by Rima Thompson
‘Twas two months before Christmas and wildfires were blazing all around; there were freeway closures to and fro but alas, the trip to Disneyland was made amidst the detours and smoke as visitors heeded to the call of Disney’s Haunted Mansion.
Upon arrival and through the mazes of Frontier Land and Adventure Land lay a lavish, ghostly-decorated white house in the corner of New Orleans Square. The line to enter the attraction wrapped around it for at least two miles, which prompted Disneyland to offer a “Fast Pass” for this popular event.
The pass allows visitors to scan their Disneyland ticket into a machine that gives them a ticket stub with a time they can return and bypass non-pass holders to go into the mansion.
Once inside the dark, eerie place, guests were led into a room-sized elevator and were advised to fill empty space, or dead space as some joked, as much as possible.
When the elevator closed, the lights dimmed and a ghostly voice recited, “‘Twas a long time ago, longer now than it seems, in a place that perhaps you’ve seen in your dreams. For the story that you are about to be told began with the holiday worlds of old”
Immediately after the opening lines, the top of the elevator was lit with visions of pumpkins and skeletons.
When the elevator came to a halt, the doors opened and the ghostly voice appeared again, wishing guests good luck on their voyage as he recited, “‘Twas the nightmare before Christmas and all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse”
Unfortunately, the elevator was the most exciting part of the haunted mansion experience.
After exiting the elevator, guests were again led through a hallway where pictures of characters from Tim Burton’s “The Nightmare Before Christmas,” the story the attraction is based upon, were hung.
The photographs were illusions and when looked at long enough, the people in them turned into ghosts. Their eyes followed spectators into a room where a ride awaited to take them through the rest of the mansion.
The ride went through a series of rooms adorned with ghosts, skeletons, singing pumpkins, mirrors that gave the illusion of ghosts sitting next to attraction riders, candlelit Christmas trees with dancing spirits around them as well as other demonic things that would not only horrify, but traumatize a child under the age of 6 for the rest of his or her life.
The Haunted Mansion was not nearly as scary as it was morbid. They took every good thing a child could imagine about Christmas and stripped it of its innocence. Perhaps that was the set designer and Tim Burton’s point, but unless visitors were of the age where they could understand that, Christmas will not be the same for them.
However, the designing, lighting effects and overall look of the place was well done and executed.
The designs were intricate, modern, colorful and realistic. But many first timers who came expected to be scared and to have ghosts and things popping out at them or grabbing them.
Instead, what guests got was a ride that limited them to being an observer of what was going on and not an actual participant. Additionally, it lasted five minutes: hardly long enough for first timers who complained about waiting in line for two hours to get in.
Once the ride came to an end, guests had to get off as fast as they could and onto a moving floor that led them to the exit. Getting on the ride possessed a similar situation.
If being deathly or even semi-frightened is a must-have haunted house experience, then head over to Knott’s Scary Farm, where they have mazes with plenty of people to grab and scare visitors.
Otherwise, Disney’s Haunted Mansion is a calmly distorted, if entertaining, waste of time.