Going to Disney World’s Magic Kingdom is the perfect family trip, guaranteed to create lifelong memories.
With so much to see and do, it can be tricky to know what’s worth a visit (and the wait times!), and what’s better to skip.
Parents may be wondering if the Haunted Mansion is appropriate for little ones, while adults may wish to know if it’s too childish and what accessibility is like.
This article will attempt to cover any questions you might have and tell you everything you need to know about the Magic Kingdom’s Haunted Mansion for your upcoming trip!
- What is the Haunted Mansion?
- Where is the Haunted Mansion Located?
- The Haunted Mansion Experience: What to Expect
- Health and Safety Advisories
- Age and Height Restrictions
- Weight Restrictions
- When Is the Best Time to Visit the Haunted Mansion?
- A Haunted Mansion Fun Fact
- The Haunted Mansion FAQs
- The Bottom Line on the Haunted Mansion
What is the Haunted Mansion?
The Haunted Mansion is a classic ride in Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom park. Variations also exist at Disneyland and Disney Hong Kong.
After hopping into a ‘Doom Buggy’, guests will take a tour through the ghostly chambers of the Haunted Mansion. Riding through dark corridors, a show will unfold— using a mix of Disney Audio-Animatronics (robotics animation created by the Imagineers) and special effects.
While the ride itself may seem a little corny and mundane, the history behind Haunted Mansion is rich and full of Disney Imagineering magic!
Walt Disney came up with the idea for the Haunted Mansion before Disneyland was even built.
Originally planned for a site across from the studio (to be named ‘Mickey Mouse Park’), he had planned to construct a small town made up of select attractions before deciding to build the behemoth that became Disneyland.
The original setting for Haunted Mansion included a crooked road leading past a graveyard just off the main street. Above that, Walt planned to place the Haunted Mansion, looking down onto the town.
Harper Goff, a member of the LA artistic team at Walt Disney Studios, created the early concept art. Ken Anderson, an art director and writer, then developed the story, which was going to be placed in Disneyland’s then-planned New Orleans section.
However, Anderson’s plan for a horror-movie mansion wasn’t given the green light by Walt, who wasn’t a fan of having something so run down in his new, modern theme park.
Instead, inspired by the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, Anderson redesigned his story. This updated version had a murder-suicide, ghost wedding, and new family moving into the haunted mansion.
With a deadline of 1963, the attraction was announced in 1961 and construction began a year later. Although the exterior hit its deadline, the interior did not, as Walt was tied up with the New York World Fair.
Ken Anderson left the project in 1964 and, after Walt Disney’s death in 1966, progress stalled. Unsure what direction to go in and without Walt at the helm, it would be several more years before the attraction was completed.
The attraction finally opened in 1969 and featured the ‘Doom Buggies’—an Imagineer-created Omnimover system (a ride system that enabled guests to experience the attraction as if they were watching a movie). While the Imagineers working on the ride hadn’t been sure whether Haunted Mansion should be scary or fun, they eventually compromised and made it both!
While initially only at Disneyland, Disney World’s Magic Kingdom opened their own Haunted Mansion in 1971. The Orlando attraction had its first significant update in 2007 with new audio and visual effects, a new Endless Staircase scene, a more elaborate portrait transformation in the foyer, and replacement of some of the rubber spiders.
In 2011, the interactive queue was created, featuring tombstones and crypts to honor the original Imagineers.
In the queue, guests could solve a murder mystery about the Dread family, touch instruments to make them play variations of ‘Grim Grinning Ghosts’, watch ghosts writing invisible poems in floating books, and solve unfinished poems by speaking into the crypt microphone.
A further update in 2019 made the ride a PhotoPass attraction, adding a hidden camera to take photos of the riders at the final portrait. If wearing a Magic Band or Magic Band+ and using the My Disney Experience app, a black and white photograph of the guests surrounded by ghosts will automatically show up in the app!
