This article is about the Magic Kingdom and Tokyo Disneyland version of the ride. For the Disneyland version, see The Haunted Mansion (Disneyland).
The Haunted Mansion attractions at the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, and Tokyo Disneyland at Tokyo Disney Resort in Urayasu, Japan are very similar to each other in regards to ride layout and structure. They differ from their counterparts at Disneyland and Disneyland Paris in regards to these features. Both attractions opened with their respective parks and have remained guest favorites ever since.
The Magic Kingdom version was produced in conjunction with the Disneyland original, as they would only open about two years apart from each other. This meant that two of every figure, prop, and scenic element were produced at the same time, the sole exceptions being new Florida exclusive elements such as the Library and Music Room. Because of this, it was the first of the park's attractions to complete construction and installation.
As New Orleans Square was replaced by Liberty Square in the Magic Kingdom's design plans, the attraction's exterior would take on an entirely different look to match. Intended to evoke Upstate New York and New England horror stories such as The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and the works of Edgar Allen Poe, the attraction took on a "Dutch Gothic" appearance that would more strongly communicate the haunted interior.
It has had several changes over the years, with various queue enhancements taking place in 2001 and 2011. The largest changes would come in 2007 after a year-long refurbishment called "The Re-Haunting", which would incorporate some of the various incremental changes made at Disneyland in previous years, such as the introduction of a floating Madame Leota and the new attic bride Constance Hatchaway as well as new things like the Endless Staircase and enhanced audio in the Stretching Room. 2011 would also see the replacement of the Hitchhiking Ghosts mirror effect with new computer generated ghosts.
Sometime in the 90s, Cast members of it had created their own history of the house and compiled the stories onto a website known as the Ghost Gallery. Though unofficial, it has had a significant influence on media adaptations such as the 2003 film and Slave Labor Graphics comic series and some of the character names, such as those of the Hitchhiking Ghosts were officially adopted. It is also responsible for the confusion over the Ghost Host and Master Gracey being the same character.
Early plans for Tokyo Disneyland would have placed the Haunted Mansion in the middle of Westernland on the shores of the Rivers of America. However, upon seeing the popularity of Big Thunder Mountain Railroad in the American parks, it was decided late in the park's planning to relocate the Haunted Mansion to Fantasyland and build Big Thunder Mountain Railroad on the spot after the park's opening. This new placement in Fantasyland would be justified by the prominent role that ghosts and spirits held in Japanese folktales.
Since 2004, Tokyo Disneyland has hosted the Haunted Mansion Holiday Nightmare overlay for the Halloween and Christmas season, resulting from Magic Kingdom management rejecting an offer for their own Haunted Mansion Holiday overlay.
- Wathel R. Bender.
He rode to glory
- On a fender. - Epitath
In Walt Disney World, the queue for the attraction begins at the entrance of Liberty Square coming from Fantasyland, in a way bridging the gap between fantasy and reality. The line snakes around the front of the attraction's facade and in front of a hearse, before winding around the riverbank shore of the Rivers of America and turns inland to the side of the mansion. Here, we see the family plot for the family that lived in the mansion prior to our arrival. To the left side of the walkway are gravestones, while in front of us are a pair of black doors, that will open as soon as the mansion is ready for us. An awning was added to the queue a few years after the ride was opened, providing shade for those in line. In 2011, as part of Disney's NextGen initiative, an interactive extension to the queue's graveyard was added, diverting from the primary queue path. Several large crypts, as well as relocated tombstones are now located here, including a musical tomb implied to belong to the ride's Organist, a water and bubble emitting tomb for the Sea Captain of the Sinister 11 paintings, and a tomb for a poet with a bad case of writer's block, calling from beyond the grave for help with her rhyming. There is also a series of busts of a family that call out for guests to solve the mystery of who murdered the group. In addition to these interactive elements, some new stones and crypts have homages to more Imagineers and people involved in the attraction.
