When I was five, I learned my fight response was stronger than flight.
I was riding the Haunted Mansion at Disney World next to Nanny, my grandmother.
There’s a part of the ride where you see Pepper’s Ghost illusion. You look in a mirror and see a ghost riding along in your Doom Buggy. My instinct was to fight.
So, I whistled a punch toward where Pepper’s smiling visage should have been. No ghost was actually there. And luckily, no nannies were harmed in the event.
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Is Disney World haunted?
Like, actually haunted? No. If you ride a Disney ride, you will encounter nothing but foolish mortals.
We have no evidence to indicate that any part of Disney is haunted. Despite all the reality television shows trying to convince us otherwise, we have no real evidence of the existence of ghosts or ghouls or goblins around the park.
What part of Disney is haunted?
All right. Let’s speculate on whether or not Disney World is haunted. If spirits did linger in the corporeal world of the Magic Kingdom, I think there are three likely spots where they would be.
1. Pirates of the Caribbean (Adventureland, Magic Kingdom)
The first place, I’d guess, is the Pirates of the Caribbean. Not for the cheesy construction worker named George’s ghost story – who legend has it, met his end while working on the ride.
But because both the Disney World ride and the ride in Disneyland once used real human remains for some of the skulls and skeletons in the ride.
This was more so in Disneyland than Disney World. But for years, if you rode the Pirates of the Caribbean ride, you rode past real human bones.
2. Tom Sawyer Island (Frontierland, Magic Kingdom)
There isn’t strong evidence here, but some guests have reported a spooky feeling when walking around the caves on Tom Sawyer Island.
3. The Haunted Mansion (Liberty Square, Magic Kingdom)
Finally, the Haunted Mansion. It just makes sense. If you’re a ghost looking to go incognito in the most magical place on Earth, you’re going to stand out in the Tiki Room or on the ride It’s a Small World.
But in Haunted Mansion?
A ghost could dance through the ballroom scene, grab a seat in a Doom Buggy or help welcome guests from the Pet Cemetery and everyone would just think Disney added a new character.
But otherwise, why would the Haunted Mansion be haunted? It has been the final resting place for some remains – at least temporarily.
Through the years, people have reportedly attempted to discreetly drop their relatives’ cremains on the ride. Disney does not allow this, for the record. So has anyone been successful or have any of those cremains remained? It’s hard to say.
Is Haunted Mansion appropriate for kids?
Yes. But that being said, you know your kids better than I do.
Is the idea of a character like George Hightower encountering a hatchet enough to creep them out? Will they be bothered by dancing ghosts and silly ghosts and somewhat spooky ghosts? I would say appropriateness varies greatly depending on the rider.
For example, my oldest wouldn’t ride for years. The middle child talked himself into riding with some older kids and regretted it immensely. My youngest? Not really bothered by it at all.
How scary is the Haunted Mansion?
In general? Not very. There’s no blood or a lot of ghouls or jump scares.
However, they do set a creepy tone that can affect kids with active imaginations and a tendency to be scared.
The music, the stretching room and Paul Frees’ Ghost Host voiceover can be creepy. If you or your kids are susceptible to that kind of thing, maybe take a pass.
That’s what got my JP and, if I’m being honest, what got me when I was his age. We were both psyched out before we ever set foot on the Doom Buggies.
It’s like the chainsaw guy who is a high school student under that mask, yet you manage to be scared anyway, but with projections of fancy Victorian-era ghosts.
I mean, if confronted by Madame Leota’s head in a floating crystal ball in normal circumstances or other illusions of that ilk, I think my son can laugh it off.
But after going through the pre-show, he was ready to say good night before the ride said good morning.
As a note, many think the host is Vincent Price.
Nope. It’s my man Paul Frees, though you’d be forgiven if you thought it was Thurl Ravenscroft who is also heard in the ride and sang the classic song “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch.”
Is the Haunted Mansion in Liberty Square or Fantasyland?
It’s in different lands in different Walt Disney World parks.
The Mansion at Walt Disney World Resort is in Liberty Square, but Fantasyland is adjacent.
In the Disneyland Resort, it’s in New Orleans Square and in Tokyo Disneyland, the Haunted House attraction is in Fantasyland.
In Disneyland Paris, the somewhat darker Phantom Mansion is in Frontierland.
Which is scarier, Tower of Terror or Haunted Mansion?
In general terms, I think the Tower of Terror in Hollywood Studios is scarier even if you remove the prospect of the drop.
Does the Haunted Mansion have an Individual Lightning Lane?
No. But it is one of the rides available for a Lightning Lane if you purchase Disney Genie+.
Is there a secret side to Disney World?
It depends on who you ask. Oh, you’re asking me?
Yes, I’d say there’s a secret side of Disney, but it’s not nefarious or occult or anything. And for the record, I’m passing on a Ron DeSantis joke here.
It’s logistical. It’s the underneath world of caverns and tunnels that allow cast members and characters to move throughout the park without being seen.
The Magic Kingdom park is built on the second story, which is why you walk up an incline as you go into the park. Walt Disney World was not built on one of the few hills in Central Florida, but rather on top of a first story designed to service the park, mostly in secret without the guests noticing.
And there’s another secret side as well. It has to do with dimension – not in a “Twilight Zone” kind of way. Instead, it has to do with the dimension of the attractions like the Haunted Mansion or Pirates of the Caribbean.
For example, I once saw an overhead image of the Haunted Mansion. From Liberty Square, all you see is the elaborate facade of the ride, the massive entrance. But from above? It looks like a big box store.
It looks like somebody stuck a Kmart behind the Haunted Mansion. However, that building hosts the majority of the ride.
Do you think Disney is haunted? How so? Let us know in the comments.