The “Haunted Mansion” attraction is a classic Disney ride that first opened in 1969 at Disneyland, CA and has since been opened at almost every Disney park worldwide. The attraction has guests riding through a haunted house and encountering various spooky effects and gags, with the story of the ride being that the ghost owner of the house is giving you a tour through his mansion.
The Disney parks have announced that they are planning to make some exterior changes to this attraction. This ride resides in a land known as New Orleans Square, which Disney is also planning on giving some upgrades to, as well as a new ride titled “Tiana’s Bayou Adventure”, which will be themed around a Louisiana Bayou.
In January of 2024, Disneyland plans to begin construction on a revamped queue and gift shop for their “Haunted Mansion” attraction. The new queue will be expanded and include an awning, like the one featured in Disney World’s Haunted Mansion queue, and more expansive pre-show elements that will set the tone and story for the ride inside.
“The expanded queue will tie into these stories and more, including new gardens inspired by Master Gracey, Madame Leota, and the one-eyed cat,” the Disney Parks blog says regarding the new queue expansion.
Additionally, a new gift shop outside of the exit crypt of the attraction will be built alongside the new queue. This gift shop will be themed around one of the ride’s main characters, Madame Leota, and will replace what is now a small merchandise stand.
Over in Disney World, that Haunted Mansion attraction will also be getting a new addition, the legendary character of the Hatbox Ghost. The Hatbox Ghost made his appearance in Disneyland’s Mansion in 2015, after making a brief appearance when the ride first opened in 1969, and was shrouded in mystery ever since until he was brought back to Disneyland. Now, Disney World will get their Hatbox Ghost for the first time, and he will be featured in the endless hallway scene of the ride. However, while the Hatbox Ghost has been a long-awaited addition to Disney World’s Mansion, some Haunted Mansion fans are upset at where he will appear within the ride.
The reason that fans are upset is that they believe it conflicts with the story of the ride, as the endless hallway scene comes before Madame Leota’s séance scene where she summons the spirits and allows riders to see the ghosts. “I’m sad to see you folks choosing a location for Hatbox Ghost which contradicts the story of the ride. I wish you would reconsider. I’ve written an entire book on this attraction and it sad to see it being so badly disrespected” said Twitter user “Passport To Dreams”. Another social media user, this time on the YouTube platform, a channel named Offhand Disney has claimed that Disney’s “excuse” for this controversial placement is due to one line in the attraction. In the ride, the Ghost Host narrator says after Madame Leota’s scene, “The happy haunts have received your sympathetic vibrations and are beginning to materialize.” According to Offhand Disney, Disney is claiming that the Hatbox Ghost character appears before this occurs because the character is not a “happy” haunt.
Finally, Disneyland has also announced that they will be adding new aesthetic changes to New Orleans Square, which is the area of the park where the Haunted Mansion resides. These new overall design changes will tie in more with an upcoming attraction named Tiana’s Bayou Adventure, and a newly opened restaurant named Tiana’s Palace. Both of these new experiences are themed after the 2009 film The Princess and the Frog, however the design changes to New Orleans Square also tie into the Haunted Mansion, as the Mansions exterior façade is themed after a Louisiana mansion near the bayou area. To go into more detail, these new aesthetic changes to the land will include more accurate trees that would be found in a Louisiana Bayou, such as weeping willows and more lush plant life that is accurate to that area of America. Most of these aesthetic changes will be near the Haunted Mansion attraction and the newly opened Tiana’s Palace restaurant that is right across from the aforementioned ride.
These new plans for the parks have caused both excitement, and outrage from numerous fans. The question is, will Disney address the controversies, or continue on with their upgrades?