At night, the exterior is illuminated with an eerie purple light, and lights in the windows flicker. Every now and then, shadowy figures block the lights in the windows and loom out of view before lighting (which is merely a strobe effect) strikes. During Halloween, music outside the mansion is much more prominent, more lighting effects are scattered around the cemetery, and fog machines are scattered throughout the queue, but the ride itself remains unchanged.
The Magic Kingdom version of the attraction now features an interactive queve area. A musical crypt, a leaky tomb, and a ghost writer are among the creepy haunts located just outside the main entrance. These new hands-on experiences include:
- The Dread Family - A series of busts of a family that once lived in the Mansion that killed each other over inheriting a large fortune. Epitaphs for each bust offer clues to figure out who killed who, with the solution of who the final survivor was being placed in portrait form next to the Hitchhiking Ghosts at the end of the ride.
- The Musical Crypt - Tap any of the embossed musical instruments on this creepy crypt to hear a haunted tune mysteriously play.
- Sepulcher of the Sea Captain - Water leaks and bubbles rise from this age-old tomb as the Captain inside sings a long-lost tune. Beware of a drizzling sneeze!
- Tomb of the Posthumous Poetess - Words inexplicably appear upon the poetess’ tomb but she needs your help in overcoming a deadly dose of writer’s block.
- The Secret Library - Push in the books that mysteriously pop out at this haunted bookcase that includes a cryptogram for you to decipher.
In Tokyo Disneyland, the queue is very similar except for the fact that it does not go along the shoreline of the Rivers of America. Instead, we are sent through the queue very quickly with not much to look at. Also in the queue, two stone gargoyles also stand on the pillars of the gate, occasionally turning their heads to look at us. Instead of having a family burial plot to the side of the house, this scene was moved to the front of the mansion and was replaced with a stone crypt with falling debris and a secret part of the mansion not seen at the Florida mansion.
When hinges creak in doorless chambers. When strange and frightening sounds echo through the halls. Whenever candlelights flicker when the air is deathly still... That is the time when ghosts are present, practicing their terror with ghoulish delight. - The Ghost Host
Upon entering the house, we are greeted by a dimly lit hallway. Following this hallway, we enter a foyer, which features a fireplace to the left side. There is a picture hanging above the fireplace, which shows a young man (quite possibly the owner of the mansion). Our "Ghost Host" welcomes us and gives his usual spiel. As he is talking, the picture above the fireplace starts to change, showing the many ages of the man until his final days. One of the walls opens up next to the picture, revealing an octagonal room.
The Stretching Room
Welcome, Foolish Mortals, to the Haunted Mansion! I am your host, your Ghost Host! MUAHAHAHA! Our tour begins here in this gallery. Here where you see paintings of some of our guests, as they appeared in their corruptible, mortal state. - The Ghost Host
This two story room features four pictures (these pictures look like Disneyland's Stretching Room pictures, aside from a few differences). The wall that let us in to this room immediately closes, and the pictures on the walls begin to stretch. As these pictures stretch, we are shown the terrible fates of the people in the pictures. The ghost host then begins to tell us that we are not much better off than the people in these pictures: we are trapped inside this room with no possible way to escape. Well, states the ghost host, "there's always my way." Suddenly, the roof above us disappears, revealing an attic. In that attic, it reveals the Ghost Host (presumably) committing suicide by hanging. A scream is heard, and the lights go dark.
Unlike California and Paris' stretching rooms which act as elevators, Walt Disney World's Haunted Mansion does not need to take its guests underground, under the railroad tracks to a show building. However, the Stretching Room effect proved so popular, it was installed in Florida - the ceiling of the room stretches upward, but the guests are not moved to a lower floor. The Stretching Room has since become a staple of Haunted Mansions.
It should also be noted that there is a slight difference between the spiels of the American parks here. In Disneyland, The Ghost Host says "Our tour begins here in this gallery, where you see paintings of some of our guests, as they appeared in their corruptible, mortal state." He says "where" as if he were to say "Here where" but was cut off, and ends up saying something to the effect of "h-where". In Florida's version of the mansion, this error has been corrected and the Ghost Host says "Here where".
