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2010 Best Theme Park Attraction nominee: Disneyland's Haunted Mansion

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Published: February 11, 2010 at 12:05 PM

Welcome, foolish mortals, as Disneyland's Haunted Mansion joins the 2010 Best Theme Park Attraction Tournament today as the sixth seed in the Best Themed Ride bracket.

Disneyland's Haunted Mansion

Opened in 1969, Disney's original Haunted Mansion takes visitors on a "Doom Buggy" tour through the home of "999 happy haunts." Th "Ghost Host" narrates your way through the ride, which takes you up a grand staircase, past Madame Leota's seance, and through a Grand Ballroom on your way to the attic.

The ghostly bride in Disneyland's Haunted Mansion

There, a ghostly bride greets you, before you exit a window, descending the Mansion roof into the haunted graveyard "outside." Finally, a ghost hitchhikes a ride in your buggy, before you exit and ride the "endless carpet" back up to New Orleans Square.

Disney's Haunted Mansion also appears in Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom, Tokyo Disneyland and, as Phantom Manor, at Disneyland Paris. The exact backstory of the Mansion is the subject of much debate, and has been enhanced greatly over the years by Mansion cast members, far beyond that originally scripted by Disney's Imagineers.

All that talk, though, just demonstrates how popular the Mansion has been, and remains, among park guests. Disneyland's version scores slightly higher among Theme Park Insider readers than Disney World's Mansion, which is why the Disneyland original gets the tournament slot. (Personally, I prefer the Disneyland version, if for no other reason that you get to enter through the front door in Anaheim, as opposed to entering through the basement - and instantly ending up in the foyer - as you do in Florida. I always wanted to go through that front door at Disney World!)

My attempts to record the ride at the Mansion have failed, given the low light. So I instead offer you this video, plucked from YouTube:

Can the Mansion win this bracket? Let's hear your thoughts, in the comments.

Readers' Opinions

From James Rao on February 11, 2010 at 5:59 PM
I have not been to the DLR version of this classic attraction for years, but the WDW version is a can't miss experience - an unadulterated visual treat. While I don't regard HM as the greatest thing since sliced bread, it is certainly something that exemplifies the patented Disney Experience: unique, immersive, creative, and timeless. I will be shocked if HM doesn't last into the later stages of the tournament.
From Anthony Murphy on February 11, 2010 at 8:23 PM
I would say one of the best dark rides out there. It, for the most part, has not changed since it opened and it still wows the audience with the simple yet stunning technology that makes people wonder "How do they Do that?"

Disneyland's version is more or less the same as WDW's. Its just visually appealing and has the ride for the everybody theory down pat. Its a great mix of scary and funny for any visitor.

From Joshua Counsil on February 11, 2010 at 8:52 PM
10-Perfection. It just doesn't get any better than this.

There were certain aspects of the ride I didn't enjoy (e.g. the shriekers), but Disney banged the refurbishment right on the head. The updated Mansion is simply one of those attractions I inexplicably love, riding continuously without any loss in quality.

Few Disney dark rides from the "golden days" impress many visitors. This attraction still blows me away.

From rick stevens on February 11, 2010 at 9:57 PM
I do enjoy the HM at DL. The update, with the added attic, adds to the storyline and the experience. What I miss is the darkness of the ride. When it first opened it was much darker and many of the "scarry" jumping out effects were timed differently. It might just be that I am used to the ride, but I was told by one of the AV people that they had to tone down the ride after someone had chest pains. I do not know if that is true, but I do remember the original being a bit more Halloween Haunted House.
From Manny Barron on February 11, 2010 at 11:21 PM
The Haunted Mansion is a legendary ride. It is well worth of this ranking and its crazy when you think that this ride is just over 40 years old. I can never get enough of this ride. I kinda get bummed out when I visit DL in Oct/Nov/Dec and they have the Nightmare before christmas setting. I mean its ok but the original version is just so great anything less is a dissapointment. Anyway this is a great ride with a pre-show that never gets old.
From Sylvain Comeau on February 12, 2010 at 4:16 AM
I can't believe Disneyland's version made the cut. The WDW version has been clearly superior ever since the refurb in '07. Constance is much better, Leota is sharper looking (and still floats!), the sound has been greatly upgraded (that awesome surround sound in the stretching room!) the ride is longer, with more scenes...

The only conceivable reason that Disneyland's version could have a slightly higher score is that California locals, those (in)famous AP holders, rated it in droves. I'm not saying Disneyland's version is bad, not at all. But Anaheim has let their version lag behind WDW's, maybe because they would rather gussy up the ride for the holidays.

From Rod Whitenack on February 12, 2010 at 9:25 AM
I still think this is the greatest themed ride in the history of themed rides and the very idea of a world without the Haunted Mansion scares me more than any haunted house ever built. If it ever closes or is completely updated for the CGI, 3-D, interactive world we live in now, it will be a tragedy. You can't improve on perfection.
From Doug Kelley on February 12, 2010 at 11:27 PM
I have to agree. I'd rather see the WDW version here but the DL one is good too. Come to think of it, this is one of the few rides (ToT being another) that's better at WDW than DL, in my book.
From Rob P on February 15, 2010 at 3:31 AM
This ride is a true Disney classic. I think it's difficult to see where improvements can be made without compromising the original elements of the attraction. It has achieved a good balance between technological advancement and the sheer "haminess" ( is that even a word ? ) that's worthy of Vincent Price at his best.
Whilst wishing to experience the very best that new technology brings to the table there's also a part of me that would really miss the creakiness of it all if it was ever extensively updated .
Haunted Mansion proves that attractions don't have to be faultless to be fun. The long lines at both WDW and DL are proof of that.
I think that Disneyland's premier dark ride will go a long way in this competition and may even win it.

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