"Beware of Hitchhiking Ghosts!"
- The Ghost Host mentioning the Hitchhiking Ghosts upon leaving the Graveyard.The Hitchhiking Ghosts are a trio of happy haunts that are the most recognizable characters from the Haunted Mansion, effectively the "poster ghosts" for the attraction.
In the Attraction
In all versions of the Haunted Mansion, after the Graveyard scene, they appear in a crypt with their thumbs out in the classic hitchhiking gesture. One of the three will then show up reflected in a set of mirrors the doom buggies pass, showing them sitting in with the guests in their car. The Ghost Host mentions how the mortal guests have been "selected to fill our quota" and how the hitchhikers will follow them home.
Walt Disney World
In February 2011, the Hitchhiking Ghosts at Walt Disney World were replaced with CGI animated characters. These were temporary as a way to make up for the new animatronics being made by the Imagineers. In April of 2011 Disney revealed brand new figures of the hitchhiking ghosts with more detail than ever. The old mirror trick the ghosts were known for was replaced with new technology which is reportedly similar to that of an XBox Kinect. Now the ghosts have the ability to interact with the guests, such as playing pranks on them. The vocals for all three of the CG ghosts were provided by actor Kurt Von Schmittou.
Three specific ghosts make up the collective:
The Prisoner, also known by his semi-official name of Gus, is a short, dwarf-like figure whose most prominent features are his long beard and ball and chain that is shackled around his ankle. He also appears in the Graveyard scene next to the Executioner and the Beheaded Knight, where his singing voice is provided by Candy Candido.
The Skeleton, also known by his semi-official name of Ezra, is a tall phantom that wears a bowler hat and has the same face mold as the Hatbox Ghost and other skeletal characters.
The Traveler, also known by his semi-official name of Phineas, is a plump, hunchbacked ghost who wears a top hat and carries around a carpetbag.
The Hitchhiking Ghosts make a brief appearance in the 2003 film, passed by the hearse carrying the Evers family through the graveyard, striking their ubiquitous pose. The three appear in the hearse a moment later, startling Jim Evers. While the Skeleton observes silently, the Traveler and Prisoner argue how the Evers see them, thinking they are invisible until the Prisoner accuses Jim as a liar and psychic. Unlike their ride counterparts, the trio were the mansion's former servants. Phineas was the mansion's head chef (complete with French accent), Ezra was the coachman, and Gus was the groundskeeper rather than a ball-and-chained prisoner Early script drafts for the movie have revealed that the three ghosts were going to play larger comic relief supporting roles, similar to the characters Emma and Ezra in the final film. The Skeleton is cropped out of frame in fullscreen home video releases.
The Hitchhiking Ghosts show up in several stories throughout, often as cameos. Each one gets their own individual story explaining how they died and came to haunt Gracey Manor, and they are referred to by their names: Gus with "The Big Nap," Ezra with "Laugh? I Thought I'd Die!" and Phineas with the previously-unreleased "The Doctor is In."
The trio, like many of the other ghosts, were trapped in the Grand Hall by the Captain's curse and were unable to leave. When the Captain tries to intimidate Danny with his powers, he casts a spell on the hitchhikers and transforms them into bestial monsters, though the Prisoner's ball and chain ends up knocking Danny out of the hall and out of the reach of the spell's effect, letting him regain his senses. The trio is restored to normal once the Captain's magic influence has been broken, and they take a liking to Danny and begin following him home and back.
The Hitchhiking Ghosts - once again referred to as Ezra, Phineas and Gus - can be heard bantering with each other through the Phantom Radio. The Great Unraveling has hit them particularly hard, robbing them of their ability to hitchhike away from the mansion with foolish mortals, and they actively talk about their frustration and despair at this fact. Despite this, it is never confirmed if they are ever properly enlisted in the Committee of Wandering Ghosts, despite Sally Slater's best efforts to recruit Phineas in one broadcast. They are, however, sympathetic to the cause and do their part to help find a solution to the fog outside.
In addition, players that could visit Disneyland and ride the Haunted Mansion with their app would get a special audio greeting from the Hitchhiking Ghosts when they passed them in the crypt.
Ezra was voiced by Pete Renoudet, Phineas by Stephen Stanton, and Gus by Dee Bradley Baker.
- For the first two years of Haunted Mansion Holiday, the Hitchhiking Ghosts were replaced with three jack-o-lanterns that would be Jack's gift to the guests. However, if one looks closely in the area where all three usually stand, where Lock, Shock, and Barrel now peer in through a window, they can be seen in the distance, implying that they never really left.
- They are also mentioned in the narration, trying to pick up a ride on Jack's sleigh, but they are ultimately denied, as Jack has to leave to continue his midnight journey.
- On House Of Mouse, the Hitchhiking Ghosts make a cameo appearance onstage after Pete says, "That stage is deader than the Haunted Mansion". They also appear in the episode House Ghosts where they are freed from a crate by Pete and scare him along with the other residents from The Haunted Mansion''. including the Lonesome Ghosts, the Hatbox Ghost, the Executioner, the Skeletons from The Skeleton Dance, and The Bride Where they attempt to scare Pete out of the club. They sang "Grim Grinning Ghosts" in an upbeat tune.
- Despite being some of the most famous ghosts in the attraction, they were never given any official backstory.