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Red Randal
05-09-2006, 12:31 AM
Last week we had a little debate over the merits of Maelstrom, so this week I figured I'd post a review of a ride that is pretty much universally beloved. Reactions are, as always, welcome.

The Haunted Mansion

Intro: The Walt Disney World version of the Haunted Mansion is located in a spooky New England manor on the outskirts of Liberty Square. It opened in 1971 with the Magic Kingdom. Most fans regard it as one of the most imaginative and best of Walt Disney World’s attractions.

Queue: Oddly, the queue is mostly located outdoors, which is something I’ve never really understood. Access to the main building occurs through the queue line which begins in Liberty Square and winds down a long path towards the set back mansion. On the way through the line you bypass a funeral carriage and a graveyard featuring tombstones with humorous epitaphs (“Here rests Wathel R. Bender, he rode to glory on a fender;” “Here lies good old Fred, a great big rock fell on his head. R.I.P.”) Mercifully, the outdoor queue is under a canopy. For reasons past anyone’s understanding, the ride includes Fastpass.

Preshow: We enter a room featuring portraits on all of the walls. A menacing voice, our “Ghost Host” tells us of when ghosts are present as we enter. He welcomes us and points out that the photos on the wall are of some of the Haunted Mansion’s inhabitants, as they appeared as mortals. He tells us there is no turning back. As he continues, the room begins to stretch, revealing additional portions of the portraits. He also notes that the room has no windows or doors and, subsequently, no way out. Of course, there is always HIS way. This leads to the lights going out and one of the walls opening as a door. We are then lead into a queue for the ride itself.

Ride: We hop onto an omni mover, dubbed a “doom buggy,” and move into the first room of the mansion. The ghost host returns as narrator and guide. He tells us of the ghost stories in the library and ghost writer busts in the mansion. He says that there are 999 happy haunts that have retired to the mansion, but there is room for 1,000. He asks for volunteers. When none seem to step forward, the tour continues, passing different sight gags along the way. We pass into a room where a woman in a crystal ball, Madame Leota, offers up some spells. Then the ghost host tells us that the haunts are beginning to materialize. The ghost host says he must leave, but will return later. Then we pass above a ballroom where ghosts dance around a banquet table. You simply have to see this to believe it, simply amazing Disney Imagineering.

We pass by a bride whose heart is literally pounding in her chest, and then move into a graveyard. Some marble busts begin to sing the ride’s theme song, “Grim Grinning Ghosts.” The ghost host returns and warns us to beware of hitchhiking ghosts. As he says this, the cars turn towards a mirror to reveal that a ghost is actually riding in the car alongside the guests! Amazing! Leota returns, in a gown, and invites us to please hurry back, for the ghosts have been “dying to meet” us. We are told that a ghost will follow us home as the ride ends.

Thoughts: There are two schools of thought concerning the story of the Haunted Mansion. One side seems to have been able to figure out an elaborate plot line concerning the deceased Master Gracey and his brides who have passed away under various circumstances. Some make Gracey a villain, others a sympathetic main character. This is partly what the movie starring Eddie Murphy was based upon. I, however, have trouble wholly believing that this story is supposed to come across in the ride. After all, the Imagineers, themselves, do not completely authorize this tale. The story seems to change every time depending on who is telling it. As best I can figure out, the story is very simple. The Haunted Mansion is a place where ghosts live and have fun. It is as simple as that. As we enter, we get to view their ghostly brand of mischief.

Story aside, the ride is a lot of fun. It is designed to be funnier than scary, and is filled with cool sight gags that I can not do justice to in print. Personally, I don’t consider it the greatest thing in the park, like many people do, but I agree that it’s one of Disney’s most imaginative and unique attractions.

