Did you know there is a mystery to solve on the five sculptures found in the Haunted Mansion queue at Magic Kingdom? Each of the busts features an epithet that tells how they died. Using only the clues on these sculptures, you can unravel this tale of murder and greed that resulted in the murders of the Dread family.
We have brought this murder mystery to you virtually! Click here to head to the virtual murder mystery, or read below for more details. This murder mystery was designed by the amazing Disney Imagineers. Our suggested age range would be 8+, but please note that the subject is the murder of five family members! The activity should take you 20-40 minutes.
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Dread Family Backstory
The Haunted Mansion was owned by George Hightower, the last of Constance’s husbands. Upon George’s death, depicted in the stretching room as having died by an axe to the head, the Mansion had no heirs to transfer ownership to. George’s dad, George Sr., was married to a woman named Daisy Dread. Daisy’s sister was named Florence, as in Florence Dread, one of the busts that is a part of this mystery. Thus, the fortune was left to Jacob and Florence Dread.
Now let’s meet the characters. We have:
- Uncle Jacob Dread, who inherited the family fortune
- His wife, Florence McGriffin Dread
- Bertie Dread, a hunter
- The twins Wellington and Forsythia Dread
- Cousin Maude, the twins’ nanny.
The tradition of busts appearing at the Haunted Mansion originated with the work of Disney Legends Marc Davis and Blaine Gibson in their original visual development of the attraction. According to Imagineer Steve Vagnini, there was once a plan to include a marble bust of the Ghost Host inside! In the version we know today, busts with wandering eyes follow you through the mansion’s library and come to life during the “swinging wake” in the graveyard.
In this video, provided by Walt Disney Imagineering, Imagineer Diana Brost lets us in on the storyline behind the Dread family, who appear as a family of busts in the cemetery. According to her, a murder mystery has been planted among the busts, ready and waiting for guests to solve. The Dread family was led by wealthy Uncle Jacob, who ended up succumbing to a mysterious poisoning. Guests who take the time to examine the smaller details of the busts and read the epitaphs underneath may be able to solve the mystery! According to Diana, guests who solve the mystery also may spot a callback to this storyline inside the mansion itself!