Fun Facts About Disney’s Haunted Mansion

The first Haunted Mansion attraction opened at Disneyland in 1969. Today, Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom, Tokyo Disney, Disneyland Paris and Hong Kong Disneyland feature variations of the ride as well.

wdw haunted mansion

The original façade was inspired by Baltimore’s Shipley-Lydecker House. Not a house in New Orleans, as many people automatically assume. Keep reading, to learn more!

Dancing Ghosts

What would a haunted mansion be without dancing ghosts? These poltergeists are created by an illusion discovered in the 1800s.

Referred to as Pepper’s Ghost effect or illusion, the trick is a simple one. A pane of glass is used to make illuminated objects appear as though you can see through them.

15 Rooms to Explore

There are 15 rooms to explore on the Haunted Mansion ride. This includes the Portrait Chamber, where the room magically stretches and the Grand Ballroom where eerie pipe organ music fills your ears.

Hatbox Ghost Returns

The Hatbox Ghost was an original part of the first Haunted Mansion attraction. One day, he mysteriously disappeared with no explanation except that he wasn’t working properly.

In 2015, Disney reintroduced the Hatbox Ghost, who does a wonderful job of leering at passengers as they go by. Will he have his head or won’t he… the question remains!

Interactive Queue

More and more Disney park rides and attractions are being updated with interactive queues. What does this mean for Haunted Mansion fans? It means you can solve a murder mystery and use various instruments to play the tune “Grim Grinning Ghosts,” while waiting in line.

Waiting in line isn’t anyone’s favorite part of a trip to the Disney parks, but the Haunted Mansion is one of the more enjoyable lines to wait in thanks to the entertaining gravestones beside the queue area. The names on these tombstones are those of Disney Imagineers who helped to create the Haunted Mansion.

The Stretching Room

In both Disneyland and Walt Disney World, the actual Haunted Mansion ride is preceded by the famous Stretching Room, where portraits of the Mansion’s inhabitants stretch to reveal their unfortunate fates. Is the ceiling going up or does the floor go down? As it turns out, it depends on which park you’re in.

In Disneyland, the bulk of the ride is below ground level, so the Stretching Room acts as an elevator lowering guests down to the ride. In Disney World, the ride is housed in a hidden building behind the facade you see from the queue area. Since there’s no need for an elevator, the ceiling just goes up.

Do you want to get to the Doom Buggies faster? At the Walt Disney World attraction, stand under the portrait of the girl with the parasol in the stretching room. The door that leads to the ride is always located under this portrait.

Pet Cemetery

If you look closely, when enjoying the ride at either Disneyland or Walt Disney World, you may notice a small pet cemetery. There’s even a grave marker for J. Thaddeus Toad. You may remember him from the long-ago Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride.

A Haunted Mansion Water Ride

Imagineer and Disney Legend Claude Coats briefly developed a water ride version of The Haunted Mansion in which guests would float through the ruins of an old plantation house partially submerged in a Louisiana bayou. Sadly, this ride never made it into any of the parks.

There is no height or age restriction to tour the spooky Haunted Mansion. A bit of bravery is all that’s required. Depending on the location you visit, the ride lasts between almost 6 minutes to a little over 8 minutes. 

Costs to develop and build the ride were in the $7 million ballpark, which translates into almost $50 million today.

 




The Magic is Missing at the Most Magical Place on Earth

Why is the Magic Missing at Walt Disney World?

I think that no matter how hard the good folks behind the magic work, it will never be enough for some. The magic is sometimes missing from Walt Disney World, not because of Disney but because of those that visit the most magical place on earth.

I recently spent a week at Walt Disney World. Before arriving I made a conscious decision to leave my laptop at home and to stay off all electronics for the week. I wanted to concentrate on spending family time with no interruptions. I wanted to re-experience Walt Disney World through the eyes of my grandson.

I did post a small handful of pictures (less than 10) of my grandson on Facebook and Instagram for my family and friends to see he was having a good time, but other than that – I kept my phone in my pocket and my attention on my family.

