Many of you by now will know my feelings on Haunted Mansion Holiday...while I like and enjoy the film Nightmare Before Christmas and the characters, I feel, simply put, that the cartoony/stylized world of that film doesn't combine well with the "realistic" Mansion. However...that is not to say I don't feel something couldn't be done for Christmas for our beloved HM.
The first key would be...ditch the "clever" tweaks like the snow hill, the Christmas presents with stylized creepy wrapping paper, the snowmen made of pumpkins, and the like. Leave the Mansion alone for Halloween, then have it go down for some of November to receive the Christmas elements.
And what would those elements be, you ask? I actually rather like the rhyming narration idea, based on The Night Before Christmas poem, so come up with a new narration and couplets, ignoring the Nightmare elements, that are Mansion specific, such as: (and this will be lame, I'm no poet..but as an example) "Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the manse, happy haunts were gathering for a macabre dance". I know....it sucks. But along those lines.
As for added visual elements....the gargoyles in the stretching room could gain black, dead wreaths hung from them, and rotting, "old" silver tinsel hung along the changing portrait hall, as if the ghosts themselves decorated with vintage materials they had lying around. Have a skeletal but realistic dead Christmas tree in the limbo/boarding area strung with purple lights, and dead wreaths throughout the corridor of doors. Madame Leota could retain her original narration, but some additional props could be found in the seance circle, perhaps a levitating small Christmas tree in the cabinet behind her. As for the ballroom, the current setup is pretty good, layout wise, with a large gnarled tree, but add realistically wrapped old presents covered in dust, and rotted stockings hanging from the fireplace, and perhaps a cooked turkey that turns into the bird's skeleton in time with the ghosts vanishing. The organist, of course, and throughout the attraction as well, could benefit from low-key, somber versions of carols, as they played the first few years of HMH.
Once into the attic, leave the Constance husband portraits and vanishing head effect for them, but temporarily have Connie herself go dark and silent, draped in flowing material and lit blue, a la the old bride, holding her axe which will be a physical prop this time, with black ribbon wound around it and a bow on top. If I had my way, they might reintroduce one or two pop-up heads to the scene as well, to groan out "Merry Christmas" or "Season's greetings" in off-key, moaning voices as they rise, overall keeping elements of the new attic but having some ties to the pre-Connie edition as well, and some old presents could go in here as well. For the graveyard, a few patches of the fake snow might be welcome, but not all over the place. Add more of the purple-lights dead Christmas trees to scenes, but leave the Grim Grinning Ghosts song intact. A small tribute here to the former Nightmare version could be placed, a single flickering pumpkin perhaps further back on top of a crypt or tombstone, carved to look like Jack Skellington with a Santa hat perched on top.
As for the Hitchhiking Ghosts, leave the gag intact, but simply add them holding presents for the mirror gag when they appear in the doombuggies. Little Leota at the end would retain her standard narration, but have a underscore of one of the pipe organ style arrangments of a christmas carol, perhaps carol of the bells, underneath.
Overall, I feel it would be a lot more subdued take on the holiday, not fancy or elaborate for the most part, but a lot more fitting to what the Mansion is about in it's usual incarnation. Your thoughts?