One of my all-time favorite rides at Disney World is the Haunted
Mansion. Located in Liberty Square, the mansion looks over the square
from a hill. The atmosphere is just spooky enough to be fun and the cast
members are to die for. Each Disney park around the world has a Haunted Mansion
ride themed to the area of the park. The exterior of the Mansion in
Disney World is styled after the Gothic mansions of the northeast.
The queue for the Haunted Mansion was always fun, but the new
interactive queue is wonderful. You approach the mansion through wonderfully Gothic gates, adorned with bats. A horse-drawn
hearse, with an invisible horse, has been parked in front of the Mansion,
as if waiting for a funeral. As you near the entrance to the Mansion, you have a
choice of paths. One leads directly to the Mansion, a good idea if
you're in a hurry. The other leads to the cemetery, full of crypts and
headstones to play with. I know it sounds kind of morbid, but I love the
cemetery! All of the headstones from the old cemetery have been moved
to this new area, including the Madame Leota stone. The old headstones,
including Leota, are all references to the original Disney Imagineers
who created the Haunted Mansion. When you find Leota, be sure to watch
her face closely for a slightly creepy surprise.
are several new busts in the cemetery, each alluding to the death of a
member of the family who lived in the Mansion. As you continue on,
you'll pass a giant crypt covered in stone instruments. Be sure to touch
them as each one changes the music coming from the crypt. At the end of
the crypt is an organ keyboard, a Ravenscroft. Thurl Ravenscroft, the
voice of Tony the Tiger, is the main singer of the classic Disney song
"Grim, Grinning Ghosts." Play a few notes on the organ for a soggy
surprise. On the other side of the crypt, the instruments have been
warped. Touching them will make the music sound strange and off-key. Next up is the grave of Master Gracey, one of the
original ghosts. As you round the corner, you will see the massive watery tomb of Captain Culpepper
Clyne. Beware touching his dismal grave! The final tomb is that of a poetess who's tomb says "Her plaintive pleas can still be
heard 'O Muse, provide the perfect word!'" You can hear her trying out different words as she attempts to complete her final poem. Both sides of her tomb are
covered in books that pop in and out and can be pushed. As you pass the
back of Captain Clyne's tomb, be sure to peak over the fence and see if
you can spot the Bride's ring in the pavement. The ring used to be a fun Disney myth, but when they built the new cemetery section, they added a real ring to the concrete.
The Bride's ring can be difficult to spot.
Upon exiting the cemetery, you will enter the Mansion and a cast member
will direct you into the antechamber. The antechamber features a
fireplace with a changing portrait on the mantle. When the next door
opens, you will move into the dead center of the Stretching Room. Your
"Ghost Host" will give you a glimpse of what's to come. the room begins
to stretch, revealing the true nature of the portraits and a spooky
surprise. The Stretching Room can be rather frightening for young
children. The darkness and screams can be quite shocking if you're not expecting it. Bean would
always close her eyes and cover her ears in this room until she was about 7 years
As you exit the Stretching Room, you will enter a very crowded
area that funnels down to single file as you enter your Doombuggy. Be sure to keep hold of your party as it is easy to become separated in this room.
Each Doombuggy can holdup to two adults and one child comfortably. Once safely inside, sit back and enjoy the ride, and be sure
to turn off your camera as bright lights frighten the ghosts.
The evil Bride herself
are 15 rooms in the Haunted Mansion, including a portrait gallery with
changing pictures, a library, a room full of MC Escher type stairs, long
hallways of creaking doors and spooky eyes, and a funeral parlor. A giant, demonic grandfather clock, with clawed hands and 13 hours, winds backward as you glide by. You pass through Madame Leota's seance room, which I think is one of the best in
the Mansion. Leota's head appears in a crystal ball that floats above
the table as she conducts her seance. The special effect of her floating head is absolutely
fantastic! As you glide past the Ballroom, be on the lookout for hidden
Mickeys. You'll find one on the table of the birthday party. In the
past, if you rode through with the Pal Mickey doll, he shivered and said
something about there being ghosts over by the organ.
