Well, let's not hesitate, ring the bell! Rounds six through ten are about to begin in the battle for superiority between the two American Disney Haunted Mansions!
Round 6 - Foyer
Our first match up on the interior! Who has the better introductory scene inside the Mansion?
Disneyland - 3 Magic Kingdom - 3
Sorry Disneyland, but again, this is one of those many moments that was improved upon in Liberty Square. Not only is the foyer larger at Walt Disney World, it also has a fireplace and a changing portrait to set the mood. How can a mirror and a window beat that? Really? Even the cool spiderweb pattern on the floor of Disneyland's foyer isn't enough to take down the Magic Kingdom Mansion in this bout.
Round 7 - Stretching Room
This one isn't to tricky. Which mansion better convinces the effect of a room that's actually stretching?
Disneyland - 3 Magic Kingdom - 4
True, the stretching room wouldn't even exist at the Magic Kingdom had it not been needed to transport guests underground at Disneyland. But honestly, if you've ever been to the Disneyland version and stepped over the elevator door gap entering the stretching room, you know immediately what your entering. And if not, it only takes one ride to figure it out, especially when those doors open at the bottom and pull apart the walls half-way up the room in elevator door fashion; one of the worst moments of show in the Disneyland version.
The Magic Kingdom stretching room may not be taking you anywhere, but the effect is much more convincing, even if you take away the elevator door give-away at Disneyland. And of course, I didn't even base this decision on what many would say automatically wins the Magic Kingdom this bout: The amazing 3-Dimensional audio system.
Round 8 - Walk Through Segment
Alright, next round is all about what you see when you get out of the stretching room and walk around. This area of comparison is tricky, because this is the point in both rides that sort of shakes things up. Yes, they both have a portrait corridor and the turning bust effect, but the walk-through itself is very much a different experience overall.
Disneyland - 4 Magic Kingdom - 4
In terms of the overall walk-through environment, Disneyland takes the cake with just it's portrait hallway. The loading are, which we will get to in a moment, earns it no extra points. I think it's the lightning windows and the moving busts that can be examined on foot that really make the walk through portion here better. At the Magic Kingdom, you are simply dumped into a corridor next to the trail of Doombuggies, and that in itself isn't exactly what I'd call a "walk-through" experience of any sort, just another part of the queue.
Round 9 - Loading Area
But in terms of a loading area, this is were we can give the Magic Kingdom some praise. Not so much for Disneyland; at least the way things have been in recent years.
Disneyland - 4 Magic Kingdom - 5
While the Magic Kingdom Mansion retains an atmosphere that says "I'm inside a Haunted Mansion", Disneyland's goes from that spectacular portrait corridor into a loading area that says "I'm inside a Haunted Warehouse." According to many reliable sources, this wasn't always the case. But in recent years, the Disneyland loading area has gotten far to bright to pull off the "boundless limbo of mist and decay" that it's intended to be. This space should be an endless void of darkness, not a room with enough lights that you can see the warehouse ceiling some thirty feet above your head. Also, take note that the photo presented above is not in any way brightened using photo editing programs. That's the real deal a few years back. Although it has gotten substantially darker since then, it's still not dark enough to hide the warehouse walls surrounding you on all sides.
The Liberty Square shot however, was brightened up a tad to show off some of the detail you'd miss if it were seen in it's original, darker state. At the Magic Kingdom, you pass a couple of the former Sinister Eleven portraits, which add some life to the corridor. Plus, this area really give you and up-close chance to admire the artistry carved onto the wainscoting. Props go to the Magic Kingdom for actually dressing their room up and keeping it dark.
Round 10 - Portrait Corridor
In terms of a walk-through, Disneyland's portrait corridor takes the cake. But take away the walk-through aspect, and what do you have? Is it any bit better then the Magic Kingdom's without the ability to walk through it?
Disneyland - 4 Magic Kingdom - 6
The way the effect is achieved at Walt Disney World is far more convincing. The thunder itself is responsible for lighting up and transforming each of the portraits on cue. At Disneyland, the effect works, but it's not as convincing, because you've got several other distractions around you, including the moving busts, and the beautiful rainy windows. Because of this, the effect itself; which is why it's call the portrait corridor to being with; doesn't have as big an effect. If you're attention is drawn to several other things, along with talking to your friends about the ride ahead, you really don't give them much thought.
At Magic Kingdom, you're forced to watch the transformation take place. The Doombuggies force you in the direction of the portraits. Plus, you have the exclusive prelude scene with the servants staircase you glide under, and the floating candelabra that we'll soon see later on in our journey through the wall-to-wall creeps of the Mansion.
I'm sure plenty of you Disneyland die-hards are thinking "he just screwed Disneyland with that last one!" Just know that I know how the whole competition plays out, and I'm into playing fair. There will be several easy chances for the original to seek redemption later in the tournament. So until the ring bell chimes again when round eleven begins...
I'll see you all a little later...