Prior to visiting Disneyland last November, we had never experienced Haunted Mansion Holiday. After hearing a lot about it online, we were both excited to see it because it was something different, even though neither of us are Tim Burton fans. This, combined with experiencing holiday “overlays” in the vein of Mickey’s Jingle Jungle Parade that are all very surface-level changes tempered our expectations. We didn’t really know what to expect, and somehow we had both managed to avoid seeing any video footage from the attraction prior to the visit (I had only seen a couple photos of Oogie Boogie and Jack Skellington from the attraction, but it’s hard to place a single still photo of those characters into context).
In any case, the first time we experienced the attraction, we were completely blown away. It wasn’t merely Haunted Mansion with a few Nightmare Before Christmas references, it was a wholly new attraction that simply used the same infrastructure of the Haunted Mansion. Sort of like a video game that utilizes the game engine of a previous game but offers a totally new experience. We went on Haunted Mansion Holiday again and again, loving it each time.
Now that I’ve read more about Haunted Mansion Holiday (click here to see our Haunted Mansion Holiday photo/video page), I know that it’s a somewhat divisive attraction. Disney purists cringe that something so loud is placed on the “sacred” Haunted Mansion, while casual guests generally love the attraction (as evidenced by the insane wait times for it). I can understand the concerns of the former group, but I think if this exact same attraction were housed in its own show building, they’d generally like it. It’s generally very well done and clever…it just sits atop the Haunted Mansion show scenes. That, in my estimation, is their hang up with the attraction. To me, that’s not a criticism of the substance of the attraction itself, but rather, its implementation.
Turning to the substance of the attraction itself, I must admit that I have not seen Nightmare Before Christmas in years. Prior to experiencing Haunted Mansion Holiday, I didn’t consider myself much of a Tim Burton fan, and I still might not be. However, I want to give Nightmare Before Christmas another chance. My big question is when to watch Nightmare Before Christmas? Halloween? Christmas? Halfway in between as a “compromise?” I have no clue. Even though it’s a Christmas story, I’m leaning towards watching it around Halloween because of the dark tone. I find myself having the same dilemma with Gremlins, but ultimately I watch it at Halloween because Christmas movies should be happy and cheerful.
I’m hoping that I enjoy Nightmare Before Christmas more now not just because of Haunted Mansion Holiday, but also because, perhaps, my tastes have changed. I think Tim Burton movies are definitely an acquired taste, and I found Frankenweenie fairly enjoyable when we saw that. Granted, it wasn’t my favorite movie ever, but it was interesting and artistically well made. I’ll probably never be one of those Tim Burton fans who buys Jack Skellington hoodies and top hats, but I can see similarly appreciating the artistic value of Nightmare Before Christmas.
As for this photo, I think a cloudy, post-storm sky like the one in this photo is perfect for a Haunted Mansion Holiday photo. What do you think?