The Best Haunted House Rides In The World

I feel like there's been a lot of haunted house ride talk on my feed as of late, which is strange considering it's April. As a long-time, unashamed lover of all things spooky this adoration of course extends to the humble haunted house ride, and after riding the terrifying new update to Alton Towers' classic Haunted House ride in the form of The Curse of Alton Manor, it got me wondering what the best haunted house rides in the world actually are. So naturally I had to get my thoughts down on paper (digitally of course).


And for clarity, this list includes attractions that are actually rides. No walk-throughs, horror mazes, etc. To qualify one must actually sit in a vehicle and traverse through creepy sets. I also want to distinguish between ghost trains and haunted houses for this one - to me, a ghost train is a dark ride with any manner of random spooky stuff thrown together in a wishy-washy kind of way in order to get riders to jump out of their skin. The haunted house is much more elegant, much more story-led and, of course, has to actually take place in a residence that is frequented by spirits. With that said, here's my list of the best haunted house rides in the world!

Of course, such a list cannot exist without the inclusion of at least one iteration of Disney's classic e-ticket Haunted Mansion. For my list I've gone with the Parisian version known as Phantom Manor. There's a few reasons for this. Firstly, the facade is my fav of all the Haunted Mansions. It looks like something straight out of a Hitchcock movie and the attention to detail of the theming in the queueline and approach is perfection. I also love that it's in Frontierland, there's something charming to me about a spooky ghost house set against the gold rush era. 

I think as well Phantom Manor represents the 'final draft' of what the Haunted Mansion could be. Yes, they're all great in their own way, but Phantom Manor is like they took all the best bits of the three other Haunted Mansions, applied a wild west narrative overlay and an excellently themed loading platform to really nail the final, perfect version of an iconic Disney Parks attraction. 

The inspiration for this post, The Curse at Alton Manor is the second retheme of the original Haunted House ride and is a masterclass in how to use modern technology to upgrade the storyline and spook-factor of your haunted house ride without diluting any of that classic dark ride charm. The new version feels elevated - where Duel felt like it was leaning more towards that aforementioned ghost train territory, The Curse at Alton Manor lifts all the best elements and weaves them together into a tight-knit fright fest from start to finish, peppered with atmospheric music and SFX to bring the whole thing to life. 

It's beautiful, it's unnerving, it's creepy, it's rerideable and above all it's terrifying. I think it easily takes the prize for being the scariest haunted house on this list for that finale alone. It also gets points for having a wonderfully themed exterior and approach too - we've got creepy noises coming from the woods, a queueline that weaves through a graveyard and an endlessly photographable facade. 

So what we've learned from writing this list is that in order to be considered as the best haunted house ride in the world your attraction must have 'manor' somewhere in the name. Manoir Hanté is, in my opinion, a woefully underappreciated haunted house ride. Probably because Nigloland is a little bit out of the way and awkward to get to, I have no doubt that if this attraction were in a more popular park it would be beloved by thousands. And look, yes this one does unfortunately fall into the 'they definitely nicked that from the Haunted Mansion' trap that a lot of European haunted house rides do for some reason. You've got hitchhiking ghosts, a ballroom scene, a wake scene - it's all quite unashamed and not something I particularly care for. 

But for every idea that's been shamelessly pilfiered you've got a ton of fun original stuff too. For some reason I'm obsessed with the ride vehicles - essentially a bench on a Roomba, that swivels and twists its way through the mansion, sometimes losing complete control and spinning chaotically out of a room when things get too spooky. There's a jump scare with a flying chair on a stick that gets me every time. There's horrible animatronics. It's a little janky and probably the least polished of the attractions on this list but it's a haunted house ride I think about a lot and would be my first stop should I ever find myself back at Nigloland.

OK so upon rewatching a POV of this one (because it has been a MINUTE since I was at Knoebels) I realise this one kind of breaks my haunted house ride criteria...but I've decided to allow it because it's my list and I'll do what I want, and this ride is AWESOME. I love that the facade looks like something out of Wisteria Lane, I love the iconic little red ride vehicles, I love all the hand painted signage. It's classic yet classy, one of those beloved family attractions that I imagine generation after generation of Knoebels locals take their kids and grandkids on. 

There's just something really charming about Haunted Mansion at Knoebels. I particularly love their use of lighting - every room you enter is essentially pitch black and the ride uses spotlights to highlight the ghouls or whatever it is they want you to focus on. It's a great way of averting your attention away from less idyllic areas within the attraction but also happens to double up as a great jump scare too. It's classic haunted house ride stuff but Knoebels just seem to do it so elegantly, it's no wonder this ride has the cult following it does.

Mystic Manor, for cultural reasons, is technically more enchanted than haunted, but it's certainly got scary bit and elements of peril and hey, any change to gush about Mystic Manor is a chance I will take. Also Danny Elfman did the soundtrack and he's the king of spooky so you can't really argue with that. Mystic Manor is easily the most whimsical of the haunted house rides on my list, and probably the narrative I love the most. The way the house itself and the items within it literally come to life - like it's not ghouls or ghosts or whatever - it's the literal house. Like a spooky version of Casita in Encanto. Ornanments start walking around, paintings of pleasant scenes turn evil and the house literally tries to tears itself apart in the end like the finale of Poltergeist. 

It's genuinely frightening, in a 90s kid's movie kind of way - like in Jumanji you know the game isn't real but those vile CGI monkeys could easily tear you limb from limb? That's the vibe I get from Mystic Manor. Also aesehtically it's Disney at their best - it's vibrant, it's magical, it's enchanting, all with a disconcerting undertone. And we have Albert as our guide, easily the least annoying of the Disney Parks animatronic sidekicks (full shade intended, Figment).


I think what I've taken away from writing this list is that there are SO MANY ways to do a haunted house ride well, and even Disney borrow from Disney every now and then to get those guaranteed scares on lockdown (hey, if it works, it works!) I've always had a special place in my enthusiast brain for haunted houses, and it's easy to see why they're still as popular today as ever. I'm intrigued to see how parks continue to develop and update the concept next!

What do you think, did I miss any from my list? What's your favourite haunted house ride in the world? Let me know in the comments, I'd love to have a chat!

Talk later xoxo,