Welcome, Foolish Mortals. I see you have questions about the mysterious, magical, and macabre stretching room of the Haunted Mansion. Is it really an elevator? Are you going up or down? Is the room stretching? While a magician typically never reveals his secrets, we find that a look backstage can sometimes enhance the magic when we see how things work.
Imagineers took great care in constructing both the Disneyland Park and Magic Kingdom Haunted Mansions. “Is this haunted room actually stretching? Or is it your imagination – hmm?” The truth about the Haunted Mansion Stretching room is… ghastly.
Haunted Mansion Stretching Room
The answer is yes. And no. The Haunted Mansion Stretching room operates differently depending on which coast you are on, but the visuals are strikingly similar. Both rooms do stretch out – a lot, in fact. The name of the second room of the Haunted Mansion is actually a perfect fit.
Our tour begins here in this gallery, here where you see paintings of some of our guests as they appeared in their corruptible mortal state. Kindly step all the way in, please, and make room for everyone. There’s no turning back now. – Ghost Host
As you are ushered through the foyer and into one of two “portrait rooms” as some call it (yes there are two in each Mansion, on either side of the fireplace), you may notice that the room has “no windows and no doors” making the space seem eerie. The next thing you may have heard is the Haunted Mansion Butlers and Maids moving you to the dead center of the room. This is so you and the other Disney Parks Guests can see most of the four portraits as they stretch and change. A purposeful (yet fancy) pre-show mechanism! Each gargoyle holds candles in the dim room to direct your attention to each stretching portrait… you notice less of the illusion taking place around you!
But did you know the foyer, the exit, and the stretching room areas are the only show areas contained within the Mansion building itself? All other areas of the ride are contained beyond the railroad (in Disneyland Park) or behind a tree-lined berm (in Magic Kingdom).
Disneyland’s Stretching Room
Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion in New Orleans Square was built first (1969), and the Stretching Room was designed to get Disney Guests beyond the Disneyland Railroad track system and into the show building behind the entrance facade. When Guests refer to the “elevator room” this is where the name comes from! Disneyland’s stretching room is an elaborate octagonal elevator cab that descends very slowly over two stories. The hanging scene at the end features a loud thunderclap, which coincidentally masks the stopping of the elevator!
The stretching room walls are telescopic, bringing Guests down below the railroad, where they can walk through the secondary door (did you notice that it’s much larger now?), through the lightning portrait gallery to the Omnimover track. The doom buggies then whisk Guests away on their tour around the Mansion and then back up to the exit.
The Disneyland Stretching Room elevator is a gravity-assisted elevator, meaning that when the elevator resets, it can bring 12 people back up, as opposed to the 90 people it can bring down. This also indicates that the Disneyland Haunted Mansion Stretching room is the world’s largest passenger elevator.
Magic Kingdom’s Stretching Room
Now we move across the country to the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida. This Haunted Mansion is a handful of years younger than its sister, opening on October 1, 1971. This Haunted Mansion Stretching Room is not an elevator because Imagineers had no space constraints when building Disney World. The Walt Disney World railroad doesn’t pass over or through this show area.
The Haunted Mansion Stretching room stills stretches on this side of the United States, however, it is much less than the Disneyland room. Instead of bringing Disney Fans down below grade, the room’s show ceiling and portraits stretch upward, allowing much of the same optical illusion without the same purpose. Guests still exit through the secondary door, down a similar hallway, and board their Doom Buggy.
Skipping the Stretching Room
Interested in skipping this pre-show stretching room? You can, in fact, ride the Haunted Mansion attraction and skip the stretching room. Simply ask the Haunted Mansion Cast Member as you enter the Mansion if you can use the bypass, and they will guide you through. You’ll end up in the hallway where the Ghost Host will continue his soliloquy and lead you to the Omnimover system. It’s here that you will see the lightning portraits and load your family onto your personal Doom Buggy.
Oh, I didn’t mean to frighten you prematurely. The real chills come later. Now, as they say, “look alive,” and we’ll continue our little tour. And let’s all stay together, please.
Leave us a comment with your memories of the spooky Haunted Mansion Stretching Room. Have you ridden the attraction on both coasts?