That’s not all: According to the Disney Parks Twitter, the Hatbox Ghost, a popular character from the Disneyland Haunted Mansion, will be installed in the Magic Kingdom’s Haunted Mansion in 2023.
Like so many Disney rides that have come before it, the Haunted Mansion was the inspiration for a major motion picture. A movie of the same name was released in 2003 and featured Eddie Murphy.
But that’s not where the magic ends for Haunted Mansion, as a new adaptation of ‘Haunted Mansion’ starring Rosario Dawson, LaKeith Stanfield, Owen Wilson, Tiffany Haddish, Winona Ryder, Dan Levy, Jared Leto, Danny DeVito, and Jamie Lee Curtis is scheduled to be released in August 2023.
With the success of the ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ and ‘Jungle Cruise’ franchises, it’s no wonder Walt Disney Studios keep making movies based on their classic rides.
Where is the Haunted Mansion Located?
Disney World’s Haunted Mansion is located in the Magic Kingdom within Liberty Square. You’ll also find other popular rides here, such as the Hall of Presidents and Liberty Square Riverboat.
Just past Sleepy Hollow snack stand and Hall of Presidents on your right, take the right at the fork towards Haunted Mansion (the left goes to Frontierland) and head up the hill.
Still not sure which way to go? Just follow the sounds of wolves howling!
The Haunted Mansion Experience: What to Expect
The Haunted Mansion is a relatively slow-paced ride on Doom Buggies through the mansion. You’ll encounter ghostly animatronics and special effects as you tour the dark estate.
The ride is considered mildly scary, though not gruesome, and it has many humorous elements.
More sensitive visitors may find it scary, but most adults and kids won’t have any trouble!
As guests enter through the carriage house, they’ll see the mansion off in the distance. From here, join the interactive queue, filled with tombstones with humorous inscriptions.
The interactive queue includes:
- The Musical Crypt
A musical interactive experience (with some squirting water).
- The Secret Library
A “whack-a-mole” style game with haunted books that will pop out of a bookcase and a tricky cryptogram.
- Sepulcher of the Sea Captain
A leaky, singing tomb, which can spray you with water!
- Tomb of the Posthumous Poetess
Help the deceased poet complete lines of poetry by speaking them into her tomb.
There’s even a fun murder mystery to solve using the busts of the Dread family!
If you don’t want to wait in line for ages, invest in the Disney Genie+ Service to access the Haunted Mansion Lightning Lane.
Small groups load into the ‘Doom Buggie’, which has a small hard-seat bench with a high back.
Be sure to climb in carefully as the vehicle will be moving slowly, as will the platform you step off from (about 1 ft. high). A metal lap bar will automatically lower after you are seated.
Doom Buggies can fit two to three passengers, though three adults would be a squeeze. If riding as a three, two adults and a child will fit comfortably.
Once entering the mansion, you’ll start in a large room where you’ll be introduced to the story and your ghost host.
Through your journey through the mansion, your ghost host will lead the tour. Highlights include a conservatory filled with caskets, the séance room of Madame Leota, and a graveyard with singing ghosts.
The song you’ll hear throughout the ride is ‘Grim Grinning Ghosts’. The tempo will change based on the feel of the scene.
While the attraction starts out a little scary, as you make your way through it becomes more fun and sillier.
The Ride Time
The Haunted Mansion attraction consists of a pre-show, roughly three minutes long, followed by the ride which takes around seven to eight minutes.
The track Doom Buggies ride on is 960 ft. long and traverse forwards as well as backwards at times.
While the ride time itself isn’t particularly long, you should be aware that the queue generally takes around an hour to an hour and a half, especially from 10am onwards.
Guests in wheelchairs must be able to exit their wheelchairs and step into the Doom Buggy. The ride can be stopped so guests with mobility issues can have more time getting into the Doom Buggy.
Audio descriptions are available for the visually impaired through Disney Handheld Devices and closed captioning for the hearing impaired. For more information see the Disney World website.
