Be the Artist: Who Made… The Haunted Mansion Wallpaper?

5 min readJun 11, 2024


Be the Artist: Who Made... The Haunted Mansion Wallpaper?

This summer’s Be the Artist series asks the question: “Who Made That?”

The Item: The Haunted Mansion Wallpaper

Since the summer of 1969, Disneyland Park’s Haunted Mansion has gone from being a popular new attraction to practically a lifestyle for theme park and horror fans.

The thorough and beautifully crafted immersive quality of the ride has created a mystique beyond the standard “jump scare” haunted houses.

Walt Disney put to work plenty of his best artists for this one, from Marc Davis to Xavier “X” Atencio to Leota Toombs, the latter of which didn’t just create many memorable faces and figures, she became one herself as the face of the original Madame Leota.

The Haunted Mansion gave spooky (and creative) people so many iconic images and characters, from the Stretching Portraits to the Hatbox Ghost to the design of the “Doom Buggies” cars themselves, but one piece of design instantly recognizable is the well-loved “Purple Wallpaper.”

This creepy and cool design featuring leering faces hidden among the elaborate Victorian pattern is a real standout. One of the people who deserves much recognition is a name you might not know, yet thanks to her eye for design you certainly know her work: former Disney Imagineer Tania McKnight Norris.

Norris was born in Scotland and lived in different cities throughout the world. She was working as an interior designer in London before heading to Los Angeles in 1963. Her plan was to start her own antique company, but she learned of a project with Disney themed around New Orleans in the late 1800s. She had said in a Disney interview she wasn’t really interested… but she was curious. That’s how she came to join WED Enterprises (Disney’s Imagineering company) and helped design interiors for many New Orleans Square mainstays including Club 33, the Pirates of the Caribbean, and, of course, the Haunted Mansion’s purple wallpaper.

She worked with Disney until the ’70s when she left to work on a project for the Queen Mary and open her own antique shop. Today, she is still a well-loved and respected voice in design.

According to Norris, this design started out as a simple “doodle” she came up with because she couldn’t find a wallpaper design spooky enough to work with in an antique or design store.

Norris, who was very adamant that Imagineers were a team that worked together to make things happen, was also very proud of her wallpaper design. Plus, there are other Imagineers who contributed to the design as well. According to D23, the original “eye wallpaper” was also a collaboration between Rolly Crump (you’ll learn more him about later this summer) and Claude Coats. The original wallpaper is also more blue than purple.

Yet, the purple wallpaper is Tania’s, and she deserves some love and gratitude for helping bring the Haunted Mansion attraction, part of Disney Parks all over the world, to its full undead splendor.

Today, we see that iconic wallpaper on clothes and countless merchandise items, used in fanart, appearing in Disney shows and movies, and, yes, if you look for it, available as wallpaper (both the desktop and actual wall-covering design).

“First time I saw it up on the wall,” Norris said, “I thought, ‘Hmm I designed that!’”

The Project: Doodle Your Wallpaper

We’re starting out this summer with something super easy: doodling!

Norris said she couldn’t find an existing pattern “spooky” enough to create a design from, so she just came up with her own.

And we’re going to do just that: doodle a wallpaper design that fits whatever theme we want.

It could be another pattern for an attraction… or the entrance queue of an attraction. It could be for a movie or show that you felt was lacking in the world-building in one area. What about a restaurant chain that you want to give a more immersive feel? When you have nice light-colored walls, it can look neat in clean, but if you want to fully immerse yourself in an atmosphere, give it some personality. Or you might just want a way to celebrate your favorite passion on a wall in your own room.

First, look up some plain old wallpaper designs for inspiration. You could visit some antique or home shops, or simply hit the internet if you aren’t in the mood to go out.

The great thing about doodling is you can use any drawing implement. Use a pencil, pen, marker, charcoal, crayon — -whatever you want! I like to start with pencil and go over it with a pen or marker.

doodle steps 1

Find a standard wallpaper, then add your custom elements to it (like a Monsters, Inc. theme). Outline it with pen and add some color if you want.
Make a design in just simple black on white to start. If you like it, add a little color. However, just add one element or color at a time so you can build from something simple.

One thing you will notice in many wallpaper designs is repetition. Like Norris’s main ghostly “wallflower,” you see one design used repetitively over and over to form a whole pattern. Keep this in mind when you decide the shape of your pattern.


You can enjoy your doodle as a single design, or copy/paste on a favorite desktop publishing program to see how it looks as a full pattern.
If you want to test it out with a little digital help, snap a picture of the design and use your favorite desktop design program to copy and paste it to make a full wallpaper pattern. Now you’ve got a cool sample.

No matter how far you take your idea, the doodle has been made and the idea is now a reality!

pattern on wall

Try out your “wallpaper” pattern on a wall, and see how it looks! All images: Lisa Tate
Print yourself out a “swatch” of it, and hang it if it looks good to you. Who knows? Maybe a designer will happen by in need of an immersive themed piece… and your “doodle” just may be the key.

“Who knew a doodle at my desk would take on a life of its own,” Norris said.

Well, it certainly did, and we’re still being inspired by it.




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