Foolish Mortals are Talking

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When Two Holidays Collide...

Our Tour Continues

The Graveyard

As the patrons exit the attic and look out through the strings of lights placed in the dead trees below, they see a giant snow hill that rises to a curled top. This hill is filled with glowing Jack O’ Lanterns, their candles blinking in time to the updated version of “Grim Grinning Ghosts” that plays through this part of the ride. Meanwhile, the Ghost Host returns to narrate:

Haunted Mansion Holiday Graveyard

"Sandy Claws worked his magic, both outside and in, but one final touch made his bony face grin. Now what better gift on my friends to bestow, than a graveyard that’s covered in ghostly white snow!”

Your Doom Buggy spins around to descend backwards into the graveyard, then proceeds down through dead trees decorated with candy canes and small hanging skeletons and winds past a large Jack in his Santa suit standing next to a barking Zero, both of which are by the entry gate of the graveyard where the Caretaker and his dog would normally stand. Santa Jack is an animatronic, moving and waving, issuing holiday greetings and asking if you have been good this year. (As he did in the film, Chris Sarandon provided the voice of Jack for the ride.)

Haunted Mansion Holiday Graveyard - Jack Skellington

The first crypt inside the gates is wrapped in a large ribbon. Snow covers everything in sight, and the graves and mausoleums are decorated with bright bows and ribbons. The ghosts themselves that appear throughout the set haven't been changed much, with the exception of the five Singing Busts which have been replaced by five Singing Jack O’ Lanterns that sit at the base of the giant snow pile.

The Singing Lanterns are very effective, looking more life-like (in a somewhat twisted way) than the busts they have temporarily replaced. Over the updated version of “Grim Grinning Ghosts,” they sing a familiar tune in countermelody:

“We wish you a scary Christmas; We wish you a scary Christmas; We wish you a scary Christmas, and a haunted new year! Boo!”

Haunted Mansion Holiday Singing Jack o-Lanterns

Chris Sarandon recorded many lines for Jack to recite as your Doom Buggy passes him on the way into the graveyard.

The Singing Jack-O-Lanterns: “We wish you a scary Christmas; We wish you a scary Christmas; We wish you a scary Christmas, and a haunted new year! Boo!”

Another Singing Jack-O-Lanterns track. This is the harmony track to support the lead track above.

Listen to various takes of the 2001 graveyard tune, sung by different characters as they frolic in the snowy graveyard:

And more graveyard denizens sing their ghoulish carol...

After the Singing Lanterns, you pass underneath two huge snow angels with Jack O’ Lantern heads that stand on either side of the pathway. The rest of the graveyard inhabitants join in singing the updated tune:

“Fa la la la la, fa la la la la la!
What’s this? What’s this? What’s this?
Jolly dear old Sandy Claws,
While the graveyard sleeps,
Down the chimney dark and damp, with your sack you’ll creep...
Happy haunts materialize, for a swinging wake,
Glowing pumpkins harmonize,
Joyful screams you’ll make!

“Fa la la la la, fa la la la la la!
What’s this? What’s this?
What’s this?
Garlands made of iron chains,
Candles glowing white,
Spiders make cool ornaments,
For our tree of light!
Creepy Crypts look awful nice,
Tied up in a bow,
Now our graveyard’s pure and white, in the ghostly snow!
…Grim Grinning Ghosts come out to socialize!”

The Hitchhiking Ghosts

The Hitchhiking Ghosts are gone (although if you look closely at the background of this scene, you might see them off in the distance.) They have been replaced by a cutout of Lock, Shock and Barrel peering through the bars of a round cage set behind a pile of scary toys beneath a banner that reads “We wish you a scary Christmas.” The borders of the display are covered with snowflakes made from spider webs. Explains the Ghost Host:

“As Jack sprang in his sleigh, three hitchhikers he spied. They said, “Sandy Claws, may we please have a ride?” But Jack waved good-bye, for he just could not stay—he had much to deliver before Christmas Day!”

The Ghost Host says farewell to his guests: “May Jack’s ‘ghostly presents’ now follow you home, and stay in your hearts—where’er you may roam.”

Sally also says her good-byes, reminding exiting visitors to "Hurry back..."

Next, the Doom Buggies pass by some gilded mirrors. The frames of the mirrors have been wrapped in wreaths and ribbons and each carries the caption “A ghostly gift for you” at the top. The Hitchhiking Ghosts have been replaced with a Skull, a Jack O’ Lantern and a Cat—the same creepy presents that were in the toy display that you passed in the attic. The Ghost Host offers the Mansion’s guests his final thoughts with these words:

“May Jack’s ‘ghostly presents’ now follow you home, and stay in your hearts—where’er you may roam. For now you know what happens when holidays meet... You might get a trick… or a holiday treat!”

Haunted Mansion Holiday - Sally

Unloading Area and “Little Sally”

The crypt beside the Unloading Area is decorated for the holiday overlay with a few pumpkins and Jack O’ Lanterns sitting in some of the niches. “Little Leota” has been replaced by a tiny Sally who sits atop a round gift box staring up at a full moon, extolling each patron to:

“Hurry back… hurry back… be sure to bring your Sandy Claws sack! I’ll be waiting to open my Christmas present… Hurry back… hurry back…”

On the gift box is a small tag that reads “Merry Christmas to all and to all a good fright.” Every few minutes, a silhouette of Sandy Claws and his sleigh crosses the backlit moon.

