Disney used to follow a little golden rule:
With a successful attraction also comes a successful song. "GrimGrinningGhost" is one.

Inspired by Marc Davis' idea of a haunted house, this famous attraction is still among the most beloved rides in Disney Theme Parks despite its "age".

Although Buddy Baker was not honored with a "tombstone" in the Haunted Mansion graveyard, nobody denies that his work on the Haunted Mansion is one of most remarkable projects he was ever working on.

Research by Tish Eastmann
Published in POV Issue #9.
Summarizd by Joshua Harris

WDI Composer Tish Eastman's analyzed the success of the famous Grim Grinning Ghosts song: "One little secret of the tune's uniqueness is, what Buddy Baker didn't do with the melody. A cliche in Hollywood horror film score apporach is, to use a certain melodic interval called a tritone, which is also reffered to as the ėDevil's Interval. (...) mostly used in B horror movies.

However, for his tune Buddy Baker did everything but using tritones: always teasing but never actually using the ėDevil's Interval. It is a Disney song after all! When this was pointed out to Buddy, he said, Right! I went all around it, but all the way through it never lands on it. It's one of those things: you sorta expect, it will go here but it goes another place."

Disney Legend

Dr. Norman "Buddy" Baker

Listen to various Grim Grinning Ghost Versions


(which has been slightly updated since)


April 23, 1969

Whitney Studios in Gendale,
California (Now Closed)

Old Robert Morton Theater Organ

Gaylord B. Carter

The first cue heard upon entering the Mansion. Used as the basis for all subsequently recorded tracks, the cue was designed to enhance the mood of the Mansion without inferring with the Ghost Host's narration.
In addition, the Robert Morton organ was so loud that the microphone was placed down the hall in the studio and still produced a very impressive sound. (This was also done to avoid the air sound coming from the bellows.



April 18, 1969

Walt Disney Productions Recording Stage

Tubular (orchestral) Bells,
Alto Flute and Balloon

Chet Ricord, Art Smith and Jimmy Macdonald

The second cue heard after exiting the Stretching Room. Originally a bass flute was recorded then processed through an Echoplex, but after that failed an alto flute was used in its place.
The most interresting event in this recording was the wind effect accomplished by Jimmy Macdonald (Disney Legend, sound effects artist and the voice of Mickey Mouse). Jimmy enflated a balloon then let the air out over his lips, mouthing the GGG tune.
Alto Flute and Wind



Buddy Baker

Exclusive to the The Magic Kingdom and Tokyo Disneyland, this cue was recorded after the Disneyland soundtrack.
This loop provides an Rachmaninoffesque interpretation of the Grim Grinning Ghost melody.
Grand Piano
The Library


April 23, 1969 and various others for sound effects

Whitney Studios and Walt Disney Productions Recording Stage

Robert Morton Theater Organ and various sound effects instruments

Gaylord B. Carter
and Jimmy Macdonald (primarily)

This is actually a series of cues being with the Endless Hallway and ending before the Seance Room. The original intend was to feature no music or narration, however late in production it was decided to bring back the foyer cue from the start of the attraction and the Ghost Host continues his monologue throughout.
This is also the the most dramatic part of the attraction. The layering of highly realistic sound effects with the knocking of the doors and the usually loud clock, we are drawn out of ourselves and into the mansion itself. It contains the single most ominous moment in Disney attractions when the Ghost Host says: "Shhh....listen!" most people grow silent.


April 18, 1969

Walt Disney Productions

Thomas Organ, Tubular Bells, Tambourine, Harp, Vibraphone, Cymbal, and Piano

Marvin Ash, Chet Ricord, Jimmy Macdonald (?), Doris H. Johnson, Buddy Baker

The cue in the attraction to feature character dialogue: Eleanor Audley's outstanding performance as Madame Leota.
Once again the melody of GGG is carried throught the scene, only this time with a soft organ line. The scene features musical instruments floating around the room, as such those instruments are recognized in the score.
This is also the only time in the Haunted Mansion when Buddy Baker performs the score, right after Madame Leota says "rap on a table," Buddy knocked on a piano.
Leota and music


April 23, 1969 and April 25 or 26, 1969

Whitney Studios

Robert Morton Theater Organ

Gaylord B. Carter and William K. Sabransky

Once called a "Demented Concert," this cue is what Buddy referred to as the "kooky organ." Done in a watlz tempo, it's the only track not synchronized with the rest of the Mansion‰s score. When originally recorded Gaylord B. Carter was asked to "go wild" with the melody, however as Buddy put it "After I heard what Gaylord had done, it wasn‰t kooky enough. Gaylord is a fine organist, but he‰s pretty straight all the time." So late in the evening, two nights later Buddy tried again with Bill Sabransky. This time Buddy had the exact score that he was looking for. Buddy said of Bill: "He had the whole melody written out there, and he played it enough that he knew the melody- but I told him to ad lib the whole thing and crank us all the way with it! Sometimes instead of hitting one note, he'd just hit a custer of notes... The rhythm line, the bass line, of that thing is pretty true to the tune. It's just that the melody is all screwed up." [Gaylord's original test tracks for the kooky organ are found on the Haunted Mansion 30th Anniversary CD Track eight called "Otherworldly Music"]



