The Gracey family that haunts the Haunted Mansion is named for Yale Gracey, one of the original Imagineers (Disney designers) of the Disneyland ride, which opened in 1969. Although a ghostly Gracey is never officially named in the ride narration or press, the name has long been associated with the disembodied "Ghost Host" in the attraction through fans' speculated narratives (contrary to popular belief, the ride does not have a definite story).
Much of the movie's plot is inspired by Phantom Manor, the version of the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland Resort Paris. Unlike the Haunted Mansions in the other parks, Phantom Manor has a clear storyline of a bride, her lost lover, and her haunting the mansion.
The chairs in the dining room were later added to both the Disneyland Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean attractions. In the Haunted Mansion, the chair appears in a portrait of the updated attic, belonging to one of the bride's murdered husbands. In both the updated versions of the Disneyland and Magic Kingdom Pirates attractions, it is in the final treasure room scene as the chair Captain Jack Sparrow is sitting in.
Previously, Eddie Murphy had developed a stand-up routine that lampooned the unrealistic premise of horror movies and specifically haunted houses in Eddie Murphy: Delirious (1983) suggesting that black people would never be featured in such a movie as they would immediately leave upon sighting anything supernatural.
When the two new homeowners start singing: "Happy Anniversary!" and Jim reacts very annoyed, it's a tongue-in-cheek joke about a commercial that aired on the radio for the Disneyland theme park anniversary, sung the exact same way by a child. The commercial was reacted to badly by listeners because it was so obnoxious and eventually pulled.
The "Welcome foolish mortals" voice-over during the opening titles was provided by an uncredited Corey Burton, who also voiced the Ghost Host for Haunted Mansion Holiday, a seasonal overlay of Disneyland's Haunted Mansion attraction themed to The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993).
Several references to the Disney theme-park ride include: - the singing busts - the breathing door (even the doorknob is the same) - Madame Leota (and the spectral instruments) - the busts that follow Jim - the ghostly carriage (a prop outside the ride) - the old man and the dog in the cemetery - Master Gracy's hanging - the ghostly ballroom dancers. - the Raven seen throughout the movie - the hitchhiking ghosts - the hangman - the eyes in some of the walls - morphing pictures in the hallway. - several lines throughout the movie that are also used in the ride's narration, such as: "Welcome, foolish mortals", "Final arrangements have been made", "There's always my way" - the floating candelabra in the credits - the bride's dress in the attic - the screeching cat sound effect in graveyard scene - the skeleton's hands that start to open coffin in the mausoleum - the knights in the hallway attacking Jim - the door knockers heard rapping in the bedroom hallway - the pipe-organ in the ballroom - the clock strikes 13 during the prologue
Hidden Mickeys: - when Jim and Sara are at the gate to the mansion, Sara picks up the lock on the gate which is shaped like a Mickey head. - When Ramsley pours the powdered poison in Sarah's drink, a Mickey forms when the powder and drink mix. - The couch in the library is vaguely shaped as Mickey's head.
Originally, Don Knotts was cast as the Groundskeeper seen at the entrance to the cemetery in the ride. While the character was cut as the script developed, both the Groundskeeper and his faithful, fearful dog can be glimpsed among the ghosts populating the cemetery in the film.
The Disney theme-park ride's theme song, "Grim Grinning Ghosts", makes a short appearance in the movie, but the all of the background music is some version of the song. Thurl Ravenscroft is the soloist for this song on the Disney ride, but he wasn't able to sing for the movie version of the song.
The three tarot cards that appear in the opening credits are from the Rider/Waite/Smith deck. In order, the cards are: The Lovers, Death (which represents change more often that actual death) and the 3 of Swords, the card of betrayal.
One of the Singing Busts is a bust of Thurl Ravenscroft, according to "The Haunted Mansion: From Magic Kingdom to the Movies", written by imagineer Jason Surrell. He is often mistaken for Walt Disney. The bust of Ravenscroft is a tribute to the fact that he sang the voice of that bust in the theme park attraction. Another bust is that of Paul Frees, who narrates the Disney ride.