After you exit the Ballroom, you'll enter the Attic, home of Constance,
the black-widow Bride. This is probably the creepiest part of the ride
as Constance seems truly evil with her smirking comments, glowing heart,
and magically appearing hatchet. The last room is the most fun: the
Cemetery. Here the music changes to "Grim Grinning Ghosts" and the mood
is lighter. Keep an eye out for the groundskeeper Dick O'Dell and his
frightened dog, and the singing busts. the broken bust is Thurl
Ravenscroft. As you exit the cemetery, your Ghost Host will warn you to "Beware of hitchhiking ghosts." There are new hitchhiking ghost effects with several different possibilities. These include a ghost that swaps the heads of the passengers in your Doombuggy. That one is Bean's favorite. Once you've acquired a ghost, you'll
see a mini Leota waving and calling out "Hurry Back! Be sure to bring
your Death Certificate!"
After exiting your Doombuggy, be sure to take a moment to view the
crypts outside to your left. All of Bluebeard's wives have been entombed
together, which is rather funny if you know the story. We love the
epitaph, "Six of them were faithful, but the seventh did him in!" Just
past Bluebeard's tomb is the pet cemetery. Be on the lookout for Mr.
Toad of Toad Hall, a reference to a ride that no longer exists at Disney
World. And there's a fun new photo opportunity, too. As the epitaph
says, "These stately headstones represent two friends lost by accident.
Side by Side their heads repose. Where's the rest? No one knows."
The Haunted Mansion is always fun, but some special magic occurs during Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party. You can have your photo taken near the hearse. After some Disney PhotoPass magic,
a ghostly driver will be added to your photo. This is the only time of
year that you can get this special photo. Also during the party, one of
the ghosts will sit on the lawn near the queue and tell stories of her
life and death. It's a fun, spooky twist on Disney storytime.
The Haunted Mansion is a great not-too-spooky ride. With the new
interactive queue, it's a great place for a little ghostly fun. And
remember, the Haunted Mansion is home to 999 Happy Haunts, but there's
always room for one more...
Have you seen the new line of Disney Villain fabrics at Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores? It is totally wild and yet an absolute must have for the Villain lover. My sister and I each bought a yard of the two different fabrics that were available at our local store. Apparently, there are five different fabrics, but they are selling out quickly. The online store only has one left at the moment, but they may have more in stock before Halloween. I certainly hope so, because I really want them all!
I love this lavender and gray fabric with each villain separate and a quote from her story. It has images of the Evil Queen, Cruella DeVil, Ursula, and my favorite, Maleficent.
This dark purple fabric features Maleficent, the Evil Queen, and Cruella and says "Love to be Bad." The color is gorgeous and I really like the stylized look of the Villains.
The hot pink fabric with purple smoke and lace accents says "Fashionably Bad." It again features Cruella, the Evil Queen, and Maleficent. It's a rather bold background with the Villains in simple, somewhat muted, colors.
The final fabric is my least favorite of the collection. It's rather creepy with each of the Villains faces wearing a bleeding red lipstick and smeary eyeliner. The background is a pale pink and gray damask with the faces of the Evil Queen, Cruella, Ursula, and Maleficent. It is also the only one that it still available on the website. If you think this fabric is a must have, be sure to order soon. It's currently on sale for $5.99 a yard.
My favorite place to eat at the Animal Kingdom is the Flame Tree BBQ. In
my opinion, they have the best barbecue of any Disney park. Located on
Discovery Island near the bridge to Dinoland, Flame Tree BBQ is open for
lunch and dinner.
