Disney World is one of our favorite places to visit and the Haunted Mansion ride is a must every time we go. I had no idea that there was a home in Albany, New York built in the 1800s that may be the model for the exterior of Disney's Haunted Mansion.
What Was the Home That Is Believed to Be the Inspiration?
The story goes that a wealthy businessman, Joel Rathbone, built a country estate named Kenwood just south of Albany back in 1841. Roman Catholic Sisters of the Sacred Heart bought it in 1863 and tore it down according to an article on Spectrum News. They did use some of the materials and built another building in 1860. This is the original Kenwood Estate from 1841.
I'm Not Convinced This Was The House Used
Even though this home looks similar, I researched some Disney pages about where the inspiration for Disney World's Haunted Mansion came from, and nowhere do they list this Albany home as a model. They do talk about a home in Maryland that is actually a bed and breakfast and hosts murder mystery weekends that were the inspiration.
Imagineers Do Corobborate The Albany Home Being a Model
The Walt Disney designers were looking to construct the Haunted Mansion so the story goes that they were looking at a theme. That theme was "Hudson Valley Gothic". They claim that the Rathbone house and the Harry Packer mansion in Pennsylvania were the Imagineers' inspiration for the ride in Disney World.
Regardless of the Rumors
Even though I wasn't able to truly find if the 1800s home in Albany is the inspiration, it's cool to think that a little bit of the Capital Region could be part of Disney's Magic Kingdom.