Boy, I really have better things to do than this. Nevertheless, I'm going to pick apart the Haunted Mansion movie's details. We know that the references to the ride were really the livelihood of the movie. But there are shocking and disturbing problems with a few of these, too. You'd think these people would be experts.
In some of the cases, I actually like the movie's version better than the ride's. But not usually. And what bothers me is that the moviemakers had the nerve to blatantly ignore certain facts about the mansion, simply because their vision seemed "better." It was supposed to be a Haunted Mansion movie.
1. The Grand Ballroom. Everything about it. Like the one in the ride, it contains a pipe organ, dance floor, dining table, and fireplace. But that's where the similarity stops. The pipe organ is elevated and surrounded by elaborate staircases--which looks cooler, but that's not how it is in the ride. The fireplace should be at the opposite end from the organ, but instead it's in the middle of the hall's long side. There should be a long balcony and staircase there. Instead, we see just a lot of windows.
2. Madame Leota. Totally different character in the movie. She alternates between helping the protagonists and infuriating them with superstitious gobbledigook--all the while, using Jennifer Tilly's distinctly un-Eleanor-Audley-like voice. In the ride, she is really an ominous presence as she summons the ghosts to materialize. But in the movie, she becomes wrapped in the convoluted plot to let the ghosts leave. Which brings me to my next point.
3. The reason the ghosts are there. The ride is really just a retirement home for ghosts, as it were. Many of the mansion's former inhabitants left their corruptible mortal states in unfortunate ways, which makes this particular mansion a particularly suitable retirement home. That's really all there is to it. But in the movie, the ghosts "couldn't find the light, and now they're trapped." The ghosts in the movie want to leave the mansion. The ones in the ride are happy to be retired there.
4. Ghost logic. In Jason Surrell's The Haunted Mansion: From the Magic Kingdom to the Movies, I've gained considerable insight into both the genius of the Imagineers and the unfortunate mistakes of Rob Minkoff and company. Jay Redd was assigned the task of inventing "ghost logic" for the movie, so there wouldn't be discrepancies in the way ghosts are presented. One of the concepts used was that the graveyard's ghosts could only be seen by mortal eyes while the humans were inside the carriage. According to the ride, this is just plain wrong. In the ride, there IS a living character who sees the ghosts while just standing there in the graveyard--the man holding the lantern. He and his dog are still alive, and they are obviously terrified at all the supernatural activity going on around them. They can see the ghosts, all right. (Another interesting mistake they made in the movie--you see the man and his dog in the graveyard, but they are both ghosts. In the ride, they are still alive. )
5. The mansion itself. Don't get me wrong; I love the Greek Revival/Italianate architecture used in the movie. But the mansion you see isn't the Haunted Mansion. The filmmakers used ideas from both the NOS and Liberty Square mansions, but they made so many changes that the resemblance is only superficial. Like the NOS mansion, the movie mansion has a Greek Revival influence--symmetrical design, pillars in front, etc. Oh, wait, those lovely pillars were replaced with wrought iron columns because someone thought that the pillars made the mansion look like a government office. That's what the wrought iron balconies are for. Sadly, those pale green wrought iron verandas are used very little on the movie's mansion. Another mistake. Instead, the filmmakers borrowed from the Italianate style, creating a facade that looks quite different from the one in the park. (As a tip-off to the WDW mansion, a conservatory was added to the right wing. That was done pretty well, but the inside doesn't have the coffin as the one in the ride does.)
I could keep going on about this, but I won't. Bottom line is, the filmmakers had a lot of good ideas, but most of them went towards altering things from the ride. All the not-so-good ideas were used for character, plot, etc. Terrence Stamp being the exception to the rule, of course.