Let me start by saying the Haunted Mansion is an icon. Walt assigned some of the first imagineers to do concept work in the early days when the idea of Disneyland was born. The most memorable part of my first visit to the Magic Kingdom in the mid 70’s (yes I am older than dirt) was our visit to the Haunted Mansion. My older brother, younger brother and I excited with anticipation crammed ourselves into a Doom Buggy. All I can say is that I was in awe. It was the best.
Needless to say, I was leery of a proposed “enhancement” of the ride a couple years ago. But, like the update of Pirates, the imagineers did a wonderful job. A floating Leota and getting rid of the tacky spider scene were a hit. Next, word got out they were now making the queue interactive and the hitchhiking ghosts that bid you goodbye were going to change.
I was at the World last week for a few days and Disney announced the HM was having a soft opening. Of course I had to see what they were up to.
NOTE TO READERS: THE FOLLOWING HAS SPOILERS. IF YOU WANT TO EXPERIENCE THIS COLD, STOP READING.
The line began just past the Liberty Square riverboat but it was moving pretty quickly. The new queue begins just past the Iron Gate. There was “shrubbery” still spaced blocking some of the entrance. There were also a lot of “suits” around many I assumed were imagineers. The good news is that the new additions were visible. The bad news is that nearly all the effects were not working. My camera batteries were also dying so I was only able to take a few pictures.
As you enter, you are greeted by these memorial statues. Rumor has it that they will be whispering to each other and their engravings are “who did it” clues. The twins, Wellington and Forsythia are on the far right. Cousin Maude is not pictured.
This is the Ravenscroft piano honoring the GERRRATE voice actor Thurl Ravenscroft. It plays “Grim Grinning Ghosts” when you touch one of the instruments. They are all synched so if you are playing the bag pipes and someone comes up behind you and starts playing the harp, it will start to play at the same place you are in the song. So no row, row, row your boat on steroids. Again, not working but I have seen it on the net.
The pictures of the “front” of the piano, the bookshelf from the library and what I call the book did not turn out. I am blaming bad batteries for the formatting errors. There are some good photos of those elements in Webmaster Leah’s blog post over at The Dis.
So what were my reactions? I am a bit of a purist and tear up every time I walk past Pooh remembering the demise of Toad. I mean, where else at WDW do you end up in hell? The thing I liked about the new queue is they kept the spirit of the attraction. This is going to be popular. The only negative is what they did to the original gravesite. With only four headstones remaining, the area looks bare. It is an easy fix with the addition of a few more creative memorials.
So it is now time to enter the attraction. As always a great ride. Not any real pics here.
As we enter the hitchhiking ghosts’ scene, the new ghosts appear similar to the ones they replaced except these are highly animated. They are almost 3D looking. Instead of all three initially presenting themselves as a group, they pop up individually. Unfortunately, you do not sit next to them. They look really cool and I think improve the scene. But (there is always a but) I was really disappointed that they did not appear with you in your doom buggy. I heard rumors that this scene is not finished and will have riders projected with a ghost. I hope so because that was my favorite effect in the whole attraction. We shall see.
Overall, I think the imagineers did a fantastic job with the update. As I mentioned, they keep the spirit (just realized the pun) of the original but put in some cool effects that are now technologically possible. There are some out there that say there is no way you should touch a classic attraction. This refurbishment shows that if done right, you can even make these classics better. Hope you get to experience it yourself soon.
Post by cj9200; Edited by AJRitz