Hard to believe we’re celebrating 50 years of ghoulish delights at Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion. Every day it proves that sometime the classic thrills are the best thrills. For the holiday season, the beloved attraction transforms into Haunted Mansion Holiday inspired by the Walt Disney Pictures classic “Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas.”
This is the 19th time that Jack Skellington has bestowed his spooky ideas about Christmas on the Haunted Mansion. He’s back as “Sandy Claws,” of course, and his dog Zero still floats eerily down the hallways of the spooky house.
The grown jewel of the transformation is a giant gingerbread house that sits on the dining table in the Grand Hall as the scent of tasty gingerbread fills the air. This year, the nearly 10-foot tall centerpiece celebrates the Haunted Mansion’s 50th anniversary, complete with 15 spirited Haunted Mansion residents made of gingerbread cookies.
To make the Haunted Mansion gingerbread house takes approximately:
- 30 pounds of gingerbread
- three gallons of egg whites
- 120 pounds of frosting and icing
- 75 pounds of confectioner’s sugar
- 140 pounds of fondant
- …and more.
A team of six culinary cast members from the Disneyland Resort Central Bakery created this year’s gingerbread mansion, which took 13 days to build and decorate. Three of these pastry team members have been part of the Haunted Mansion gingerbread house team since the annual holiday transformation began 18 years ago.
“We tried to keep it as faithful to the Haunted Mansion itself so guests could immediately get that it’s the mansion, and know that it’s a heartfelt ‘dead-ication’ to it,” said Tim Wollweber, the project’s art director.
Wollweber says that this year’s gingerbread house features more intricate details than ever, ‘We have lantern bits in there, doors where they generally would be found, green iron work in there…we’ve never really done that before,” continued Wollweber.
Here are more fun fun facts about the Haunted Mansion Holiday overlay at Disneyland:
- The Eerie Exterior – More than 400 flickering candles create a ghostly glow on the façade of the Haunted Mansion. Each night, more than 100 jack-o-lanterns shine their ghoulish light.
- The Haunted Elevator – Jack Skellington and his ghost dog Zero appear in a fully animated sequence on the ceiling of the “stretching” room, which transports guests into the depths of the mansion.
- The Graveyard – The graveyard inside Haunted Mansion Holiday is covered with nearly 7,500 square feet of snow. More than 20 gallons of UV (ultra-violet) paint is used to enhance the snow’s eerie glow. Nearly 1,000 tiny, orange lights decorate the trees.
- Graveyard Ice Angels – The iconic Graveyard Ice Angels are designed with a jagged, ice-carved look. Their ethereal wings and snow-glow colors shine with a ghoulish luster each year.
- Deck the Halls – Each season, thousands of feet of “Black Gnarly” garland is draped and hung inside and outside Haunted Mansion Holiday. Jack’s faithful dog Zero gathered more than 200 bones to use as décor, garland and presents.
- “Come Out to Socialize” – More than two dozen additional animated figures “materialize” inside the mansion whenever Jack brings his Haunted Mansion Holiday around. From man-eating wreaths to vampire teddy bears, they wait all year to join in the holiday spirit.
- Home Creepy Home – Creepy cobwebs are artistically kept (not swept!) year-round to make Jack Skellington and the 999 Happy Haunts feel right at home.
- Seasonal Séance Room – Madame Leota’s “13 Days of Christmas” are featured in 13 spinning fortune cards that tell of the Christmas gifts which, as she proclaims, “My ghoul love gave to me…”
- Kim Irvine, daughter of the original Madame Leota – For this seasonal attraction, Imagineer Kim Irvine gives a spirited performance as the Haunted Mansion’s favorite psychic, floating inside the Haunted Mansion’s Crystal Ball in the Séance Room. Her mother Leota Toombs, Disney Legend and long-time Imagineer, first gave life to the floating head.
Hard to believe this is the transformation’s 19th year. Is a trip through Haunted Mansion Holiday a must-do for your holiday season at Disneyland?
Photos courtesy Disneyland. David Nguyen photographer.