At Flame Tree, the portions are very generous. If you order one meal and
an appetizer, such as the onion rings, it is easily enough food for two
to share. I usually get the 1/2 slab of St. Louis ribs, which comes
with baked beans and coleslaw. They used to have the biggest and best cornbread muffins
I've ever had, but sadly, they aren't always available. However, it's still a great deal at $11.69. It's definitely one of the
better dining values at Disney. My family and I have tried about half
the menu and loved everything.
Here's an overview of the great food available at Flame Tree:
$11.69 1/2 Slab St. Louis Ribs, baked beans, and coleslaw
$10.49 1/2 Chicken (Smoked), baked beans, and coleslaw
$9.19 Pork Sandwich and coleslaw
$15.19 Ribs and Chicken Combo, baked beans, and coleslaw
$9.19 Smoked Chicken Salad with mixed greens, pinto and garbanzo beans,
tortilla chips, and chipotle ranch dressing
$9.19 Smoked Turkey Breast Sandwich on multi-grain bread with
$11.79 Jumbo Turkey Leg and coleslaw
$9.79 Turkey Leg
$3.99 Onion Ring Basket
The kids meal options start at $5.49 and include:
Baked Chicken Drumstick, Hot Dog, Chicken Sandwich, or PB&J
the usual sides - grapes, carrots, yogurt, cookies
and a drink
There are three different barbecue sauces, which are absolutely
fantastic, as well as ketchup and other condiments, available at the
condiment cart. The usual Coke products are available here as well as
cocoa, coffee, hot tea, Bud Light, Safari Amber, three different
wines, and a new drink: Mandarin Orange Vodka Lemonade.
The barbecue sauce from Flame Tree is so popular, that they receive
requests for the recipe every day. If you're interested in trying it at
home, here's the recipe.
1 cup ketchup
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 Tbsp molasses
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbsp mild chili powder
1 Tbsp paprika
2 tsp onion powder
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp ground cloves
Combine all of the ingredients in a medium saucepan. Bring the mixture
to a boil over medium heat, reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring
frequently, for 35 minutes. Store in the refrigerator for two weeks.
The seating areas are open gazebos with lots of tables. Each gazebo has
carvings featuring a predator and it's prey, which is rather
interesting. Additional seating is available near a pond area that often
has birds in it. Disney has a firm policy about not feeding the
animals, however, you should know that the birds are unaware of this
policy. While eating in one of the gazebo areas, I have had a crane dart
in and steal a chicken bone right off my tray faster than I could
blink. If your kids are afraid of animals, this may not be the best
choice for you, although young Bean thought it was hilarious!
Flame Tree BBQ is a great place for a quick, inexpensive meal. I usually
eat there every trip and would definitely recommend it. So if you're
looking for fantastic barbecue at Disney World, try Flame Tree BBQ. You won't be
Sleepy Hollow is a little counter service snack spot located in
Liberty Square at the Magic Kingdom. The name and sign with the Headless
Horseman come from the classic Washington Irving tale the Legend of
Sleepy Hollow. Disney made a short and very funny cartoon based on the
story that was narrated by Bing Crosby. The building was even designed to look like Irving's home, Sunnyside, in Tarrytown, NY.
Sleepy Hollow has a limited, but delicious, collection of offerings. Most of their items are desserts, which are great for breakfast,
and include fantastic waffles. The waffles, which are fairly large, are
available with a variety of toppings. You can get powdered sugar,
cinnamon, strawberries and whipped cream, or one of three specialty
sandwiches: Nutella with fresh fruit, sweet and spicy chicken, or ham,
prosciutto, and swiss with tomatoes. I got the chance to try the
new sandwiches last fall, and they are divine! Bean and I loved the Nutella waffle, and my dad and sister raved over the ham and swiss one.
Other Sleepy Hollow favorites include funnel cakes with either powdered
sugar, cinnamon, or strawberries and whipped cream, ice cream
sandwiches, and Coke or root beer floats. My favorite drink is the
Liberty Swirl Slush, which is a combination of strawberry and blue
raspberry Fanta slushes. They also serve iced coffee plain or as a float
in three flavors. In addition to the fancy drinks, they also offer the
usual Coke products, coffee, tea, cocoa, juice, milk, and even soy milk. And if you like collectible cups, be sure to get the souvenir stein with Ichabod on one side and the Headless Horseman on the other.
