The Haunted Mansion – Halloween Edition
Halloween is here! One of the most entertaining holidays on the calendar brings a trail of laughter and candy along with it. Don’t forget the great costumes, either!
Still, for Disney fans, Halloween is the date when one theme park attraction lords above the rest. The Haunted Mansion is the spooky, silly ride that celebrates the supernatural. As you think about what to wear and what to do on All Hallows’ Eve, you should take this opportunity remind yourself why you love the scariest Disney attraction ever made. Here are ride videos of every version of The Haunted Mansion along with a bit of information about each one.
The Haunted Mansion’s creepy origins incongruously trace back to the Happiest Place on Earth. Sure, this might seem paradoxical, but Walt Disney himself wanted a gothic museum at his theme park. You can learn some of the details here and even more in my book, Disney Demystified.
The main takeaway from the story is that The Haunted Mansion proved divisive in concept as well as execution. Some Imagineers wanted a terrifying ride, while others preferred a humorous take on the afterlife. Eventually, Disney built the attraction without choosing between the conflicting options. Instead, clever Imagineers married the two premises into a singular inimitable ride experience. If you pay attention, you will appreciate the way the ride design incorporates the change from spooky to silly. The tell is in the spinning of the chairs.
Pro tip for these videos: I know that everyone loves their phones, but I’m linking to 4k videos when possible. You can save the links to watch later and then display them on your 1080p/4k television. The graphics are much better that way.
The Magic Kingdom Version
What you should notice about this ride is that it’s longer. Since Magic Kingdom has so much more space than Disneyland (107 versus 85 acres), its attractions are generally larger. At the start, you may notice that the Stretching Room is different in both design and execution. It’s a special building that doesn’t need to transport guests to a different floor. Instead, the ceiling does the stretching so that Orlando guests get to enjoy one of the most popular parts of the attraction.
You can also hear different dialogue on this version. Due to the length, Disney had to bring back Paul Frees, the voice of the Ghost Host, to record new lines. Otherwise, the attraction would have several instances where all you hear is music and background noises.
Having ridden both North American versions, I admire the Disneyland version since it’s the original, the one Uncle Walt wanted. But I’m a huge fan of The Haunted Mansion. The Magic Kingdom version is that much more of a good thing. Plus, the interactive line queue is superlative. The video above is from our friend Josh at ResortTV1, and it includes those interactive elements.
The Tokyo Disneyland Version
This is the last of the true Haunted Mansion ride experiences. The ones that follow it are variants and re-imaginings of the premise. The Tokyo Disneyland version isn’t an exact duplicate of Magic Kingdom’s offering, but the similarities are unmistakable. In fact, you can watch the videos on adjoining monitors or smart devices to see just how parallel the designs are.
Arachnophobes shouldn’t watch this video, though. Spiders and their webs are highlighted right before everyone’s favorite part of the ride, the burst of cool air. If you’re not afraid of spiders, you can see this part at the 1:40 mark of the video. Unfortunately, the spiders come at the opportunity cost of the Escher painting staircase with footprints, one of the best parts of the Magic Kingdom ride.
The final major change is that a bunch of Rock’em Sock’em screaming heads pop up at the place where you expect Constance the Bride to intimate her transgressions about previous mates. Beyond these differences, you also may get a kick out of the Japanese version of the Ghost Host.
Phantom Manor at Disneyland Paris
While Tokyo Disneyland chose to play it straight with the existing concepts of The Haunted Mansion, other international parks have gone off on their own. They’ve repurposed the idea of gothic horror and humor. Sometimes, they don’t even have the humor. To wit, Phantom Manor takes a side in the great scary vs. silly debate, and the French choose scary.
In terms of Halloween vibes, you won’t beat Phantom Manor. These 999 haunts are NOT happy, and they don’t like guests. The Haunted Mansion wikia page offers the backstory for the attraction if you’re interested. The gist is that The Phantom did a woman wrong. He showed up on her wedding day and killed the groom, Dynasty style. Rather than some rub dirt on it, load up Tinder, and move on, the bride, Melanie Ravenswood, swore revenge. To this day, she sits around in her dress, anticipating her revenge.
Suffice to say that Phantom Manor is short on goofy ghosts but long on skeletons and terror. If you only watch one Halloween ride video, this is the clear choice.
Mystic Manor at Hong Kong Disneyland
What has The Haunted Mansion attraction always needed? Monkeys! No, this doesn’t make a lot of sense, but Hong Kong’s version of the ride is an exercise in what would happen if The Haunted Mansion and Jungle Hunt joined together, Reese’s Peanut Butter style.
The premise is that a member of the Society of Explorers and Adventurers (S.E.A.) rescued a monkey during his travels. Then, he went home and built an entire manor to host his various antiquities. All the items that he unearthed while adventuring are now available for guests to view. In that way, Mystic Manor honors one of the earliest concepts of The Haunted Mansion, which was at one point intended to include a Museum of the Weird.
Mystic Manor is diametrically opposed to Phantom Manor in tone. This is a much goofier take, as the monkey suffers several cartoonish misadventures while roaming the manor. It’s not at all what you would expect from a ride based on The Haunted Mansion. It’s a lot of fun, though. Also, the trackless technology differentiates it as no two rides will be exactly the same.
Haunted Mansion Holiday Overlay
Shanghai Disneyland doesn’t claim a Haunted Mansion attraction yet. Ostensibly, the explanation is that the Chinese people are so reverential of ghosts that Disney doesn’t want to offend anyone. Given the existence of Mystic Manor, however, they obviously could have done…something, and I expect that they will at some point. Until then, it’s the only park without a version of the beloved ride.
Still, a sixth iteration of The Haunted Mansion is available. You just have to time it right. From September through January, Disneyland adds an overlay to the ride, making it more festive. With the holidays right around the corner, you might as well do what Disney does.
Celebrate Halloween AND Christmas by watching this video. It’s truly spectacular, both colorful and imaginative. Plus, Jack Skellington walks that delicate tightrope between the two holidays. The overlay joins both of Disney’s favorite seasons in a marvelous presentation.
Happy Halloween, my friends!