Since I wasn’t looking at my screen, I had the opportunity to see so many other things around me and here is some of what I noticed.

The Angry/Frustrated/Stressed Parent

On our first day at the Magic Kingdom we were waiting in line at Guest Services. There was a family in front of us in line. Mom, Dad, son (around age 4) and daughter (around age 2). Both children were crying in their strollers. When the parents went up to the window they removed both children from the strollers and sat them on the ledge at the window.

Both children continued to cry. I can only assume they weren’t getting the response they wanted from the Cast Member when suddenly the Mom lifted the son BY HIS HAIR off of the ledge and dropped him to the ground. He was screaming. She then lifted him BY HIS HAIR and threw him in the stroller.

Stop and consider for a minute how stressed or angry or frustrated one would have to be to move a child around BY THE HAIR. I’ll admit, the image stayed with me for days.

The Entitled Parent

These are the ones that are rude to other visitors and to Cast Members. They push their way into line. They have no respect for anyone around them. They think they can just squeeze you out of your parade viewing spot or shove their way in front of you while you stand and watch a show. What are they teaching their children?

I actually watched a father scream at a Cast Member, swearing,  because she told him he had to get to the end of the line. He thought he would just walk by all the others in line and get to the front of the line.

On several occasions I heard “I’m paying thousands of dollars for this vacation!” Guess what pal? So is everyone else!

The Instagram Parent

This is the most distressing to me. Not only are they not happy and enjoying their visit, they aren’t allowing their children and travel companions to enjoy their trip either.

I watched a young couple with an approximately 3 year old little girl dressed beautifully in a princess dress, hair done, makeup perfect. The mother moved the child from spot to spot – picture after picture – trying to get the PERFECT PICTURE! OMG, the child was so frustrated, the husband was so frustrated. The mother commented she needed to get a picture that Disney would ask her to use from her Instagram and one that people would be envious of!

So you brought your child to Walt Disney World to get a picture for Instagram not for your child to have a wonderful and memorable experience. Not to experience the magic. And when you have a crappy time, you’ll blame Disney.

Sometimes really nice pictures happen purely by accident! Did I want an Instagram worthy picture – No! I just wanted a cute picture of my grandson and I got one by accident.

Did you know that behind every GREAT Instagram photo is a spouse or boyfriend or friend that has taken many, many photos for you to get that one PERFECT AND GREAT INSTAGRAM photo? There’s an entire site dedicated to the Boyfriends of Instagram. Many of those GREAT Instagram photos have also been heavily edited.

The On their phone all day parent

Everywhere you turn – everywhere you sit – everywhere you look – there are parents with their faces in their phone not at all paying attention to their children. Missing so many wonderful and exciting moments.

Children yelling for their parents attention. Parents not paying attention at all because they are scrolling through their phones throughout their meal, throughout a ride on an attraction, while waiting in line.

Photo Credit – Matthews Printers

Along with this comes the parents on their phone at the dinner table with tablets propped up in front of each of the kids – while Winnie the Pooh is going from table to table greeting everyone. Sadly I watched a family miss an entire interaction with Pooh that includes great photo opportunities.

Put your phone away challenge

If you want to keep your phone out all day, keep it at the ready for pictures of those moments that can’t be planned. Make a conscious decision to put your electronics on hold and be in the moment and be ready to enjoy those moments with your children.

Those magical and special moments happen without notice  – without planning – and you don’t want to miss them. Children are children for a very short time and the excitement they feel can be contagious. Those precious moments can’t be replaced.

 




Tips for Visiting Epcot with a Toddler

Many people assume Epcot is just for adults. However, nothing is further from the truth.

My kids always loved Epcot when they were young. There is so much to look at and take in, the kids can sit back in their stroller and have a more relaxing day.

There are many shaded and secluded areas in Epcot that are perfect spots when nap time rolls around. You’ll also enjoy the quiet and the shade while the little one naps for a bit in the stroller.

Epcot is a wonderful way to spend a day with little ones. It’s also a much more relaxed day than the other parks so gives the kids plenty to do but at a slower pace so is an ideal mid-week park. Get a bit of a rest but still have lots of fun!

