Simply approaching this attraction from Liberty Square, you immediately are engulfed in its theming. The foreboding 18th Century Hudson River Valley Mansion towers over you as you walk by interactive crypts and gravestones. Until writing this I never realized trees could be described as creepy, but the trees planted outside of the Haunted Mansion truly are. Somehow the Disney Imagineers made sunny Florida feel ominous.
The wait time really seems to fluctuate depending on when you visit, what time of day it is, and how the weather is that day. I’ve seen it as low as a 10-minute wait in the mid-afternoon after a rainstorm, and all the way up to 80-plus minutes. If you don’t have a FastPass, this is still an attraction you’re going to want to wait for because it is truly iconic and, like I said above, there are interactive elements that do help pass the time. The biggest downside to the queue is that it is mostly outside with some sections being unshaded, which in the middle of the Florida summer can be a drag, especially when it reaches those long wait times.
When you are welcomed inside by the host cast member you enter a foyer that features a fireplace and portrait of an aging man. (Some assume the aging man is Master William Gracey, who hosts the attraction.) After that, you are lead into the “dead center” of one of the most celebrated Disney Imagineering designs, The Stretching Room! Here Master Gracey narrates, as the room with no windows and no doors stretches upwards. The first time you see this special effect, especially if you’ve never heard of it, it does blow your mind a little bit. In The Stretching Room, Master Gracey’s narration is legendary, so much so that it is something Disney veterans have memorized.
The ride is comprised of multiple scenes including The Seance Circle room that features Madame Leota (the ghostly psychic medium that calls upon spirit world), The Grand Ballroom where guests overlook ghostly figures disappearing and then appearing again right before your eyes, The Attic scene in which you see the keepsakes of the 5-time bride who killed each of her 5 husbands, and the ride concludes with The Graveyard scene in which you are welcomed by ghosts to celebrate in a party along with them as they sing the attraction’s theme song “Grim, Grinning, Ghosts.”
There are a million small details in this attraction. You can ride The Haunted Mansion repeatedly, and every time you’ll see something else that you missed on your last ride, whether it is a hidden Mickey, or a subtle joke, every ride is a new experience.
Overall: When thinking of the perfect Disney parks attraction, The Haunted Mansion hits on all cylinders. It combines great music, immersive theming, and incredible creative design. I’d rate The Haunted Mansion as a 10/10. Attractions like The Haunted Mansion are why you come to a Disney park — it is attractions like this that separate Disney from its competitors.