The Organist is a character found in the Haunted Mansion.
- 1 History
- 2 Appearances
- 3 Other Appearances
- 4 Trivia
The organist was likely alive during the 19th or early-20th century where he was an organist and composer of some renown. At some point in time he died and his ghost came to inhabit the Haunted Mansion where it would play the manor's pipe-organ for what seems like eternity.
The idea of disembodied and disappearing organists/pianists was a recurring motif throughout the development of the Haunted Mansion. Incarnations having appeared in unused scripts by Ken Anderson and Museum of the Weird tableaus by Rolly Crump. The final version of the organist was designed by Marc Davis with a sculpt by Blaine Gibson and used a Pepper's Ghost effect to disappear and re-appear.
The organ music used for ambience throughout the attraction is actually music recordings of organist Gaylord Carter being played backwards as a means of giving it a paranormal sense. For the ballroom sequence however, Gaylord Carter was opted out due to playing too sensibly in favour of organist William Sabransky who adapted Carter's improvisations to be more wild. In both cases, the recording device had to be placed in the hallway outside of the recording studio due to how loud the music was.
The Haunted Mansion
The organist's presence is felt all throughout the attraction, before even entering the mansion itself. Organ music plays ominously within the queue and once again in the foyer, presumably coming from the playing of the organist.
The organist appears within the ballroom scene of the Haunted Mansion where he plays the large pipe-organ at the head of the room. As he plays a macabre waltz version of Grim Grinning Ghosts, a group of ballroom dancer ghosts waltz behind him and disembodied wailing heads emerge from the pipes of his instrument.
Walt Disney World
In 2011, the Haunted Mansion in the Magic Kingdom received an expansive, interactive queue. Of the additions was a crypt inferred to hold the remains of the organist which identifies him by the name of, "Ravenscroft". His epitaph reads as, "A composer of renown and note here reposes, his melodies fade as he now decomposes; He's gone from this world of trouble and strife, but a touch of your hand brings his music to life".
The first side of the crypt which guests see is covered in musical instruments carvings, namely those used by the Phantom Five minstrels in the graveyard of the attraction. When each of the instruments is touched, it plays a musical rendition of Grim Grinning Ghosts. The other side of the crypt holds a great number of twisted and macabre instruments which still play Grim Grinning Ghosts but in a much more off-tune form.
The Organist has been performed at events such as the 40th anniversary event.
The Ghost Post
In the Ghost Post ARG, the Organist was identified as being Herr Victor Geist (a name which would be adapted in merchandise) and he served as one of the player's closest allies in the game.
The Ghost Gallery
In the 1990s, cast-members of the Haunted Mansion in Walt Disney World created a backstory for the attraction as a means of answering guest questions. All of this backstory was recorded on paper and while unofficial, has since influenced both the original Haunted Mansion's official and semi-official features as-well as adaptations based on the Haunted Mansion.
In this story, he is identified as Wolfgang Elias Furlong and was the son of two wealthy Irish pianists. As an adult he moved to the United States where he became an organ player for a travelling-circus where he befriended a woman named Lillian O'Malley. Lillian came to marry an aristocratic man named George Gracey Jr. who invited Wolfgang to move to their home of Gracey Manor to serve as resident organist.
Gracey was a collector of arcane and occult relics however, including a piano which was haunted by the ghost of 18th century pianist Ludwig Von Baroketch who was cursed by the Angel of Death itself to haunt the piano. When Wolfgang attempted to play this piano, his hands were crushed by the wooden lid of the instrument and when he was finally freed by Madame Leota, he realized he would never play again. Consumed by grief, Wolfgang used the wires of the piano to strangle himself in an act of suicide.
A cancelled 8th issue of the Haunted Mansion comics by Slave Labor Graphics. This story would have portrayed the organist as being the leader and bus-driver of a children's choir which drove him to insanity. As a result, he murdered all of the children of the choir and stuffed their corpses in his organ which is the origin of the organ spirits flying from its pipes.
The organist makes a cameo in this comic-book, appearing in group shots of the ballroom, playing on his organ.
- In the 2003 film adaptation of the Haunted Mansion, the villain Ramsley is dressed as the organist and plays the wedding march on an organ in the mansion's ballroom.
- The organ used by the organist in the original Disneyland version of the ride is a prop recycled from the Disney film 20,000 Leagues under the Sea. In that film, the organ was used aboard the Nautilus by Captain Nemo.
- The identification of the organist as being called Ravenscroft is a reference to the singer Thurl Ravenscroft who voiced the character of Uncle Theodore in the ride.
- The one-eyed black cat on the crypt of the composer is an unused character conceived for the Haunted Mansion that would eventually evolve into the Raven. This cat being inspired by the character of Pluto from Edgar Allan Poe's The Black Cat.