LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – Happy haunts — 999 to be exact — welcome ghoulish-loving guests to The Haunted Mansion at Walt Disney World Resort with a doom buggy full of tricks and treats in the eerie gothic manor.
A Magic Kingdom classic, The Haunted Mansion is one of the most beloved attractions at Walt Disney World Resort and has been eliciting all-in-fun chills and shrieks since Walt Disney World Resort opened its gates Oct. 1, 1971.
The Haunting Highlights:
- Once inside the wrought-iron gates that surround the stately mansion, guests step gingerly past the home’s cemetery, with tombstones featuring witty epitaphs to the dearly departed.
- Throughout the interactive queue, voices, music and other paranormal behaviors get passersby in the “spirit.” Guests can tap on embossed musical instruments to hear a haunting tune at a musical crypt, play with water and bubbles from a leaky tomb and help a ghost writer overcome writer’s block outside the front entrance.
- Thanks to a little Disney magic, ghostly apparitions seem to appear out of thin air to dance and sing in certain rooms. And eager “hitchhiking” ghosts even appear inside each doom buggy at the end of the ride to follow guests home – but not before performing ghoulish new pranks.
- Summoned to the front entrance, guests enter the foyer and then an octagonal gallery that stretches…and stretches — or does it? Paintings on the wall grow longer, but the floor and ceiling never seem to move. Other portraits morph into ghastly images, including a dapperly dressed gentleman that transforms into a decrepit corpse.
- Guests board doom buggies for their ghost-guided tour of the mansion. Sound and lighting effects create the mood as the darkened, eggshell-shaped vehicles glide silently through the cobwebbed library, conservatory, hallways, ballroom, attic and graveyards. Guests even ride through Madame Leota’s séance, a collection of flying objects choreographed by a disembodied spirit trapped inside a crystal ball.
- Synchronized speakers inside each doom buggy allow a narrator to explain the supernatural scenes to riders.
- Though the premise of The Haunted Mansion is a frightful one, the ride is intended for the entire family. The attraction is presented in a humorous light, though parents should be aware of the dark rooms and a few things that “go bump in the night.” Birnbaum’s Walt Disney World For Kids By Kids, the official Walt Disney World guide authored by children and teens, rated The Haunted Mansion as one of its “Reader Pleaser” attractions at Walt Disney World Resort.
- The five singing busts in the graveyard scene warble the attraction’s theme song, “Grim Grinning Ghosts.” Though sometimes mistaken for Walt Disney, the face on the bust farthest to the left actually belongs to Thurl Ravenscroft, the song’s soloist. Ravenscroft is known to millions of fans as the voice of Tony the Tiger, the mascot of Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes cereal.
- The witty epitaphs on the tombstones at the attraction’s entrance pay tribute to the designers, developers and artists who originally created The Haunted Mansion. One of the newest tombstones honors the late Walt Disney Imagineer Leota Thomas (her maiden name was Toombs). Periodically, Leota’s tombstone can be spotted slowly opening and closing the eyes on its sculpted head.
- Madame Leota also graces the crystal ball in the attraction’s séance scene. Leota Thomas provided the face for the crystal ball, and voice artist Eleanor Audley provided the voice. Audley is also famous as the voice of the evil Maleficent in Disney’s classic animated feature “Sleeping Beauty.”
- In addition to its home in the Liberty Square area at Walt Disney World Resort, The Haunted Mansion is featured at Disneyland Resort (in New Orleans Square), Tokyo Disneyland (in Fantasyland) and Disneyland Paris (known as Phantom Manor and located in Frontierland). It is the only Disney attraction to be featured in four different park “lands” worldwide.
- Ghosts aren’t the only ones hiding in The Haunted Mansion. There are several “Hidden Mickeys” to be found as well. The ballroom scene features one of the most famous — a plate and a pair of saucers on the dining table form Mickey Mouse’s familiar silhouette.
- Legendary voice artist Paul Frees — known to many as Boris Badenov from “The Bullwinkle Show” — is the attraction’s narrator, or “ghost host.”