Disneyland gets ready for Halloween Time as the busy summer season fades away

Written by Andy Castro. Posted in Dateline Disneyland, Disneyland Resort

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Published on August 27, 2012 at 2:02 am with 35 Comments

About Andy Castro

Andy is a Southern California native, raised with Disneyland and a life-long fan of Disney theme parks and animation. Andy wrote the long-running weekly Dateline Disneyland photo, news and opinion blog here on MiceChat from 2007-2016. Andy continues to make occasional special guest contributions on MiceChat.

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  • misfits138

    I have really begun to resent the Haunted Mansion overlay. 6 months of the year every year the Haunted Mansion is either closed or replaced by the overlay. And wouldn’t it make more sense to have the Haunted Mansion in its true form for Halloween rather than a jolly, Christmas themed attraction which actually begins in SEPTEMBER? Ah well. I know I have the minority opinion, but I really wish the NBC overlay would go away for good. OK , I’ll compromise. How about having the overlay ever other year so people who only get to visit DL can still experience the original?

    • Gregg Condon

      I totally agree misfits. It’s just TOO much. And it seems to be getting longer every year. They should shut down the Mansion on November 1st for the overlay and reopen it for Holiday Time.

    • skoolpsyk

      At first I admit I liked it, but now I’ve come to hate it. Hope they take it out, but don’t see that happening… 🙁

    • I’m going to agree as well. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE Haunted Mansion Holiday, but think it should be for Christmas only. I would really like to see them add live actors to the regular version of Haunted Mansion during October (live knight in a suit, perhaps some ghostly characters wandering the queue, etc.). HMH should be a very short but special occasion and not dragged out like they do it today.

      • Tiny Mermaid

        I could not agree more. I’m going to Disneyland in October (my first Halloween experience at the park) and am so disappointed that HMH will be going on. The original Mansion is much better suited to Halloween.

        I expect to see HMH at Christmas, and have enjoyed it in the past, but am beginning to resent the time it takes away from the original.

      • brian11811

        I totally agree. Have it go down Nov 1st and be back up in time for thanks giving and Christmas.

    • TheClaw

      Agree 100% 🙁

  • chesirecat

    The HMH is based upon the NIghtmare Before Christmas, which involves both holidays, but mostly Halloween as most of the movie happens in Halloweentown. Personally, I love the overlay, though I also enjoy the old overlay. HMH adds something new to the park, and I love seeing the Christmas stuff early in October, kind of stretches out the whole holiday season. It is really nice seeing the effort that Disney put into the whole production, especially since other Christmas overlays, such as the one they used to do for Country Bear Jamboree in MK are no longer being done.

    At first I didn’t know what HMH was all about, not having seen the film in a years and years, and I rode it but didn’t get what everything was about, then I watched Nightmare Before Christmas on DVD and fell in love with the ride. I hope Disney never takes it out!

    I think what we have is a good compromise, if you plan your trip, you can see whichever version of HM you prefer, for out of town guests. I’m planning an October trip as a lot of people in our family love the HMH version.

  • trixielou

    So does this mean I should have my kids watch Nightmare Before Christmas before our trip in October? They haven’t seen it and I will have them watch it if it helps.

    Also, great update as usual Andy. I read every week, this is my first time commenting.

  • dolewhipdude

    Perhaps they could rotate which attractions get the holiday overlays each year and/or change up the timing of when it gets installed? For example, we love going to the Halloween Party each year, but as a result we never get to experience Small World. We don’t live in CA, so we actually have never seen Small World and to do would mean purposely planning a visit when we know Small World would be open. Too bad we have to choose. I think a rotation and changing up the timing would really help to address this issue.

  • chesirecat

    Young kids really love the Nightmare Before Christmas, at least in my experience, and I think its a cute classic film, I would definitely recommend that they watch it before riding HMH, then they’ll recognize the major characters like Oogie Boogie and the vampire teddy bear and stuff. They did a great job bringing the stuff to life, and its a great ride after you’ve seen the film.

    As far as the Small World overlay goes, the Christmas lights and everything on Small World is a big hit, kinda hope they don’t stop this overlay, though I guess they could change the time they do the overlay each year, or like you said, don’t do the overlay for a year, (but maybe do another overlay on something else in the park . . .)

  • aquaboi77

    I couldn’t disagree with misfits138 more. Nightmare Before Christmas isn’t my favorite movie, but it’s better than the old Haunted Mansion design. I really wish they would gut that ride along with Pirates and completely redo it. The sets and all the technology is so dated. At least Nightmare freshens the place up a bit. Walt Disney did not want the parks to become museums. He was an innovator and always wanted to use the newest technology, and todays park guests are lot more sophisticated. I want to be wowed, and the last time any of those rides wowed me was when I was 8 years old.

