The Bride is a ghost figure seen in the Haunted Mansion and Haunted Mansion adaptations. This page is about the general appearances of the figure seen on the attractions.
In the Gore Mansion incarnation of the Haunted Mansion developed by Ken Anderson, the Bride was a recurring character. The most famous incarnation of her in these stages of development was Priscilla, the bride of a sea-captain named Gideon Gorelieu who she lived with in a manor in New Orleans. Priscilla would come to find out that her husband was formerly a notorious pirate (sometimes even the historic pirate Bartholomew Roberts) resulting in her becoming deeply frightened of him. In retaliation, the captain murdered Priscilla and depending on the story incarnation would either done so by stuffing her in a corpse and dumping her down a well, or by putting her in a chest and walling her up behind the chimney of their bedroom. Regardless, Priscilla's ghost would haunt the captain along with the ghosts of those who he had murdered, driving the captain to suicide via hanging. In death, Priscilla's ghost would torment the captain for eternity.
This story was clearly inspired by the French fairy-tale of Le Barbe Bleu or Bluebeard by Charles Perrault but many alternate versions were proposed by imagineers. One would have had the bride be a Voodoo Queen who was found practicing magic by her groom in the bayou, causing him to commit suicide in a fit of terror; it might have been implied that she used a love spell to have him marry her. Another version had Priscilla as a captive of the sea-captain who was accidentally murdered by his manservant Tor via strangling when she tried to escape. One particularly unique story had a bride in the form of one Mlle. Vampire who lived in the Haunted Mansion with her fiancee Monsieur Bogeyman with guests attending their wedding. However, the bride would lose her head and leave her groom at the alter, causing their star-studded wedding guests to throw a riot which the guests would need to escape from.
Multiple concept-art iterations went through of the bride as-well. Of note, one was based on the real-life ghost known as the Brown Lady of Raynham Hall. Another portrayal of her gave her a black cat in-hand which was later used for the Sinister 11 portrait of the Seer.
The Haunted Mansion
In the climax of the Attic scene, in all versions of the ride, the guests are faced with the ominous figure of a ghost bride. In the Disneyland's original Haunted Mansion, she was placed near the entrance of the attic. When the original Hatbox Ghost was removed from the scene, the bride figure was moved to his place in the attic. The Doom Buggies are still programmed to face her empty space in the attic, and subsequent versions in WDW and later Tokyo had her in the new spot where Hatbox Ghost was supposed to be installed, but never was.
The character has greatly varied over the years; the first incarnation was corpse-like, had a beating heart and held a candle and a bouquet; she was originally described as the Hatbox Ghost's love interest, and was possibly his murderer (or possibly the motivation of her murderer). This bride design was removed and replaced by a version who, instead of having a corpse face, had no face at all, and instead only had glowing yellow eyes in a shadow-like face. This bride became the classical model, but was replaced in the 1990's with a character that had a visible face. After this one came a version with greenish skin and a wild, flowing hairstyle, and then yet another version who had once more glowing eyes, the face obscured by a thick wedding veil.
In 2006, the "Beating Heart" element was removed to make way for a refurbished version of the Bride character known as Constance Hatchaway. This incarnation had an elaborated upon backstory with her being a black widow bride and serial-killer who was a composite character with the black widow seen in the Stretching Room. The audio of the bride's beating heart would remain however and it was originally planned for Constance to have carried on the effect. Additionally, in 2015 the Hatbox Ghost would be reintegrated into Disneyland's mansion.
In the New Orleans Square Mansion there is a little known travelling light effect where at night you can see an orange flickering candlelights pass by the windows on the inside of the mansion on the second story. The Bride herself is encountered in the attic a la Constance Hatchaway.
Walt Disney World
An engagement ring which is commonly believed to have been hers is stuck in the pavement outside of Liberty Square's Haunted Mansion. Originally it was only the last remnant of a removed turnstile which used to be present at the mansion but it developed such a following that when they refurbished the outdoor queue they replaced it with a much more delicate and elegant looking ring. According to former-imagineer Jason Surrell, Constance can be seen from the window watching guests as they enter. However this has yet to be proven in the attraction itself.
Phantom Manor created an original bride character known as Mélanie Ravenswood who died wandering the halls of her manor after her wedding was called off due to her groom-to-be having been killed by the murderous phantom of her late-father. She is the protagonist of the attraction, being found throughout the ride as a much more tragic counterpart than most of the other brides found in the Haunted Mansion.
The bride used in the Tokyo Disneyland Haunted Mansion is not a Black Widow, but still a Beating Heart model; she has a visible face and glowing eyes and is light purple rather than bluish.
