The Raven is a supernatural bird that roams the Haunted Mansion.
The Haunted Mansion
As a leftover of the time he was supposed to be part-time narrator of the ride along with the Ghost Host, the Raven is omnipresent throughout the tour, although it doesn't do much. It's supernatural connections are indicated by his glowing red eyes and the fact that his likeness is carved on the Organist's crypt (in the queue area of the Liberty Square Mansion), indicating it has been alive for way more than a raven is supposed to. It physically appears five times in the Disneyland attraction: once in the conservatory cawing at guests, once looking over Madame Leota's incantations in the Seance room, once on a railing in the ballroom, once on a tree outside of the attic balcony, and finally atop the crypt at the end of the attraction. At the Walt Disney World attraction, the Raven appears four times, in all the same areas as the Disneyland version except the ballroom.Music Room scene where it caws at guests while perching nearby the Piano being played by the ghostly Phantom, and in the Seance Circle where it appears almost exactly as it does in the original attraction.
In the Walt Disney World's Haunted Mansion gift-shop Memento Mori, a Raven (likely the one from the attraction) appears in portrait form. On the wall there is a portrait of Madame Leota which occasionally changes to show extra details, one of which is the Raven perched upon her shoulder along with a black cat.
A mould of the Raven also appears on the mirror in the shop which Leota's face appears within.
Theories and Identifications
The "Old Nag"
The idea depicted in The Story and Song from the Haunted Mansion was that a raven's body was possessed by the spirit of "an old nag," according to the Ghost Host, who told Mike and Karen "be on your guard, it may want to better itself," implying the spirit might want to switch the bird body for a human one. The Raven also seemed to have some insight on the Mansion's backstory, identifying the Hanging Man's body as the Ghost Host's by mockingly answering the Ghost Host's ominous "There's always… ‘my way’!" with a cawed "He chose the coward's way out!"
The Ghost Host
Some fans believe that the Raven is the physical form of the Ghost Host due to an original concept where the Ghost Host's voice would come from the Raven and the bird would have appeared more often in the ride such as the Foyer and the Stretching Room. The main problem with this theory is that the Raven appears in segments of the ride where the Ghost Host is explicitly not present (and vice-versa); for example the Raven appears in the descent from the attic's balcony where it caws at guests on a branch, even though after the Graveyard sequence the Ghost Host implies that he did not actively know where the guests went after he left them in the Ballroom.
Some fans have theorized that the Raven is the pet of Madame Leota since it rests on her chair in the Seance room. Although nothing disproves this theory the Raven doesn't show any other connections with Madame Leota in the attraction, Memento Mori or Leota's Cart.
If looking at the Edgar Allan Poe inspiration of the character, it is possible that the Raven isn't a ghost or animal at all but instead a mysterious watcher or omen, watching over the Mansion's grounds. This theory can be partly evidenced by the Raven's appearance on the Crypt of the Organist in Liberty Square's Mansion.
In spite of the original plans for all ravens to be taken as one creature who follows the guests around, some have taken the various animatronics to depict different birds. However as all the Ravens would to have the same distinct feature of glowing red eyes, display the same personality and are never seen in the same place, it is most likely that this theory is not true.
In the unofficial Ghost Gallery, the Raven (here named Richard) was combined with the man from the Sinister Couple portrait. In this story he was the late-husband of the woman who made all the paintings in the Haunted Mansion and that he inhabited the spirit of her pet raven.
The Raven appears in the critically panned 2003 adaption of the franchise where it acts as a spy for the film's villain Ramsley to watch the Evers family. In a film commentary by director Rob Minkoff, it is revealed that the production did not use a real raven to play the film's Raven, opting for a harmless bird originating from Africa with similar characteristics to a real raven for the role. Minkoff explains that this was done in order to comply and compensate for California's law on domesticated birds of prey.
Disney Crossy RoadThe Raven appears in the video-game app Disney Crossy-Road where it is a non-playable character which drags the player off-screen if they get too slow.
- Besides the old cliché of ravens in Haunted Houses, the Raven seems to have been inspired by Edgar Allen Poe's famous poem of the same name.
- Up until 1971, there was an empty birdcage on the exterior of the New Orleans Square Haunted Mansion.
- Many cast members at the Disneyland and Disney World attractions refer to him as Lucifer.
- Some fans have nicknamed him Edgar, while the Ghost Gallery names him Richard. Some reconcile both versions by saying that the original raven, in his role as a pet, was named Richard, while Edgar is the name (or assumed name) of the spirit possessing it. He is also combined with the man from the Sinister Couple portrait.
- Originally the Raven would speak and be voiced by Eleanor Audley who also voiced Madame Leota. The Raven would have also frequently used the word "Nevermore", confirming its Poe roots.
- Outside of the New Orleans Haunted Mansion, there is a 3-story birdhouse found on the side of the house which features one boarded up window, this birdhouse quite possibly belonged or still belongs to the Raven.
- In Haunted Mansion Holiday, the Raven has joined with the Vampire Teddy Bear from "The Nightmare Before Christmas", who appears in the same locations as the Raven, but does his own actions.
- The Raven carving on the Organist crypt is visually inspired by the character of Diablo from Sleeping Beauty. This is likely because Diablo was designed by Marc Davis who also designed most of the characters and visual gags in the Haunted Mansion. Diablo also is the Spanish term used to describe the devil while the Raven's unofficial cast-member given the name "Lucifer" is another name for the Devil.