Haunted Mansion – Disney World – Magic Kingdom

Facts at a Glance About Seven Haunted Mansion:

Park: Magic Kingdom. Location: Fronteirland Height Requirement: Any height Fastpass: Yes
Quick Notes: Ride a “Doom Buggy” through a haunted mansion.
Disney Warnings: Dark ride.
Cautions: Smooth ride with sharp inclines and declines. Long periods of darkness. Includes ghosts, bats, coffins, spiders, cobwebs, spooky “Ghost Host” voice, loud shrieks, items popping up repeatedly in several scenes, lightning and thunder effect, flashing lights and other light effects, ghost image projected into each guest’s Doom Buggy (ride car), musty smell. Doom Buggy rides backward down a decline at one point. The Doom Buggy ‘roof’ curves overhead, and its sides wrap around which may feel confining to some guests. The narrator’s voice coming from speakers behind riders’ heads can intensify the confined feeling. One area of the ride overlooks down from height. Pre-show may challenge people with claustrophobia – see below for details. Some might find this attraction scary. See below for more cautions and details.           
Length: The pre-show is approximately 3 minutes and the ride is approximately 7-8 minutes
Special Needs Info: You must transfer from your wheelchair or ECV to the ride car. See below for more details. Children 7 years old or younger must be accompanied by someone 14 years old or older. Handheld Captioning, Audio Description, Language Translation Devices. Automated External Defibrillators. Ears to the World, Disney’s Show Translator, is capable of translating this experience into French, German, Japanese, Portuguese, or Spanish. The service is complimentary and devices can be picked up at the Guest Relations service counter.


Overview of Haunted Mansion

You’ll ride you past various spooky scenes inside a haunted 18th-century styled mansion. The story goes that Madame Leota, the mansion’s medium, looks into her crystal ball and invokes the ghosts who now all show themselves to you. Included among the resident ghosts are a bride and her many murdered husbands, and a dining room full of dancing, partying ghosts.

This upgraded classic has some incredible special effect advancements alongside the still-amazing effects engineered for the attraction in the 60s. Although the theme is innately scary, it’s not horror-movie gross, startling or frightening. I would describe it as spooky interspersed with humor. This is achieved using a combination of darkness, plenty of atmosphere, audio animatronics, creepy sound effects, and an abundance of visual effects. Some people, especially small children, those who fear the dark, and sensitive adults may find it very scary.

Queue information for Haunted Mansion

The psychological buildup to the main attraction begins as you approach the entrance. You see a black carriage containing a coffin, the imposing Victorian manor house (very eerie at night) and the graveyard. One of the headstones features a face that actually moves.

In 2011 a new interactive queue was added. Guests walk through a grave yard where they can spot some spooky happenings and can even make things happen. At this writing, you can choose to walk through this interactive queue which may add some time to your wait, or you can choose the old queue which may be faster but less interesting. This area is in full sun, while the main queue has an awning covering it. Bypass this interactive area if you need to stay out of the sun.

The walkway leading up to the Haunted Mansion is textured like cobblestone and rough for a wheelchair/ECV.

Wheelchairs/ECVs: We’ve found that the way wheelchairs and scooters are handled at this attraction can be changeable, and Disney’s official practices are hard to pin down precisely. Officially Disney only shares that guests must transfer from their wheelchairs and ECVs, which means that there are no accessible ride cars. However between the time when you arrive at the attraction and are actually on the ride car, there are various things that can happen. I’ll share what we’ve experienced as well as what I’ve heard from others.

For the queue, those in wheelchairs/ECVs go through the regular queue and through the pre-show, staying in their chairs. Please note that Disney may have those in scooters transfer to a wheelchair before the pre-show. We’ve been permitted to use a scooter through the pre-show, but we have heard from others saying that they had to transfer to a wheelchair. Guests with wheelchairs/ECVs are told to stay to the right in the stretching room.

After the stretching room pre-show, those in wheelchairs/ECVs are separated for boarding.

Pre-show details for Haunted Mansion

There are two parts to this attraction. The pre-show is on foot, and although it lasts about 3 minutes, you’ll have to be on your feet for somewhere around 5 minutes or so if you’re not in a wheelchair/scooter. We’ll summarize some of what happens. Spoiler Warning: Anyone who doesn’t want to have the surprise spoiled should bypass the following paragraph.

Before the pre-show you’re led into a holding area by a cast member dressed as an 18th century servant. Depending on the cast member, they can seem appropriately spooky and grim. It’s an area designed as a portrait/fireplace room. The portrait slowly ages and becomes a skull. Then you’re led into an octagonal-shaped room for the pre-show.

You’re asked to move away from the walls toward the center of the room. The door shuts, and then there’s no visible exit door. It’s camouflaged. Some find this claustrophobic, especially if the room is crowded. The walls begin to have the appearance of stretching. The ceiling is actually rising along with some pictures that rise and appear to stretch. Then the spooky voice of the “Ghost Host” says some scary things, including drawing your attention to the fact that there’s no apparent exit. Suddenly the room goes pitch dark. Then there’s lightning and thunder, and a clothed skeleton hanging by a rope from the rafters appears overhead. The lightning effect is on the ceiling. It looks more like flashing camera lights or strobe lights than real lightning.

After that a section of wall opens, and you’re led into the next room. This is a wide, open room that narrows to a single-file queue. It can feel claustrophobic when crowded. There’s a lot of jostling as people try to find positions in the queue.

Ride car boarding for Haunted Mansion

You are now led onto a moving platform, where you’re boarded onto your ride car (you’ll also exit the ride on a moving walkway). The area is quite dim.

