The Haunted Mansion celebrated its 51st anniversary this week and I figured maybe I should write down my lifelong experience and struggle with this attraction; that I absolutely hated then grew to love.
When I was little, like maybe 7 I went to Disneyland with my cousin’s family. And my cousin made me promise to keep my eyes open the entire ride and if I didn’t I’d go to Hell (legit, that’s what she said). I looked around not knowing WHAT this ride was but saw that there was “creepy” music, a freakin graveyard that my little 7 year old mind thought was real and workers that looked like if I sceamed for help they sure as hell wouldn’t help me.
So I get on the ride, sharing a buggy with my mom and she’s like “look!” and I had my eyes covered SOBBING cause I was so scared. I knew at some point a ghost pops up behind you and the freakin narrator and his “and a ghost will follow you home” shit wasn’t helping. We met up with my brother who I think was with my dad or my other cousin and he was like, crying.
And I never spoke about that ride or EVER got back on it.
Fast forward to Grad Night 2003, we got to Disneyland (which is literally a shock since I went to a Continuation High School) and I spend the trip with my really good friend Adam. Adam was one of the more goth kids and he would frequently read my Tarot reading (to which my ex husband who was then just my friend would ear hustle and every time a sword came up he was like “which actually means, you’re gonna die” and Adam would have to calm me down and convince me he was lying. We were a happy group of friends, seriously).
So Adam wanted to get on the Haunted Mansion and he was supper supportive and super understanding about me refusing to go on coasters and stuff so I agree to get on and I told him I never open my eyes during this ride. So we get on and I have my eyes covered and he’s like “just look at this ONE scene, it’s not scary” and so I look and it’s the ballroom scene; and studdenly I’m captivated by the images of people who once were twirling and celebrating. And the two up top trying to kill each other. I continued to keep my eyes open and you know what? It really really was not that bad.
Only took me till I was 18 to get over my fear. That’s the funny thing about fear; it can manifest itself quickly. But also as a kid I was extremely afraid of anything having to do with the afterlife, anything supernatural and with Hell. My ex husband slowly broke me out of those fears (and now ironically he’s “saved” and a “child of God”, yeah ok wanna be Grim Reaper, whatever you say).
When I started going to Disneyland on my own, the first time being when I was 23 I think for Christmas I’d get on the Haunted Mansion. I was too busy being scared all those years that it took me till I was 23 to realize they fix up THM for The Nightmare Before Christmas and it QUICKLY became one of my favorite attraction things EVER. But sadly they only do it at Disneyland and not Disney World, boo.
As the years went on I got on Haunted Mansion every chance I got; it being the first thing I go on. Even when I worked at Disney World and would park hop on my days off, Mansion was always the first place I’d go. And tbh, it’s the perfect attraction to get on on those suuuuper hot Orlando days, trust me.
In 2011 I did my first Disney College Program at Walt Disney World. And tbh it was the first time I had ever 1) been to Florida and 2) EVER been to Disney World. It had been a life long DREAM to go to Disney World but my ex always said it was too expensive, we’re too broke, maybe for our honeymoon which none of those things happened so I said fuck it. I’m getting to Disney World ON MY OWN. And I did.
During my program I got deployed from Downtown Disney Marketplace to Downtown Disney West Side; a friend of mine would set up backstage tours for us. I managed to do 2: Haunted Mansion and Fantasmic.
Being able to do a backstage tour of Haunted Mansion (even though it required me to get up at 4am… but so did some of my favorite people so we all suffered together) was a literal dream come true for me. It was sooo amazing to be able to WALK the halls, to be able to touch the mannequins of those ghostly images twirling and dancing that captivated me all those years ago. To just STEP in that ballroom and the ability to take a closer look at everything on the table. To learn all the little things, details and names of everything that the Cast Members came up with. And just to hear the story and the history if it all.
And it was that day I fell in love with the bride who kills her husbands. She is creepy as fuck and she literally creeps me out, but I love her, SO MUCH.
My friend Justin always talks about my pose in this pic. We were suppose to “look scared” and Justin is always like “Why does Hazel got the happiest scared face?!”
Before I was a Cast Member I was highly obsessed with the historical aspect of Disney parks. I knew so many random little facts about Disneyland (that I’ve now forgotten). And working for Disney fed that love of mine for many years. But that’s a diff story.
I collect a number of Disney toys. Mostly vinyl’s. I got lucky and got The Bride on the first try of Part Starz in 2012. Sadly my mom can’t seem to find her and it’s stressing me out lol. I only collect The Bride (I know she has a name, but I can’t spell it right now) and Madame Leota! I have TsumTsum plushies to Funko Pops, I just don’t know where they are right now but when I find them, I’ll edit this post. Just to make myself feel better lol.
My history with this attraction always cracks me up when I think back; I understand why child me was afraid of it. It is pretty creepy when you don’t know what’s happening or what’s going on. Teenage me was a paranoid and superstitious person (I got it from my mama. No, seriously); thank you to my friend Adam for being so understanding and so patient with my scared ass and trying to make the experience a happy one for me! If he had never asked me to get on it with him I would had never gotten over my fear and that just seems so tragic!
I do hope to raise Tums going on this ride as well; maybe she won’t be scared. Maybe she will. But I’ll remind her the ghost who follows us home is a good ghost. And probably so distracted he’ll eventually stop following us.
Do you get on the Haunted Mansion? If not what’s your favorite Disney parks attraction?