I think I may have mentioned (once or twice or twelve hundred times) that Haunted Mansion is my all-time favorite Disney ride, so what better way to start off my Ride Editions than with the best there is!
Located in Liberty Square:
It's always been the very first place we head to upon arrival at the Magic Kingdom, although I think that might change this year because of the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train Ride.
The gothic manor sits in the back with an aura of foreboding of what's to come (OK, so I'll TRY not to go too deep with the HM quotes), be it daytime:
and none more so than during Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party:
where sometimes one of the 999 Happy Haunts come out to play:
You used to be able to see a heck of a lot more of the front of it from the covered walkway that leads to the entrance:
But now, you only get that close if you use the FastPass lane (which I HATE to do because you bypass the cemetery, which is the best part!). You just have to ignore the fringe from the covered walkway:
And the hearse
is only visible close up if you use your zoom
or you catch it on the way out (there is a hidden Keebles in that image...well, more of a reflection actually, but close enough):
Speaking of the cemetery, it used to be pretty bland, just a single cemetery that you walk past on your way to the entrance:
But now, it's a whole experience to itself!
The old tombstones got new homes (and those with a Disney brain, might notice that they are all tributes to the imagineers and talent that were responsible for the making of the ride, including my beloved Marc Davis):
And new tombstones appeared:
Madame Leota's tombstone showed up long before the cemetery redux, but it is still fairly new (to us long-timers, anyway). You have to watch her close, she might be watching you!
There are crypts that can play music if you touch them in the right places with each instrument sounding like they should:
(a hidden tribute to Thurl Ravenscroft, one of the singers on the ride as well as several others throughout Disney World...you might know him as the voice of Tony the Tiger):
Books that slide in and out on their own:
An interactive medium:
And a sea captain "dying" to get out (be careful with your camera equipment because water shoots out of this one from time to time)!
Once you enter, the pictures get a bit more difficult (especially with a point and shoot camera, but it's always been incentive to upgrade my camera model every year), so bare with me on quality here. Plus, the ride has sped up a lot since the renovations a few years ago added two new areas, so it makes it even harder to get a good picture.
There are several rooms you step all the way into the dead center of (sorry, doing it again). From the Master himself welcoming you to his abode, seemingly aging right before your eyes:
To the Stretching Portrait Room where you learn a bit more about the fate of your "ghost host":
Then you step on to the moving walkway (which I'm horrible at and I'm constantly afraid I'm going to fall) to grab your doombuggy for your journey through the mansion:
You travel through a library filled with the greatest "ghost writers" ever known, a piano seemingly playing itself, into a very Escher-esque stairwell, through a long hallway that has "eyes" looking at you and a floating candelabra, a "resident" begging to be let out, another hallway of doors that seem to breathe and a clock that's striking "13", through a seance room with a floating crystal ball containing the head of Madam Leota herself along with tons of other floating objects, a ballroom teeming with activity, a bride's attic:
where she showcases her husbands who have passed (although you pretty much figure out they didn't "pass" gently)
back out into another cemetery filled with happily singing ghosts of all shapes, sizes, and generations:
and end up trying to avoid some hitchhiking ghosts, only to fail miserably. A little Madame Leota encourages you to "hurry back" and "be sure to bring your death certificate" if you decide to join them!
Once you exit, you wander outside, but the fun isn't over yet because you still have more tombs to pass
as well as the pet cemetery
which has a tribute to the now extinct Wild Ride with Mr. Toad:
I am definitely not alone in my love for The Haunted Mansion, there are websites devoted to nothing but such as Doombuggies.com, which has some amazing history of the ride. It is a bit cheesy to newbies, but to us old hats, it's as classic and familiar as any Disney movie we've ever seen (but don't get me started on the Haunted Mansion movie with Eddie Murphy).
Think you can guess my next favorite ride? It's a close second to HM, it's in the same park (although in a different land), and is filled with "really bad eggs"!