The ride car is a jet-black, clamshell-shaped vehicle called a “Doom Buggy” with a high back that curves over the top of your head, and a grab bar at the top of the front part of the vehicle. The front part of the vehicle is not stable during boarding, so if you need to hold something for stabilization, the grab bar is not useful then. However it can be used during the ride to hold onto.

Doom Buggy’s seat two average sized adults, and you may be able to include a small child also. People of larger size may wish to ride by themselves. Once you’re in, the front portion comes forward and locks in place automatically. Make sure your legs are not crossed or it can come down HARD on your legs, which is painful! Keep your hands out of the way as well, and guests who have canes will also want to make sure they’re out of the way (a cane hit by the front portion can really whop you). When you disembark at the end of the ride, use caution because the Doom Buggies can shift and move a bit as you get off.

Boarding for wheelchair/ECV users and those with mobility issues: After the preshow is complete, guests with wheelchairs, ECVs, mobility devices or mobility needs should stay in the preshow room with your group of 6 or less, and wait for directions. A cast member will guide you from the preshow through a hallway leading to the ride exit where you’ll board the ride. There are several different preshow rooms that look identical from inside, but have different ways into the hallway area.

You’ll wait in the hallway until a Cast Member calls you. If you can walk to the Doom Buggy, you’ll be shown where to park your wheelchair/ECV and a Cast Member will lead you to the moving walkway to board. They normally slow the moving walkway slightly for guests with mobility disabilities to board. If you need it slowed even more or stopped, let them know.

ECVs are not allowed into the unload room or onto the moving walkway. When  guests use an ECV in the queue and in the stretching room, they are then parked just outside of the unload room and must walk. A member of your group can help, as Cast Members can not.

Guests who are not able to walk must be in manual wheelchairs. They will be able to bring their manual wheelchair right onto the moving walkway and park it as close as needed to the ride car. There’s a Doom Buggy with the side cut down a little bit on the entrance side, making a larger door opening. If you feel this would be helpful to you, request the “ADA” or “transfer” car. That car can be stopped at the very end of the moving walkway, and they’ll stop the moving walkway for you to board if you’re using that car.

After you and your companion (if any) have boarded, a cast member will move your wheelchair out of the way and your ride will begin. Other members of your party will be directed to a Doom Buggy to get into. When the ride is over, they’ll know to stop the ride car so you can get out and get into your wheelchair.

Skipping the pre-show or ride: If you get to the pre-show and decide you don’t want to go through with it, you can exit before it begins. Just let a cast member know and they’ll escort you out through a special exit. If you wish to skip the pre-show and go right to the ride portion, let a cast member know, and they may be able to escort you right to the “doom buggy” ride. If others in your party want to see the pre-show, you may be able to wait for them in the boarding area instead of boarding the ride immediately. This is not standard practice, but in our experience cast members will usually allow it. There’s also an exit after the pre-show and before the ride portion of the attraction. If you decide you don’t want to go on the ride, just tell a cast member and they can escort you out.

Details and description of the experience on Haunted Mansion

Those who are ultra sensitive may find this car claustrophobic as our friend Sue Mickelson did:

“The backward portion was torture to me the first years I rode it. The combination of going backwards down a hill and the Ghost Host talking from a speaker behind me made me feel claustrophobic. I had to keep repeating “stay in the car” to myself during that whole part and several others. The stretching room and the loading room didn’t really bother me.”

However many people do fine as with this reader:

“I battle claustrophobia. There’s no way you’ll get me on Mission Space, but I didn’t have any problem at all with the Haunted Mansion pre-show or the ride car. I felt a bit fearful in the dark portions of the ride, but I was able to get through it okay, and I thought the ride was kind of cool!”

There are speakers inside each private car, and your host will tell you something about the scenes you’re passing by using his spookiest voice. It’s a fairly slow-moving ride. You can feel the minor roughness of the track, but it’s very mild. The entire attraction is quite dark. There are some steep inclines and declines, and you move backwards downhill, but only briefly at one point. Your ride car gently moves in different directions so that you can continually face the action. This is one of those attractions that may stop at some point during your ride. Don’t worry, it will get going again. Most likely they’re loading someone who needs extra time to board.

Tip: Because the back of the seat is curved like a clamshell, you may find it awkward to rest your neck and head on it. Take along a sweater and use it behind your neck and head for more comfort and support. This is especially helpful when going downhill backwards.

This ride smells musty to us. Disney cast members have told us that some of this is due to fragrance being added in, and some of it is natural.

The following paragraph may be especially important to guests with vertigo or seizure disorders. Spoiler Warning: Anyone who doesn’t want to have the surprise spoiled should bypass this paragraph. There are two effects to be particularly aware of. The first is a portrait hallway with changing images that are illuminated by flashing lightning effects, and in the dim ambient light, by black light. The quickly changing lightning could be a trigger for a very small number of those with seizure disorders who are sensitive to flickering lights. Sue Mickelson who is a nurse suggests that if this is an issue for you, close or cover ONE eye so that both eyes are sending different images to the brain.

The second addition is a new room that features M.C. Escher-inspired floating overhead staircases. They’re at odd angles, and at times glowing ghostly footprints appear on the steps. The effect is impressive but could cause disorientation and vertigo for those who are sensitive. Close your eyes or look away to avoid this.

At the end of the ride there’s a fun effect when a ghost figure appears so that it looks like it’s sitting with you in your ride car as you look into a mirror. This may scare some very sensitive people.

Those with religious concerns will want to be aware that this attraction includes occult themes including ghosts, a witch like character talking inside a crystal ball, cemetery plots, and references to murder.

There’s an entire site devoted to this attraction. It has videos and photos along with extensive background and historical information on the Haunted Mansion. Visit www.doombuggies.com.

Take a look at the Haunted Mansion ride in action:

Visit here to check out more rides at Magic Kingdom. 

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