Disneyland’s iconic dark ride The Haunted Mansion will reach its 45th anniversary this summer on August 9, 2014. With each milestone year this attraction hits, fans clamor for the return of its most infamous resident, the Hatbox Ghost.
Though the Hatbox Ghost only appeared in the ride for a mere few days after it opened in 1969, the character has become widely adored. Now a recent update to Disneyland’s Disney Gallery appears to indicate that the Hatbox Ghost will finally be making a return.
Inside the Magic reader Jason Biggart sent in the photograph below, taken in the Disney Gallery showing new artwork alongside the words “materializing August 2014″:
But while fans could hope this confirms the return of the Hatbox Ghost to The Haunted Mansion, that’s not at all what this art is for.
A Disneyland spokesperson says the artwork is “a peek at a new Ink & Paint cel that will be available later this year” – which makes perfect sense, since the art is hanging in the Disney Gallery.
But fans will still hold out hope that the Hatbox Ghost will eventually find his way back into the ride, particularly after an advanced Audio-Animatronic version of him was shown off at the 2013 D23 Expo:
Imagineers there declined to comment whether this animatronic figure (or a version of it) would eventually end up in the attraction. It seems inevitable, though not necessarily in time to celebrate the 45th anniversary.
But if history is any indication, Disneyland will likely at least host a special event for the occasion, as they have every 5 years for the past couple decades.