Haunted Mansion

Florida Guide > Magic Kingdom

Few of us who have visited Disney’s Magic Kingdom will have missed one of their oldest and most popular attractions, the Haunted Mansion. You cannot fail to notice this Gothic gem, surrounded by wrought iron fences, and with those spooky tombstones. Disney is constantly renovating their attractions, so this somewhat ‘elderly’ attraction recently received a face-lift. It was closed for 3 months and re-opened in September 2007. It is actually very difficult for Disney to close an attraction for renovation as such a closure causes disappointment to those who have never visited the park before, as well as those for whom it is a regular favourite.

However, like ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ and ‘It’s a Small World, ’ this classic attraction, which opened 36 years ago was certainly due for an upgrade, as technology has moved on so much in the intervening years. It was beginning to look a little dated and ‘twee. ’ Way back in 1970 Disney sent some of his ‘imagineers’ to visit the Harry Packer Mansion in Pennsylvania, and it was this gothic mansion, with its impressive façade, that was the inspiration for Disneyworld’s Haunted Mansion. It still remains a hotel and can be visited for as little as $125 a night.

So a recent visit to our beautiful villa in Orlando gave us the perfect excuse to try out the new and improved attraction. We arrived at Magic Kingdom in the early evening. There was a tropical storm in the offing and we decided to have a meal before joining the long queue. Our meal over we made our way to the start of the queue, which fortunately had a canopy over it. You begin the long wait beside the water, close to where the Riverboat is docked. Just as we got to the beginning of the line the heavens opened! I have never seen rain like it. The thunder rumbled overhead and shafts of lightning lit up the sky. The water cascaded down from the canopy roof in huge sheets, making rapidly growing puddles which we had to avoid if we didn’t want to get wet. With the quickly fading light and the thunderstorm overhead the scene was certainly set for a spooky visit to the Haunted Mansion.

The line seemed to go on for ever – as it wound its way slowly back and forth in front of the main gate we wondered if we would actually get there before we were flooded out. Thankfully there was plenty to look at in the form of graves with headstones with amusing epitaphs to their long departed occupants. There is even an animal graveyard.

But at last we entered the front door of the Haunted Mansion, and were ushered into an octagonal waiting room. The spooky voice of our ‘ghost host’ welcomed us, and as he talked the portraits slowly and quietly stretched up to reveal the fate of those portrayed. The wall opened and we were ushered towards our ‘doombuggy. ’ These cars, which are wired for sound, move silently through the Mansion, and are designed so that you can only see what is in front of you. They swivel and turn through 180 degrees as you proceed through the house. The ride is surprisingly long and takes you through various parts of the Mansion, where ghosts appear and there is gloomy music playing. There are, apparently 1000 ghostly figures to be seen, but it really takes more than one visit to see everything. Many of the ghosts are holograms, and there are spooky eyes appearing from all sort of things. You cannot miss the dust and cobwebs which are, apparently regularly replenished. The webs are actually liquid which is sprayed on, and then dusted with Fuller’s earth. There is a phantom pianist, a ghostly bride, and spectral couples who dance endlessly in the ballroom. There are 160 doom buggies which transport up to 3, 200 guests per hour through a library, ballroom, a séance room, an attic and a crypt, where you will find names such as Hal Lisinashun, Hap A Rition, Manny Festation and Claire Voyance, as well as Wee G Board and of course, Paul Tergyst!

There is so much to see that you cannot possibly do this attraction justice with just one visit. Each time you go you will notice something else – whether it’s a ghostly presence or a pair of eyes looking at you from a painting. Is it scarey? Well, we did not find it so, but maybe some children might be a bit unsettled by its ghastly ghosts and frightening phantoms. It is fun, though, and if you can put up with the long queues then it is worth visiting.

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