours ghoully, a listing for which I am partly (largely?) and proudly responsible:

THE HATBOX GHOST is a character that appeared originally in Disneyland's Haunted Mansion but was removed shortly after the attraction's debut. Located formerly in the ride's attic scene, the figure is described as "an elderly ghost in a cloak and top hat, leaning on a cane with a wavering hand and clutching a hatbox in the other."

The idea behind the Hatbox Ghost was for his head to vanish from atop his shoulders and reappear alternately inside his hatbox, in time with an adjacent bride figure's beating heart. According to Imagineer Chris Merritt in an interview with DoomBuggies.com, the effect was never completely successful due to the illusion's close proximity to the ride vehicles:

"The gag was based purely on lighting. The ghost's head was illuminated by black lighting. A light inside the hatbox he held would rhythmically illuminate and hide the head in the hatbox, while, in tandem, the actual head on the ghost's shoulders would be hidden by extinguishing the black lighting."

The Hatbox Ghost was installed in The Haunted Mansion and in place for cast member (park employee) previews on the nights of August 7 and 8, 1969. Immediately, it became apparent that the effect had failed, as ambient light in the attraction's attic scene prevented the spectre's face from disappearing completely, despite the turning off of its designated spotlight. Although The Hatbox Ghost was removed before the ride's public opening on August 9, 1969, a number of attraction visitors claim to have seen the figure in the attic scene during the weeks following, suggesting that attempts were made to remedy technical problems before permanent uninstallation. A photo of the figure in situ is featured on the Doombuggies.com website. And on the DVD, "Disneyland Resort: Imagineering the Magic," Senior Vice President of Creative Development at Walt Disney Imagineering Tony Baxter displays an attraction maintenance slip that lists the original Hatbox Ghost.

Although no one knows what became of The Hatbox Ghost, there are speculations as to his fate. One report claims that its parts were recycled into one of the Eagle Sam audio-animatrons used in the America Sings attraction which opened at Disneyland in 1974. But this seems unlikely, in view of the simplicity of the The Hatbox Ghost's design and construction. A second Hatbox Ghost was produced for but never installed in Walt Disney World's Haunted Mansion. The whereabouts of this figure remain a mystery as well. However, the head on the pop-up ghoul that is seen as guests depart the Disneyland Haunted Mansion's interior cemetery scene is identical to that of the original Hatbox Ghost.

Because The Hatbox Ghost featured prominently in the artwork and narration for popular Haunted Mansion record albums sold for many years at Disney parks, he has never been forgotten and has become somewhat of a legend, complete with cult following. Many fans of the ride wish to see him returned and await that day eagerly. In 2009, The Hatbox Ghost appeared repeatedly in art and souvenirs created for the 40th Anniversary of the Haunted Mansion, a reflection of fan interest in the character. Artists Kevin Kidney and Jody Daily crafted their version of an afterlife-size replica of The Hatbox Ghost that was auctioned for $9,400.00 at the first D23 Expo, held in September of the same year. In addition, The Hatbox Ghost was the official "spooksperson" for Disneyland Resort's 2009 O-pin House pin trading event and Haunted Holidays celebration.

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