9 Secrets of Disney’s Hitchhiking Ghosts

Welcome, foolish mortals, to a post all about the iconic hitchhiking ghosts! A visit to the Magic Kingdom is not complete without heading over to the Haunted Mansion in Liberty Square for a little fun, fright and a hitching ghost or three! 

We love a good scary attraction (another favorite ride of ours is the Tower of Terror!) Of course, as you near the walls of the haunted mansion, you are subjecting yourself to 999 ghosts – or happy haunts, as they call them at Walt Disney World. 

Just remember, as they say on the ride, there is room for 1,000 in case you would like to volunteer!

photo credit Alexis Lariscy

The Haunted Mansion is one of our favorite attractions at Disney World. It’s a beloved attraction by most people who visit the Disney parks! Disney’s Haunted Mansion opened with Disney World on October 1, 1971- it is one of the original attractions making it a ride that every generation loves.

Among the 999 happy haunts you have your three resident spirits of the haunted mansion (also known as the hitchhiking ghosts), Madame Leota sending sympathetic vibes from her crystal ball, and the Grim Grinning Ghosts (the Screaming Song) as the theme song accompanying you on the ride and you ride along in Doom Buggies!

As you travel around the haunted house in your Doom Buggy (aka your method of transportation during the ride) something happens towards the end of your ride. You will find that there are three ghosts who are trying to make their escape out of the Haunted Mansion ride by way of your buggy.  

Let’s let the “Ghost Host” explain what happens during the ride:
There’s a little matter I forgot to mention: beware of hitchhiking ghosts! …Ha ha ha ha ha haaa. They have selected you to fill our quota and they’ll haunt until you return. Now I will raise the safety bar, and a ghost will follow you home. Ha ha ha ha ha ha haaa.”

At the end of the haunted mansion three hitchhiking ghosts get in your buggy and follow you home?! This is probably our favorite part of the ride. Who is this haunted hitchhiking trio and what do we know about them?

9 Fun Facts About The Hitchhiking Ghosts

1. What Are The Names of the Hitchhiking Ghosts? 

The original names for the three hitchhiking ghosts are The Traveler, The Skeleton and The Prisoner. In the beginning, they had no “real” names. 

No one seems to know how it all started, but fans or Cast members started calling the hitchhiking ghosts by new names. These new names have now become the semi-official names of the Haunted Mansion’s hitchhiking ghosts.

The Traveler is now known as Phineas, The Skeleton is now known as Ezra, and The Prisoner is now called Gus. So today, the trio of infamous hosts go by Phineas, Ezra and Gus. These are now the names of the three Hitchhiking Ghosts.

2. Description of the Hitchhiking Ghosts 

Ezra is the tallest of the group. He wears a trench coat and a bowler hat which he removes while hitchhiking. He has a bony face with his eyes bugging out and has a very slim, skeletal body…hence the name Skeleton.              

Gus is the smallest of the three.  He carries a ball and chain around his leg and has a bushy beard that reaches down to his knees.                                             

Finally, Phineas is the Ghost that carries the luggage. He also wears a trench coat and a top hat and is a bit plump.  

3. Most Popular Ghosts

Of the 999 Ghosts in the Haunted Mansion, the most popular ghosts are Phineas, Ezra and Gus, the Hitchhiking Ghosts! In almost all the promotional materials Disney puts out they are front and center. 

We like to refer to them as the Poster Ghosts. In fact, the Hitchhiking Ghosts are so popular they recently showed up in a Chevrolet commercial!

4. Names on Tombstones 

If you look around the exterior of the Haunted Mansion you will find the tombstones of Erza, Gus and Phineas along with other Haunted Mansion characters.  This was added in 2011.

We love checking out all the comedic tombstones on the way into the ride! You will find some very funny ones – and it helps pass time in line.

5. The Fellas Get a Makeover  

Also in 2011, the Hitchhiking Ghosts “mirror trick” was replaced with CGI animated characters.  It gave the Ghosts more flexibility in interacting with the guests.

At the end of the ride the ghosts now have the ability to take the riders heads off and blow them up like balloons! Yes, this sounds terrifying, but it isn’t nearly as bad as it sounds.

photo credit Alexis Lariscy

6. Additional Names 

Just so we can become more confused with names, sometimes you will see additional last names for our Hitchhiking friends. Ezra can be called Ezra Dobbins, Ezra Gasser and Ezra Beane. 

Gus can be called Gus Gracey, and Phineas can be called Professor Phineas Queeg, Professor Phineas Q. Hackenbush and Professor Phineas Plump (often shortened to Prof. Phineas Plump).

7. Movie Stars  

In the 2003 film “The Haunted Mansion” starring Eddie Murphy, the Hitchhiking Ghosts make a cameo appearance in the graveyard scene and in the hearse.

The ghosts also have a minor role in the movie Mickey’s House Of Villains.

As far as television goes, you can find the hitchhiking ghosts in House of Mouse, Muppets Haunted Mansion, and Disney XD Shorts.

8. A Haunting Hit From the Start.  

The trio along with the Haunted Mansion got their start at Disneyland in 1969 and just passed their 50th anniversary! The hitchhiking ghosts are such an icon of Disney that we have rounded up some of our favorite Haunted Mansion products here.

Of course, hitchhiking ghosts souvenirs and collectibles can be purchased all over the Disney Parks.

photo credit Alexis Lariscy

There was actually another ghost who was supposed to be part of the original crew. The Hatbox Ghost was part of the first 2 days of the ride! It was a man who’s head would appear in the hatbox but after too much technical difficulty it was quietly removed. He eventually returned in 2015.

9. The Ghost Host

Many think that the Ghost Host (the voice you hear throughout the attraction and tells you about the hitchhikers) is Vincent Price, but you would be mistaken.  The voice actually belongs to Paul Frees who was the voice of the Pillsbury Doughboy…hehe.

Extra Hitchhiking Ghosts Fun

And now you know some of our favorite secrets of these three lonesome ghosts. How many of these did you know? As you head into the ride, be sure to check out the witty wordplay on the tombstones before the attraction. You’ll likely find some things to chuckle about!

Keep an eye out for Ezra sipper drinks served in an Ezra beverage sipper, Phineas popcorn bucket and the Gus Dessert Novelty bucket. These fun snacks were only available during the Mickey Mouse Not So Scary Halloween Party and are now available all the time in celebration of the Disney’s 50th anniversary! You will find hitchhiking ghost collectibles and Halloween Decor during this fun time of year.

If your travel plans don’t include heading to any of the Disney theme parks, we have another option! There’s fun activity for you to do with the kids right at home! 

Disney Family has created a print ready activity that you and your kids can create to invite Gus, Ezra and Phineas to your own party.  It all starts here! This would be a fun activity to do during the Halloween season.

The Haunted Mansion is a classic Disney attraction that is great for almost all ages. If you have little kids, they may find this right to be slightly spooky at times so keep that in mind when visiting the happiest place on Earth.

If you are traveling with toddlers, we have a full run down of the best rides in the Magic Kingdom for toddlers!

About disneywithdavesdaughters

Dave and his daughters have been going to Disney for 30+ years, all on a teacher's budget . They love helping families have the most magical Disney vacation ever by sharing all their expert family secrets. Feel free to send them a message or follow along on Instagram!

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