I think one of the best parts of the Halloween and Holiday seasons is the coming of Haunted Mansion Holiday! Mixing the Haunted Mansion with The Nightmare Before Christmas has turned out to be a crowd favourite and, as many people say, it's almost better than the original! You're guaranteed to have a great time there, but knowing a few extra tidbits can make the experience extra cool! See how many of these you knew before! (UPDATED 18 Sept 2017)
- THE BLACK SHEEP OF THE FAMILY - When you think about it, it's almost bizarre to imagine that Disney now whole-heartedly accepts The Nightmare Before Christmas as an animated classic. When it was first released, Disney wanted to distance themselves from it and released it under Touchstone's label. Over the years it grew in popularity and that's the only reason Imagineers were able to convince Disney to deck out the Haunted Mansion with Jack Skellington and the gang. The attraction proved just as successful as the movie was turning out to be, so when they re-released the film in the early 2000s it was finally under the Walt Disney Pictures label!
- WEIRD GLOWS GLEAM WHERE SPIRITS DWELL - Each night after sunset, your Ghost Host will invite all in earshot to join in a holiday SCREAM-along to light the candles and Jack-o-lanterns around the mansion. If you're there at just the right time you can watch the candlelights flicker and cast an eerie glow on the grounds!
- THE GALLERY - The traditional Haunted Mansion opening gallery includes those famous stretching portraits, but HMH involves stained glass windows which shatter to reveal creepy holiday images. When the Imagineers first started work on HMH, the surviving original team gave the advice to not tamper with the stretching portraits. Evidently they require far too much work and precision to operate correctly and it wasn't considered worth the time and energy to take them down and reinstall them, so the stained glass windows were designed to fit over the portraits. That's right: the portraits are still there! They're just hidden.
- VAMPIRE TEDDY - In the film, Sandy Claws brings one of the children a vampire teddy bear that chases them through their house. One of the Imagineers on HMH loved the idea so much that he decided to incorporate it into the attraction on a somewhat larger scale. The original Haunted Mansion includes several ravens which mark certain "landing points" in the story, such as at the beginning, on the coffin, with Madame Leota, etc. This Imagineer then decided to use the Vampire Teddy as a holiday substitute for the raven. You'll now find him causing mischief throughout the mansion and graveyard.
- MADAME LEOTA - You remember her, right? Disembodied head in the ball? She is named for and played by an Imagineer who worked on the original ride, Leota Toombs (just the face, not the voice). When Imagineers were creating HMH, they encountered a problem: Leota Toombs was dead and therefore not available to record a new version of the gypsy's seance. Luckily her daughter, Kim Irvine, was also an Imagineer and bears a striking resemblance to her mother, so while Toombs is Leota in the Haunted Mansion, her daughter is Leota in HMH! Like mother, like daughter!
- THE GINGERBREAD HOUSE - If you love the giant gingerbread house in the ballroom scene, come back each year and enjoy it again. Imagineers have made it a tradition to design a new gingerbread house each year, usually paying tribute to any other addition they're making that year (e.g. it was a roulette wheel when they introduced Oogie Boogie and patchwork when they introduced Sally)! This year the gingerbread creations extend beyond the ballroom as gingerbread bugs have infested the Mansion. Look for them as you take your ghostly tour!
- HIDDEN ROOM - In the ballroom between the dueling portraits you'll see a smaller room, a library, which may seem unfamiliar. If you're wondering why you've never noticed that room before, it's because you haven't. When Imagineers were working on HMH, they discovered a whole other room off the ballroom behind a giant curtain normally kept closed. They decided to use it for the holidays and now that room is only visible during the Haunted Mansion Holiday overlay.
There's no end to the fun and surprises you'll discover on your tour through regions beyond! Every time I ride it I find something new I never noticed before and each year they try to think of something new they can add! Here are some tips to help you enjoy the Haunted Mansion Holiday without waiting in its standard 70+ minute line:
- Try to go early and beat the crowds. Many times the line is not long until about 10.30a or later.
- Get a FastPass. They don't go quickly and usually have a return window in the very near future. The FastPass distribution area is just south of the mansion. Head up to the New Orleans Square Railroad station and follow the path along the fence towards the mansion and you'll find it.
- Get MaxPass. MaxPass users have access to a different selection of FastPasses than other guests which increases your chances of finding the optimum return time!
- Check wait times often, especially on the Disneyland mobile app. It's usually quite accurate and can let you know when there's a lull in the line to take advantage of.
Have you taken a ride with Jack through the Haunted Mansion Holiday? What's your favourite part?