“Foolish mortals, what do you want to know about this spine-tingling tour of the Haunted Mansion? We have 999 happy haunts here. But there’s room for 1,000. Any volunteers?”
One of the most iconic and universally loved attractions at Disney World is the Haunted Mansion. It was operational on the first day Disney World opened on October 1st 1971 and it was patterned after the highly successful Haunted Mansion in Disneyland.
Walt Disney himself was the initial driving force behind the Haunted Mansion but unfortunately he passed away before the attraction was completed.
Walt asked longtime Disney Legend and Imagineer Rolly Crump to work with a concept he called “Museum of the Weird.” As he worked it out, it became the original Haunted Mansion.
Disney World Haunted Mansion Ride – Everything You Need to Know
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Even though the Haunted Mansion in Disney World is similar to the one at Disneyland, they are not exactly the same.
So let’s move all the way into the dead space so we can learn about this popular attraction Disney has created called the Haunted Mansion.
Here is what you will encounter when going to the Haunted Mansion:
The Haunted Mansion Queue
The queue (what Disney calls when you are in line waiting for the ride) is really where the fun begins! Many Disney attractions can be agonizing to wait for as you stand in the queue but there are some pretty cool things to do and see at the Haunted Mansion.
There is a musical crypt where if you tap any of the musical instruments which are on the wall, they will play a scary tune.
There is a secret library where if you push in the books, they mysteriously pop out. Finally there is the Sepulcher of the Sea Captain which leaks water and bubbles rise as the Captain sings a tune.
Then there are the hilarious and creative tombstones. Our Dad, Dave’s favorite is “Dear Departed Brother Dave, He chased a bear into a cave”. Other interesting ones are for real imagineers who worked on the Haunted Mansion attraction.
Marc Davis is Grandpa Mark, Fred Joerger is Good Old Fred and Yale Gracey is Master Gracey.
Probably the greatest of the tombstones though is the one belonging to Madame Leota. Madame Leota is the spiritual medium in the seance scene during the ride (more on her later).
Disney honored her with a tombstone in 2001 which interestingly enough has her real name, which is…Leota Toombs! Watch her eyes while you are in line – they move!
The Haunted Mansion Stretching Room
What is the “Stretching Room”? We are so glad you asked!
When you first go into the Haunted Mansion, you enter a circular room, filled with portraits and gargoyles on the wall, that most people have dubbed the “Stretching Room”. The Ghost Host (Cast Member) will greet you and ask you to fill up all the “dead” space.
When everyone is in the room and the doors shut, that’s when the stretching begins. Is the ceiling going up? Are you going down? What is happening? It is another sign of Disney’s great way of keeping us wondering what’s real and what’s not.
The Doom Buggies
After you leave the stretching room you make your way to a moving walkway and onto a ride vehicle which is called a Doom Buggy.
The Doom Buggy moves along on a conveyor belt and each Buggy can accommodate 2 to 3 guests depending on adult vs. child. A bar will come down and secure you in your seat while the narrator voice will continue to talk to you through the speakers in the Buggy.
The entire ride is quite dark and the Buggy will move back and forth as it “directs” you like a camera to what it wants you to see. Between the movement and the voice telling you what is going on, it is very entertaining.
The Haunted Mansion Ride
The ride on the Doom Buggy is a mix of creepy, whimsical and silly which adds up to fun for most folks.
Most of the journey is filled with ghosts singing the song, “Grim Grinning Ghosts”, which repeat the line “Grim Grinning Ghosts come out to socialize”. Your buggy takes you through the library, conservatory, hallways, ballroom, attic and graveyards.
Pay attention to the wallpaper throughout the mansion. This is where the iconic purple “Haunted Mansion” print comes from. You can see this in some of our favorite Haunted Mansion products!
The Ballroom scene is especially interesting as the ghosts appear and disappear using a technique called “pepper’s ghost”. Pepper’s Ghost was actually used many years before Disney picked up on it but it was given the name by an 1800’s professor of chemistry at the London Polytechnic Institute.
Basically, the ghosts you see dancing are animatronic figures in black rooms above and below the mezzanine your buggy is on and there is a big pane of glass between the riders and the Ballroom, or Grand Hall as it is often referred as.
Another iconic Disney marvel is seeing Madame Leota, a disembodied head which is seen in a crystal ball. Portrayed by Leota Toombs and originally voiced by Eleanor Audley, who had her share of evil parts being the evil stepmother, Lady Tremaine in the 1950 Disney animated film, Cinderella as well as playing Maleficent in the Disney 1959 animated film, Sleeping Beauty.
In 2001, the voice was changed to Susanne Blakeslee who also has voiced many of the Disney villains which are too numerous to list.
Also on the haunted journey you will see the story of the Bride Constance whose husbands keep disappearing. You will go to the graveyard scene and see a ghostly party going on with instruments playing, tea parties, a frightened grave digger and the iconic singing busts.
Finally, at the end of the ride you will encounter the wacky hitchhiking ghosts. Disney magic enables the ghosts to get in your doom buggy and try to ride out with you.
Interestingly, the hitchhiking ghosts have taken on a life of their own (excuse the pun). They have been in commercials and movies and are a popular trio around the world.
