Haunted Mansion Holiday a Halloween and Christmas overlay of the Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion. This attraction, inspired by Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas, runs every year September through the beginning of January.
An attraction that happens when two holidays collide, Haunted Mansion Holiday has been running at Disneyland every year for the last 15 years, and there’s also now a version in Tokyo Disneyland. Walt Disney World does not offer Haunted Mansion Holiday, nor does Paris, Hong Kong, or Shanghai Disneyland.
This post features photos and video of Haunted Mansion Holiday, along with background info and tips for experiencing it. Warning: this post contains spoilers–including new visuals added for 2016–so if you’ve never seen Haunted Mansion Holiday, you may want to stop reading…
In this overlay, Jack Skellington plays Sandy Claws as he makes a good-faith, but wholly misguided, attempt at presenting his version of a Christmas celebration. The result is a like a nightmare-ish attraction by Courier and Ives.
Approaching the exterior of the Haunted Mansion, the first thing guests will likely notice is pumpkins and colorful signage affixed to the gates outside of the Haunted Mansion.
This is but a slight precursor of what’s to come, as guests will find that “visually busy” is a motif of this overlay.
As guests continue to pass through the outdoor queue approaching the mansion, they will notice a staggering number of candles and jack-o-lanterns affixed to the mansion.
These 400 plus candles and 100 plus jack-o-lanterns kick the ambiance up a notch, and inform guests that something extra ghoulish is taking place inside the mansion.
Before we take you of a tour inside, a couple of tips. First is that Haunted Mansion Holiday can draw very long waits. We recommend using FastPass for it midday (if available) or doing the attraction before lunch.
Later in the evening, Haunted Mansion Holiday draws its longest waits of the day. While we recommend doing it earlier to avoid crowds, make sure to return to the area at night, because it’s lit up beautifully.
We shot a video ride-through of Haunted Mansion Holiday a few years ago. You can watch this HD video here:
Once inside, the fully-immersive and thorough overlay continues.
Make no mistake, this isn’t a mere enhancement to the Haunted Mansion along the lines of adding a few Jack Sparrow Audio Animatronics to Pirates of the Caribbean.
For the holidays, Haunted Mansion becomes an entirely new attraction, with a completely new storyline and script.
The show scenes that are familiar, but have been so dramatically transformed in some places that they’re barely recognizable.
Over two-dozen Audio Animatronics figures are added for the Nightmare Before Christmas overlay and bright neon colors throughout the attraction make the Haunted Mansion take on new life.
One such Audio Animatronics figure arrived in 2003 with the addition of Oogie Boogie.
Not only was an Oogie Boogie Audio Animatronic added to the end of the attraction, but several other references to Oogie were also added throughout the attraction, and outside.
A special “hide and seek” game (since discontinued) encouraged guests to spot all of the Oogie Boogies before the attraction’s concluding Audio Animatronic.
Last year, the Hatbox Ghost was added to Haunted Mansion, and he also received some festive touches for Haunted Mansion Holiday.
This year, Sally, the humanoid ragdoll created by Dr. Finkelstein was added.
Sally has played a part in Tokyo Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion Holiday Nightmare for years, and it’s nice to see her finally represented in the Disneyland version.
Her figure in the graveyard of the Disneyland version is not the only Sally-related addition to Haunted Mansion Holiday this year…
The icing on the cake is, literally, real icing, as Disneyland Resort Foods assists in building a gingerbread house that sits atop the dining room table in the Haunted Mansion’s Grand Hall. This gingerbread house is the centerpiece of the attraction, and is different every year. This year, the gingerbread house is styled after Sally.
One feature of Haunted Mansion Holiday is that the gingerbread house in the ballroom scene changes every year, and is actually edible (albeit probably stale after it’s been up there a few weeks). Below is the one that ran a few years ago.
The gingerbread house height varies from year to year, but it’s generally 4+ feet tall, consisting of 500 pounds of gingerbread and tons of frosting.
Each year the Haunted Mansion Holiday gingerbread house takes months of planning to design. This year it took three weeks to build in the Disneyland Resort Central Bakery.
As the Doombuggies continue past the ballroom scene and enter the graveyard, they find it a little more chilly than normal. This is because the graveyard in the Haunted Mansion finale is covered with 7,500 square feet of ghostly white snow.
Trees in the graveyard are decked out with thousands of tiny orange lights, some of which have even tangled-up Jack’s ghost-dog reindeer.
Whomever it dawned upon that Disneyland should do a Nightmare Before Christmas overlay to the Haunted Mansion is a genius.
The Nightmare Before Christmas perfectly melds together Halloween and Christmas, making its shelf-life as an overlay double the length of any other holiday overlay, since it encompasses two consecutive holidays. Well, consecutive in the Disney universe.
Overall, Haunted Mansion Holiday is an attraction at Disneyland that we really enjoy–almost as much as the original Haunted Mansion. That’s saying a lot. While it is divisive with some Disneyland purists, it is incredibly popular during the holidays, and most guests love it. These details throughout Haunted Mansion Holiday are so plentiful that a voluminous title could be written on them alone and likely still not cover everything. In lieu of that, I’ll advise you to keep an eye out for the Sarah the Monkey Bride and the Oggie Boogie figure playing cymbals, which are both little nods to the attraction’s past, when you take your tour of the mansion during the holidays!
What do you think of Haunted Mansion Holiday? Do you wish Walt Disney World would do this overlay? Please share your thoughts in the comments!