The Haunted Mansion has been an icon of the Magic Kingdom since the park opened in 1971. Since then it has gone through a few changes, the latest of which was in 2011 when the attractions queue line was modified to include a number of interactive elements to keep us guests occupied while regularly waiting the 60+ minutes to ride the attraction!
One of these additions came in the form of the Dread Family who are portrayed as the supposed inheritors of the mansion, but they were a family driven by greed with each member murdering another to claim the families inheritance.
There were six members of the Dread Family, although only five individual busts located in the graveyard of the mansion;
- Uncle Jacob Dread who inherited the family fortune
- His wife, Florence McGriffin Dread
- Their son, Bertie Dread, a hunter
- The twins, Wellington and Forsythia Dread
- Cousin Maude, the twins nanny
On the pedestal of each is an epitaph that contains a riddle giving a clue as to how that person was murdered, there’s also other clues found within the busts themselves and lastly, the plaques also contain the murder weapon that they used (this last one is clearly to make it much easier to solve in the Florida heat).
Yes, it’s a Disney murder mystery 🙂
WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD!
Uncle Jacob is the supposed first owner of the Haunted Mansion within the Dread Family, he was a greedy man and had amassed the families huge wealth, which ultimately lead to his death.
Greed was the poison he had swallowed. He went first, the others followed. His killer’s face he surely knew. Now try to discover who killed who.
Bertie’s plaque features a small bottle with a skull and crossbones, he also has a huge venomous looking snake wrapped around his neck, so it’s a good bet that his weapon of choice was poison, so he probably killed Uncle Jacob.
Avid hunter and expert shot, in the end that’s what he got.
Florence was Jacobs wife, given that her husband was murdered by their son Bertie, the clue of having never done a dishonourable deed, leads to the conclusion that she killed Bertie to avenge her husbands death. There’s also a gun on her plaque which reinforces this theory.
Never did a dishonourable deed, yet found face down in canary seed.
The Twins – Wellington & Forsythia
With Jacob, Florence and Bertie dead it stands that the twins stood to inherit the fortune, a clue to their chosen murder weapon is a bag of canary seed found between the two busts, there’s also the canary lying on its back on their plaque, so it’s clear they killed Aunt Florence.
Departed life while in their beds, with identical bumps on their heads.
Given that she’s the only one left it’s safe to say that Maude probably killed the Twins as they slept, there’s no obvious clue to this beyond the hammer that features on the top of the plaque and that in the back story she is the twins nanny.
Our sleeping beauty, who never awoke the night her dreams went up in smoke.
So we’ve solved the deaths of the other family members, but who killed Maude?
If we look closer at Maude’s bust you’ll find nestled in her hair three matches, who knows why she used matches as hairpins but we can assume that when she went to bed, the matches rubbed together starting a fire that ultimately killed her in her sleep.
To back up this theory the Hitchhiking Ghosts give us a final clue to the fate of Cousin Maude, who actually wasn’t related to the Dreads but was the twins nanny. At the end of the ride, within their open suitcase, is a portrait of Maude holding the matches with fire all around her.
Photos of individual Dread Family busts courtesy of Haunted Mansion Wiki.