Recently The Haunted Mansion re-opened in Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom after a length hiatus. I had a chance to experience this attraction 5 times during the weekend of 9/29 - 9/30 and can sum it up in one word: WOW. It's almost like a brand new attraction.
The changes and improvements are subtle, save for five areas (more on that later). Generally, the lighting and effects have been improved throughout the attraction, the audio, notorious for cutting in and out repeatedly for years, has been significantly upgraded, especially in the stretching room, and the Doombuggies now ride much smoother and less herky-jerky than they have in years.
- SKIP THIS SECTION IF YOU DON'T WANT THE EXPERIENCE RUINED -
Major changes to the attraction come in five areas:
1. The Stretching Room
Right off the bat, you are escorted into a rounded chamber that promises no windows and no doors. You will instantly notice that there are more gargoyles than there used to be and that hideous yellow wallpaper has been replaced with a red and green vertically stiped pattern that is reminiscent of Disneyland's Mansion. Also, the wooden paneling around the room appears much darker than before.
As the room begins to stretch, you will hear incredible new effects that make one wonder why they weren't there all along. The ghost host pans seamlessly around the room, swooping in and out, before rushing to the top of the ceiling as you see his former body dangling for eternity at the end of a taut rope. And, what was that... are those gargoyles HIGHER than when you entered the room?
2. The Portrait Hallway
Gone are the sinster portaits whose eyes seemed to follow you as you went past and in their place on the right are replicas of the changing portraits from the Disneyland mansion in which the portraits appear in the native form, until the lightning strikes from the thunderstorm on the left to reveal what these things are in real life. Several of the original sinister paintings have been relocated to the Doombuggie load area but are subtly hung in the background and hard to see unless you are looking for them.
3. The Staircase Scene
WOW. In the place where the giant spiders used to reside with nothing more than darkness is a huge paranormal set staircases that go here, there, and everywhere - even upside down. The scene is eerily reminiscent of the works of artist M.C. Escher whose endless and impossible staircases captivated his fans. The plussing here is there are ghostly footprints that slowly walk the staircases, fading in and out with an eerie green glow. A fantastic addition to the Mansion that makes one wonder how we loved the Mansion so much without it.
4. The Floating Leota
5. The New Attic Scene
If you've seen the Disneyland Haunted Mansion, then you have seen these two particular effects but they are brand new for the Walt Disney World version. Madame Leota no longer sits on top of her seance table but rather floats around the room, while the new Bride in the attic looks graceful and elegant until she decides that you will lose your head over her! Gone is the "floating" animatronic bride and in it's place on the opposite side of the Omnimover tracks is the new projected apparition. Portraits on the Bride (Constance) and her several husbands appear throughout the attic scene, and the husbands all seem to have lost their heads in love with Constance.
The rest of the attraction features enhanced lighting and audio effects but remains true to the original version. I am thrilled to death (no pun intended) that Disney did such a solid update to my favorite attraction. I could ride this for two hours straight and not get bored. I didn't want the attraction to go down in June, but after seeing this new work of art, I didn't realize just how much it needed a bit of tender loving care. A+, Imagineers, and thank you.
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