Due to the success of Disneyland’s It’s A Small World Holiday and The Country Bear Christmas Special, Disney wanted to find a unique way to celebrate the holidays at another popular attraction – The Haunted Mansion. An attraction which focused on “grim-grinning ghosts” didn’t quite lend itself to the typical Christmas celebration.
The imagineers initially thought of using A Christmas Carol as the basis for the mansion’s holiday transformation. This story, which does feature a few ghosts, could have worked for a holiday themed Haunted Mansion; However, it just didn’t quite fit with the New Orleans Square location of the mansion. In addition, the imagineers thought Santa Claus just didn’t belong with the mansion’s 999 happy haunts.
Instead of basing the attraction’s holiday celebration of the classic Charles Dickens tale, the decision was made to overlay the Haunted Mansion with a Nightmare Before Christmas theme. The goblins and ghouls of Tim Burton’s Nightmare Before Christmas were a perfect fit for the eerie mansion. Together Walt Disney Entertainment Creative Director Steve Davidson and his team were able to perfectly blend the Haunted Mansion and Nightmare Before Christmas into quite a unique celebration of both the ghoulishness of Halloween and the joy of Christmas.
In October of 2001, Haunted Mansion Holiday opened for the first time. The new overlay featured Leota Toomb’s daughter, Kim Irvine, as Madame Leota and Corey Burton as the Ghost Host. With a voice similar to Eleanor Audley’s, Susan Blakeslee was chosen as the voice of Madame Leota.
Haunted Mansion Holiday quickly became extremely popular with Disneyland guests. In fact, the new version of this classic attraction was so popular the rarely needed FastPass machines were utilized quite often for the new version of the Haunted Mansion.
Plans were made to duplicate the holiday overlay at Walt Disney World’s version of the attraction. As you probably know, these plans were later abandoned and Haunted Mansion Holiday never found it’s way to Orlando. However, the props for the overlay had already been produced. So they were sent to Tokyo Disneyland where Haunted Mansion Holiday made its debut on Friday, September the 13th of 2013.
Have you experienced Haunted Mansion Holiday at Disneyland or Tokyo Disneyland? We would love to hear your thoughts on the holiday overlay in the comments below!
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