I LOVE the Haunted Mansion. It is one of my favourite Disney rides and I love the different versions that I've been on.
It's one of the few Disney attractions that seems to shift "lands" every time it's built. At Disneyland it's in New Orleans Square, at the Magic Kingdom it's in Liberty Square, at Disneyland Paris it's in Frontierland and at Tokyo Disneyland it's somewhat bizarrely in Fantasyland.
If you're ever in Disneyland from mid-November to early January I recommend visiting the Haunted Mansion there because Master Gracey invites Jack Skellington to visit for the season and the effect is spectacular.
Everything about the attraction is an example of how talented the Disney Imagineers are. Obviously the ride itself is amazing but the exterior of the building (s), the queue areas, the pre-show areas and the stretching room are all fabulous pieces of storytelling. I've yet to see the recent additions to the WDW queue and ride finale but if they're anything like the changes made in 2007 then I can't wait. Another awesome thing is that even a lot of the backstage areas are themed too. The "servants quarters" actually have bells so that Master Gracey can call his servants!
When I first saw Phantom Manor (The Disneyland Paris version) I was taken aback by just how much the building looked like Norman Bates' house in Psycho. Unfortunately the last time I was there was a little before digital cameras had come of age so I've had to make do with a photo of the actual house from Psycho but I'm sure you get the idea. Speaking of the Bates' house it doesn't look quite so scary when you see it from this angle...
I'm probably one of the few people that actually liked The Haunted Mansion movie. Well, when I say "liked" what I mean is I liked all the bits that didn't involve Eddie Murphy and the terrible acting. There were so many references to the attraction it was crazy. To be honest any film that features Madame Leota's head in a crystal ball has my vote!
If you ever take the "Keys to the Kingdom" tour of the Magic Kingdom then you'll get to hear some of the awesome things about the Haunted Mansion. Unfortunately I took the tour in 2007 which meant that section was skipped due to the Mansion being refurbished.
There's some great trivia associated with the Haunted Mansion. Lots of people are convinced that Walt Disney is one of the singing busts (False) and apparently a fair few guests have tried to scatter their loved ones ashes on the ride (I don't recommend it, they just get cleaned up!), and the voice of Constance (the Black Widow) is provided by the same person that voiced Dee Dee in Dexter's Laboratory!
Next time: Old Man River