Claim: The horse-drawn hearse in front of Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion is the actual hearse used to carry Brigham Young’s body.
Origins: One of the many legendary aspects about Walt Disney was his attention to detail, especially when it came to his beloved Disneyland
One of the more prominent of these details was added to Disneyland in 1995 when the popular Haunted Mansion attraction was refurbished: a ghostly horse-drawn hearse, decked out for a funeral, placed adjacent to the guest queue near the entrance to the attraction. (“Ghostly” in the sense that its harness is rigged to stand upright as if a horse were in them, even though there is no horse to be seen.) It didn’t take long before the hearse’s presence was embellished with an additional bit of “authenticity”
Apocryphal stories about the historical authenticity of various artifacts found in Disney theme parks are nothing new. Disney garnered a good deal of publicity in 1988 when they announced they had purchased the “real” Lockheed
Just like the putative Casablanca tale, the legend of the Haunted Mansion and Brigham Young’s hearse runs afoul of one pesky but debilitating fact: no hearse was used at Brigham Young’s funeral. As Lynn Arave, a reporter for Salt Lake City’s Deseret News wrote:
“Historical evidence shows no hearse was used,” he said. Leonard said Young’s will was explicit about his funeral and burial. President Young died in the Lion House on No wheeled vehicle was used in the transport of the body for the few blocks it needed to be transported.
Glen M. Leonard, director of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ Museum of Church History and Art, said historical records are conclusive that the hearse couldn’t possibly have been used for Young.
“Historical evidence shows no hearse was used,” he said.
Leonard said Young’s will was explicit about his funeral and burial. President Young died in the Lion House on
No wheeled vehicle was used in the transport of the body for the few blocks it needed to be transported.
The truth is, nobody really knows where Disneyland’s hearse came from. Disneyland purchased it from a Malibu collector named Dale Rickards, but he had no documents to establish its lineage (those supposedly disappeared when its previous owner died), and since the manufacturer’s plate has been removed, it can’t be traced to its point of production. Even the less-impressive notions that the hearse was once used in Utah (albeit not until after Brigham Young’s death) or once belonged to some other Salt Lake City family named Young are mostly unsubstantiated speculation based upon photographic comparisons. It hasn’t even been established that the Disneyland hearse was around in 1877
Disney theme parks aren’t known as the places where “fantasies come true” for nothing.
Last updated: 22 August 2007
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