If you ask a fan of Disney parks – almost ANY of the Disney parks…Disneyland (DL), Walt Disney World (WDW), Tokyo Disneyland (TDL), Disneyland Paris (DLP) and Hong Kong Disneyland (HKD)…which attraction do they like the best, chances are good that The Haunted Mansion (or its alternate names in some parks: Phantom Manor in Disneyland Paris and Mystic Manor in Hong Kong Disneyland) will be up there towards the top (Shanghai Disneyland, which opened in 2016, doesn’t have a Haunted Mansion-style attraction. Here’s why).
You can count me in that, by the way. My first visit to a Disney park was in early 1979, and from that point onward, the Haunted Mansion has been my favorite attraction at Walt Disney World. The dinner we had inside the Haunted Mansion was one of the most unique meals we ever had. And because he knew the Haunted Mansion was my fave, Joe even proposed to me while we were on the ride, back in March of 2000. This is the pic we asked someone to take just as we got off the ride.
Most of the Haunted Mansions worldwide have had several updates here and there over the years. Among them are:
- WDW’s HM had a huge refurbishment in 2007. (From Wikipedia): the attraction was renovated, with changes including the installation of the changing portraits and lightning-filled windows from the Disneyland version, and new vocals for most of the ghosts in the graveyard. The portrait hall was originally decorated with portraits, known as the Sinister 11, situated on both sides and on a doorway, all of which had eyes that stared at guests as they passed through; these were later transferred to the load area during the refurbishment and their eyes no longer followed guests. In 2011, the attraction’s queue was expanded and the Hitchhiking Ghosts mirror effect was also updated to replace the physical figures with computer animated ghosts playing around with the images of riders reflections.
- DLP’s Phantom Manor had new effects and narration added in 2019
- DL’s HM has had a seasonal overlay for Christmas since 2001. Called Haunted Mansion Holiday, characters and themes from The Nightmare Before Christmas (a Disney film from 1993) are added to the scenery inside the HM.
- TDL’s HM does a similar overlay; theirs is called The Haunted Mansion Holiday Nightmare.
However early last week, the Disney Parks Blog (the official blog of Disney Parks) made an announcement no one was expecting: Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion is scheduled to undergo construction in 2024 to add handicap accessibility and expand the outdoor area of the theme ride. All told, the renovations will include a new garden, a new gift shop near the attraction’s exit and an upgraded plaza for live entertainment.
From The Disney Blog:
The stately grounds of the Haunted Mansion will expand with a spirited metamorphosis at Disneyland Resort next year. In 2024, the additions will build on the story and lore of the Haunted Mansion and include an expanded outdoor queue to immerse guests in enhanced theming, as well as a new retail shop adjacent to the attraction’s exit.
Local legend suggests the manor known today as the Haunted Mansion was first built by a prosperous sea captain. To this day, the mansion’s staff faithfully maintains the happy haunting grounds. The expanded queue will tie into these stories and more, including new gardens inspired by Master Gracey, Madame Leota and the one-eyed cat.
Each of the gardens will feature unique elements ranging from a water fountain and gazebo to themed statuary and landscaping. In fact, guests will be able to see a new greenhouse where the groundskeepers for the Haunted Mansion grow their plants. The pet cemetery and horse-drawn funeral hearse will continue to reside on the attraction’s grounds.
And speaking of Madame Leota, we felt it was time to continue her presence beyond the walls of the Haunted Mansion with an all-new retail shop. This carriage house of the mansion, belonging to Leota, will be a standalone shop that we are just “dying” to tell you more about in the future.
We also will make enhancements to the plaza adjacent to Tiana’s Palace. This area is one that holds a lot of memories and history, and a new, elegant park-like setting will be a place to relax and enjoy the ambiance and live entertainment under the shade of new and historic trees.
Construction on these additions will begin in January 2024. We will take the opportunity to help improve the accessibility of these areas which includes a new elevator exit from the Haunted Mansion for guests with disabilities.
We look forward to sharing more about the final arrangements early next year. For now, consider this dismaying observation: the objects found in Leota’s garden will be inspired by her incantation!
Walt Disney World’s queue was expanded in 2011 to accommodate more guests visiting the attraction, as well as to have a separation of (at the time) those with Fast Passes and those without. WDW has since moved on to Lightning Lanes, which is similar to Fast Pass (in that it allows you to skip the queue, but now it’s a paid option instead of being free) and also utilizes separate queues for the “haves and the have nots.” The expanded queue is interactive, to make standing in line more fun. It sounds as if this new, expanded queue at Disneyland may be similar – we’ll see after the renovations are complete.
Having a place to sit and simply enjoy ambiance in the shade is welcome at theme parks. Better accessibility for wheelchair users is always a good thing. And, of course, how could Disney NOT have a store at the end of any ride? 😉
If the additions are going to begin in January, 2024, it would make sense if they began as the attraction closed to dismantle the Nightmare Before Christmas overlay. Disney did not say when the renovations will be complete.
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