Haunted Mansion 2.1b

Today Imagineering rolled out their latest version of the upgraded Haunted Mansion. A few of the left coast improvements were ported over, and some new ones rolled out. It’s my understanding that there are still a few more yet to come than what I saw tonight.

I tried to keep myself as spoiler free as possible, so when my son and I encountered the changes, we’d be surprised. It didn’t work perfectly, but I was able to enjoy the attraction with mostly fresh eyes. We arrived around 6pm with a crowd of locals who had just arrived from work. Although the queue turned out to be less than 40 minutes long, it extended well outside the usual queue area and into Liberty Square.

The first thing I noticed is that the old Keel Boat dock has been completely redone and made wheelchair accessible. It looked like they could use it as extended queue area for the Haunted Mansion if they had to, but hope springs eternal that they might be bringing back some extra life to the river.

As reported, the new canopy is not only a shade of dark red, it is also wider than the original. If you look for them you’ll easily notice the patch jobs in the cobblestone. They failed to upgrade the cooling fans, however, and even after a light rain had cooled the place down a bit, the fans weren’t able to make any noticeable difference (except to make some noise). Perhaps they’re still working on this.

From the position of the extended queue there is a long portion where the unthemed show building for the Haunted Mansion is very obvious. Some painted brick effects would go a long way there. Also more noticeable is the pet cemetery, where Mr. Toad still resides.

They’ve moved the Gypsy Merchandise cart back to the exit queue again. But all the available merchandise was Nightmare Before Christmas themed except for literally one Haunted Mansion doombuggy license plate. Has merchandising fallen asleep here? They have a re-launch of one of their major attractions, but there is nothing new I can buy to commemorate my enjoyment of it. Disneyland, at least, seldom let us down in this regard.

There are some new FX for the outside of the Haunted Mansion, including thunder and lightning. However, it was still broad daylight and the effects were going off. The end result was to detract from the atmosphere rather than add to it. At night I’m sure it is great after dusk, just do something else during the day.

The real big changes are inside the attraction. If you want pictures, video and other spoilers, you’ll be able to find them on just about every Disney fan discussion board shortly. But, I suggest you avoid spoilers if at all possible and just experience it for yourself.

I was blown away by a couple of the new effects that were added. In some areas there is so much new detail that you won’t be able to take it all in, even with multiple ride-throughs. Some of the stuff they added is such an improvement over the old version, that they instantly restored my faith in the talents of Imagineering and made me wonder why they hadn’t been allowed to shine like this in so long.

Unfortunately, these amazing improvements leave some areas of the attraction looking stuck in the last century. Once you get past the new attic scene, you can tell they tried to spruce things up a bit but it still pales in comparison. Someone said there are still more effects to be added, so I’m hoping this is one of the areas. Otherwise the climax of the attraction becomes the attic and the rest is just one long denouement.

One word of warning. My four-year old son has always been a little frightened of the Haunted Mansion, but he was ‘okay’ with the spookiness as it was mostly spooky in a fun sort of way. In this new version, some of the silly spookiness has been replaced with more serious spookiness and more intense effects and this time my son’s reaction to the attraction was a lot more troubled. That might lessen with subsequent viewings, but if your child does not deal well with even campy horror, you might want to think twice about bringing them on this attraction, at least until you’ve done a ride-through yourself.

So here we are. The purse strings have been loosened just a bit at the Magic Kingdom. They didn’t have to do this upgrade, but they did and they have done some marvelous work. I think the new Haunted Mansion will be very warmly received by nearly everyone who rides it. If just for the wow factor. Once you’ve been on it, let us know what you think in the comments.