The 5 Spookiest Theme Park Attractions in Orange County (No. 3)

Want to scare yourself silly this October? Then join me for OC Metroblog’s five-part series, featuring the scariest, most demented, creepiest theme park attractions in our neck of the woods. It’s just in time for Halloween!

Number Three: Haunted Mansion


You knew this attraction was going to be in the series somewhere. I’m guessing you didn’t place it at number three though. Sacrilege? Maybe. What in gay hell could possibly be coming in higher on the list than Disneyland’s venerable haunted house attraction? Patience is a virtue my friends.

1962 saw the arrival of Gracey Manor, better known as Haunted Mansion, in Disneyland’s New Orleans Square. The majestic estate would sit vacant but not derelict for seven long years before Guests would eventually be able to get a glimpse of the horrors (and delights) waiting inside. What took so long? Were the ghosts so violent and unruly that the place was condemned before the doors even opened? The truth is much less exciting. Ghosts have never been very fond of things like budgets, red tape and corporate maladies.

Anyway, after stumbling – or being pushed – into a strange octagonal room just past the Mansion’s foyer, you’ll find yourself surrounded by several paintings of former tenants; a gallery of sorts. Before you know it the narrator, your Ghost Host, clues you into the fact that the room you occupy is actually ethereally stretching. And hey how come there are no doors in this place? If you’re like many first-time visitors to the mansion, you consider asking the person standing next to you just how in the name of all that is decent and holy you’re supposed to get out of here alive! Before the words can pass your lips, the lights are doused and a visual display of what happens to nosey tourists appears overhead… hanging by a noose no less. Check please.

Everyone run for your lives! After you magically escape the stretching hall of death you make your way to… an Omnimover. Whew. It’s just a ride after all. Nothing can hurt you right? Probably not, but my advice is to stay clear of any throbbing doors, don’t play any enchanted musical instruments and for heaven’s sake keep your balls peeled for a mad women carrying an ax. If you do make it out in one piece (pun intended), check your Doom Buggy for any unwelcome ghosts who may want to tag along with you. They have a nasty habit of trying to hitch a ride into the mortal world by any means necessary.

So why does it make the top five? Well there are 999 ghosts for starters. That’s a lot of dead people. Of course there is always room for one more. In all reality, if this list had been assembled five years ago, you probably would have seen Haunted Mansion ringing the death knell in slot number four. However, in it’s current concoction, Mansion edges out The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror due to the presence of a deranged ax-wielding bride named Constance. Nothing like a good decapitation (or ten) to cap off a day at the Magic Kingdom no?

Constance the murderous bride, is a relatively new addition. As detailed in a long-ago post by yours truly, the old manor has seen some really spooky upgrades lately. When the new version of the bride looks at you, raises her ax and says “ I do… and I did”, you get the distinct impression she’s not kidding around. The woman is a black widow who takes the lives of her husbands one after the other after the other. She loves them in “sickness and unhealth”, a fact that her personal gallery of headless wedding portraits heralds loud and clear.

Haunted Mansion oscillates between fright and whimsy with ease and grace. Your little ones will be scared only for a moment before finding something to chuckle about. The graveyard sequence in particular brings some much needed brevity to a rather morbid affair. These aren’t mean ghosts. Actually, they appear to be a bunch of drunks and party animals! Right on, sign me up.

Finally, the old attraction employs every awesome visual trick in the book. The grand ballroom scene remains a fan favorite and a signature sequence in the attraction. The technology used to bring the transdimensional dancers to life death is decidedly low-tech but remains one of the most effective, remembered and captivating elements of any ride in any park anywhere. The durability and repeatability of Haunted Mansion is a testament of it’s success. As the bride says upon your exit, “Hurry baaaaaaack. Hurry back and don’t forget your death certificate. We’re just dying to have you.”

[Click here to read the Number Four pick for The 5 Spookiest Theme Park Attractions in Orange County]

3 Comments so far

  1. Dave Share (daveshare) on October 17th, 2008 @ 3:09 pm

    So, you have my attention, because (with the exception of the long-dead Superstar Limo) I can’t imagine anything scarier than the Haunted Mansion. Especially when the halls are decked with the Christmalloween decorations (I really, really love Haunted Mansion Holiday).

    Now you’ve got my brain wheels spinning.

  2. Jon (oc_jon) on October 18th, 2008 @ 8:21 am

    I love Haunted Mansion Holiday! However, it didn’t make the list. It’s far too merry to be spooky! :)

    So what could the other two be hmmmmmmmmm?

  3. The 5 Spookiest Theme Park Attractions in Orange County (No. 2) | Orange County Metblogs (pingback) on October 27th, 2008 @ 11:40 pm

    […] [Click here to read the Number Three pick for The 5 Spookiest Theme Park Attractions in Orange County] […]

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