The Load Area
Oh, I didn't mean to frighten you prematurely. The real chills come later. Now, as they say, "look alive", and we'll continue our little tour, and let's all stay together, please. - The Ghost Host
Having left our mortal selves behind, we are now able to travel through walls and escape the stretching room. We encounter a long hallway, leading to a short queue that is used to board the Doom Buggies, as opposed to a large open-windowed area featuring an orange spider but also containing cobwebs and chandeliers. The Ghost Host's spiel has been cut in half from the Disneyland version, mainly because there is nothing to look at in the hallways in Florida and Japan, with one exception; the Florida mansion loading hall contains seven of the "Sinister 11" portraits: The Arsonist, Jack the Ripper, The Mariner, Hatchet Man, The Witch of Walpurgis, Dracula, and The Old Man. The other four portraits: The Couple, December, The Opera Glasses Lady, and Medusa are located elsewhere. In Tokyo, this hall instead has large urns adorning the walls.
The Portrait Hallway
Do not pull down on the safety bar, please- I will lower it for you; and heed this warning: the spirits will materialize only if you remain quietly seated at all times. Oh yes, and no flash pictures, please. We spirits are frightfully sensitive to bright lights. - The Ghost Host
After boarding our Doom Buggies, we go under a landing that features a dimly-lit candle. We then enter the Portrait Hallway, which in Florida until 2007, featured paintings with eyes that follow you. In 2007, the Portrait Hallway was redone to be an exact copy of the one in California (windows on one side, pictures that change when lightning strikes on the other). It also features a new organ.
Our library is well stocked with priceless first editions, only ghost stories of course; and marble busts of the greatest ghost writers the literary world has ever known. - The Ghost Host
Leaving the Hallway behind, we enter a library. There are hundreds of books here, some of them being pulled off of their shelves- with no one in sight. The book ladder slides across a beam on the top of the book shelves by itself, and chairs rock back and forth. We only stay in the library for a few moments, and then we move on into the Music Room.
It should be noted that the Library is the only scene in Florida and Japan that is not in Anaheim or Paris.
We then pass a coffin whose occupant is trying to get out, screaming," Let me out of here!"
The Music Room
They have all retired here to the Haunted Mansion. Actually, we have 999 happy haunts here, but there's room for a thousand. Any volunteers?? Hmm? - The Ghost Host
Leaving the Library behind, we enter a large room that features a staircase, a large window, and a piano. Upon close inspection, we notice that the piano itself is playing a haunting rendition of the Screaming Song. Upon even closer inspection, we see a shadow on the floor that seems to be playing the piano.
Until 1994, Anaheim did not have a Music Room. This was changed during a refurb, in which the piano player was relocated to the attic.
Well, if you should decide to join us, final arrangements may be made at the end of the tour. A charming "ghostess" will be on hand to take your application. - The Ghost Host
We leave the music room and climb up a stairway, exactly the same stairway that we begin our ride in Anaheim and Paris. However, the staircase used here features many other staircases as well, each one going in a different direction. Some are upside-down, some are tilted, and some feature footsteps and candles as well as entrances to doors.
Prior to 2007 in the Magic Kingdom version, right after you climbed the staircase, you entered a pitch-black room and saw giant spiders on spiderwebs on either side of you before passing the Endless Hallway and entering the Corridor of Doors. These were replaced by the blinking eyes that fade into the wallpaper effect that is in place now, although the spiders remain in the Tokyo version. The spiders themselves in the Magic Kingdom version were repainted to appear more exotic, and make a reappearance in Jungle Cruise. There was also early concepts circulating this area that would have the area much more riddled with cobwebs with either a corpse or a screaming man, with the screaming man rumored to have been in the ride but quickly removed due to being too frightening. Concepts for the corpse ensnared in cobwebs exist, though the screaming man's existence has never been confirmed.
These stairs seem strikingly similar to M.C Escher's "Relativity" painting, in which staircases are everywhere and appear to defy physics and perspective. The stairs are also a shoutout to the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, California. The Mystery House itself is a vast maze-like mansion in which stairs seem to lead nowhere, doors open up to walls, and a lot of rooms appear to be false due to the original owner's superstitious belief. Walt Disney had originally visited the house and had an idea for a physics defying room for his haunted attraction project (which later became the Haunted Mansion.) Coincidentally, the Winchester Mystery House is also considered haunted.
