For many die-hard Disney fans, the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland Park is an iconic and unmissable attraction. Yet, for a few months each year, this classic undergoes a delightful transformation to become the Haunted Mansion Holiday, a bewitching blend of Halloween spookiness and Christmas charm, inspired by Tim Burton’s “The Nightmare Before Christmas”.
Height Requirements: The Haunted Mansion Holiday maintains the same requirements as its classic counterpart – there’s no height restriction, making it family-friendly for all.
Single Rider: This attraction doesn’t offer a single rider option. If you’re riding solo, you’ll need to join the standard queue.
Genie+ and Lightning Lane: Haunted Mansion Holiday is included in the Genie+ lineup. This means for an additional fee, visitors can reserve a designated time slot to reduce their wait. The Lightning Lane entrance, which replaces the old FastPass system, provides an expedited queue for Genie+ users.
Rider Switch: For families with small children who might be too frightened or young to ride, the Rider Switch option is available. This allows one parent to wait with the child while the other rides, then switch without having to queue again.
DAS (Disability Access Service): Those with disabilities can utilize the DAS, which allows guests to schedule a return time that’s comparable to the current wait time.
Location and History
Situated in New Orleans Square, the Haunted Mansion stands as a testament to Disney’s commitment to immersive storytelling and attention to detail. Originally opening its doors in 1969, the ride immediately captured the imagination of park-goers with its intriguing blend of eerie atmospheres and whimsical spookiness.
By the end of the 20th century, Disneyland was looking for innovative ways to revitalize older attractions and keep guests coming back for fresh experiences. The idea to marry the Haunted Mansion with Tim Burton’s “The Nightmare Before Christmas” was conceived in the late 1990s. The film, released in 1993, had grown a cult following and was becoming an iconic piece of Disney’s film library.
The overlay was a bold move. Transforming a classic and beloved attraction, even temporarily, was a risk. Yet, in 2001, the Haunted Mansion Holiday was unveiled to the public. The gamble paid off. The unique overlay, combining the macabre with holiday festivity, drew immense acclaim.
The attraction overhaul wasn’t merely superficial. It encompassed every aspect of the mansion, from the façade adorned with Jack Skellington’s sleigh and skeletal reindeer, to the gingerbread house scent wafting through the Grand Hall.
Legacy and Evolution:
The success of the Haunted Mansion Holiday has led to its annual return, becoming a staple of Disneyland’s holiday celebrations. The attraction’s appeal lies not just in its novelty but also in its evolving nature. Each year, Imagineers tweak and change various elements, ensuring that even those who’ve ridden it before will find new surprises.
The Haunted Mansion Holiday serves as a testament to the enduring appeal of the original Haunted Mansion and showcases Disney’s ability to reinvent and rejuvenate classic attractions, maintaining their relevance in contemporary times.
Design and Architecture
The overlay is a masterpiece of design. Jack Skellington and his ghastly gang have truly taken over, decking the halls with eerie ensembles and dreadful décor. The exterior mansion boasts a massive clock with a countdown to Christmas, while a giant list, presumably of those naughty and nice, flutters beside it.
Inside, familiar rooms receive a “Nightmare” twist. The stretching room features stained glass portraits that transform into scenes from Halloween Town, and the Grand Hall brims with a ghostly celebration, including a massive gingerbread house centerpiece that’s redesigned every year.
Ride Experience: Queue & Music
The experience begins in the queue. Gone is the somber tone of the original; in its place, Danny Elfman’s iconic score from “The Nightmare Before Christmas” weaves throughout, setting the mood. The sights and sounds truly engulf you, hinting at the transformed world that lies ahead.
Once aboard your “doom buggy”, you’re whisked into Jack’s twisted vision of the holidays. The Ghost Host (now voiced by the chillingly delightful Paul Frees) guides you through each room, each one more enchantingly eerie than the last. Sally, Oogie Boogie, and the whole Halloween Town crew make appearances, culminating in a graveyard scene bursting with festive cheer.
1. The Foyer & The Stretching Room: Upon entering the mansion’s foyer, guests are immediately greeted with a holiday twist. A twisted garland decorated with “Nightmare Before Christmas” ornaments adorns the surroundings. As you proceed into the infamous stretching room, the portrait transformation takes on a new persona. Familiar images elongate to reveal the mischief of Jack and his crew – from snowmen with carnivorous aspirations to the iconic scene of Jack as Sandy Claws, pulled by his skeletal reindeer.
2. Doom Buggy Journey Begins: Once aboard the doom buggy, your ghostly transportation, the corridors have been decked out with eerily enchanted wreaths that occasionally come to life, bearing their menacing teeth. As you proceed, the infamous wallpaper seems to have slightly shifted its hue, embodying a more festive spirit.
3. The Seance Room: Madame Leota, the spirit in the crystal ball, now floats amid a room filled with floating Christmas cards and tarot cards. Her incantations take on a yuletide twist as she chants the “13 Days of Christmas.”
4. The Grand Hall: The highlight of the revamp lies in the Grand Hall, which has been transformed into a chaotic Christmas party. Ghosts dance around a festively decked table adorned with a uniquely designed gingerbread house – a real culinary creation that changes its design every season. Above them, ghostly mistletoe apparitions float and play, and a giant Jack-in-the-box version of Oogie Boogie threatens playfully.
5. The Graveyard Scene: The snow-covered graveyard is a whimsical wintry wonderland. Singing busts croon Christmas carols, and the iconic hill from the film, crowned by Jack and Sally in a touching moment, can be seen in the distance. The sounds of “What’s This?” resonate throughout, capturing the blend of Jack’s wonder and the spooky surroundings.
6. Exit & Hitchhiking Ghosts: Even the exit isn’t devoid of “Nightmare” influences. The mischievous trio of hitchhiking ghosts don festive attire, trying to hitch a ride home with you for the holidays. As you disembark, mirrors reveal that you might have picked up an extra festive phantom passenger or two.
Average Wait Times
During the holiday season, the Haunted Mansion Holiday becomes incredibly popular. Average wait times can range from 30 minutes on off-peak days to 2+ hours on weekends and holidays. It’s best to check the Disneyland app for current wait times.
Best Times to Ride
Early mornings or late evenings are typically the best times to hop aboard if you’re looking to avoid the longest queues. Also, consider weekdays and non-holiday dates if possible. The ride is usually open from 8:00am-12:00am
The success of the Haunted Mansion Holiday has led to its annual return, becoming a staple of Disneyland’s holiday celebrations. The attraction’s appeal lies not just in its novelty but also in its evolving nature. Each year, Imagineers tweak and change various elements, ensuring that even those who’ve ridden it before will find new surprises. The Haunted Mansion Holiday is a testament to Disney’s boundless creativity and ability to rejuvenate classic attractions.
It’s not just a mere overlay but a whole new experience, enveloping riders in the whimsical world of Jack Skellington. For fans of “The Nightmare Before Christmas”, it’s a must-ride. For others, it’s a refreshing take on a beloved classic. Either way, it’s a delightful haunting that’ll leave you humming its tunes long after you’ve disembarked.
Haunted Mansion Holiday Ride Review
The Final Word
The Haunted Mansion Holiday ride at Disneyland is a unique and enchanting experience that combines the best of the original Haunted Mansion attraction with the festive spirit of "The Nightmare Before Christmas." With its impressive special effects, captivating storyline, and immersive atmosphere, this seasonal ride is a must-visit for Disneyland guests during the holiday season.