One of the park’s largest and most intricate rides opened with the park in 1971, and fans are in love with it—many of them can recite the script verbatim (“I am your host . . . your ghost host!”). The outdoor queue area passes funny gravestones, some of them interactive and some carved with in-jokes and the names of Imagineers—keep an eye on the last one with the female face, because it keeps an eye on you. Once you’re inside, you enter the famous “stretching room.” This dark chamber with a diabolical disembodied voice freaks out tots. But it’s the scariest part of the experience, and a fortitude test for children—one of my earliest life memories is of begging my mother to take me out of the line (she did, and there’s still an escape route if you need it). But if kids get through that, the rest is cake (literally—the undead, oddly, are throwing a birthday celebration inside). Be on the far side of the stretching room to be the first to the boarding zone.
As spook houses go, the 8-minute trip is decidedly merry: All the ghosts seem to want to do is party. Passengers ride creepingly slow “doom buggy” cars linked together on an endless loop, no seat belts required—the proprietary system is called OmniMover. Although there are lots of glow-in-the-dark optical illusions, there are no unannounced shocks or gotchas. The climax, a ghost gala in a cavernous graveyard set, is impossible to soak up in one go, so you may want to visit several times to catch the murderous back story revealed in the attic scene. (Fun fact: The singing headstone with the broken head is voiced by the same guy who did Tony the Tiger for Frosted Flakes.) The warehouse-like “show building” where most of the ride is contained is cleverly disguised behind Gracey Mansion’s facade. Kids 6 and under must ride with someone 14 or older. Don’t miss the Memento Mori shop devoted to the giggly ghouls—much of what’s for sale here is not sold anywhere else, not even elsewhere in WDW. Strategy: On busy days, lines can be the scariest part, so try going—bwah-ha-ha-ha!—after the sun goes down.