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When hinges creak in doorless chambers, and strange and frightening sounds echo through the halls; Whenever candlelights flicker where the air is deathly still - that is the time when ghosts are present, practicing their terror with ghoulish delight! Welcome, foolish mortals, to the Haunted Mansion. I am your host, your... ghost host. [chuckles] Kindly step all the way in please and make room for everyone. There's no turning back now. Our tour begins here in this gallery where you see paintings of some of our guests as they appeared in their corruptible, mortal state. Your cadaverous pallor betrays an aura of foreboding, almost as though you sense a disquieting metamorphosis. Is this haunted room actually stretching? Or is it your imagination, hmm? And consider this dismaying observation: This chamber has no windows and no doors... [chuckles] which offers you this chilling challenge: to find a way out! [laughs] Of course, there's always my way!
~ Gracey, a.k.a. the Ghost Host, leading guests through the Stretching Room and revealing his hanging corpse.
There are several prominent ghosts who have retired here from creepy old crypts from all over the world. Actually, we have 999 happy haunts here, but there's room for a thousand. Any volunteers, hmm? [laughs] If you insist on lagging behind, you may not need to volunteer!
~ The Ghost Host
Master William Gracey, also known as the Ghost Host, is one of the main antagonists in the popular Disney Parks ride The Haunted Mansion, which appears in Disneyland in California, Walt Disney World in Florida, and Tokyo Disneyland. He is the host of the attraction and one of the most prominent characters in its history.
In the ride, he was voiced by the late Paul Frees, who also voiced several of the pirates on the Pirates of the Caribbean ride, Burgermeister Meisterburger in Santa Claus is Comin' to Town, and Boris Badenov in The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show. For the Haunted Mansion Holiday overlay, he was voiced by Corey Burton. In the HalloWishes firework show, he was voiced by Kevin Michael Richardson. In the 2003 live action film adaptation, he was played by Nathaniel Parker. In the Tokyo Disneyland version, he was voiced by Teichiro Hori. In the 2021 Muppet parody film, he is not a villain and is portrayed by Will Arnett.
Much of Gracey's history was revealed in the comic book series The Haunted Mansion by Slave Labor Graphics, which ran for seven issues from 2006 to 2007.
William Gracey was born into a wealthy family, which owned the mansion. However, he wanted more money and a more adventurous lifesyle, so he took up being a pirate. During a mutiny that he lead, he took the life of the ship's gunrunner and became the captain, under the alias of Captain Blood. However, his adventures ended costing the lives of much of his crew.
After acquiring what he believed was a reasonable amount of money, it is suggested that his father passed away and left the mansion to him. Gracey retired his life of piracy and went on to inherent the mansion, where he flaunted his wealth and held large parties. Presumably at one of these parties, he met and fell in love with Emily de Claire. The two courted for only a short time before professing their love and becoming engaged.
After his engagement, Gracey began experiencing paranormal occurrences within the mansion, which he took to be ghostly. He hired the traveling medium Madame Leota to look into these events and to drive any spirits that may be there out. However, as Leota was doing this, she fell in love with Gracey and made several advances towards him. However, loyal to his fiancée, he refused her. Angry, Leota continued to contact the spirits, eventually contacting Gracey's former crew and captain, who reveal to her Gracey's dark past. Leota used this knowledge to conspire with the ghosts, who she summoned on Gracey and de Claire's wedding night. The ghosts approached Emily before the wedding, telling her of Gracey's crimes while scaring her to death.
Infuriated and vengeful, Gracey tracked Leota down, who was performing a séance to draw more ghosts to the mansion. Gracey found her and snapped her neck, instantly killing her and causing her to become one of the other ghosts in the mansion. After three months of grieving for his lost love, Gracey hung himself from the rafters above the Stretching Room, joining the rest of the undead in his mansion.
He was buried in the cemetery in the front of the mansion. It is also hinted that he may be narrating the comic series.
The Haunted Mansion
After his death, Gracey became omnipresent within the mansion, able to oversee all of the activity within. Despite his tragic life and death, he keeps a hospitable and even mischievous air about him, welcoming in "foolish mortals" and jokingly threatening them throughout the ride. He seems to have embraced his position as the undead master of the house, toying with guests and even laughing at the subject of his own suicide when he shows off his hanging corpse.
A tombstone with his name can be seen as guests are arriving, and a portrait of him can be seen in the foyer, with the image growing older and older until it rots into a skeleton. It is also believed that many of the portraits in the mansion, such as in the Corridor of Doors, are of him.
The Ghost Host also narrates the Haunted Mansion Holiday overlay.
Gracey surprisingly does not appear as a major character in the Haunted Mansion miniseries of the 2016 comic book series Disney Kingdoms by Marvel Comics. However, his hanging corpse is encountered by protagonist Danny Crowe as he escapes Captain Bartholomew Gore.
