Foolish Mortals are Talking

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When Two Holidays Collide...

Our Tour Continues

Corridor of Doors

Your Doom Buggy passes down the hall and under a large evergreen vine with red chomping flowers that have faces and gaping maws in the center of the blooms. The faces are animatronics. Their eyes move and their mouths sing “la-la-la’s” to the tune of “Deck the Halls" - at least they did when the holiday overlay was first conceived. After the first year, the soundtrack was changed to add more elements from Danny Elfman's original songs from the movie soundtrack, and now the evil flora sing to the tune of "Kidnap the Sandy Claws."

Haunted Mansion Holiday Coffin

Haunted Mansion Holiday Wreath with Sharp Teeth

The Conservatory coffin is still there with its hapless contents still trying to escape, only now the casket has been wrapped twice with a large ribbon and sports a coffin-shaped tag that reads “Do not open ‘til Christmas.” Atop the coffin is a stylized, cartoonish bat-teddy bear in place of the familiar raven. This "Vampire Teddy" becomes a mascot for the ride in the same way that the raven is for the off-season Mansion, making various appearances throughout the attraction.

The garland vines drape down the hallway, eventually becoming a giant wreath with dagger-like teeth that you pass under while it grabs the chandeliers above you with long, clawed vine arms. Its small, menacing flowers continue to chomp threateningly, as the Ghost Host joins in:

Ghost Host: “Nothing here was forgotten, it all looks so pleasant—a coffin, Jack says, makes a fine Christmas present!”

Ghost Host: “A man-eating plant makes a wonderful wreath… as long as you don’t get caught in its teeth...”

“Nothing here was forgotten, it all looks so pleasant—a coffin, Jack says, makes a fine Christmas present! A man-eating plant makes a wonderful wreath… as long as you don’t get caught in its teeth. Jack’s holiday vision was unlike no other, so ring out the bells, there’s more cheer to uncover!”

As you then pass the grandfather clock tolling the hour of "thirteen," there are some added evergreen garlands and holiday ribbons wrapped around it, and several wrapped gifts are placed next to the clock itself.

Séance Room

Haunted Mansion Holiday Tarot Haunted Mansion Holiday Tarot

The floating musical instruments are replaced by floating NBC-themed Tarot cards, and Madame Leota is reciting a ghostly new version of “The Twelve Days of Christmas” while a creepy arrangement of “Carol of the Bells” plays in the background:

“On the 13th day of Christmas, my ghoul love gave to me:
13 rings of power, embracing strength that never ends…
12 signs of the Zodiac, that rule the future and transcend…
11 candles floating, their scent of mystery in the air…
10 telling tealeaves, that swirled with secrets yet to share.

“On the 9th day of Christmas, my ghoul love gave to me:
9 magic crystals, that sparkled with a force that is pure…
8 balls of knowledge, that answer with a truth that is sure…
7 pearls of wisdom, to keep my love bewitched to me…
6 mystic mirrors, reflecting futures yet to be.

“On the 5fth day of Christmas, my ghoul love gave to me:
5 lucky charms, to understand the right from wrong…
4 wheels of fortune, to spin their rich and golden song…
3 lifelines, extending help to those in need…
2 passion potions, that love and romance may succeed…
On the first day of Christmas, my ghoul love gave to me: A star! A brilliant star for my fortune card tree!”

Madame Leota recites the “Thirteen Days of Christmas” while consulting her tarot cards...

Ghost Host: “With some treats and some games, you can make a scene merry... why, even a gingerbread house could seem scary!”

Madame Leota provided a challenge for the new soundtrack in the Haunted Mansion, as the projected speaking face had to match the new script. So to fill Leota's crystal ball, Disney tapped Kim Irvine, who happens to be the daughter of the original Madame Leota from the attraction (Leota Toombs.) Irvine provided a suitably evil medium for the holiday overlay.

The Grand Ballroom

As patrons leave Madame Leota’s circle, the Ghost Host returns: “With some treats and some games, you can make a scene merry... why, even a gingerbread house could seem scary! All at once, happy haunts did materialize, like a nightmarish painting by Currier & Ives.”

Haunted Mansion Holiday Gingerbread House

There are many big changes here. The mantelpiece above the fireplace has Christmas lights, garland and glowing Jack O’ Lanterns on it. The ghosts who float in through the open doorway by the hearse at the back are now carrying presents, and the hearse itself is filled with pumpkins and gifts.

Zero floats above the main dining table, which now hosts a strange, gingerbread-house-like thing with what appear to be arms and fangs. To the immediate left of the main dining table is an enormous Christmas tree that reaches almost to the ceiling. My first thought was that here was an evergreen version of Ray Bradbury’s Halloween Tree. The huge, spindly Christmas tree is covered with glowing Jack O’ Lanterns, candles and ornaments.

Gordon Goodwin provided a suitably eerie holiday score for the ballroom dancers.

The Ballroom Dancers and Ghostly Organist are the same, but the organ itself is decorated with two Jack O’ Lanterns, one on either side of the manuals. Strings of lights and garland are draped all along the banister at the rear of the ballroom.

Gordon Goodwin's 2001 ballroom orchestration is a remarkable blend of the crazed aura that surrounded the original Mansion soundtrack and a rich symphonic waltz incorporating themes from the Carol of the Bells.

Haunted Mansion Holiday attic toys.

The Attic

The first thing you see upon entering the attic is a large list of names (which I understand contains the names of some of the designers who created the Haunted Mansion Holiday overlay) that rises from the floor between some pieces of attic junk and leads back into the room and out of sight.

The attic has been cleared of most of the old familiar junk, and it is now filled with creepy gifts and presents, from some of which leap a giant stylized skull, a jack-(o-lantern)-in-the-box, and a giant cat’s head. The Ghost Host chimes in: “A bag full of toys Jack had slung on his back… they were strange and bizarre—and on the attack!”

“A bag full of toys Jack had slung on his back… they were strange and bizarre—and on the attack!”

Running the length of the attic and behind the stacks of presents is the long, giant snake from the film NBC. Its body is bulging with swallowed gifts, and it eventually rises to form an arch under which you pass to get to the graveyard. The snake’s head is where the Ghostly Bride normally stands. From the snake’s mouth winds the rest of the name list we first saw when we entered the attic.

On the night of the attraction’s unveiling, there were four additional name lists containing the names of the two hundred of us who purchased the more expensive tickets. These lists are not part of the normal overlay, and were taken down at the conclusion of the night.

Disneyland Internal Newsletter

One of the sweeter additions to the "Haunted Mansion" attraction's amazing transformation into "Haunted Mansion Holiday" at Disneyland Park in 2001 was an eight-foot-tall "haunted gingerbread mansion" that formed a magnificent centerpiece in the spooky abode's famous ballroom scene. For the attraction's second season in 2002, an all-new giant gingerbread house was created for this playful collision of Halloween and Christmas. This time, the creation was 11 feet tall!

Click here to read Disneyland's press release about the making of the giant gingerbread house.

Click here to see a page from the internal newsletter distributed to Disneyland Park cast members about the gingerbread house.


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