Welcome, Foolish Mortals, to my home: The Haunted Mansion! Let me give you the tour:
Entering the pathway through a pair of ornate gate, guests find themselves in the mansion's well-tended gardens and courtyards. The path leads guests past a pet cemetery, a mausoleum with pun names, and a white carriage hearse led by an invisible horse. Guests then step onto the porch, where they are led into the mansion's foyer by a somber butler or maid.
At the foyer, the Ghost Host (voiced by Paul Frees) welcomes the guests as the cast members usher them into the first room: an octagonal portrait gallery. The wall panel slides closed and the tour begins.
As the Ghost Host taunts his guests, the room begins to "stretch." The portraits on the walls elongate, revealing the fates of previous guests, as follows: a bearded gentleman holding a document, wearing only his undergarments from the waist down and standing atop a lighted keg of dynamite; a pretty young lady holding a parasol balancing on a fraying tightrope above the gaping jaws of an alligator; A widow holding a rose while 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; and a man in a bowler hat sitting on another man's shoulders, who in turn sits on the shoulders of a third man who is waist-deep in quicksand.
“...And consider this dismaying observation: This chamber has no windows, and no doors... Which offers you this chilling challenge: to find a way out! Ha ha ha ha ha ha! Of course, there's always my way...”
With a sudden thunderclap, the lights go out and the ceiling disappears. A ghastly vision manifests above: the skeletal corpse of the Ghost Host dangles from a noose inside an octagonal cupola with four windows (rather than the six-windowed hexagonal cupola seen on the exterior), illuminated by flashes of lightning. Seconds later, the room becomes pitch-black, and a bloodcurdling scream is heard — falling from the ceiling to the floor, ending with the sound of shattering bones.
A wall opens, and guests are then led down a hall of portraits. As lightning flashes from the windows on the opposite side of the hall, the portraits transform into images of corpses and monsters in sync with the lightning. At the hall's far end are two statuary busts depicting a man and a woman. As the guests move past them, the statues appear to turn and gaze after them.
Next, guests step into a dark and misty loading area, where they are guided into their carriages, or "Doom Buggies." The Ghost Host invisibly lowers the safety bars and provides the 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 its 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" who is attempting to get out. Perched near the coffin is a black 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 from behind the doors. 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 its hands spin backward 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. As she incants:
"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."
...the instruments answer her in turn.
Next, guests pass onto the balcony of a magnificent ballroom where the happy haunts have materialized. A ghostly birthday party appears to be taking place at the dining table (where a dinner plate and two saucers on the left side of the table combine to form a "Hidden Mickey"). Some spirits sit on the chandeliers, drinking, while others enter the hall from an open coffin in a hearse. A ghost wraps his arm around a female bust, and two portraits of men with pistols come to life to resume their earthly duel. A ghostly musician plays a discordant version of the attraction's theme on a pipe organ (Captain Nemo's organ set piece from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea) while spirit heads float up and out of its pipes and transparent couples waltz nearby.
The buggies then proceed to the attic, an irregularly shaped room cluttered with gifts, personal items, mementos and wedding portraits. In each portrait, the same bride is seen 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, the same ghost bride from the pictures, Constance Hatchaway, is seen floating in the air, intoning macabre wedding vows. As she raises her arms, a hatchet appears in her hands.
The Doom Buggies drift out of the attic window and onto the balcony of what appears to be a run-down Victorian mansion, rather than the pristine antebellum house that the guests initially entered. The starry night sky is filled with wispy spirits rising from the graveyard below. The Doom Buggies turn around, and tip backward down a 15-percent grade surrounded by dark, ghoulish trees with knotted expressions. The red-eyed raven caws at guests from a branch overhead.
The Doom Buggies reach the ground and turn towards the gate of the graveyard. There stands a caretaker and his dog, the attraction's only "living" characters. The caretaker's knees shake in fright, an expression of terror on his face, while his emaciated dog whines and whimpers. 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 expressive haunted busts singing "Grim Grinning Ghosts" in barbershop harmony.
Next, guests encounter a ghostly tea party surrounding a hearse stuck in the mud. An arm protrudes from a crypt with a wine glass in its bony hand, while banshees ride bikes in the distance. Nearby, the ghost of a hearing-impaired elderly man struggles to understand the words of an awakened mummy through an ear trumpet.
The Doom Buggies turn to face two opera singers ("phantoms of the opera") who are blasting their voices up into the night. Beside them, three other ghosts — a decapitated knight, his executioner, and a prisoner — join in with them.
Guests pass a spirit bricking himself into his own tomb. As the buggies approach a crypt, the Ghost Host speaks once again:
"Ah, there you are—and just in time. There's a little matter I forgot to mention..."
Entering the crypt, the guests encounter the Hitchhiking Ghosts. The buggies pass in front of large, ornately framed mirrors, where the guests find that one of the trio has hitched a ride with them.
The guests exit their Doom Buggies and ascend back to the world of the living. The last apparition they see is the tiny Ghost Hostess, who encourages them to:
The Haunted Mansion belongs to the Walt Disney Company.
"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."