WHEN A GHOST ARRIVES... somewhere, or so legend goes, certain sounds and sights precede its eerie arrival. The chandelier overhead might briefly flicker and go dark or the candles in the corner may flutter. Rattling chains or rustling branches could also foretell that a phantom of some note is wandering up the front path. But neither a rustling branch nor a dimming chandelier are foretelling what is sure to be one of the spring's most spirited stories: The return of the famous Hatbox Ghost. The Hatbox Ghost, like all excellent ghost tales, is about a wraith that's rarely been seen, or at least not seen for many years. But he exists, in Disneyland lore and on the minds, and t-shirts, of Disneyland fans. He's the hatbox-carrying ghost, the one in the tall top hat, who briefly made a cameo back when the Haunted Mansion debuted in the Anaheim theme park's New Orleans Square back in the summer of 1969. A Disneyland blog says that despite being removed from the attracting "this reclusive resident was never forgotten." And how: You can find Hatbox Ghost mentions on fan sites across the web, and it is a rare day to not hear his name, or title, rather, whispered from the Haunted Mansion queue. So just when will this long-not-seen icon make his ghastly reappearance?
MAY IS THE MERRY MONTH... says Disneyland, which, nicely, coincides with the park's 60th anniversary. That date is May 22, and, yes, it is as big a date for devotees as dates come. There's no specific date mentioned for the Hatbox Ghost's reintroduction into the dark ride, but you can bet that many a Doom Buggy buff'll make the journey from all corners to see a spirit so long spoken about. But a comical comment on the announcement post does bring to mind a question some fans may have: Will the Hatbox Ghost's inclusion mean that the home's 999 Happy Haunts have hit the magical number? As the introduction spiel intones "there's room for a thousand. Any volunteers?" And, on a different matter, who will you now call the ultimate celebratory ghost inside the mansion? The Bride, the Hitchhiking Ghosts, the Opera Singer, the duelists in the ballroom portraits, or, yes, the Hatbox Ghost? It charms -- we mean it chills -- that one iconic attraction can serve up so many celebrated spirits.