The names of the hitchhiking ghosts are The Traveler, The Skeleton and The Prisoner. When they were created, they had no “real” names and no one seems to know how it all started, but fans or Cast members started calling the hitchhiking ghosts by these names and have become the semi-official names of the Haunted Mansion’s hitchhiking ghosts.
The Traveler is now known as Phineas, The Skeleton is now known as Ezra, and The Prisoner is now called Gus. If you want to learn more about these 3 iconic ghosts check out our post 9 Secrets of Disney’s Hitchhiking Ghosts.
Is the Haunted Mansion too scary for kids?
One of the biggest questions people have about the Haunted Mansion is if they should bring their kids on the ride. Is it too scary? Are there things not appropriate for children to see?
As we often say, you know your child best, know what they can handle and what would be too hard for them. Furthermore, just because a child meets a height requirement (even though this doesn’t apply for the Haunted Mansion) doesn’t necessarily mean they should go on a ride.
The Haunted Mansion, though it is a dark ride, it is actually more tame than a typical Midway haunted house attraction. There is no one jumping out at you or grabbing your arm to try and scare you.
For most of the attraction you are sitting in the Doom Buggy with a family member or friend by your side. The narrator’s voice sounds similar to Vincent Price with a slow, low delivery and the iconic laugh which can sound a bit scary.
There are ghost scenes and graveyard scenes as well as darkness, flashing lights and the doom buggy does a backwards descent at the end of the ride.
We have found that all of this is fairly doable for most young children simply because we make it fun. Laughing at things, mocking the voices and try to lighten the mood overall.
However, the hardest part of the Haunted Mansion in our opinion is the opening Stretching Room. You are enclosed in a room (which can be frightening even for adults), you hear very loud thunder sounds, very bright lights, a loud scream and a hanging body in the ceiling.
So, what can you do? First of all, you can skip this entire first part by telling a Cast Member and they will move you into the next room.
One thing we have done is tell our children exactly what’s going to happen and focus on the funny parts. We never let them look up at the ceiling and let them know when the loud thunder and bright lights are coming.
Another option that can be helpful is finding a YouTube video that shows the ride. Watch the video with your children so they know what to expect.
Do take caution…if you think you child can’t handle it don’t force your child to ride The Haunted Mansion!
9 Haunted Mansion fun facts and secrets
1. The stretching room really stretches!
In Disney World it does indeed stretch, but in Disneyland, it is actually an elevator.
2. The Ghost Host is a familiar voice.
Paul Frees is the ghost host. You have heard his voice as Ludwig Von Drake, the Pillsbury Doughboy and Boris Badenov in Rocky and Bullwinkle.
3. Keep an eye out for ravens.
Originally, the narrator for the haunted Mansion was going to be a raven. It got scrapped at the end for the Ghost Host, but if you look throughout the ride, you will see ravens.
4. You can see the invisible piano player!
Yes, the piano player in the music room is invisible but thanks to Disney magic, you can see his shadow.
5. The Haunted Mansion has a theme song.
When you are in the stretching room, the song you hear is actually Grim Grinning Ghosts (the song you hear through the Doom Buggy ride) slowed down.
6. Mr. Toad has a gravestone at the Haunted Mansion.
At the end of the ride you will find a pet graveyard on your left hand side as you exit. In the graveyard, there are a few animal tombstones but you will also find one for the Disney character, Mr. Toad.
7. Check out the chess set and look for the missing piece.
Just before you go into the Haunted Mansion you can see giant chess pieces on the roof. One piece is missing, the knight. Is this a play on words that it is always (k)night in the Haunted Mansion?
8. There was a wedding at the Haunted Mansion.
As you leave the ride you will notice a wedding ring stuck in the cement. This is from the Bride Constance in the ride.
9. Two Haunted Mansion rides were made at the same time.
The Disney Imagineers actually worked on the props and figures for both Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion and Walt Disney World’s Haunted Mansion at the same time.
Haunted Mansion FAQ
The Haunted Mansion is located in the Magic Kingdom, specifically in Liberty Square. It is located across from “Memento Mori” which sells a ton of Haunted Mansion inspired merchandise.
The entire ride is 7 minutes from start to finish.
No, there is no height requirement for the Haunted Mansion. We do suggest parents use caution when taking small children on this ride due to the potentially scary effects.
*Check out the height requirements for all the attractions here!
No, the Haunted Mansion does not have rider switch or a single rider line.
Yes, you can get a lightning lane pass for the Haunted Mansion on Genie+.
Yes, you can ride the Haunted Mansion if you are in the Magic Kingdom for extended evening theme park hours. These hours are available if you are staying at a Deluxe Disney Resort or if you are attending a special ticketed event.
The Haunted Mansion is the only attraction located in four different lands in four different Disney Parks. You can find the Haunted Mansion at New Orleans Square in Disneyland; Liberty Square in Walt Disney World; Fantasyland in Tokyo Disneyland, and Frontierland in Disneyland Paris.
For more helpful tips on visiting Disney World with small children, check out our tips for visiting Disney World with toddlers. You will find tips for rides, the best hotels, and the best pools! For a complete list of Magic Kingdom attractions, go here.