The Bride serves as an inspiration for the character of Elizabeth Henshaw, who is identified as Master Gracey's lover of mixed-race. She was murdered by Gracey's racist butler Ramsley who faked the death as a suicide. Years later she materializes as an orb for unclear reasons and guides the Evers family to solving her murder which apparently she couldn't do with the other 998 ghosts of the Haunted Mansion as for unexplained reasons she can't properly materialize. She has an unexplained reincarnation in the form of Sara Evers who Gracey attempts to murder and who is later used as an avatar for Elizabeth.
Let's go to Disneyland Paris
The Bride appears in the "Grim Grinning Ghosts" segment of Let's Go to Disneyland Paris. While the segment takes place at Phantom Manor, the bride character more resembles the original beating heart bride, rather than Melanie Ravenswood. She is carried into the manor by the Phantom and comes out alongside him, when he addresses the Disney Villains. When Donald Duck comes out of the house, she runs back inside, along with the Phantom.
The Bride makes a cameo in an episode of House of Mouse, "House Ghosts". When Pete runs into a crypt, she is standing there, with her hand extended. He runs up to her and kisses her hand, before it disintegrates off of her arm. When he looks back up, she has become a corpse.
The Bride appears in the record The Story and Song from the Haunted Mansion. Mike and Karen run into the attic, where they come face to face with the bride. Her groom stood on the other side of the room, holding a hatbox. Every time her heart beat, his head disappeared from his shoulders and reappeared in his hatbox. In the illustrated story-book, she is shown in her hooded incarnation with a chest nearby containing a corpse with a hand sticking out.
The Ghost Gallery
In the Ghost Gallery storyline created unofficially by WDW cast-members, the bride was named Emily Cavenaugh. Emily was the 15 year old bride of Master Gracey (who in this version of the story is also the Ghost Host) and she died before her wedding when she was playing hide-and-seek in the attic and was locked in the chest she was hiding in by Gracey's jealous mistress Madame Leota where Emily suffocated to death. In this story, Master Gracey's mother Mary Gracey is the story's counterpart to Constance Hatchaway.
In this story, the bride is named Emile de Claire and is largely inspired by Priscilla from Ken Anderson's unused scripts, as-well as by the Ghost Gallery. Here she was the bride of former pirate William Gracey but died when she was encountered by his former captain turned victim, Randall Pace (The Hatbox Ghost) who was summoned by a jealous Madame Leota. Constance also appears early on into these comics but is never truly elaborated on.
The Bride appears in the illustrated coloring book, Haunted Happenings. Mickey and his friends run into the attic, and come across her, staring out the window with a blank expression.
This story features a ghostly bride in the form of Sally Little, a woman who died of a broken heart when her lover John O'Hannon was absent for their wedding. The two finally eloped when John was an elderly man and Sally a skeletal corpse, finally being together.
Constance Hatchaway is a supporting antagonist in these comics, terrorizing the ghosts of the mansion and the protagonist Danny Crowe. She is shown having the beating heart of the original bride while distinctly being the black widow.
The Bride appears in the 2003 video game as a friendly ghost encountered in the Maids' Room level after its completion. Similar to Melanie Ravenswood, she waits for her groom. Her appearance is based on the original Beating Heart Bride on account of her holding a bouquet and a candle but the Beating Heart element is eliminated.
A statue of the bride can be found in Epic Mickey: The Power of Two outside of Lonesome Manor in Bog Easy. Mickey Mouse and Oswald the Lucky Rabbit have to rearrange statues of her and the Hitchhiking Ghosts in Bog Easy to find a gear that one of the Lonesome Ghosts stole.
Tales from the Wasteland
The Bride appears in the Epic Mickey comic Tales of Wasteland, as a resident of Lonesome Manor. In the story "One Scary Night", Oswald, Animatronic Goofy, and Animatronic Donald spend a night at the manor because of a dare from Pete. They go into the ballroom, and the bride chases them around the manor, begging Oswald to marry her. They outsmart her by hiding by the singing busts.
Spooky "Boo!" Parade
The Bride appeared in the Spooky "Boo!" Parade at Tokyo Disneyland, during the 2019 Halloween season. She walked down the parade route, accompanied by five suitors. Her dress was more stylized, and a patch of her dress featured a cartoony rib cage and heart.
There is some discourse regarding the nature the different bride incarnations, namely in the canonicity of their different incarnations and discourse regarding if they are intended to be the same character or different characters.
All versions of the Bride are often seen as being different forms of the same character (who would become known as Constance Hatchaway). As evidenced by:
- The original Beating Heart version of the scene and the Tokyo Version of the scene both show the Bride having the decapitated heads of grooms stored in Hatboxes around the attic who would pop out and say "I Do". In the Modern Disney World version of the scene there are five Hatboxes piled up across from Constance nearby a coatrack holding the hats associated with each of Constance's husbands implying that the hatboxes contain their decapitated heads similarly to the original scene.
