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Guests Retreat from Haunted Mansion as Dated Preshow Garners Criticism

From Disneyland to the Walt Disney World Resort, The Haunted Mansion is one of the quintessential features at any of the Disney Parks, with one of the biggest fan followings amongst park hoppers. However, one of the most iconic scenes might be linked to a massive overflow at the Magic Kingdom.

A sign that reads "Haunted Mansion" in front of the white mansion holding the attraction of the same name at Disneyland Park.
Credit: Disney

The Haunted Mansion is a masterpiece of Disney Imagineering, as the ghoulish and delightful dark ride has lured fans into the realm of the supernatural since the original Disneyland attraction first opened. Even decades after its original operation date, the illusions, animatronics, and magic tricks that line the walls of the Gracey Manor continue to garner the sympathetic vibrations of hundreds each day.

Related: Hatbox Ghost Replaces Madame Leota

That said, the ride still operates primarily on vintage special effects. Although many of the ghosts and ghouls that haunt the halls of the mansion have aged remarkably well, one prominent feature of the Disney World variant is being called out by fans for disrupting the experience and forcing hundreds of guests to wait beyond the Mark Twain Riverboats.

Haunted Mansion Halts the Magic

Haunted Mansion exterior at night at Disney World's Magic Kingdom
Credit: Disney

Seasoned Disney World vets know that certain attractions are almost constantly in motion, the Haunted Mansion being one of them, thanks to its use of Disney’s patented Omnimover track system. Disney has greatly utilized this addition to literally “keep moving forward” on other attractions, such as Spaceship Earth or the Seas with Nemo and Friends at EPCOT, but the Manor is arguably the most popular.

Related: New Development Officially Uproots Disney’s Haunted Mansion

If a ride is continuously in motion, wait times should logically be more or less manageable. However, the Haunted Mansion fans point fingers at one of the attraction’s signature scenes for backing up crowds and stretching out wait times as much as it does the portrait gallery.

The Stretching Room

Stretching Room, Haunted Mansion movie
Credit: Disney

“Is this haunted room actually stretching, or is it your imagination?” The “Stretching Room” is part of the the Haunted Mansion’s famous and very quotable preshow, taking guests from the graveyard queue and into the opening chambers of the attraction.

As beloved as it is by the fanbase, many of those same fans are pointing out how it may be a fatal flaw for an otherwise incredible experience. A recent post on r/WaltDisneyWorld shared many complaints linked back to how stalling in the Stretching Room is responsible for much of the manor’s excessive wait times.

Related: Haunted Mansion Prepares To Close Its Doors, Fans Mourn Loss 

u/Status_Heat2959 asks on the subreddit if the reason for such a backed-up queue was due to the start-and-stop nature of the ride’s preshow, having simply walked on the attraction using a Lightning Lane. Naturally, the very vocal fanbase was all too quick to respond in the comments.

Ariel reaches out from the helm of ship at Journey of the Little Mermaid
Credit: Disney

u/brainkandy87 shares how the ride would presumably work sans preshow when they write,

“I mean, the ride itself is continuously moving with doom buggies filling the entire track. If there was no stretching room it would be similar to getting on Little Mermaid where the longest part of the wait is walking through the long queue.”

Just underneath, u/WorldlinessThat2984 points out the logistics of having the preshow and how it affects the attraction when they share,

“The combined capacity of the two stretching rooms when run appropriately should be roughly equivalent (if not slightly better) than the capacity of the ride itself (not dissimilar to the preshows for ToT and most other attractions with preshows at WDW). If the preshow is not fully loaded or takes too long to load/unload, it can cause backups, but otherwise, the stretching rooms should always provide enough guests to ensure all doom buggies leave with at least some guests. Unlike many other preshows which may be just videos and lighting effects, there is a mechanical factor with the stretching rooms which, if not functioning, may result in operations just making guests pass straight through the stretching rooms.”

Big Al at Country Bear Hall
Credit: Disney (Edited by Inside the Magic)

It’s this mechanical element that might give some guests pause, as recently reported malfunctions at the Disney World park continue to trouble fans of the original rides. After the Country Bear Jamboree performers practically died on stage, its enough to make some dedicated fans worry for other vintage attractions like their beloved manor.

Related: Yup! There Really Are Two Bathrooms in Liberty Square

While the mechanics and the status of the ride’s preshow does have a significant role to play in the increase in wait times, some users are blaming the Lightning Lane and Genie+ systems for the frequent holdups.

A sign that reads "lightning lane" in red letters on a white background. A clock is positioned next to the sign.
Credit: Five Fires via Twitter

u/lock_bearer mentions in their comment that the Lightning Lane users are bypassing guests in the standby line, making them wait even longer while they are ushered into the attraction. The user states,

“The reason for the long queue times is that [Lightning] Lane. Lightning Lane users push past stand-by user. Might have been empty when you arrived, because they all passes through already.”

To which u/Baaadbrad adds,

“Yeah, it’s honestly the only reason the line gets as long as it does. When they let people just flow through it without doing the preshow I’ve never seen the line even make it close to the entrance.”

It should be stated that crowds at the Disney parks rise and fall depending on factors like the time of day, the seasons, and special events, resulting in an influx or decrease in guest numbers. However, factors like preshows and Lightning Lanes are proving to play a much bigger role than some might realize.

Related: How ‘Haunted Mansion’ Connects to the Disney Parks

While the Haunted Mansion’s Stretching Room is certainly one of the more consistent Disney park preshows, reactions like those above might make some designers reconsider implementing them in future attractions. It all comes down to sacrificing immersion over action.

Do you think the preshows are turning problematic? 

This post Guests Retreat from Haunted Mansion as Dated Preshow Garners Criticism appeared first on Inside the Magic.

Zach Gass

Zach Gass is a writer from East Tennessee with a passion for all things under the Disney name. From Disney history to the careers of Mickey, Donald, and Goofy, Zach tries to keep his finger on the pulse of the mouse. While he would certainly love to see the parks around the globe, his home park will always be the Magic Kingdom of Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. When he's not rubbing elbows with Mickey, Zach enjoys reading fantasy novels, retro video games, theatre, puppetry, and the films of Tim Burton.

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2 thoughts on “Guests Retreat from Haunted Mansion as Dated Preshow Garners Criticism”

  1. It’s not just a “preshow” it’s an elevator. It takes you down so you can go through the ride. The mansion is built on an artificial hill and the show building is behind it and down out of sight.
    It’s a necessary part of the attraction. I was not mobile during my last Disney trip, and even the disability riders still go through the stretching room.

  2. Leave it alone ! Stop changing and eliminateing ” Classic” attractions. I saw all this stuff as a kid in ’73/74 , my children saw it through the ’90’s & early 2000’s, it would be nice for my grandchildren to experience what I did 50 or 60 years later….. it just rolls on to the next generation. If you’re getting board with anything, maybe you’re going to often.

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