How We Got Two Very Different Haunted Mansions

Haunted Mansion Facade Disneyland

The Haunted Mansion is one of the most popular rides from the Disney Parks. It has created a spin-off film, numerous items of merchandise and countless amounts of fan-created content based on the 999 happy haunts.

But, there is no denying that there are two very different versions of the Haunted Mansion. The Disneyland and Disney World versions of this ride may share the same basic premise, but they are two very different rides with different histories.

Haunted Mansion Stand-By Entrance Magic Kingdom

So how did two different versions of this ride become so different? Well, after Haunted Mansion was such a success at Disneyland, it became a part of the opening day plans for Walt Disney World. The problem was that New Orleans Square was not going to be a part of this park as Walt Disney thought the park was too close to New Orleans to build a section based on it. This would lead to the removal of Pirates of the Caribbean, which was not being built for the same reason, but it was decided Haunted Mansion could happen in any mansion, not just one in New Orleans.

Now a bit on the history of the home of the Magic Kingdom's Haunted Mansion, Liberty Square. Walt had long wanted to build a land at his original park to be based on the American Revolution, with plans originally being drawn up for Disneyland to have its own Liberty Square near Main Street USA alongside Edison Square, an area based on the start of electricity. In fact, early plans for Hall of Presidents were developed for this project. But other projects took priority away from it and eventually it was canceled altogether.

But when New Orleans Square was not an option for the second Disney Park, and because no good idea ever dies at Disney, the premise of an American Revolution themed land was brought back in honor of Walt's love for American history. This led to the different facade for this, as a New Orleans style mansion would not have fit in the colonial New England(ish) town that is Liberty Square.

Now, all of the animatronics (well, except one) from Disneyland's Haunted Mansion were a part of the opening day of the Magic Kingdom version of the ride, as duplicates were made during the creation of Disneyland's mansion. But, because the ride's building wasn't built around a railroad berm like at Disneyland, there was room for a few extra scenes at the beginning and end. First, the queue portrait hall became a part of the ride, then a new spider scene was developed, and finally, the Little Leota scene was moved from the exit ramp to the ride, as the ride was no longer below park level.

The most famous difference in the ride building though is probably that the Stretching Room is not an actual elevator, with the ceiling raising instead to allow the effect to work.

Haunted Mansion Disney Animatronic Haunted Mansion Disneyland

While the Hatbox Ghost never appeared in the ride, this version of the Haunted Mansion does have its own mysterious character who disappeared from the ride, the spiderweb man. Apparently, he was deemed too scary and was removed from the ride, or the head of the parks personally did not like him. More on him in an article later this week.

Later changes came as a result of these early differences. The Hatbox Ghost only came to Disneyland as a tribute to the mystery caused by its disappearance. The current staircase scene in Magic Kingdom's mansion was added to replace the subpar, without its main character, web room. The only change to a scene both versions have to not be added to both mansions is the CGI Hitchhiking Ghosts. This was panned critically when it was added to the Magic Kingdom, likely leading to it not being installed to the original Disneyland attraction.

The last major thing to make the two Haunted Mansions different is the lack of Haunted Mansion Holiday in the Magic Kingdom. Well, the reason for this isn't due to the differences between the Haunted Mansions, but instead simply because Disney World did not want to pay to install and remove it every year this led to all the props, ready for a Disney World version of the popular overlay, being shipped over to Tokyo Disneyland, with its identical mansion.

The Haunted Mansion was such a success when it opened it became an obvious ride for Walt Disney World. It even survived its original land not making the cut for the park, something not even Pirates of the Caribbean can claim.

This is the third of a week-long series of articles leading up to the 50th anniversary of the Haunted Mansion. To check out all of the articles Go Here.