Walt Disney World's Haunted Mansion is filled with chilling characters, but 11 in particular have a special distinction. These characters appear in portraits throughout the ride and are known as “The Sinister 11.” Most, if not all, of these characters were originally slated for changing portraits.
Their original home was the portrait gallery before the library. Since the 2007 “rehaunting” refurbishment, the 11 have relocated. While the majority are in the load and entry area, a few are also scattered throughout the ride, giving avid fans a chance to try their skill at spotting them all.
1. Pied Piper
The Pied Piper is one of the Sinister 11 now seen in the entry and load area. Most people are familiar with the fictional children’s tale of the Pied Piper. This is a darker fairy tale that tells of a piper who was hired to rid a city of rats. Though he successfully led the rats away with his music, the townspeople refused to pay him. In revenge, the piper returned and led the village’s children away with his music, never to be seen again.
This dark character is unsettling enough with it’s inclusion in an attraction that leads children away into its depths. Even more frightening, however, is the fact that the story of the Pied Piper is backed with enough historical accounts to suggest that it is based in truth. It took place in Hamelin, Germany where the street known as Bungelosenstrasse where it purportedly happened still prohibits music and dance.
2. Jack the Ripper
Another entry and load figure, Jack the Ripper, is based entirely in historical fact. Though he remains unidentified, the Ripper was a prolific serial killer believed to be responsible for five or six murders in the East End of London. All were prostitutes and all but one were terribly mutilated. Jack the Ripper’s killing streak took place between August and November of 1888. The Imagineers’ take on the Ripper sports a top hat and carries a knife in his Haunted Mansion likeness.
3. Captain Gore
This entry portrait is often referred to simply as “The Sea Captain,” but his back story is much more elaborate. Captain Bartholomew Gore was originally intended for Master Gracey’s role as the owner of the Haunted Mansion. In this alternate version of the story, Gore is a murderous sea captain who ultimately kills his own wife. Her ghostly visage proceeds to haunt him, and reveal his secrets throughout the mansion tour.
Though the attraction obviously took a very different turn, you can see subtle nods to Captain Gore both in this portrait and in a head stone for Bartholomew Gore in the cemetery.
One of the easier portraits to identify in the load area, Dracula is a fairly stereotypical version of the famous vampire. Dracula has been so widely used that you can point to several origin stories for the character. His fictional likeness debuted in the 1897 novel by Bram Stoker. Some contend that the vampire was based loosely on Vlad III Dracula, also known as Vlad the Impaler who killed up to 100,000 European civilians in his signature manner.
5. The Witch of Walpurgis
Seen in the load area, the eerie woman holding a black cat is known as the Witch of Walpurgis. Walpurgis Night is a Germanic pagan holiday when it was believed that the devil was abroad and the dead could walk forth. Opposite All Hallows Eve on the calendar, this holiday does have an air similar to Halloween.
The Witch of Walpurgis isn’t based on any one individual, but is rather a witchy representation that Imagineer Marc Davis designed to fall somewhere between cartoon witch and authentic Wiccan. She was originally sketched as a changing portrait in which the witch’s head would transform into a goat’s head, which is another sinister reference to the devil.
The unkempt old man you see in the entry and load area is alternately known as The Ogre or Rasputin, depending on who you ask. One blogger contends that the idea for a Rasputin character was nixed by Walt Disney himself, as he was afraid of living relatives having a litigious reaction to the image. However, today’s maids and butlers known the portrait as Rasputin, so the truth remains a bit blurry.