I am so excited because I got to go on another backstage tour through my work (DAK) and it was on my favorite ride – The Haunted Mansion!!
So, if you know me at all, you know that I am not an early riser. I am much better at it than Elly, but I still don’t do it without some grumbling. When I saw that the meeting time was at 6:40am…..ugh, no thank you! But, it was my all time favorite ride, so I HAD to do it!
The plan was for my CP friend, Amanda, to pick me and Sara up from The Commons at 5:45am so that we could go get some Starbucks and be there by 6:30am. It would have been fine, if Amanda’s alarm had gone off that morning. Sara and I sat outside of The Commons in the dark until 6:20am, texting and calling Amanda to wake her up and then finally texting other people who we knew were also going on this tour. We got nothing, no response.
Finally, Sara and I decided to run back to my apartment, grab Elly’s car keys (luckily she wasn’t working that day!), and race to Magic Kingdom! I was incredibly impressed that I was able to get all the way from The Commons to backstage of Magic Kingdom in UNDER 15 minutes with almost NO speeding! Woo-hoo! 🙂
We got a text from another CP in the group which said, “If you can catch up to us in the Utilidors, then you can be in the tour. If not, then you can just go home.” WHAT??!!! Not very nice, and very stressful to read!
Sara and I parked and ran to the Westclock Bus to take us back behind the Haunted Mansion. We ran through the Utilidors and kept getting stopped because we looked so lost and were wearing our street clothes. But we did it!!! We found the group and made it on the tour!!
The old woman who did our tour was perfect for her role. She has the highest seniority at the Haunted Mansion and has worked there for 17 years. 17 YEARS!!!! She was extremely intimidating to say the least.
She began her tour by telling us that if we couldn’t keep the chatter down, then she’d end the tour early. Hilarious, as the average age of our group was around 35. She acted like we were a school tour of 2nd graders.
She said that we could take as many photos as we wanted AND use flash photography if we needed to!!!
We started out by doing a walking tour of the entire ride with the lights on. We got to stay in each room as she pointed out interesting details and facts of the room.
Something I had heard before was that during the 2007 renovation, seven hidden Jack Skellingtons were added to the HM ride. The first one is in this photo in the first HM room. Jack can be found in the wrinkles above the left eyebrow.
Here is a photo of our entire DAK group. They told us to make a scared face! haha. I think mine is the best. 😉
After we watched the first scene in the stretching room, we all got to lay down and watch as the room slowly folded in on itself! So scary! And weird. I bet no one has ever seen this room so empty!
There are 160 black “Doom Buggies” that move through the 10 minutes of the spookiest rooms in all of the Magic Kingdom!
I love this scene! It is so cool how the busts’ eyes watch you as you move along. We actually got to go up and touch the heads! The trick is that the faces are actually concave into the other side of the wall. It’s just a trick your eyes play on you as you move across the room.
There are two Jack Skellingtons in this room. They are near the chair. One is a picture of Jack on a book cover and the other is just Jack’s head on the spine of a book.
Next time you’re in this scene, check out how creepy the coffin is! There are hidden skulls around it.
Also, we got to pet the scarecrow! It was surprisingly soft. The original concept of the HM ride was to have the crow follow along with you and narrate the ride. That plan was scraped, but you can still see the crow in every scene.
I LOVE this part of the ride! Especially when the evil hand shadow crosses it!
Several people try to jump out of their Doom buggies to steal the ball every year. Apparently the going rate online for it is $500,000. However, what you can’t see is that between the railing and the table is actually nothing! It drops down to the floor below.
There was a guy who jumped over to the table, but missed. He fell and broke his arm and his leg, and kept screaming “Help! I can’t get out!” which, if you know Haunted Mansion, is exactly what the guy in the coffin is saying! He wasn’t discovered until the end of the night when the music was finally turned off and the lights turned on for cleaning. Ouch!
There are now grates to over the open area, but a few years ago, a high schooler on graduation night tried to jump across and landed on the grates. Except he landed between two of the bars, broke through, and got stuck. Because he was bigger, they had to pull him all the way through to get him out. He ended up getting about 70 stitches around his stomach. Ouch!
Sorry this is such a bad photo! But I love this scene! I love when the ride breaks down in this room because there is always so many interesting things to look at!
I actually have several clear photos of the ballroom from when I did the Magic Band testing last semester. However, I don’t want anyone to stumble upon it and have the magic ruined! Needless to say, it was AWESOME!
The BEST part about our backstage tour was the guide gave us a special opportunity to actually go into the ballroom! We got to walk around the table and look at all the actual ghosts which are being reflected through a series of mirrors into the ballroom. We got to dance with the ghosts! And to touch the plates and silverware on the table, and see the Hidden Mickey! This was my coolest and most amazing WDW experience so far!!!! 🙂
In 2013, our tour guide said that there were 14 instances of people throwing human ashes during the HM ride, especially during the ballroom scene. Each time it happened, it closed the ride for about four hours while custodial was called in to vacuum them up!
Hidden Mickey!! This is right before the fat lady sings (so you know the ride is over!).
Sara and me in our Doom Buggy. Glad to have her as ‘my partner in crime’ this semester! 🙂
Sara and me in front of the carriage after the tour. Still no Park guests! 8am
First stop after the backstage tour – Starbucks on Main Street! Yum! I got an iced coffee with caramel. So good!
Lions and Tigers and Strollers, Oh My!
This is not Caroline’s first time in the Disney College Program. Along with her sister, she was previously accepted into the program a few years earlier. Back in Colorado, Caroline was wishing for a little more pixie dust to brighten up her life. On a whim, she decides to apply to the exclusive Disney Alumni Summer Program.
Now that she’s back, things get wild.
Wild, as in Disney’s Animal Kingdom, where Caroline is assigned to work in Stroller Rental. While not the most glamorous position in the park, it’s often ground zero for humanity at its best and at its worst.
While Caroline makes many “Magical Moments” for deserving guests whose pixie dust has gone temporarily sideways, she also receives magical moments of her own through the friendships she makes, going to Disney cast member exclusive events, and all the spectacular dining opportunities at Disney World.
Caroline tells all – from the ins and outs of Disney’s secret training class called Traditions; to learning how to be a happy cast member during on-the-job training; to what it’s like to interact with fellow cast members and the guests who are ready to explore the most magical place on earth.
Join Caroline as she takes you on a wild ride through her adventures in Disney’s Animal Kingdom. But be careful, it’s a jungle out there!
Available now at Amazon.com in paperback and Kindle formats. Published by Theme Park Press.
Book link on Amazon.com: Adventures in the Animal Kingdom
About the Author:
Caroline’s love for all things Disney, and desire to grow up to be a Disney princess, is the reason she always wanted to work for Disney. Her dream came true working as a cast member at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
Caroline is the co-author of the book, Two Girls and a Mouse Tale, about her adventures working at Disney World with her sister.
She is currently a 7th grade Social Studies teacher in Colorado.