  • DisneyDrums

    Why is everyone putting down Haunted Mansion Holiday? Nightmare Before Christmas is not based on just Christmas, but on Halloween as well. Therefore, the minority is wrong. It opens for the Halloween season, & runs through the rest of the year.

    But……. I do agree they need to do a little bit of work with the ride. Maybe get the Holiday version set up, but leave the Christmas stuff out til Halloween ends, then install the Christmas stuff later. I think that could work.

  • TylerBliss87

    I’m upset Indiana Jones will be closed for 3 months!!! 3 months? Really? We are taking our first ever trip to DL in September and were most excited about this attraction. Worst of all, Disney waited until the last minute to post this…like this week! I hate that they wait that long to post ride refurbs. I would have planned my trip around this closure had I known about it!

    • dth316

      I know this might sound drastic or downright crazy but you should seriously refund everything and go to Disneyland another time! Indiana Jones is by far the best ride in the park and missing it due to Disneyland’s horrible timing is an injustice! It’ll be worth the extra wait, I assure you!

  • Algernon

    I love the makeover. It has great art and music. And it’s like getting a new ride once a year.

  • Andy, BEAUTIFUL update today. Your photos of the retro Halloween decorations in the Main Street shops has me finally ready for the spooky season!

    Thank you for all your hard work!!!

  • unclemike

    When I lived in the Bay Area (near San Francisco) the ONLY reason I would go to Disneyland every year I drove down was to see the Nightmare overlay. Now that I live in OC and have an annual pass, I still love the Nightmare overlay more than just about anything else in the park.

    I guess I just took Walt at his word that he didn’t want Disneyland to become a museum.

  • Director_Guy

    My issue with HMH has always been “a little too much Christmas for Halloween, but the right amount of Halloween during Christmas”. I wish they’d keep HM open for Halloween with minimal decorations, then go nuts with the HMH.

  • Dizzey

    Nope. I totally agree with Misfits 138 and all the other posters below that one. Every other year would be fantastic. Our family can only come around Thanksgiving time every year (family schedules just line up there) and NEVER get to see the Murderous Bride Attic, the singing busts with Thurl Ravenscroft singing, etc. Singing Jack-o-lanterns? Really? Does that come anywhere close?

    And I disagree about the intent of Disney. Sure, he said it would never be finished and that it should be updated, etc., but Disneyland is absolutely one part museum/ beloved, classic attractions. It’s designed to be for people of all ages, and old duffers like me will still go see the Tiki Room, for instance, because of the nostalgia. Main Street U.S.A. was a “dated” attraction the day it was built. Should we rip it down and replace it with Wall Street U.S.A.? Nostalgia should always be part of the equation.

    Anyway, every-other-year would satisfy all camps, I feel. And those that have to wait an extra year for their version would have all that much more excitement during their “on” years.

  • Soulquarian

    As a local, I like the fact that every year I basically get two attractions in one at the Haunted Mansion. My only gripe is that so much stays the same from year to year, it’d be nice to get more significant changes yearly than just the gingerbread house.

    I have more of an issue with Pirates and the movie overlay than Haunted Mansion, at HM reverts to the classic attraction! lol

  • Susan Hughes

    Okay, I think I’ll change the HMH subject and go on to another gripe I have. The announcement that Candlelight Processional will be 20 days long…and clog up Town Square and Main Street during the busy holiday season bothers me.
    Your article about the old Princess Fantasy Faire being turned back into a theater makes me scratch my head in confusion as to why such a LARGE capacity theater can’t be used for Candlelight Processional for 20 days.
    Does anyone know if there’s even the slightest hint that common sense will win out in the end and that this LARGE theater will be used?

    • Rubbish

      Disney used the Fantasyland Theatre in the 90s to host Candlelight. I was able to attend that year and it was spectacular. The theatre has great acoustics and lighting, plus better seating. In Town Square, it is difficult to get a good view of the show. In the Fantasyland Theatre, every seat was a good seat.

      There were two issues with the venue:
      1. It broke with tradition and caused a huge uproar amongst the loyal fans. There was a line down the steps of City Hall of people who wanted to complain. I remember standing to the side listening to a few of the people screaming with red faces about how Disney ruined Christmas.
      2. Ticket distribution was a mess. This was Disney’s fault because they decided to hand out tickets on a first come, first served basis at the theatre. There was a stampede as people rushed from the Main Entrance to Fantasyland, pushing children and people in wheelchairs out of their way in the process. On the second day, Disney moved the ticket distribution to a ticket window at the Main Entrance to avoid the stampede issue.

