The Haunted Mansion in Disneyland is the original version of the ride. It opened on August 9th, 1969. Since then, people have come everyday to meet its 999 Happy Haunts. In 2001, a special overlay of the ride debuted, known as Haunted Mansion Holiday, which combined the setting of the Haunted Mansion with characters and themes from Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas.
Entering the queuing area through a pair of ornate gates, guests find themselves in the mansion's well-tended gardens and courtyards. The queuing path leads guests past a pet cemetery, a mausoleum with pun names, and a white carriage hearse led by an invisible horse. The path leads guests onto the porch, where they are led into the mansion's foyer by somber house servants.
The guests are then ushered into an octagonal portrait gallery and encouraged by the staff to move into the "dead center" of the room. As the wall behind them slides closed, the Ghost Host introduces himself with an eerie voice:
“Welcome, foolish mortals, to the Haunted Mansion. I am your host – your ‘ghost host.’"
As the Ghost Host continues his narration, the room begins to "stretch." The portraits on the walls elongate, revealing morbidly comedic fates of previous guests:
- A bearded gentleman holding a document is revealed to be wearing only his undergarments from the waist down and standing atop a lit keg of dynamite with a "Danger" sign posted at the bottom.
- A pretty young lady holding a parasol is revealed to be balancing on a fraying tightrope above the gaping jaws of an alligator.
- An old woman holding a rose is revealed to be sitting atop a tall gravestone, at the bottom of which is a stone bust of her husband George with a hatchet embedded in his head.
- A man in a bowler hat is revealed to be sitting on the shoulders of another man, who sits on the shoulders of a third man who is waist-deep in quicksand. Note that the "Quicksand" sign appears at the bottom of the gentleman in the grey suit.
“...And consider this dismaying observation: this chamber has no windows and no doors... which offers you this chilling challenge: to find a way out! Of course, there's always my way...”
With a sudden thunderclap, the lights go out and the ceiling vanishes, revealing the cupola above. Hanging from a noose tied to the rafters is the skeletal corpse of the Ghost Host, illuminated by flashes of lightning. After a few seconds, the room becomes pitch black and a dreadful scream is heard, followed by the sound of bones shattering. As the lights come back on, a wall mysteriously opens.
Guests are then led down by a hall of portraits. As lightning flashes from the windows on the left wall, the portraits on the opposite wall transform into images of corpses and monsters. At the far end of the hall, two statuary busts depicting a man and a woman are stationed. As the guests move past, these two statues appear to turn and follow them with their gaze.
Next, guests step into a dark and misty loading area, where they are guided to their carriages, or "Doom Buggies." The Ghost Host lowers the safety bars, provides a short safety spiel, and the journey begins. The Doom Buggies glide upstairs to the second floor and point guests toward a hallway with no apparent end. A candelabra can be seen floating in the distance of the misty passage. Near the entrance stands a haunted, moving suit of armor.
Turning away from the endless hall, guests travel past a conservatory filled with dead, withered plants and flowers. In the middle of the room is a coffin occupied by a restless "guest" attempting to get out. Perched near the coffin is a black, cawing raven with glowing red eyes.
The Doom Buggies continue down a corridor lined with doors. The sounds of pounding, screeching, calls for help, and maniacal laughter can be heard. Door knockers and handles are moved by unseen hands, and some doors appear to be "breathing." The walls, covered in demon-faced wallpaper, are adorned with daguerreotypes of corpses and a large painting of the Ghost Host. A demonic grandfather clock chimes 13 as the hands spin wildly backwards, and the shadow of a claw passes over it.
Guests enter a dark séance room full of floating musical instruments. Madame Leota, a medium whose disembodied head appears within a crystal ball, summons the mansion's spirits while levitating above her table. Madame Leota recites her incantaions:
"Serpents and spiders, tail of a rat/Call in the spirits, wherever they're at./Rap on a table, it's time to respond/Send us a message from somewhere beyond./Goblins and ghoulies from last Halloween/Awaken the spirits with your tambourine./Creepies and crawlies, toads in a pond/Let there be music from regions beyond./Wizards and witches wherever you dwell/Give us a hint by ringing a bell."
Next, guests pass onto the balcony of a magnificent ballroom where the happy haunts begin to materialize. A ghostly birthday party appears to be taking place at the dining table. Some spirits sit on the chandeliers, gorging themselves on wine, while other ghosts enter the hall from an open coffin in a hearse. A ghost wraps his arm around a woman bust, and two portraits of men with guns come to life, dueling with their pistols. A ghost plays an organ.
The attic is an irregularly shaped room that the Doom Buggies enter immediately after the ballroom scene. It features a collection of gifts, personal items, mementos, and wedding portraits. In each portrait, the same bride is featured with a different groom, whose heads disappear to the accompaniment of a hatchet sound. Eagle-eyed guests may notice that with each successive photograph, the bride gains another string of pearls. Just before the Doom Buggies leave the attic, Constance Hatchaway is seen floating in the air, intoning macabre wedding vows. As she raises her arms, a hatchet appears in her hands.
After this Guests exit onto a ramshackle balcony stocked with five hatboxes where a ghastly looking spirit holding a hatbox chuckles as his head disappears and reappears inside of his hatbox.
The Doom Buggies drift off the balcony, turn around, and tip backwards down a 15% grade which is surrounded by dark, ghoulish trees with knotted expressions. On a branch overhead, a raven caws at the guests while they fall in reverse which will take them to a graveyard.
The Doom Buggies reach the ground, and turn towards the gate of the graveyard. There stands a caretaker, one of the few living characters in the entire attraction, his knees shaking in fright and an expression of terror on his face. Beside him is his emaciated dog, Bones is whining and whimpering. Around the corner, a ghostly band of minstrels plays a jazzy rendition of "Grim Grinning Ghosts".
Ghouls pop up from behind tombstones, a king and queen balance on a teeter-totter, a duchess swings back and forth from a tree branch, and a skeletal hellhound howls from behind them. The Doom Buggies travel down a hill and turn to see five singing busts continuing the song of "Grim Grinning Ghosts."
Next, guests encounter a tea party of ghosts surrounding a hearse stuck in the mud. An arm protrudes out of a crypt with a wine glass in its bony hand, while banshees ride bikes in the distance. Nearby, the ghost of a hearing-impaired old spirit struggles to understand the words of an awakened mummy through a hearing horn.
The Doom Buggies turn to face two "phantoms of the opera," blasting their voices up into the night. Beside them are three other ghosts — a German-accented decapitated knight, his executioner, and a gravelly-voiced prisoner — who also join in the song.
Guests pass a spirit bricking himself into his own tomb and enter a crypt where they encounter the Hitchhiking Ghosts. Passing by large mirrors, guests discover that one of the trio has hitched a ride in their Doom Buggies. The last apparition guests see as they exit the mansion is a tiny, female spectral figure, who encourages them to:
“Hurry back... be sure to bring your death certificate, if you decide to join us. Make final arrangements now. We've been ‘dying’ to have you…”