Health and Safety Advisories
There are none for this ride! However, care should be taken with young children as they may be frightened by the themes or darkness.
The ride is slow moving, but there is a part where the Doom Buggy goes in reverse down an incline.
Age and Height Restrictions
While there are no height restrictions, children under the age of 7 must be accompanied by someone who is 14 years or older.
There are no weight restrictions for this ride, although larger adults may need to have a Doom Buggy to themselves if they’re unable to fit two people.
When Is the Best Time to Visit the Haunted Mansion?
The Haunted Mansion is a popular ride in the Magic Kingdom, and an hour or more wait time is the norm. Therefore, it’s best to get in early or late when the park is less busy—before 11.30am or after 8pm.
Because of the theme, night is a fun time to go. Rides are available until 11pm.
The ride is transformed for the holidays between September and January into a ‘Nightmare Before Christmas’ theme. Overlays are added, and the story changes.
This is an enjoyable time to visit, but be aware that the ride closes down a couple of weeks before and after this event to set up and pack down.
If you are visiting around late August or January and plan on visiting the Haunted Mansion, check ahead to ensure you don’t miss out!
A Haunted Mansion Fun Fact
The Imagineers working on the original Haunted Mansion spooked the janitors by playing a prank on them.
Imagineer Rolly Crump recalled that after learning that the janitors were a little afraid of working in the dark, they set up a series of motion sensors which would activate the creepy attraction and shut the lights off.
The next morning, they found the janitors’ brooms on the floor and only a half-finished cleaning!
The Haunted Mansion FAQs
Is the Haunted Mansion at Disney actually scary?
The ride’s content is considered “mildly scary” as it contains ghosts and general spookiness. It’s also a dark ride, so children who are scared of the dark may want to skip it.
The story, however, is mixed with humor, which keeps the terror low.
Unlike with some other haunted houses, no one will jump out to give you a fright! However, some parents do report that teenagers will scream on the ride to be silly, and this may frighten young children more than the ride itself.
If the Stretching Room proves to be too scary, you can ask to skip this part of the attraction.
What is inside the Haunted Mansion at Disney World?
Inside the Haunted Mansion itself is the Stretching Room (where you are introduced to the ride) and the foyer. The rest of the ride is within a show building hidden behind the mansion.
What does the Haunted Mansion have to do with Disney?
The idea for the Haunted Mansion ride came from Walt Disney, who wanted the attraction in his planned first theme park ‘Mickey Mouse Park’, which ended up becoming Disneyland.
The Haunted Mansion has been a main attraction at Disneyland 1969 and in Disney World’s Magic Kingdom since 1971. A firm fan-favorite, it has a cult following.
How long is the Haunted Mansion ride?
The full ride is roughly nine minutes long. This includes the pre-show (two to three minutes) and the actual ride (seven to eight minutes).
What happens if it rains?
The ride is indoors, so rain won’t affect the attraction.
However, much of the queue is outside, so beware: You could end up standing in the rain for a while to get in! This may shorten the line, though, so it’s not all bad.
The Bottom Line on the Haunted Mansion
The Haunted Mansion is an absolute Disney classic. It’s a nice mix of creepy and funny and suitable for all ages, whether or not you’re traveling with children.
If you or your children are sensitive to dark spaces or creepy themes, use your judgment if this will be appropriate.
If you use a wheelchair or ECV, it’s worth noting that you’ll need to be able to stand up from your wheelchair and step onto the Doom Buggy to be able to ride (or be with someone who can lift you).
Most people enjoy this ride without any issues. Just remember that planning the time you go or investing in the Disney Genie or Genie+ service is crucial— unless you want to spend an hour or longer in line!
More about our TFVG Author
Caitlin is one of The Family Vacation Guide's long standing contributors. She enjoys taking vacation to busy, vibrant cities and has stretched her traveling legs out towards Europe in recent months, enjoying new experiences in Barcelona in Spain, and Nice in France.