Together with the renovation of the mansion in 1995 came a whole slew of additions. None is as popular however, as the white hearse adorning the entrance. Not long after it was placed, reports began circulating that the hearse was used for the funeral service of Brigham Young, the Patriarch of the Mormon faith, after his death in 1877.
The Haunted Mansion in Disneyland (not the one at Disney World) opened on August 8, 1969. The original story, which the mansion focused on, was of a man who killed his young bride in the home he built for her in the early 1800s. Made mad by her ghost wandering about the home, he committed suicide. Despite the fact that the plot line of the ride was drastically lightened, there was an equally unsettling piece of history to come.
Disneyland obtained the vehicle off of an antiquary from Malibu who declared that proof of its origins died with the previous owner and that no documents of its genuineness survive to this day. Whether or not the seller was claiming the hearse was used in Brigham Young’s funeral is not known. What is widely believed, however, is that the hearse originated from Utah and was in fact used in at the very least one funeral in the late 1800s. The idea of a hearse used in at least one funeral being put on display at Disneyland for families to see, touch and be photographed with is undoubtedly cause for discomfort and awe.
The manufacturers plates have been taken out, making the hearse’s origins hardly possible to trace. The year in which this particular model was manufactured is also hard to trace but it may have been a 1890s model, making the claims that it was Young’s impossible. According to Glen M. Leonard, director of the church of latter day saints’ museum of church history and art, “historical evidence shows no hearse was used”.
The truth is Young was very particular about his plans and requested that following his death, pallbearers would carry his casket to the small cemetery on First Avenue. This is where Young is buried to this day. None of his wishes included a hearse or other mode of transporting his body aside from being carried. After his death on August 29, 1877, those wishes were executed and his funeral was beautifully and simply executed, sans hearse.
Now we know who the hearse was not used for, but we are no closer to finding out the truth about this haunted vehicle’s past. We may never ever know where it came from, but it is one piece of the Haunted Mansion that will always be loved for its obscurity.
The Haunted Mansion, both at Disneyland and Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom is one of the most popular rides and a center spot for Disney not so scary halloween.