Take advantage of the following tips, if you’re heading there with a toddler. It’s the best way to ensure everyone has a good time.

Eating

There are plenty of quick service spots for the little ones to eat, but why not take a visit to Epcot to expose them to different foods from around the world.

For a long time we would make it a habit to eat in a different country on each trip so that the kids could experience foods from around the world.

Plan Ahead

As with any other trip to Walt Disney World, exploring Epcot with a toddler is much simpler if you go in with a well-thought-out plan. In this case, the My Disney Experience app is an invaluable tool for planning your trip.

One of the biggest advantages to preparing for your vacation in advance is you can reserve FastPass+ selections. This allows you to skip the line at an attraction and ride it at a pre-reserved time.

Creating a plan also helps to make sure that you have time to see everything that you want to see while you’re at Epcot. Especially if you only plan to spend one day there, you’ll need to manage your time effectively, if you don’t want to rush.

Try to leave a bit of extra time between each attraction in case your toddler sees something he or she wants to check out more closely on the way.

And . . . definitely don’t miss Turtle Talk with Crush!

Throughout the day most of the countries offer scheduled entertainment. All of it is family-friendly. My family can watch the acrobats in China over and over again!

Look for Character Meets

Epcot is a great Walt Disney World park for experiencing character meals and meet-ups. You’ll typically find characters hanging out in the world showcase pavilion of the country their movie draws inspiration from.

For example, you can find Belle and the Beast at the France Pavilion and Alice from Alice in Wonderland at the United Kingdom Pavilion.

Again, take advantage of the My Disney Experience app to see which character meet and greet experiences are going to be available during your stay at the park. If possible, schedule and attend the selected character meets early in the day before the lines get too long.

Become a Kidcot World Traveler

If your children enjoy scavenger hunts, they’ll love looking for Kidcot Fun Stations in each of the pavilions at Epcot’s World Showcase. These stations have a unique stamp, one for each of the countries represented in the World Showcase.

Kidcot Fun Stops keep the kids motivated to travel to each country in the World Showcase country. Even young kids will have fun coloring at the free craft stations. If you purchase the passport for the kids they will also receive stickers to decorate the book and there is a scavenger hunt aspect of filling the passport and it makes a great souvenir of the day at EPCOT. 

The stamps can be collected on their own.  But, you can also purchase a Passport to the World book to put them in, which includes stickers and other fun activities. Not only does this give kids something fun to do at each of the stations, it also doubles as a souvenir you can pass on to them when they get older.

Epcot Toddlers




5 Tips for Magic Kingdom Parade Viewing at Walt Disney World

One of the quintessential Walt Disney World experiences is watching the parade at the Magic Kingdom. The parades are always tremendously popular and the routes can be difficult to deal with whether you are viewing or not.

In order to have the best time during your Disney trip, follow these 5 do’s and don’ts for Magic Kingdom parade viewing.

Do Arrive Early

Don’t show up late and expect a good spot. Be aware of parade times and observe your surroundings. If you see ropes going up, or the parade route beginning to fill in with spectators it’s a good time to start looking around for your spot.

A good time to shoot for is AT LEAST a half hour before the parade begins.

Photo Credit: WDWMagic.com

Do Listen to Cast Members

Don’t ignore what the Cast Members are telling you to do. You may think they have an attitude, but often times what they say is specifically for your benefit, if not for the greater good.

When you follow the guidance of Cast Members it makes everything go more smoothly. It’s even better if you ask them yourself. Try getting suggestions for the best viewing or confirm which direction the parade will be going.

Do Stop at the Restroom First

Don’t wait until you have a spot and then go look for a restroom. No one likes to save a viewing spot as the area fills in just prior to a parade. Likewise parade routes are difficult to navigate as the normal walkways get blocked and bottlenecks form .

The crowds slow down and even come to a stand still. As long as it’s avoidable, try not to leave a spot once you’ve claimed it.

 

Do Bring Food

Don’t leave your spot to buy food. Just like making a restroom stop before the parade, it’s a good idea to pick up some counter service food, or visit a snack cart before you look for a place to view the parade.