- Spoilers end here.
From there, the ride is nearly exactly the same as the Anaheim and Paris versions. Here are some more differences.
- The Ghost Host has additional narration going through the corridor of doors and even introduces Madame Leota. In Florida, he stops speaking at "...Shh, listen." and begins speaking at "The happy haunts have received your sympathetic vibrations..." However, the extra Disneyland narration was removed, as the attraction didn't open with these tracks in the first place.
- In the Seance Room in Florida, there is a wispy green light on the far right corner, that floats around in circles. In Anaheim, this light forms a skull. In Japan, a spectre floats around the entire room.
- Until 1994, all the Attics in The Haunted Mansion (stateside versions) were the same. In 1994, the piano player that is shown in Florida was added to the Attic in Disneyland and played a chilling rendition of the Wedding March, to help match the theme of The Bride in the Attic. The popup ghosts were given top hats and suits and started shouting "I do!", mocking The Bride by yelling the words she never was able to say. In 2006, the Disneyland Mansion's Attic scene was redone and the storyline of the attraction reworked. The Bride and the popup ghosts were taken out, and a new bride was put in. An axe would appear every so often in the new Bride's hands, playing on the fact that the new Bride was supposedly a "Black Widow" bride who would kill her rich husbands for their money. The Florida version of the attraction has received the new Bride, but Tokyo Disneyland's has not. Voice actress Kat Cressida provides the voice of the new bride, named Constance.
- As you descend from the Attic window in Disneyland, you see tall, dead trees akin to the ones in Snow White's Scary Adventures with knobs and holes as faces and their branches in the shape of arms and fingers, "reaching" for the guests. Contrary to popular belief, these trees do not move. The position they are in suggests movement, but the trees themselves do not move. Orlando's Mansion also has these trees, but minus the "faces" and the branches are not like reaching arms. The trees in Florida are also not as well defined than the ones in California, so it is easy to miss them.
- The stars in Disneyland's graveyard scene are fiber-optic (akin to those used in Disneyland's version of Peter Pan's Flight). Until the 2007 refurbishment, in which the stars in Walt Disney World's graveyard were updated to fiber-optics as well, the stars were glow-in-the-dark stickers.
- In Florida and Japan's graveyard scene, instead of the version of "Grim Grinning Ghosts" where there is only one character singing at a time in California, all of the characters are singing it loudly at once.
- The Hooded Phantom in the mausoleum right before you get to the Opera Singer has his left hand in the shape of a Hidden Mickey in the Florida version. The Disneyland Hooded Phantom has both arms at his side.
- Little Leota is part of the Florida version of the ride, before you get off. She is chanting "Come back, come back! Don't forget your...death certificate." In California, you see her as you are going up a moving ramp.
- Right after seeing Little Leota as you are exiting the Florida version, the Ghost Host has final safety instructions for you: "Now, I will raise the safety bar and a ghost will follow you home! Kindly watch your step please...watch your step." In Disneyland, the Ghost Host's spiel ends with "They have selected you to fill our quota, and will haunt you until you return! Muahahahahahaha!" with someone else doing an exit spiel.
- In Florida, you walk through another hallway to get out of the Mansion, walking past doors labeled "Servant's Quarters". Outside, you pass by a mausoleum, with a memorial to Bluebeard. You then pass a pet cemetery before exiting right in front of the Memento Mori shop. In Disneyland, the exit leaves you on the same street that you entered the Mansion from (as if nothing ever happened), bringing the experience full circle.
- Walt Disney World's Mirror Finale with the Hitchhiking Ghosts has been virtual since 2012 with facial recognition technology. As of April 17th, 2016, the Hitchhiking Ghosts now recognize your name if you are wearing a Magic Band, utilizing NFC technology. The ghosts may take your name and put it on a tombstone epitaph.