Overall Rating: **** 1/4

mamatedd
05-09-2006, 01:13 AM
:thumbsup: Excellent review... again! Very enjoyable! HM is very magical :magic: to me ... probably because I had been hearing about it since I was six and had to wait until it I was thirty to actually see it! :D We, ages 1-33, loved it! I think that's part of it's magic- not too scary, but lots of fun for everybody! :mickey:

CanadianWDWFan
05-09-2006, 09:03 AM
Nice review! :thumbsup:

HM is one of our favourites. We all love it even our two year old. Pal Mickey is a bit afraid of it. He even told us so!

Surfer Stitch
05-09-2006, 09:13 AM
Nice Review. Ths Ghost have a lot of fun and so do we. HM is a classic and will always remain so.

Pumpkin22
05-09-2006, 10:18 AM
Great Review!:thumbsup:

HM was one of my most memorable rides as WDW. I was very impressed with the special effects; and I am still amazed at the detail Disney puts into all of their attractions.:notworth:

We rode HM at least 5 times while we were there last September.

j311ason
05-09-2006, 01:24 PM
HM is a great ride, however I would like to voice one complaint.

The blacklight spiders :confused:

I think Disney could do something better than this
I mean c'mon if they're gonna add jack sparrow to POTC the least they could do is get rid of the spiders

sorry those things are my biggest pet peeve

DizNee143
05-09-2006, 01:25 PM
again...what a nice review!!
Haunted Mansion is a good ride...not my favorite but i do try to get on the ride everytime im there!! :mickey:

castlelady36
05-09-2006, 01:52 PM
great review....HM continues to be one of my favorites!

TINKERBELL_82
05-09-2006, 02:12 PM
HM is a great ride, however I would like to voice one complaint.

The blacklight spiders :confused:

I think Disney could do something better than this
I mean c'mon if they're gonna add jack sparrow to POTC the least they could do is get rid of the spiders

sorry those things are my biggest pet peeve


I totally agree with you!! They seem a little corny and out of place, especially given the great other special effects!

Victor Kelly
05-09-2006, 03:40 PM
Technology update would be nice, but keep the storyline of the HM. I have been going since before I was 6 months old, every year. To me it is a classic that should always be kept.

Love it, a must see for everyone.

BuzzLightbeer
05-09-2006, 03:52 PM
I have one interjection regarding the review. What I consider to be the "right from the horse's mouth" storyline to the HM was given to us on our Keys to the Kingdom tour. It doesn't match very much at all what you see in the movie (as I believe the movie writers wanted to reinforce "the butler did it" cliche). Instead, the storyline told to us on our tour is quite dark and leaves you with an understanding why the HM is indeed. . . haunted.

I'm not going to write an entire post retelling the story given to us as I fear this would spoil the fun. I do, however, recommend taking the Keys to the Kingdom tour and when you and your group get to the HM portion, pay close attention to detail. I promise you, you'll be amazed at the work put into this attraction. :thumbsup:

Needless to say, this is one of my favorite attractions at the MK.

:mickey:


BUZZ

PETE FROM NYC
05-09-2006, 05:05 PM
My wife and I have been to WDW 11 times between 1975 and 1999.
HM is almost always our first and last stop of the day.
We LOVE it,corny or not.
If the powers that be ever decide to do a rehab closure during one of our visits,we would both be greatly disappointed.
The parks have been ruined enough due to various attractions being taken away.
Some that we enjoyed are gone forever,such as : Timekeeper,Mickey Mouse Revue,and Horizons,just to name a few.

Jared
05-09-2006, 07:18 PM
The Haunted Mansion is my fifth-favorite attraction in Magic Kingdom, and one of the best in Walt Disney World. Like your review of Maelstrom, I enjoyed reading this post.

:D

Lauretta
05-09-2006, 07:42 PM
Haunted Mansion = :thumbsup: :thumbsup: for this classic Disney lover!!

WEDTOPIA
05-09-2006, 08:20 PM
There are probably 12-15 things in the Magic Kingdom that I deem as un-touchable. The Haunted Mansion is in the top 5 of that list. Without question , it is the epitome of Imagineering genius. Maybe not technologically , like it once was ,but definately still the prime example of what seperates Disney from every other theme park operator on the planet .

