Today is Walt Disney World’s Haunted Mansion 45th anniversary (October 1, 1971) and it remains a park favorite even after all of this time. Nearly every park around the world has a version of this ride and even though they are similar they are ALL different, too. Interestingly, the newest park, Shanghai Disneyland, does not have a Haunted Mansion type ride. Forbes magazine reports that is due to Chinese cultural reverence for the spirits of their ancestors and the very real belief in ghosts. But at Hong Kong Disneyland they found a way around that with Mystic Manor which instead has a story that revolves around an ancient artifact that brings inanimate objects to life. Perhaps Shanghai Disneyland will eventually get their own Mystic Manor or maybe something else even more unique and innovative! Only time will tell.
Interesting fact: None of the Haunted Mansion attractions reside in the same land in any park!
But for those parks that do have a version of the Haunted Mansion, here are my favorites in order from least favorite to most.
Tokyo Disneyland (Name: Haunted Mansion; Location: Fantasyland) – Don’t get me wrong. All of the Haunted Mansion rides are entertaining and I like them all. But compared to the others this was my least favorite. Technically perfect, riding this one was like taking a step back in time. The old bride with her heart pounding was still there in the attic instead of the new bride with the digital face and disappearing head pictures. Madame Leota doesn’t float in her crystal ball but remains stationary. It was neat going on it because rarely do you get to revisit a ride as it was when you were younger. But I miss the technical innovations of its counterparts.
Walt Disney World (Name: Haunted Mansion; Location: Liberty Square) – Sorry WDW but you come in near the bottom. The interactive queue line is awesome and beats your Disneyland counterpart for sure, but there are a few innovations at Disneyland that keep it one step ahead of you.
Disneyland (Name: Haunted Mansion; Location: New Orleans Square) – This is where Haunted Mansion belongs. New Orleans Square is just the perfect fit for this old mansion. It is also the original Haunted Mansion so scores kudos for that. But what brings this version above and beyond the other two can be summed up in two words – Hatbox. Ghost. The only park that reintroduced this well-loved figure is Disneyland. Sure WDW has an interactive queue line (which is very cool), but Disneyland beats it out because of Haunted Mansion Holiday. No holiday at WDW. And now that Disneyland has introduced Sally to its growing roster of characters, it’s even more technologically innovative and cool than its counterparts! Can’t wait to see Sally for myself.
Hong Kong Disneyland (Name: Mystic Manor; Location: Mystic Point) – Different from all the other versions in a creative and unique way this is an amazing ride not just because it is a Haunted Mansion ride but because it will blow your mind. Utilizing the most sophisticated technology available, including the trackless ride system, the attraction takes you through an adventure with Albert the monkey who unwittingly releases the magic inside an enchanted box which brings the mansion to life. The use of sound, light, computer imagery, and a mind-boggling final scene in which an entire room transforms before your eyes is something to be seen. If you get the chance this is a must-see attraction to be sure!
Disneyland Paris (Name: Phantom Manor; Location: Frontierland) – Not as technologically sophisticated as the ride in Hong Kong, this one is still my favorite because it tells a more complete story than any of the others. Mystic Manor is more of an adventure in one specific moment in time and the other three Haunted Mansions are more of a conglomeration of ghostly tales. Phantom Manor is one story from beginning to end of a mourning bride and the fate that befalls her. Perhaps its my favorite because it is so different than the others and yet built within the same spirit. If you picked any of the other versions, you would have a more than defensible argument for selecting them. They are all attractions worthy of being admired.
I would love to know, what is your favorite?