In the original show the attic featured only sound effects. Only recently has the shadowy pianist playing "The Wedding March" been added. This is probably the most conversial issue facing the attraction today. On one hand the song detracks from the Grim Grinning Ghost theme, on the other hand it does provide a short break from the theme before the graveyard jamboree.
Bride's Heartbeat


April 18, 1969

Walt Disney Productions Recording Stage

Contrabass, Bass Guitar, Rhythm Guitar, Drums, and Organ

Jess Bourgeois, Alton R. "Al" Hendrickson, Allan Reuss, Chet Ricord, and Marvin Ash

The Haunted Mansion Main Theme. Every cue in the ride is synchronized to this basic track. (Excluding the organs in the Foyer and Ballroom) It was recorded in to stages, first the rhythm section (guitars, contrabass, and drums) then the organ was recorded on a separate track. This track also serves as the underscore of all cues in the graveyard sequence. Musically, the graveyard score is programmed very much like a parade score in reverse. Where as the individual units are faded in and out with a basic underscore.
GGG Instrumental
GGG Tea Party
GGG Father Time and Mummy
GGG Prisoner and Hangman
GGG Headless Horseman


April 18, 1969

Walt Disney Productions

Trumpet, Stones, Bagpipe, Oboe, Harp, Flute/Ocarina

Caroll "Cappy" Lewis, Chet Ricord, Gordon Schoenberg, Doris Hutlz Johnson, Art Smith

The most unusual cue recorded for the Haunted Mansion (and probably one of the most unusual recordings ever.) The track was recorded three times including "backwards". The only backwards tracks that made it into the Mansion was Cappy Lewis‰ Trumpet and Art Smith's flute cue. The latter is also the highly publicized 13th Track found on the first 999 of the 30th Anniversary Disk. The woodwinds were really the only tracks the actually lived up to the potential of the backwards experiment, in that when played forwards the air goes into the instrument.
The bagpipe didn't work because the bag element of the instrument was hard to control, and Gordon Schoenberg performed the piece with a oboe (out of tune). The stones were the easiest part to record and were intended to simulate the drumming of tombstones.
The Phantom Five
Flute: backwards and original


February 14, 1969 (recording)
February 21, 1969 (filming)

Walt Disney Productions

Five Old Vocalist :-)

Thurl Ravenscroft (lead), Jay Meyer, Bob Ebright, Chuck Schroeder, Verne Rowe


Bust line up from left to right. "Uncle Theodore": Thurl "Phineas Puck": Bob "Rollo Runkin": Verne "Ned Nub": Jay "Cousin Al": Chuck

The most noteable cue in the Mansion experience: the singers recorded the lyrics first. Afterwards, the recording session leader, Allan Davies, noticed how well the five men looked together and decided to cast them as the bust's heads also. After the song was recorded, the rest of the recording session was spent producing odd tracks for the graveyard.
Thurl did some dog whines and Bob and Verne did some cats vocals.
Allan Davies even got into the act by doing the voice for the mummy in the graveyard. A week later the "Busts" were brought back in to do the filming. Each were given a makeup treatment to look like pure marble busts with some aging. Then each where placed in a "vice" as Thurl calls it and filmed together lip-syncing to their voices. The filming only took at maximum two takes, an within minutes the films were developed. Then the five singers were able to see the finished product. Thurl reacted this way, "One minute it's just a dead bust and the next there I am in the flesh and blood, and I can see my tongue and the inside of my mouth and my teeth. You know, it was frightening!"
The Busts


February 13, 1969

Walt Disney Productions

Louie Jean Norman (soprano)
Bill Reeve (tenor)

Like the "Kooky Organ" this is another well executed improvisation of the Grim Grinning Ghost theme. Buddy commented: "The Crazy soprano was Louie Jean Norman, and she had the melody down, so she get so far away from it so you wouldn't recognize it." The soprano did steal the show at her moment, and most of her performance was due in part to Buddy's willingness to allow creative freedom.
GGG Opera Ghosts


February 14, 1969

Walt Disney Productions

Five vocalist

Thurl Ravenscroft (lead), Jay Meyer, Bob Ebright, Chuck Schroeder, Verne Rowe

Musically, the end of the ride. In the Disneyland version this cue is heard and then Little Leota's "come back" invitation, however in the Magic Kingdom Little Leota appears first inside a Mausoleum and then the exit music (aka the Grim Grinning Ghost Reprise.) Recorded at the same time as the singing bust section, this cue has a very different mood and almost as if the ghost mourn, the guesst return from the external night of the graveyard to the rest of the decidedly more cheerful park.
Little Leota

Various Sound Tracks

The Ride
from entrance to the graveyard

"Phantom Mansion"
I thought it would be interesting to hear the Haunted Mansion Ghost Hosts with the cineastic soundtrack from Phantom Manor in Paris. I think this mix is a perfect example for the enormous impact of music. But listen yourself!

Paul Frees stumbles over his tongue.

Assorted "Welcomes"
Paul Frees and the variety of saying "Welcome".

Assorted Laughter
Paul Frees practises the GostHost's Laugh.





Buddy Baker at the 30th Anniversary
Event of the Haunted Mansion
in Disneyland.