Sleepy Hollow is finally a part of the Disney Dining Plan, but is doesn't include the waffles. The waffle sandwiches are around $7 and the dessert waffles and
funnel cakes are between $4.50 and $6. If you are just looking for a
small snack or a light meal, I would recommend sharing a waffle or
funnel cake, as they are definitely large enough to split. The floats
and slushes are about $4.
As you exit with your food, there is a nice, breezy, covered seating
area to your right. Sleepy Hollow isn't near any other dining or
attraction, so this area is often quiet and fairly empty. It's a great spot to relax without feeling like you're in the middle of everything.
This is my favorite snack stop at the Magic Kingdom any time of year,
but especially at Halloween. At Halloween time, Sleepy Hollow sports
several themed pumpkins. My favorite has the name Ichabod written on it
with the quill pen nearby and is surrounded by fall leaves. Another
pumpkin features the Headless Horseman on his rearing steed.
If you're in the mood for a great snack at the Magic Kingdom, give Sleepy Hollow a try. You'll be glad that you did.
I'm so excited about the latest news from the Disney Parks blog: Glow with the Show Ears are coming to Disney World, starting October 15! This date marks the 15th anniversary of Fantasmic! at Hollywood Studios. The videos of these fun new ears in use at Disneyland are amazing. The lights synchronize with the lights and music of World of Color at California Adventure. I've been hoping they'd make the jump to Disney World, and now they have.
When they first become available on October 15th, they will work with Fantasmic! By October 19th, they will also be a part of the Wishes fireworks and Celebrate the Magic projection show in the Magic Kingdom. At Christmas, they will become a special part of the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights as well as Holiday Wishes: Celebrate the Spirit of the Season. I can't wait to try them out!
The Princess Fairytale Hall will open in the Magic Kingdom on September 18th. This will be the new home of the Princess Meet and Greet. There will be two separate lines: one for Cinderella and one for Rapunzel, each of which will be joined by another Princess. And don't forget, you will be able to get a Fastpass or Fastpass+ for the Princess Fairytale Hall.
Are you planning a trip to Disney World this fall? If so, be sure to take advantage of one of the great offers from the Walt Disney World Resort. There are two offers currently: free dining or up to a 30% discount on select rooms.
Free Dining is available for select WDW Resort Hotels for stays on the following dates September 29 - October 2, October 18 - November 2, November 11 - 23, and December 12 - 22, 2013. You must purchase a non-discounted 7 day 6 night room and ticket package to be eligible for Free Dining. If you stay at a Value Resort, you will receive the Quick Service Dining Plan while rooms at Moderate or Deluxe Resort hotels will get you the full Dining Plan free. Travel must be booked by September 15, 2013 to take advantage of this offer. And remember, EPCOT's Food and Wine Festival runs September 27 through November 11, so is a great time for Free Dining. My family used this offer last year and saved all of our Snack Credits for the booths at the Food and Wine Festival. It was a great way to save money while trying a ton of fantastic foods.
If you aren't interested in free dining, or the dates don't work for you, consider the up to 30% room rate discount. This discount is available for most nights between September 29 - November 22 and November 30 - December 23, 2013. You can book a room only, or upgrade to a full package with tickets. You can also add one of the Disney Dining Plans at an additional cost. Travel must be booked by September 15, 2013 for travel dates between September 29 - November 9, or by November 3, 2013 for travel dates between November 10 - 22 or November 30 - December 23.
If you need help planning your Disney World vacation or would like a free quote, contact Siera at Destinations in Florida. Siera is an authorized Disney vacation planner who will be glad to help you with all your Orlando vacation planning needs.
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