It’s nice to enjoy your food while you wait for the entertainment to begin. If you leave after finding a spot, you will run into the same traffic problems as the viewing areas fill in. Plus, you will have lines at the register and pick up counter to contend with.

Do Choose an Accommodating Space

Don’t ignore the viewing area designations and signage. If you try to get away with standing somewhere you aren’t supposed to you will be asked to move eventually and you will have missed your opportunity to find a better spot.

Do your best to move down the parade route until you can get a space that will hold your whole group comfortably so you don’t have to look over or around other guests, or hold up a child on your shoulders in order to see.

What are your best parade viewing tips?




Get Ready for Your WDW Vacation with these Practically Perfect Printables

I’ll admit I’m not really a huge planner when I’m heading to Walt Disney World unless my grandchildren are going with me. I want them to see and do as much as possible so do lots of planning for them.

When visiting throughout the year alone or with friends I rarely plan. I still like to visit like the olden days. Just head to the parks and see what happens. I often visit without dining reservations or FastPass plans.

I know I make my friends who are planners just a wee bit crazy when I show up with no plans. My standard reply is “whatever you get is fine with me” when it comes to dining and FastPasses.

I guess I’m so lax because I know I’ll be back within a month or two and I’ve been going since the Magic Kingdom opened so . . . I’m o.k. with whatever happens and whatever I get to see or do.

The internet and social media are full of ideas, suggestions and planning tools for the planners who will be visiting. So many exist that it’s almost as hard as the planning to find the right tool. The internet and social media is so full of things about how to plan your WDW vacation, many people panic when it comes to making their plans and over-plan.

I personally am a huge believer and user of the My Disney Experience APP. That is the only tool I use and more as a reminder. It has taken the place of notes I used to make if and when I made any reservations.

I have to add as an aside that since this is the only tool I do use, I get really annoyed when it doesn’t work correctly. I have had some stranger’s FastPass reservations in my system for 2 months now and Disney IT can’t seem to figure out why or how to get rid of them. 

Printables for Sale

Over the last few months I started to look at all the different planning tools around to help novice visitors plan out their trips. I found hundreds. Some were outstanding. Some were o.k. Some were downright horrible.

The best one I found that encompasses just about everything you’ll ever need when planning a visit to Walt Disney World is 29 pages long. I had to purchase the download from an Etsy shop, but I’m sharing my purchase with you:

Another purchase on Etsy was these Disney FastPass printables:

Free Printables Found

These Packing Lists from Get Away Today come in a boy version and a girl version!

Making sure you don’t leave behind anything that you’ll need when you set out on your Disney vacation is tough. It’s even harder to make sure that everybody has repacked everything that they brought along with them when you’re getting ready to head home.

Print out a few of these handy daily planner sheets a few weeks before your big trip. Use them to create a detailed schedule for what you want to do each day.

One of the best things about these printable sheets is they include spaces to designate your daily dining reservations and FastPass+ picks. When you get to the park, just take a quick look at them to see what time you need to be at each attraction or dining location. This way, you’ll never miss a reservation. 

This next one I just think is cute but really is no help when it comes to planning.

The Over-Packed Park Bag

I’m not an over-packer so you’ll never see me tell anyone what they should have in their “park bag.”

The park bag: I take as little as possible into the parks with me so I have no park bag. I always chuckle when I see people with a long list of things for their “park bag.” Who the heck wants to carry all that stuff all day? Not me! Just a cross-body purse and if it doesn’t fit in there – it doesn’t go.

I’ll never understand the need to take along just about everything JUST IN CASE. I often wonder what people have in those huge bags I see them carting around the parks.

When I take my grandson I have one of those small square packing cubes that fits perfectly in the net under his stroller. In it I fit diapers, wipes, an extra outfit, a bib and some snacks (usually Gold Fish and Cheerios). That’s it.

So – think wisely when it comes to your park bag. You have to carry it all day.

Do you use any special or specific planning tools for your Walt Disney World vacations?