Even though we couldn't always celebrate a traditional American Halloween, we could always rely on getting a little spooked at Disney's Haunted Mansion ride. Variations appear in Disney parks around the world. I'm not a gal who likes her haunted houses scary, so the Disney version strikes just the right balance between goofy and less-than-terrifying for me.The rest of the park may be cheery and happy, but the mood and cast members are a somber lot at the Haunted Mansion.
The original Disneyland
|Disneyland's Haunted Mansion ride in California|
The original version opened in California's Disneyland in 1969 as part of New Orleans Square. As a child, I was intrigued by the story of Marie Laveau, the Voodoo Queen of New Orleans. So, this setting made perfect sense to me. The exterior of this antebellum mansion with columns and and filigreed balconies was finished in 1963, but completion of the ride was delayed for years.
Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom
|Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom Haunted Mansion ride in Florida|
While the California version was being built, duplicates of the props and animatronics were made for Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom Haunted Mansion which opened two years later in Florida. Here, the ride is located in Liberty Square, and its exterior is influenced by 19th century Hudson River (New York) Dutch Gothic architecture. Tokyo Disneyland has a similar building for their ride located in Fantasyland, although it looks a lot more run down.
|Disneyland Paris's Phantom Manor|
Hong Kong Disneyland
|Hong Kong Disneyland's Mystic Manor |
(photo credit: Hong Kong Disneyland)
Hong Kong Disneyland's version opened in Mystic Point after we last visited. It's called Mystic Manor and has a cheerier story about enchanted objects instead of bad luck references to departed ghosts. I think the colorful Victorian building with an onion dome is far from gloomy.
Different but the SameEven though the exteriors differ, I'm glad that some of the key elements appear all around the world. One of my favorite parts is reading all the clever tombstones while waiting near the entrance for the ride. When the wait is short and we have the option to skip this section, I still choose to linger here. I also love how the seemingly normal paintings in the Portrait Gallery transform into something more macabre as the walls stretch upwards.
As my kids have grown up, they've shifted from waiting outside with one parent to summoning up the courage to ride. Now, they take joy in detecting what technology is used to create the various special effects. They know what optical illusions make the busts seem to turn their heads to follow you and how the transparent ghosts at the ball are projected.
We've had to reinterpret how to celebrate Halloween as we've moved back and forth across the Pacific Ocean. It's nice to know we're in good company when trying to figure out how to tweak a tradition depending on where you are.
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