All in all, Disney has done an incredible job in putting this attraction together. If you are not an NBC fan, then the changes may not impress you very much. If you are a fan, then you should enjoy the new features greatly. Some fans might feel that some of the NBC characters were somewhat overlooked (it might be nice if Lock, Shock and Barrel had more of a presence, or if Oogy Boogy popped up somewhere.) Still, these are minor quibbles, none of which impact the quality of the ride.

According to many reports, the success of the October 3, 2001 special event honoring the opening of the holiday overlay was beyond Disneyland’s expectations—so much so that the refurbishment may become an annual event. Disney is hosting another such special event October 3, 2002, and tickets were sold out in July. Four different packages were available: “J” for $2250 (which includes a dinner the night before the event in the Haunted Mansion itself and was limited to thirty guests); “A” for $569; “C” for $200 and “K” for $69. “J” sold out within twenty minutes; “A” almost as fast; “C” within hours and “K” within the first day. Disney also set aside two pairs of “J” tickets to be auctioned to the highest bidder.

If you can get to Disneyland to see Haunted Mansion Holiday some year, I heartily suggest you do so.

1. Halloween and Christmas
2. The Haunted Mansion and The Nightmare Before Christmas

Who knew? This is one head-on collision I can live with.

Scott Bruffey is a free-lance writer obsessed with the Haunted Mansion to the point of dysfunction. He resides in Washington, DC where he spends most of his time drawing crude figures of Madame Leota from the neck down. Special thanks to Ste3ve and Allen (at Disneyfans.com) for the use of their photographs.

Changes in 2003

In 2003, enhancements were made to the original Haunted Mansion Holiday overlay. As was noted previously, the original Gordon Goodwin score was replaced with a John Debney arrangement of Danny Elfman's original themes from the "Nightmare" film in 2002 - but with the 2003 overlay, Oogie Boogie made his way into the Mansion in place of the missing hitchhiking ghosts.

With the introduction of Oogie to the Mansion, a special hide-and-seek game was developed for guests that would help them spot the new character as he appeared in various forms throughout the attractions. Cast members handed a flyer to guests waiting in line to visit the holiday-themed Mansion, which read:

Well, well, well...what have we here? Looks like it's Oogie's time to get in on the action at the Haunted Mansion Holiday! Haven't you heard? Oogie Claws is comin' to town! Say, let's play a game of hide and seek. Are you ready? There's "Oogie Surprises" in 10 different places and they're hidden all 'round this dusty old mansion! Might be inside, might be outside! Think you can spot 'em? The flyer also contained 10 clues to help curious mortals find the "surprises."

Gingerbread Oogie Boogie

Inside (and outside) the Mansion were hidden 10 different representations of Oogie's character, including a hedge cut to look like Oogie in the queue; an Oogie Boogie stretching portrait; an Oogie changing protrait, in which a snowman turns into the outline of Oogie Boogie with bugs crawling through him; a pile of bones arranged to spell out "Oogie;" a singing flowers with an Oogie head; a spinning card picturing Oogie behind Madame Leota; a giant gingerbread Oogie in the middle of the ballroom table (created by Disneyland Chef Jean-Marc Viallet, pictured at left); an Oogie in the Corridor of Doors on the Man-Eating Wreath; a box of bugs in the attic, which also contained a little Oogie Boogie clapping cymbals like a toy monkey; and a pumpkin carved with Oogie's face in the graveyard.

The primary addition to the 2003 overlay, however, was a new large Audio-Animatronic Oogie, standing next to a Roulette-type wheel with pictures of "gifts" on it. The pictures include things like Candy-cane striped snakes, candy-cane dynamite, a question mark, and some monster toys. When you arrive, Oogie says "Welcome to Oogie's Holiday Tricks and Treats! Round and round she goes! What's your gift? Oogie knows! Bwa-ha-ha! Are you gettin' a trick or a treat? Isn't this fun? Oohoohoo! I can't wait to see what you get! It's gift-givin' time! Ya get what ya get, ahaha! Have I got a present for you! It's all good here. Sugar and spice, naughty and nice! Have you been naughty or nice, huuuh? Well, looky who we got here! I have a special holiday something just for you! Hang on to your holiday hats! Oogie Claws is comin' at'cha! Woohoohoo!"

A commercial from 2003 advertises the arrival of a new "houseguest" to Haunted Mansion Holiday.

As you pass by the mirrors, you see the same gifts that were on Oogie's Holiday Wheel. Every few seconds, however, Lock, Shock, or Barrel pop up in front of his or her appointed mirror and cackle at you. As you leave, Little Sally is still there, but her speech is quite different. Oogie adds his two cents as well. There are three different spiels:

Sally: Hurry back...hurry back...
Oogie: Hurry back! Hurry back! Hahaha! Be sure to bring your gift certificate! Ahahaha! Season Screamings, everyone!

Sally: Hurry back...hurry back...
Oogie: Don't let the tombstone hit ya on the way out! I've got plenty more tricks and treats in store for your next visit!

Sally: Hurry back...hurry back.
Oogie: (mockingly) Hurry back! Hurry back! Hurry back! Ahahahahah!!


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