Boo! With Halloween right around the corner I thought this would be a good time to pop in to the Haunted Mansion for a tour. Don’t worry – while you may find some spooks here everything is on the silly side so nothing out of any horror movies.
Tucked in a quiet corner of Liberty Square, in the back of the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World, is a stately manor with a rather spooky feel. Come visit Disney’s Haunted Mansion, home to 999 Happy Haunts (there’s room for one more ~ any volunteers?).
The outside of the mansion is what you might find in the Hudson River Valley of New York and is perched on a hill overlooking the Rivers of America. It was important to Walt Disney that nothing inside of the Magic Kingdom would look run down or shabby so the mansion itself is quite beautiful.
As with many Disney attractions the experience begins in the queue. As you walk up to the front of the mansion an old, worn out, horse drawn hearse greets you with a taste of what’s to come. The queue includes an interactive pipe organ, a musical crypt, stone busts and infamous headstones such as “Here Lies Good Old Fred ~ A Great Big Rock Fell On His Head” and “In Memorium Uncle Myall ~ Here You’ll Lie – For Quite A While”. This is one of the many queues at Walt Disney World where it’s actually fun to wait in line.
These tombstones are all nods to those imagineers and artists who contributed to the Haunted Mansion and the early years of Walt Disney World.
You are greeted at the door by the housekeeper or butler and enter into the foyer of the mansion. Don’t rush through this room, take time to watch the portrait over the fireplace and take in the décor. We also meet our Ghost Host who will be our tour guide along the way. He invites us into the next room which contains portraits that look normal enough until the room begins to stretch (or is it just your imagination?). Is the ceiling moving up or is the floor moving down? This room at the Haunted Mansion in Disneyland moves one way while the room at Walt Disney World moves the other direction. Can you figure it out? When the doors open move forward, don’t drag behind or the gargoyles on the wall will whisper for you to “get out”.
You will now board a Doom Buggy, an egg shaped vehicle with sound speakers, for the rest of your visit. Beginning your tour in the portrait gallery, the pictures eerily follow you on your journey down the hallway. This hallway leads to another hallway, this one without an end and with many ghosts who are dying to get out. Then in the conservatory you find you are a bit too late for a funeral.
In the next room you will attend a séance with Madame Leota. Named after Disney imagineer Leota Toombs, you might recognize Madame Leota’s voice as the same voice as Maleficent in Sleeping Beauty. Here creepies and crawlies are summoned as you join in the séance and are sent a message from somewhere beyond.
Your next stop on the tour will be to the ballroom. This is an area full of details and no matter how many times you visit the mansion there will always be something new to see here. Your Ghost Host invites you to this swinging wake so sit back in your Doom Buggy and enjoy the party. Notice the place setting at the far left hand side of the banquet table – it’s in the shape of our favorite mouse! The organ is a replica of Captain Nemo’s organ in the Disney film 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Look up and down and all around this room – these ghosts know how to celebrate!
Moving into the attic you meet the bride who’s had her fair share of grooms. Something seems to have happened to all of them leaving her with wedding gifts and a heavy (and loud) heart.
Your Doom Buggy will now leave the mansion and take you through the graveyard. Here you’ll meet spooks and ghosts singing along with the Haunted Mansion’s theme song, Grim Grinning Ghosts. Can you find the grim reaper by the opera singers? Look for the cloth he is holding and you’ll see yet another Hidden Mickey.
Passing out of the graveyard you are told to hurry back and to be sure and bring your death certificate. Our friendly Ghost Host catches up with us here for his farewells. I’ll leave you some surprises but one word of caution – beware of hitchhiking ghosts!
On your way out of the mansion check out the pet graveyard on the left hand side. You might even spot a tomb stone for our old friend Mr Toad from the beloved, but now extinct, Walt Disney World attraction Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride.
The Haunted Mansion is a fun, tongue in cheek look at the spirit world. While there are a few loud noises and dark scenes that may be scary for young children, overall this is a light hearted experience that is one of the most beloved attractions at Walt Disney World. It is so detailed that each time you experience the attraction you will see something new. This is Disney Imagineering at its best!
My name is Susan Heidenrich and I am a Destination Specialist with Travel with the Magic. I’d love to help your family plan their dream Disney vacation. Contact me at SusanH@travelwiththemagic.com You can also follow me on facebook