August 1969 – present
New Orleans Square – If you follow the path along the Rivers of America, you will reach the Haunted Mansion once you pass the New Orleans Square station. The Haunted Mansion is at the end of New Orleans Square, just before Critter Country.
Although it was not part of Opening Day in 1955, plans for the Haunted Mansion began before Disneyland’s construction. Originally, Imagineers envisioned the mansion as part of Main Street USA, but the idea of a worn-down building didn’t quite fit with Main Street’s freshness and happy-go-lucky vibe. So when New Orleans Square came into fruition, the Haunted Mansion finally found its home.
While Walt was in favor of the mansion concept, he insisted the exterior of the mansion not be worn down. He said, “We’ll take care of the outside and let the ghosts take care of the inside.” The beautiful exterior was completed in 1963, but the ride didn’t open until 1969, three years after Walt’s death. Since its debut, the Haunted Mansion has seen gradual updates to keep up with technology and special effects, but its spirit has remained the same. To this day, the mansion is one of the most famous rides in Disneyland, and is almost always a favorite of park visitors.
- Single Rider Line – no
- Fast Pass – yes
- Height Requirement – none
- Duration – 10:00
As soon as visitors step foot inside the mansion, their encounters with the supernatural begin. The walls stretch, the portraits change, and flashes of lightning nearly drown out an eerie omniscient narrator, warning of danger to come. Suddenly the walls open, and guests wander down an abandoned hallway and into the Haunted Mansion.
The doom buggies travel through numerous rooms in the mansion, including the conservatory, a séance room, the ballroom, the attic, the rear graveyard, and the crypt. Each room has different spirits, songs, and spooky decorations that tell tales of the dead. After guests have finished their tour and prepare to offload, the mansion has one final surprise: a hitchhiking ghost has been hiding in your doom buggy, and may try to follow you home!
MY RATING: ★★★★★
The Haunted Mansion is without question one of the best rides in the park. It has unbelievable details, and it’s a shame you never get to see most of them in the darkness! Everything is delightfully eerie, from the chilled breezes in the corridors to the creaking floorboards in the attic. Every time I visit I find another unique detail, like a headless figure in a wall photo or a clever engraving on a tombstone. Whether it’s your first or thousandth visit to Disneyland, you MUST go to the Haunted Mansion at least once.
That being said, if you have easily frightened kids, you might want to avoid the Haunted Mansion. While it’s not loud and nothing really jumps out at you, the ride is very dark and can still spook the faint of heart.
If you are visiting the park between Halloween and New Years, good luck. The lines for the Haunted Mansion are out of control due to the mansion’s holiday makeover (see below). I have seen the lines wrap all the way through the courtyard to the New Orleans Square Station, with wait times well over an hour. If you are visiting during the regular season, visiting the Haunted Mansion shouldn’t be too tough until the evening. Around late afternoon, crowds fill up New Orleans Square, and the lines for the mansion may get a bit long.
At Christmastime, the Haunted Mansion changes to a “Nightmare Before Christmas” theme. It’s much less scary, the music is more upbeat, and the interior seems a bit brighter. While it’s fun and well designed, I prefer the Haunted Mansion when it stays its much spookier self.
The Haunted Mansion is the only ride to be in a different land in each park. Its homes are as follows: Disneyland—New Orleans Square, Walt Disney World—Liberty Square, Disneyland Tokyo—Fantasyland, Disneyland Paris—Frontierland, and Hong Kong Disneyland—Mystic Point.
Cast members used to hand out “Death Certificates” to guests. Although they don’t anymore, you can still print out a death certificate online.
The voice of Madam Leota (inside the crystal ball) is Eleanor Audley, who also provided the voices for Lady Tremaine and Maleficent.
You might not have noticed, but the stretching room is actually an elevator that lowers guests to the boarding area! The majority of the ride sits outside of Disneyland’s border (marked by the Disneyland Railroad), so guests have to be lowered to travel to the show building, which is located right where you load into the doom buggies.
Though unconfirmed, it is speculated that Walt Disney visited the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, California for inspiration.
The Haunted Mansion frequently uses an illusion called “Pepper’s Ghost”. This technique uses reflective glass to display mirrored images hidden from view, so 3D ghosts or figures appear in the room before you. The ballroom in the Haunted Mansion is the largest Pepper’s Ghost illusion in the world.
Have you ever noticed the Haunted Mansion’s weathervane? It’s a pirate ship, and it’s also a nod to Imagineer Ken Anderson’s original suggested backstory for the mansion: A pirate built the mansion for his bride, but made her promise not to go into the attic until he returned from sea. His bride snuck up to the attic anyway, and was killed. Upon returning home to find her dead, the pirate hung himself from the rafters of the foyer. The pirate, named Captain Gore, was eventually scrapped from later designs in the home, but you can still see his corpse in the stretching room. Today, the backstory of the mansion suggests a black widow bride murdering her husbands in the mansion, but there is no official story the way Ken Anderson proposed.