I worked there for several years at different periods and with different duties. The most fun was lead because of the freedom around the place but often I would go into the rotation to be an operator again. Actually, the one bad thing about the HM was that it was a quick burn-out attraction. There really wasn't that much to do there in the way of variety. Luckily, after achieving the status of trainer and then lead, these were different duties that gave me different things to do.
One summer someone started writing histories down for a few of the ghosts in the ride. They started with "Master" Gracey. [The man who pioneered the effects for the HM was Yale Gracey; someone started calling the aging portrait over the mantle piece "Master" Gracey. >From then on he was Master Gracey, the Ghost Host]. It was never stated whether that portrait was supposed to be the GH so we decided to put stories to everyone. The one thing, tho, that the guests never seemed to figure out was that the body hanging from the rafters in the Stretch rooms was the GH. Why else does he say "Of course, there's always MY way." He hung himself to escape the room. I was pleased when the occasional person did get it and you heard them whispering it to their friend.
As for the biographies here's the basic story: Master Gracy had the Mansion built on a hill side for he and his bride (the one in the attic). Madame Leota was a medium who wanted Gracy badly, but he loved his bride more. Leota cursed the house and Gracy. They didn't die right away. There were quit a lot of other things that happened before Gracy and Leota died. I don't remember the exact way she died, if she was murdered or not, but her body was pulled from the river, having shruken the the size of a doll (the explanation for Little Leota). The Mansion was cursed so everyone generally met nasty ends and the spirits tended to stay there. The raven was Leota's pet. There is no apparent record of it's actual death. Maybe it was never alive. I wrote stories for the lady having the birthday party in the ballroom and one of the portraits in the stretch room. But we often gave ideas to the other CM's to help them out. We also tried to keep events logical and interrelated.
The lady at the party (I don't remember her name) loved to throw parties. She was always happy-go-lucky and liked everyone. But Leota didn't like her because the parties always interrupted her seances. One night Leota got so mad she went to the lady and made a prediction that she would die on this night, 13 years from now (the 13 candles on the cake). Of course she did die 13 years later, but passing away peacefully in her sleep. But the parties still continue.
I think we did every identifiable ghost in the Mansion. Either as a single person, or a group (the 3 hitchhiker's were written as one biography). We loved who things fit together. Each person or thing had a reason to be there. The Corridor of Doors section...Leota's daughter loved to nail the guests' doors shut and run down the hall knocking on them as a practical joke. Then the guests would beat on them to get them open.
I put all these bios on computer and I may still have them. I have to search through my files. I think I also have photocopies of them all. If I find them I'll let you know. One time, a CM told a guest about the bios we did. The guest then went to City Hall demanded he be allowed to see them. Of course, we told him they are not Disney's, just something the CM's made up. We wouldn't let him see them.
We always played jokes. The usual was to jump out and scare another CM who was doing a ride through or underneath the sets walking around.
One time, one of the cables snapped that raises and lowers the stretch room ceilings. The ceiling tilted and the moldings from the ceiling fell on some guests. (This was caused by the new maint. crew not checking the cables everyday). I got a friend at the Riverboat to draw a cartoon (he was very good at drawing) of a Mansion Host wearing a hard hat, standing next to a pile of rubble, smiling while the GH is saying "Of course, there's always MY way!" The supervisors were not pleased. :-)
I have never really been scared inside the Mansion (I mean like getting spooked not other CM's jumping out at me) except maybe in the attic. And only when the audio was on. The screams from the pop-up's and the bodies suddenly popping up bothered me but not much. Otherwise, I was never scared in there. Heck, when most of what you see are the backside of scenery walls, support structure boards (for the track and ride system) and colored lights, there really isn't much to scare you. The ugliest thing closeup is the ghost dog in the graveyard. He's got these HUGE sharp teeth coming out of his jaw. I also found out that the pop-ups in the graveyard pop up between each verse of Grim Grinning Ghost (thank you useless information department :-) )
I also heard a ton of stories about a real ghost being in the HM who walks around the sets. I never saw anything walking around by myself or riding and could never prove anything. Not to say I don't believe in spirits but I never found any in the HM. There was a man killed there. And the creepiest thing was I met the daughter of his friend who was with him when it happened. During a Grad Night, I believe, two guys were in a doombuggy. One climbed out at Seance Circle to get to the Madame Leota effect. Well, in front and behind the ride path is a drop of 10-15 feet to the floor. There is a wall on each side for people walking the track (painted black of course) but there was a huge space between that wall and the platform where Leota's table was. He climbed over, fell, and broke his neck. It was creepy to run into the daughter of his friend...and this wasn't even at the Park. we were just talking about the HM.
After opening Splash Mt. and working there for a few months, I felt it was time to move on. I transferred to Epcot and worked attractions in FutureWorld. About 2 years later I went to open Innoventions where I worked the Sega exibit. I was there for a while and then was hired by a manager from Sega GameWorks who transferred me out to Las Vegas. Been here almost a year.
But I still looked back fondly on my Disney Years for all the friends and special times I had.
-Reid (R.C.) Loveland