February 19, 2013

The Haunted Mansion at Disneyland

Disneyland's The Haunted Mansion

I just got back from a trip to California where we swung by Disneyland. Anyone who has been to the park knows there are different "lands" inside of it like Fantasyland, Tommorrowland, etc. One of the most fascinating parts of the park for me is New Orleans Square, which features little side streets, shops, etc all modeled after its namesake. There are places that sell mint juleps and gumbo -- it's great.

New Orleans Square also houses what I would consider one of my most favorite rides in the entire park: the Haunted Mansion. The exterior of the mansion looks like some old Southern estate, with its stately front columns and extensive grounds. Inside, the ride is just plain fun, from the stretching portraits to the seance circle room and the graveyard. The ride uses some of the coolest visual effects in the park and is just so different from the rest of "the happiest place on earth."

The Haunted Mansion's hitchhiking ghosts
There's so much to the ride that even after having gone on it several times I pick out new details I never noticed before. Many of the paranormal themes in the house are Victorian in nature, especially the seance circle room. In a way it's like taking a walk back in time and realizing that people's views of the paranormal have not changed too horribly much in the past few decades. Sure, we use electronic equipment to observe and even "measure" paranormal activity these days, but the Haunted Mansion is still quite relevant today. From what I understand, the ride hasn't gone through many major changes throughout the years, which is pretty phenomenal.

Part of me wonders if Disney or someone else were to build a modern Haunted Mansion ride (maybe by another name?) what that ride would entail. Would it show ghost hunters with an EMF meter and tape recorders? Perhaps it would immerse riders in the experience of delving into a haunted building as part of a television documentary, following the exploits of a paranormal investigative team? I actually like the sound of that, but I wouldn't ask Disney to gut the original Haunted Mansion to make an updated ride.

Jack Skellington's version of the Haunted Mansion
That being said, if you have the chance to see the Haunted Mansion from the Halloween season through about New Years it is a real treat. Jack Skellington and the other citizens of Halloween Town take over the mansion, making it a crazy, psychedelic experience anyone would enjoy.


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

It's been years since I visited Disneyland, but I remember the ride being fun. Good to know they haven't really changed it.

Steven said...

Alex, you should go back and check it out. Quite a bit of the park has changed, but the Haunted Mansion seems to have stayed pretty similar (as long as my brain remembers what it was like before).