Keep the reviews coming .I love this kind of stuff ! :thumbsup:

:mickey:

Red Randal
05-09-2006, 08:52 PM
I have one interjection regarding the review. What I consider to be the "right from the horse's mouth" storyline to the HM was given to us on our Keys to the Kingdom tour. It doesn't match very much at all what you see in the movie (as I believe the movie writers wanted to reinforce "the butler did it" cliche). Instead, the storyline told to us on our tour is quite dark and leaves you with an understanding why the HM is indeed. . . haunted.

I'd be interested to hear which version of the story you got on the tour.

The basis for my comment, that there was no story, is in the Extinct Attractions Club interview with one of the imagineers on their Haunted Mansion DVD. He never really mentioned much of an in depth story to it. It seems like much of the legend surrounding the Mansion is, just that, legend.

That is yet another thing that I love about Disney. They manage to make a ride so complex and in depth that elaborate tales can be told by many different people. Think Six Flags can say that?

MinnieMommie
05-09-2006, 09:22 PM
Great review and great ride! One question? I thought the ride was based on a story about a bride who is still waiting for her fiance who mysteriously disappeared on their wedding night. My understanding is that the story line is more clear in Phantom Mansion in Paris but the same although less clear in the World. Please clarify. :mickey:

J.C.&ALI'SMOM
05-09-2006, 10:51 PM
Thanks for the review. I absolutely love HM and even though I have ridden it many times it is fun to read a review :confused: ;)

Red Randal
05-10-2006, 10:25 PM
Great review and great ride! One question? I thought the ride was based on a story about a bride who is still waiting for her fiance who mysteriously disappeared on their wedding night. My understanding is that the story line is more clear in Phantom Mansion in Paris but the same although less clear in the World. Please clarify. :mickey:

I have heard a couple of different stories.

One involves a man who loses numerous wives to untimely deaths and finally kills himself when his newest bride dies on their wedding night (some say due to getting locked in a trunk while attempting a practical joke.) Another version of the story has the man killing all of his wives.

There is another bizarre story about the mansion being built on an ancient Indian burialground.

Another possibility sets the mansion as the setting of a retirement home for ghosts.

I have never heard the definitive answer for what the story of the ride is.

Bobby T
05-12-2006, 08:18 PM
I've heard the practical joke story before. He finds his new wife deceased upstairs, and jumps to his death from an attic window. This explains the backwards fall from the mansion to the cemetary beneath. Also, it explains why the man with the dog is frightened when he sees your 'ghost', and why the other ghosts in the cemetary are welcoming you with a party.

Just my :twocents:

PrincessAmanda
05-15-2006, 01:42 AM
Very enjoyable review. Thank you! :)

disneymom2000
05-15-2006, 01:19 PM
I absolutely love the haunted mansion. And am definately glad they added fastpass to this attration. :mickey:

magicgal
05-15-2006, 05:52 PM
:mickey: Awesome review! I will never forget the very first time that I went on it! I was in awe!!! It was back in 1986, and everytime I ride it, I still get the chills, and not because I am scared, but because it is one of my all time favorite classic rides! I could never ever get sick of it! :hmghost: :bat: :ghost: :hmghost:

WheresWalt
05-15-2006, 06:21 PM
Just got back today from WDW and HM is NOT a Fastpass ride now. It is however one of our absolute favorites and if they screw it up I will protests!! ;) :D

WheresWalt
05-15-2006, 06:27 PM
Well duh... I just checked the website and it says IT IS INDEED Fastpass but for the life of me I didn't see the Fastpass line!! Where in the heck is it??? Not that it is needed. We waited like 10 minutes at 1:30 pm on the Saturday before Mother's Day... not exactly a slow time. Maybe walking around in 90+ degree heat and 200% humidity did something to my eyesight :confused: :blush:

Jared
05-15-2006, 06:35 PM
I don't think you were seeing things, WheresWalt. Even though www.disneyworld.com says The Haunted Mansion is a FASTPASS attraction, I think that information is outdated.