- When the Hatbox Ghost originally appeared in the attraction he was implied to have been decapitated by the Bride and to have been associated with her in life, most likely as a suitor. In the modern Disneyland scene the Hatbox Ghost once again appears in the attic only this time alongside the Black Widow model who is famously known for having decapitated at least five different men (all of whom were her suitors) and was implied to have stored them in hatboxes which appears to have been the exact nature of the Hatbox Ghost's death.
- The Modern iteration of the Hatbox Ghost is shown alongside five hatboxes which appear to be nearly identical to those found in the Liberty Square Mansion which were implied to contain the decapitated heads of Constance's husbands, showing that the Hatbox Ghost was most likely associated with Constance in life similarly to how he was associated with the Beating Heart Bride.
- From a story standpoint it would make little-to-no sense how the attic would be filled with the belongings and spirit of a completely different woman in the year 2006 while in Mansion canon Constance would have taken up residence in the attic in 1877 and as shown in her portrait would have died roughly around 1910-1930 as an old woman
- Concept art of Constance depicted her with a beating red heart in her chest
- Imagineers always intended for the Beating Heart Bride to be interpreted as a villainous figure but they always left her past ambiguous enough it could be taken otherwise, Constance could have been an intentional choice by imagineers to cement the Bride's past as being villainous
- Official merchandise and depictions in other media almost always depicts Constance with a beating red heart in her chest
- The Beating Heart Bride was never given an official name or definitive backstory. Affiliations with her being a tragic character or, "Emily" in general were purely subjective readings that were fabricated by cast-members and fans. Constance was the only objective incarnation of the bride within the text of the attraction.
- In the last surviving Beating Heart version of the attic scene in Tokyo, the Bride is heavily alluded to have been evil shown in part be her expression.
- Both bride figures are portrayed women who murdered their husbands by decapitation and hid their heads in hatboxes.
- In the attic sequence the Beating Heart noise is still heard in the background, implying the original bride is at-least present in Constance's attic.
- The Bride appeared in the Spooky "Boo!" Parade at Tokyo Disneyland, accompanied by five suitors, which is reminiscent of Constance's husbands. Tokyo's Mansion still has the original bride, so this could be connecting the dots between the two brides.
Many Fans see the Beating Heart version of the Bride (often nicknamed Emily) as being a completely separate character from the Black Widow version of the Bride as evidenced by:
- The Beating Heart version of the Bride was never given a definitive backstory or official name, all that is known is that she had several husbands who died, a suitor who was decapitated and had his head stored in a hatbox, and that she herself eventually died.
- Although the Beating Heart Bride was intended by imagineers to be a villainous figure they left her past ambiguous enough that she could be interpreted as a tragic figure and as such, different than the villainous Constance.
- In a miniature model layout of the attic, the April-December portrait can be seen in the background possibly implying the two women were intended to be the same. However the portrait was never put in the actual attic scene.
- Constance's lack of a heart could be seen as a distinction between the two women implying that Constance could never love but Emily could.
- Phantom Manor's bride Melanie Ravenswood is canonically a tragic character and serves as the counterpart to the Bride from a time before the Black Widow model was implemented in any park, possibly hinting that the role of the bride is intended to be one of tragedy to counter the Ghost Host's role as a villain and Madame Leota's role as a neutral figure.
Multiple Brides Theory
One theory is that every different model of the Bride is intended to be a completely different character. There is little evidence for this outside of them having different AA figures and subjectively different characterizations (something common for characters found in Disney Parks) and the Mansion's large, mostly unseen, population count allowing for such a possibility.
- She possibly draws inspiration from Edgar Allan Poe's the Telltale Heart where a man murders an older man and hides the corpse in the floorboards but he is driven insane by the beating of the heart under the floor which no one but him can hear.
- Priscilla from the Captain Gore story's being walled up behind a chimney was inspired by Edgar Allan Poe's The Black Cat where the narrator murders his wife with a hatchet and hides her carcass in a similar fashion.
- Official merchandise tends to depict Constance with a visible beating heart like the earlier models implying that they are in fact the same character; she was supposed to have it in concept art, but it was scrapped due to it not working well with the light projection effects used to animate Constance.
- The "Beating Heart" version of the character was called that on the blueprints, though most fans referred to her as "The Beating Heart Bride" instead. By contrast, Constance's model is nicknamed the "The Black Widow Bride".
- If all "Beating Heart" versions are taken as a single character, the tragic Bride character that results is often referred to as "Emily". This name has first been used in the Ghost Gallery (as "Emily Cavanaugh"); adopted in countless fanfictions, it also made its way into the non-canon SLG comics, where she is Emily de Claire. However, the two other official names given to the Bride do not include "Emily" (namely Sally Little and Elizabeth Henshaw).
- Constance Hatchaway
- Beating Heart Bride
- Mélanie Ravenswood
- Bluebeard's Wives
- Elizabeth Henshaw
- Emily de Claire
- Sally Little
- Priscilla Gorelieu
- Mlle. Vampire
- Voodoo Queen