      In short, the venue would be the perfect solution. There’s no way that they could get the theatre ready in time for this year’s performances. But I’ll keep my fingers crossed that they decide to break with tradition and move to the Fantasyland Theatre next year.

      • dth316

        That story sounds a bit over dramatic but like you said, I’d love to see it move to the Fantasyland theater… just to witness the chaos you just described haha

  • Grinning Ghost

    It’s just TOO EARLY for all this Halloween stuff to be up. At least wait until mid-September to start. And leave the Mansion alone until AFTER Halloween!

  • SpectroMan

    HMH is fun, but yes, as a temporary overlay, it’s getting a little old. I’d much rather see the Mansion plussed for Halloween, telling the story even deeper, and have a new, permanent Nightmare dark ride instead. But where to put it…

  • Spongeocto4

    Thanks for the update!

  • [email protected]

    Great subject. I am on the fence on the overlay. I like it for a short time 1 to 2 months. But 4 plus months is too long. Anything that long has gone well past a temporary overlay. I am proud to anounce that I finally got my Premium AP. It has been a long time coming and I will be putting it to go use. Thanks Andy for all of your hard work and passion for DLR.

  • TrueBlue

    Keep in mind that the Haunted Mansion Holiday overlay is quite extensive. Although not as immersive as it’s a small world Christmas, it is still more detailed than that overlay or Space Mountain Ghost Galaxy. A Christmastime-only overlay would hardly warrant three weeks of down time for the installation and a couple more in January for the removal. As a local who visits regularly, I really enjoy the change each September, especially after more than forty years of essentially the same (although still terrific) Haunted Mansion. Also, given the amount of Nightmare merchandise available year-round in New Orleans Square (and, sadly, everywhere else), there is no way the overlay will be shortened.
    That said, i would love to see multiple and more pronounced changes from year to year, besides the gingerbread house. Wouldn’t it be great if the HMH overlay periodically featured a Hat Box Ghost placement? Bet that would change the tune of those who want a shorter overlay.
    And for those that have not seen Nightmare, you do not need to see the movie to enjoy HMH, although it certainly helps in appreciating characters other than Jack.

  • Sleepy505

    Haunted Mansion Holiday is what my family and I look forward on seeing if we can make it that time of the year, My family and I live out of state and we have been to the Disneyland Resort in Spring, Summer and Winter but we have always found our favorite time is in the Fall, the park is less packed the heat is gone and the weather is great. We will be traveling in October and we can’t see any other better time than going that time of the year, Nightmare Before Christmas overlay is special time and I don’t see anything wrong with it, I feel that is what makes the resort special that they can cater to the holiday seasons. AP holders may disagree because they are mainly Southern California residents and can be at the park all year round but us out of state people love the holiday change.

  • martinjbell1986

    Me and my wife, and a few friends just went for 3 days this last week. All I can say about the new Buena Vista Street and Cars Land is “WOW”. They really put in the extra effort with these additions. We fell in love with what I consider a new park now. All of us spent the majority of the time in California Adventure, vs before Disneyland was always the park that you line up for and enter first in the mornings. All of us ended up buying C.A. themed merchandise. They still have some more work to do, but overall it is a completely different park now than it was a year ago.
    Favorite new thing: Radiator Springs Racers at Night w/ the fireworks in Disneyland going on at the same time. (The timing in order to do this has to be spot on) All you photographers out there better start getting some of these shots because they make for great pictures.

  • smarie82181

    My family loves HMH!!! (But then again that is one of our favorite movies and we collect all the Nightmare mechandise and have it displayed in our home and my man has a half sleeve tattooed on his arm with all the characters….so safe to say we may be partial:) ) It is one of our favorite parts of Disneyland when it comes to the fall/winter. We almost feel like after going on it after the Nightmare overlay is down that it is almost kind of boring. I mean, yes it is a classic Disney ride and we still go on it every time in the other parts of the year, but the Nightmare overlay is so detailed and adds so much to it. Not to mention that since it is so detailed and they spend so much time on it, it would almost be a waste to just have it up for a short amount of time.

  • FredSimmons


    They need to fix the chip on the nose of the ship’s figurehead. (Not to mention abrasions on her breasts.)

  • ralzap

    Thanks for the update. : )

  • RLM922

    I look forward to the carved pumpkins every year! I like to see them after dusk when they are lit up — amazing! And, thanks to those with the skilled hands to do such great work.