Haunted Mansion Holiday is a Halloween and Christmas overlay of Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion. This attraction, inspired by Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas, runs every year September through the beginning of January. (Updated July 12, 2021.)
An attraction that happens when two holidays collide, Haunted Mansion Holiday has been running at Disneyland for the last 20 years, and there’s also a version in Tokyo Disneyland. Walt Disney World does not offer Haunted Mansion Holiday, nor do Paris, Hong Kong, or Shanghai Disneyland.
This post features photos and video of Haunted Mansion Holiday, along with background info, tips for experiencing it, and updates on the 20th Anniversary of Haunted Mansion Holiday in 2021. Warning: this post contains spoilers, so if you’ve never seen Haunted Mansion Holiday, you may want to stop reading…
After a year without Halloween due to the closure of Disneyland, Haunted Mansion Holiday returns for its 20th Anniversary during the 2021 Halloween Time at Disneyland, which will run from September 3 until October 31, 2021.
While not officially confirmed by Disneyland, Haunted Mansion Holiday run continuously from September 3 and through Christmas 2021, ending in early January 2022. At which point, it’ll go down for a multi-week refurbishment and be restored to the classic Haunted Mansion.
Haunted Mansion Holiday’s most notable annual tradition is the yearly changing gingerbread house, which graces the Grand Hall. For 2021, Disneyland is paying homage to all previous houses in celebration of Haunted Mansion Holiday’s 20th Anniversary.
The gingerbread houses get more elaborate each year, and 2021 is no exception. As you can see in the rendering above, a piece from each house is represented in this year’s house to create a visually chaotic, yet perfect Dr. Finkelstein-esque mashup. Here are the themes of the past Haunted Mansion Holiday gingerbread houses represented in this year’s display:
2001 — Monster House
2002 — Present House
2003 — Giant Oogie Boogie House
2004 — Zero’s Dog House
2005 — Giant Man-eating Wreath House
2006 — Monster-infested House
2007 — Jack-in-the Box House
2008 — Giant Gingerbread Coffin House
2009 — Scary-Go-Round House
2010 — Pop-Up Sandy Claws House
2011 — Mimic Monster House
2012 — Jack Skellington’s House
2013 — 13 Days of Christmas House
2014 — Gingerbread Zombie House
2015 — Gingerbread Card House
2016 — Stitched-Up-Patchwork House
2017 — Oogie Boogie Bug-infested House
2018 — Giant Gingerbread Spider House
2019 — Haunted Mansion 50 Years of Hauntings House
2021 — Gingerbread Franken-House
Additionally, all-new merchandise honoring Haunted Mansion Holiday’s 20th Anniversary will be released at Disneyland on September 27, 2021. These new items include a canteen by Corkcicle, pins, and a shirt celebrating 20 years of the seasonal attraction.
Now let’s turn to background information, strategy, and other planning advice for Haunted Mansion Holiday at Disneyland…
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 Currier 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 doing the attraction before lunch or jumping in line at the very end of the night, right before Disneyland closes.
Around late afternoon and dinner-time, 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, at least.
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? Excited to ride it again this year and see the newest gingebread house? Hopeful there will be other spooky enhancements to the ride? Do you wish Walt Disney World would do this overlay? Do you agree or disagree with our assessment of Haunted Mansion Holiday? Any questions? Hearing your feedback–even when you disagree with us–is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!