Monday, July 06, 2009

Haunted Mansion

With our circuit of Disneyland by train complete, we continue back to the New Orleans Square station and disembark.

Okay, we have over two hours until our lunch reservation. Let’s see what we can do in that time.

I’d like for my parents to experience the classic attractions we got to see yesterday, especially Pirates of the Caribbean and the Jungle Cruise, but others of my crew would understandably like to continue on to do things we haven’t already done. Makes sense. There’s a great alternative available – the Haunted Mansion is right next door.

This is another classic Disney experience. And Brandon and I, the biggest of the Disney trivia buffs in our group, enjoy telling the others how this is the only attraction in multiple parks that is in a different themed land in each park: in Florida it is in the Magic Kingdom’s Liberty Square; here it is in New Orleans Square; and in Paris, as Phantom Manor, it is in Frontierland.

The Mansion here resembles a stately old plantation house. The queue is outdoors, something I’m noticing more and more on these older Disneyland attractions especially – once you’re indoors, you’re practically to the boarding area. It seems as if at Walt Disney World, after learning some lessons here, more accommodations for lengthy queues were made in the ride building construction.

The standby time is showing only 10 minutes. Wonderful! It turns out to be accurate, and we’re soon being shown into a stretching room. It’s awfully fun to watch my parents’ expressions as they enjoy the Ghost Host and the spooks of the Haunted Mansion for the first time. In fact, my kids have been to Disney enough that the wide-eyed wonder is a thing of the past. It’s kind of fun to see it again in the faces of my parents!

The stretching room is fun for a different reason for behind-the-scenes geeks like Brandon and me. We know that, unlike the Walt Disney World version of this attraction where the rooms just expand upward, these rooms are actually cleverly disguised, large elevators that are dropping us down a floor as they “stretch.” It’s another adept solution by the Imagineers to a problem of space. As pretty as the mansion itself is, the ride building is actually outside the berm, and the stretching room quickly but covertly puts us underground so that we can walk to the loading area, under the train tracks. Of course, we’re considerate not to detract from the other guests’ experience by pointing these things out.

When you enjoy learning about the tips and tricks that Disney employs to create these illusions – the busts that follow you, Pepper’s Ghosts, along with other tidbits like hidden Mickeys it can be a struggle whether to look for each of those things and examine them, or just to enjoy the experience as any other guest would. Somehow I usually find a good mix – noticing different special things the average guest might not, but still having a great time with the attraction.

All too quickly we find ourselves with a hitchhiking ghost in our car, and then it’s time to exit. Ah, yes, the sloped, moving sidewalk that gets us back up to street level – I remember this from last time.

Great fun, and not much different on the whole from its wonderful Florida counterpart. So... what do we do next?

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