I’ve posted this elsewhere, but I’ll put it up again by request:
There’s always a bit of discussion about the back story of the Haunted Mansion, particularly around the bride’s ring in the queue area. This is the story as I told it when I worked there, from what I was taught during training. There was no official story given to us in written form, just what was passed from Cast Member to Cast Member. I worked there before the pre-2007 refurbishment so much of this doesn’t apply.
Master of the mansion, Yale Gracey (named after one of the Imagineers who designed the ride) made his money the old fashion ways. He stole it, and what he didn’t steal he married. He was a pirate, who went by the moniker Bluebeard, who operated along the Hudson River, who also married six wealthy women, who all met untimely ends after their weddings. (You can see a mausoleum near the exit with Bluebeard and the seven brides, though the dates are way off to be in the Americas).
After years of piracy, Gracey decided it was time to settle down and met a beautiful young woman, Lucretia. Gracey was madly in love with her and intended to marry and stay with her. Gracey’s advisor and mystic, Madame Leota, was against the marriage, knowing she would loose her influence over the master of the mansion and secretly vowed to see the marriage didn’t last.
On the night of their wedding, during the reception, the newlyweds participated in a game of hide and seek. Lucretia hid in a trunk in the attic, not knowing Leota was watching her. Once Lucretia closed herself in the trunk, Leota locked her in, and the young bride suffocated.
After she could not be found, Gracey ordered a search of the mansion. No one could get in the attic, as the key was missing from the servants quarters. (The key is missing from the rack if you ever go through the back hallway into the foyer.) Eventually they key was discovered on Leota, and after they removed the bride’s body, Gracey had Leota beheaded for her treachery.
Master Gracey was incredibly distraught over the loss of Lucretia. As her funeral procession began, the horses pulling the hearse took off as soon as the coffin was loaded into it. Watching this, Gracey drops Lucretia’s wedding ring he had been holding as a reminder and stomps it into the ground. When the hearse was found the body and the horse were both missing, it was in the condition you find it in in front of the mansion today. After all this tragedy, Yale Gracey took his own life, hanging himself in the loft above one of the mansions portrait galleries. The trio of recent deaths carried such traumatic energy hundreds more lost spirits descended upon the mansion, making it their new home.
Now, you enter the mansion years later, Master Gracey’s voice guiding you along the way. As he guides you through the mansion, you see evidence of the happy haunts but not the ghosts themselves, until Madame Leota, still with one foot in both the real and spirit worlds calls them to you. You then see the spirits as flat images as you continue your way through the great hall of the mansion. But then you enter the attic, the bride’s domain. Furious at the intruders in her domain, the bride pushes you backwards out the attic window where you fall to your death in the graveyard below. This new spirit taking form startles the groundskeeper and his dog. Now as one of them the spirits welcome you and you see them in three dimensions. As you leave, a spirit inhabits your body and hitchhikes out of the mansion in it.
If you look at the scenes in the Mansion, you can see that story build itself. Prior to the seance scene you don’t see the ghosts themselves, only evidence of their existence. After the seance, you can see the ghosts in two dimensional form, but after the attic, you can see them in three dimensions as you are now one of the spirits.
Now as I said, this was all Cast Member lore and not official from Imagineering. The addition of the ring to the queue in the most recent update was an acknowledgement of this story, as they ring we used to point to was actually the remnants of an old pole removed from the early days of the ride.
There were other little fights between Imagineering and the Haunted Mansion CM’s over the years, including the Hidden Mickey in the ballroom. The plates arranged as a Mickey are not supposed to be placed that way. Each place setting has a Polaroid under it of how it is supposed to be set up. Every time Imagineering would come through they would change it to match the picture, and the ride CMs would just change it back on their next walkthrough that morning.
I guess it doesn’t need too many changes to fit the new attic scene, just the impression that the bride had the intent to murder Gracey for his money, but maybe ask a current CM to find out their version.