I remember using FASTPASS for The Haunted Mansion several years ago, but for at least my last two trips, the kiosks were covered and not in use for the entire week both times. The FASTPASS Return line merged with the StandBy line so quickly that having a FASTPASS was almost useless. So even though The Haunted Mansion is equipped for FASTPASS, I don't think the kiosks are used often, if at all.

Someone please correct me if I am wrong.

Jul
05-15-2006, 06:36 PM
We were down in from 5-3 to 5-8 and the whole time FastPass was not in use for HM.They had CMs standing in front of the covered FP machines directing you to the Stand-by line.

Also, the ride itself seemed much darker, Especially in the Hallway scene and the graveyard scene.

Red Randal
10-31-2006, 07:46 PM
BUMP!!

Happy Halloween!!!

:hmghost: :hmghost:

4ubie1
11-01-2006, 10:09 AM
Great Review! I would like to believe that there is a greater plot line that goes with the HM but i think Walt designed it to be simply a fun "scary" ride with plenty of sight gags. :shrug: Whenever i ride it, i spend more time looking at all the stuff in there than actually focusing on being scared. :D Anywho, I think it is a classic and one of the more unique rides in WDW. :thumbsup:

cperry92380
11-01-2006, 02:13 PM
Good review. I'm looking forward to riding on my upcoming trip. Somehow I've managed to miss it on previous trips... maybe b/c it's so 'tucked' away... :shrug:

alilprincessmom
11-01-2006, 02:28 PM
I do LOVE Haunted Mansion, and although I agree it isn't the greatest WDW attraction, it is one of the best out there! The effects and themeing are out of this world! I also agree that the story behind the Haunted Mansion does seem to change depending on who is asked, including different CM's! I also agree with the OP's version of the story, the Haunted Mansion is just a place for ghosts to hang out, and "haunt" those who dare to visit!

Stu29573
11-01-2006, 02:37 PM
I think I remember in interviews with Walt, he said that they were combing the globe looking for ghosts to come "live" there. This statement would seem to support the idea that it's a "ghost resort" rather than an attraction with a actual story. That would also explain the wide range of time periods and types of spooks involved. Actually, the ride supports that idea too, since the Ghost Host is basically showing you around the place and then offering you a chance to stay....forever.....(insert evil laugh) :D

What is Idle Prattle For?
11-03-2006, 02:03 AM
It's a childhood fav. of mine, and will always have a
special place in my Disney-obsessed heart.

It *could* use a little updating, I suppose. (Even back in the 70's that candelabra floating at the end hallway as you
enter the first min. of the ride looked a little 'lame') But,
maybe I'm nitpicking.

My only regret in finding out everything I could about this ride online was seeing an Aeriel shot of the entire thing. I don't want to spoil it for others, but let's just say the HM and IASW are *much* closer than one might think.

Ah well...

mmouse566
11-03-2006, 11:03 AM
HM is a great ride, however I would like to voice one complaint.

The blacklight spiders :confused:

I think Disney could do something better than this
I mean c'mon if they're gonna add jack sparrow to POTC the least they could do is get rid of the spiders

sorry those things are my biggest pet peeve

I agree and I would like to see the strings become more invisible that that instruments hand from. We also had a previous forum where we were complaining about the inconsistencies in the doom buggy audio system. I would love to see that fixed. Overall, though, I agree. HM is great and a Disney icon.

Red Randal
10-31-2007, 08:13 PM
Happy Halloween!

Disney has fixed some of our biggest complaints about this one and I'll need to be doing a review of the updated version soon...or at least by next Halloween. :thumbsup:

Fallendroplet
11-01-2007, 03:05 PM
I totally agree with you!! They seem a little corny and out of place, especially given the great other special effects!

I agree, the spiders seemed out of place...but they have been removed. No more creepy spiders! :)