/ Monday, January 7th, 2013

by Caitlin Corsello

“Welcome foolish mortals…”

Every time I hear those words, I get a small chill and a smile on my face. The Haunted Mansion has long been my favorite attraction in Walt Disney World, mostly due to the memories that I have made surrounding it. I can still remember the first time I was coaxed by my family onto the attraction. I think I was around seven or eight, and I remember the inner conflict I experienced between being terrified to ride but also being desperate to see what actually went on behind those foreboding brick walls. Admittedly, I was frightened, but in the best way possible. I loved it from the moment I stepped into the parlor and was greeted by the aging picture of Master Gracey, accompanied by the slow mournful first notes of music. I wanted to experience it over and over until I could recite the dialogue and was familiar with every scene and haunt residing inside…but only during the day. Somehow I had come up with the notion that once night hit the Magic Kingdom, the attraction would transform and become much more terrifying. Weakly coming up with excuses to ride at night, this went on for a few visits until I finally worked up the courage to ride after dark. Once I realized that the ride did not magically transform itself for late night guests, my obsession existed at all times and my love for the mansion continued to grow.

Despite being twenty-four, I still get goose bumps in the stretching room. My heartbeat still speeds up when I first hear the Ghost Host’s voice. I am not ashamed to admit that I am downright terrified of what I refer to as the “pop-ups.” I’m referring to the ghosts and ghouls lurking behind tombstones and other objects in the graveyard scene that pop up on either side of your Doom Buggy and yell. I hold my breath in that room and try to concentrate on every detail of the scene except the tombstones right around my Doom Buggy. Yet still, I am always startled and jump enough to make the Doom Buggy shake a little. (I’ve at least gotten to the point where I usually don’t yell back in fright!) This started when I was little, and it continues today. While I’m scared of them, I also actually love the pop-ups. They help me to still maintain a small fear of the Mansion. While working through each room, my anticipation builds. I start bracing myself for the scare to come, and secretly I’m looking forward to it- that little bit of the attraction that can still genuinely frighten me.

With that combination of love and fear, I cultivated my obsession with the Mansion over the years by learning everything I could about it. Learning the history and stories of what went into creating, developing, and operating the attraction has given me a brand new outlook and appreciation of the attraction as I have aged. Some of my favorite parts of the attraction are now small facts or details which have rich back stories. For example, I love taking in the exterior of the attraction and noting the decorative pieces atop the roof which resemble chess pieces. Why this architecture choice? Because much of the exterior was designed by Imagineer Claude Coats who was an avid chess fan. The tombstones in the graveyard each pay homage to key figures in the history of the Mansion, and I love to be reminded of the great minds that were behind my favorite attraction each time I enter. I love the subtle Hidden Mickeys within the attraction, in particular my favorite is the grim reaper one hidden in the graveyard scene. See if you can find it! Perhaps most of all, I love the ambiguous back story of the bride. Depending on who you ask, you can receive completely different back stories on what actually happened involving her history in the Mansion.

I literally could go on for days talking about my favorite things concerning the Haunted Mansion, but I like to remember back to it all starting with a scared little kid refusing to ride in the dark. Thus, the Haunted Mansion will always be my favorite attraction, especially since there’s no turning back now….


What is your favorite thing about the Haunted Mansion? Do you have any special memories surrounding the attraction? Let me know in the comments below, I would love to hear from you!


Caitlin Corsello was born and raised in New York. She graduated from Adelphi University with a Masters in Mental Health Counseling in 2012. Her love for Disney started as an infant and has continued to grow with family vacations to Disney parks almost every year since. She holds a particular interest in WDW’s parks and attractions, never passing up an opportunity to visit. She looks forward to continuing to explore and learn about all things Disney and to share that passion with readers.



6 thoughts on “Welcome Foolish Mortals… Walt Disney World’s Haunted Mansion”

  1. I have a special memory! The first time I went on the Haunted Mansion, I was 8 years old. Not only was it my first time, but my parents’ and cousin’s. In the stretching room when the ghost host shows you his way out, I was apparently the only one who looked up, because my parents said they saw nothing of the sort. I was CONVINCED I’d seen a real ghost! (Until we went on it again)

  2. Marilea says:

    I couldn’t agree more; the Haunted Mansion is the best! It may be cliche, but my favourite part is the ballroom. I always hope the ride will stop right there, so I can see all the special effects and details. It hasn’t happened yet, but I haven’t given up hope! I’m also fascinated and terrified by the graveyard. It’s the perfect finale for this classic attraction.

  3. Brian says:

    My favorite memory was my first ride through. I was 10 years old and it was my first time ever in the parks and this was my first ride at WDW! I was 10 years old and terrified of haunted houses, so my anticipation got me shaking like crazy no matter how many times my dad and sister told me it wasnt going to be scary. We finally get into the streching room and I was still shaking and crying. When I saw the hanging though, that terrified me and I started to full out BAUL! We then proceeded to board our doom buggy and I was still nervous. for the most part of the ride, I stayed scared, but then we got to Leota’s room and I saw her floating ball and I stopped crying for a second and said, “WOAH! HOW THE HECK DID THEY DO THAT!?”. From there on, I was in awe of all of the spirits and spetcters and other special effects and when we got to the graveyard, I even started to laugh a bit! From there on, the Haunted Mansion stood to be one of my favorite WDW attractions and now, I have to go on it atleast three times each time I visit the parks! 🙂

  4. Mike Carriere says:

    The first time we went to WDW was waaay back in ’77. I was 7 at the time, but I knew the first ride I had to go on was the Haunted Mansion. For the previous six months, I had been listening to the 45 rpm read-along book of the Haunted Mansion,(remember those?) so I had the whole attraction memorised before even laying eyes on the front door. Once inside, though, seeing the real thing after having looked at those book illustrations for so long, it totally lived up to the expectations I had, and then some. I still vividly remember watching Gus perched on the top of the Doombuggy as the ride ended. We’re going in May, and I can’t wait to see how that part has been revamped. Only 114 more sleeps to go!

  5. LOVED this article…always great to find other HM fans that started their love around the same age I did, tho mine was for the original HM in Calif, the only one I have ever been lucky enough to visit…and it’s been over 15 yrs since I was last there…siiiigh..tho I have found a way to quench my thirst for all things HM…

    See, I came up with this idea for a dark ride …basically, it’s an ’empty’ attraction, which could change out different themes every few months…I call it ‘Mutual Attractions’, as it mutually benefits local business/charities and artists…

    I have not had access to a house or yard to haunt for well over 20 years (we live in an apartment, the wife and I) I have wanted to create a dark ride inspired by Disney’s HM since I was about 8 years old, back when my kid sister and I created ‘rides’ in our backyard (complete with fully operational animatronic figures, powered by record players, audio on cassettes and black light effects) which we pushed neighborhood kids through in a wheel barrow at 25 cents a head…

    Anyway, as I have no space to make a dark ride, I am currently creating several fully operational miniature scenes (and filming them) from the ‘Spectre Seekers: Daark Orphanage’ concept/script I came up with …

    You can see more on ‘Mutual Attractions’ and the ‘Daark Orphanage’ theme on my Facebook page, and website:


    …would love to hear what a fellow HM enthusiast thinks of the whole thing…and thanks again for a well written, entertaining article!

  6. Oh, and a note for Marilea:

    “It may be cliche, but my favourite part is the ballroom. I always hope the ride will stop right there, so I can see all the special effects and details…”

    You will LOVE this, then…(you’re welcome, LOL)…