Kinect Disneyland Adventures
The Ghost Host appears as a guide for the player in Kinect Disneyland Adventures.
In the 2003 live action film, William Gracey is reimagined as Edward Gracey, who lost his bride-to-be to an apparent suicide and thus hung himself for it. Years later, he tries to get his bride's reincarnation, Sara Evers, to remember her past life and fall in love with him so he may break the curse of the mansion that occurred when he died. However, here he is interpreted as a tragic and misguided hero with no truly evil intentions, and later helps in revealing the film's true villain.
In Walt Disney World, the Ghost Host is the host of the HalloWishes firework and light show during Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, where he meets with other villains like Ursula and Jafar. In the Disneyland versions, called Halloween Screams!, the show is hosted by Jack Skellington.
The Ghost Host also makes minor appearances in other Halloween and villain shows and events, usually introducing or narrating.
William Gracey is a polite and generally kind gentleman, though he does have his limits and a temper when provoked. While a murderous and cutthroat pirate, he was also capable of great amounts of love, which he showed to his bride-to-be. Even after killing himself as a result of her death, he still maintained his sophisticated and charming personality in death, though he did go a bit mad and embraced the scary ghost he now was.
Oh, I didn't mean to frighten you prematurely. [chuckles] The real chills come later. now, as they say, look alive, and we'll continue our little tour. And let's all stay together, please.
~ The Ghost Host after showing off his corpse.
And now, a carriage approaches to take you into the boundless realm of the supernatural. Take you loved ones by the hand, please, and kindly watch your step.
~ Ghost Host allowing gust to climb aboard the carriage.
Once on board, remain safely seated with your hands, arms, feet and legs inside. and watch your children, please.
~ Ghost Host
Do not pull down on the safety bar, please. I will lower it for you. and Heed this warning: the spirits will materialize, ONLY if you remain quietly seated at all times.
~ Ghost Host warning the gusts.
Oh, yes! And no flash pictures, please. We spirits are frightfully sensitive to bright lights.
~ The Ghost Host instructing guests.
Please, do not touch the safety bar. I will lower it for you. As we journey to our rendezvous with the supernatural, I must insist you remain seated at all times. And please, no flash pictures. Ghosts are frightfully sensitive to bright lights.
~ Ghost Host as the rendezvous begins.
The carriage that will carry you into the moldering sanctum of the spirit world will accommodate you, and one or two loved ones. Kindly watch you step as you board, please. We spirits haunt our best in gloomy darkness, so remember, NO FLASH PICTURES... Please.
~ Ghost Host instructing guests
Our library is well stock with priceless first editions, only ghost stories of course. [chuckles] and marble busts of the greatest ghost writers the literary world has ever known, they have all retired here to the haunted mansion. Actually, we have 999 happy haunts here. But there's room for a thousand. Amy Volunteers, hmm? Well, If you should decide to join us, final arrangements may be made at the end of the tour. A charming ghostess will be on hand to take you application.
~ The Ghost Host in the library.
We find it delightfully unlivable here, in this ghostly retreat. Every room has wall to wall creeps, and hot and cold running chills. SHH, Listen!
~ Ghost Host in the staircase area
Lurking at your side is an unseen ghost gently pushing you back into your carriage... urging you to stay.
~ Ghost Host in the Corridor
All our ghosts have been dying to meet you. This one can hardly contain himself. [chuckles] Unfortunately, they all seem to have trouble getting through. Perhaps Madame Leota can establish contact. She has a remarkable head for materializing... the disembodied.
~ Ghost Host before Madame Leota's spell casts.
The Happy Haunts have received your sympathetic vibrations, and are beginning to materialize. They're assembling for a swinging wake. And they'll be expecting me. I'll see you all a little later.
~ Ghost Host in the Ballroom
Ah, there you are! And just in time. There's a little matter I forgot to mention: BEWARE OF HITCHHIKING GHOSTS! [Laughs] 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! [laughs]
~ The Ghost Host's farewell.
Master Gracey was named after late Disney imagineer Yale Gracey.
In the Servants Quarters, there is a bell for Master Gracey's Bedchamber.
Master Gracey's tombstone reads: "Master Gracey laid to rest; No mourning please at his request; Farewell".
Corey Burton also provided some narration for the 2003 film as an homage to the late Paul Frees, saying some of the Ghost Host's lines. Burton stated in an interview, "...the Ghost Host, to me, is the voice of the structure itself. It comes from the walls.".
A common misconception popularized by the Ghost Gallery which is abundant in the Mansion's spin-off adaptions is that Master Gracey is the same character as the Ghost Host, however, they are entirely separate characters.
Speaking of which, the Aging Man, George Gracey Jr., Edward Gracey and William Gracey are all separate characters, in which the Ghost Gallery, 2003 film, and SLG Comics are not considered the canon Master Gracey, neither does the Aging Man according to imagineer X. Atencio.