Personally, I don't jump out of my seat at the thought of Haunted Mansion, but there's no denying that the ride still has charm to this day. One of my favorite things to do when I go on Haunted Mansion these days is to find the props and things that used to scare the crap out of me as a kid.
It's why I like Mr. Toad's Wild Ride over Peter Pan. Or A Bug's Life over Terminator. Or Waterworld over Indiana Jones.
The shows/ attractions talk to you, interact with you and don't forget that you're there. I haven't been on FJ yet, but as a HP fan, I hope I'll enjoy it as much as everyone else!
I have to disagree on the feeling that FJ gives the same personalized feeling. Riding on a bench with strangers; getting the pre-show in a crowded room, filled with a filled queue, getting the same story over and over from the characters; never seeing the Dementors work; maybe it's because the experience is so far from feeling like a tour of Hogwarts rather than the monster mash-up it really is.
I went on Haunted Mansion at least once every trip to MK. It's a classic, but shows it's age. Sort of like Jaws, but a couple of decades older.
Did I miss something or is the narration a new innovation?
Personally I never felt that the attraction was personalized for me, but it is still my favorite attraction.
Is the Tokio version played in English or in Japanese?
The Haunted Mansion, particularly the Magic Kingdom's version, is the absolute best at creating this arc. Think of it: even without directly seeing the mansion you can hear the wolf howl as you approach. Then, there's the hearse and the change in the type of cobblestone and the wrought iron. There's the willows and the roses, the head stones, and the experience of being lower to the ground (via the retaining wall) that makes the house lord over you. Without spelling out any part of the story, guests are slowly being submerged in the atmosphere.
Next you stand at the door and it swings open. A blast of cool air hits you, the lighting is warm but incredibly dim, much like a funeral home. The walls have heavy wood paneling that you can touch and feel the grain in. The cobwebs sway with the breeze created by the crowds movement. And finally the narration begins. By the point you are in the ride vehicle, you are well primed for the ride itself.
The detail on the ride and the timelessness of the themes more than make up for the age of the trickery. And once the ride is ended you are edged back out of the atmosphere gradually with a walk down a cool dark corridor, past a crypt and a pet cemetery and out the gate before the mood is broken and you are sold a single souvenir.
While Pirates comes close in many ways, I don't think it holds up against that sort of immersion. The Haunted Mansion is overall a deeper sensory experience. And, a more evenly paced one to boot.
That individualized narration is a component of that highly orchestrated experience that has few if any compromises. i would say the only other ride that gives The Haunted Mansion a run for its money in this way is Tower of Terror in Hollywood Studios.
I'm glad that on your visits, it has worked. However, since I visit the park almost weekly, riding it almost weekly (see I don't hate the ride) it's just I truly never have seen the Dementors work properly. Also lucky for families of four I guess, but meanwhile the rest of the groups of riders are either split up or sharing the experience with strangers which in contrast, Haunted Mansion is a more intimate experience that is never experience with strangers.
The ride is cool, scary, and funny -- to pretty much all ages, and sometimes all at the same time.
That is a very unusual combination, as most rides are lucky to capture one of those elements.
Further, having only one person in the vehicle with you in a closed vehicle makes it a very personal experience. This is a big positive in Spaceship Earth as well.
The premise about the personalized ride is only realized in the end with the ghost in the mirror, but it was just an effect that everyone got. Thus, this idea of a personalized ride is merely in your head if you allow such ideas. However, in conjunction with the pleas of joining the happy haunts as the 1,000th guest might be enticing to some and some do take things personally with the dumping of the ash remains of some dead fans is taking it too far. I would chalk this up to Disney's appeal to everyone in a personal level if not personalized.
Secondly, while the Haunted Mansion doesn't have a "clear storyline" with reoccuring characters, it does adhere to the most important storytelling structure in any book, film or even ride: The three act structure. Not just beginning, middle and climax, but a steady building of scope. Even the best roller coasters use the three act structure. The first act is the journey up the lift hill, the second act starts the second the train decends and the the third act (if the ride is really great) ups the thrill with one, last big trick. Think of "The Beast," which held the world's greatest coaster title for many years.
The Haunted Mansion starts as you journey through the graveyard and into the house and the stretching portrait room. The first part of the ride is quiet. You view paintings and the library. The second act starts after you go upstairs. Things start to get wilder when you reach the Seance room and the ghosts start to appear. The end of the second act is the huge Ballroom. Everyone knows attics in Haunted Houses are creepy, so the tension ratchets up as you drift through the attic, and for a finale you are taken into a massive graveyard with ghosts flying into the night sky, surrounding you on every side and music fills the air. The hitchhiking ghosts are the stinger after the credits. Everything starts small and builds throughout the attraction.
It's not just "a story" where you passively view scenes as they pass, like some of the other classic attractions such as "Peter Pan's Flight" or even modern ones like "The Little Mermaid" ride. It's a journey. It's an adventure. It's an exploration. Those elements, compounded for those with the "Halloween Gene," make the Haunted Mansion the best attraction ever created.
Like a great movie or a great novel, you can't put into words what makes a ride so beloved. A masterpiece is a masterpiece, and the why will never do justice to the actual experience.
That being said, I like the new interactive queue in orlando. It's not a big thing, but when waiting in line, it's always nice to have something to do.
On the flip side, I don't like the ghosts in the car at the end. I don't care if it's more animated, I liked the simpler ghosts that looked more like the ones in the rest of the house.