Haunted Mansion Holiday to receive new effects, scary surprises for 13th year of “Nightmare” overlay at Disneyland

in Disney, Disneyland, Disneyland Resort, Entertainment, Theme Parks

When Jack Skellington returns to Disneyland next month, he’ll be bringing with him a new bag of tricks (and treats) for this year’s Haunted Mansion Holiday. Decking the halls of The Haunted Mansion beginning Friday, September 13, 2013, the holiday overlay inspired by “The Nightmare Before Christmas” will receive a major upgrade this year in what Disney is calling “one of the biggest refreshes” the attraction has ever received.

In an article in the latest Disney Visa newsletter, Brian Sandahl, Senior Designer, Show Development and Productions, describes some of the spooky new additions fans can expect to see, in development for the last year.

The Stretching Portrait Gallery will feature a new animation effect featuring stained glass windows shattering and a surprise appearance Jack Skellington. The famous changing portraits will also receive an update, featuring Zero the ghost dog flying through each one.

Haunted Mansion Holiday 2012

The ballroom’s giant gingerbread house this year will be based on 13 years of “delightfully frightful fun.” (Take an up-close look at 2011’s elaborate gingerbread house here.) And throughout the attraction, 13 other surprises, including skulls, snappy plants, and slinky ribbons, will be scattered for spotting.

This year’s new merchandise includes a Zombie cookie kit and trading pins.

Haunted Mansion Holiday last received a major update when Oogie Boogie was added ten years ago, just three years after the overlay’s debut. He’s become a staple of the seasonal attraction year after year, remaining this year in addition to the new features.

Haunted Mansion Holiday 2012

Video: Full ride on Haunted Mansion Holiday 2012 at Disneyland


  1. Oleg Chaikovsky

    Excellent! I have been waiting for this information to hit since they hinted at it at last year’s Disney Blog meetup!

  2. Chaz

    Awesome! I was planning on going to Disneyland during October, so this should be fun!

  3. egamer25

    Hopefully they won’t replace the ghost host with Neil Patrick Harris ;-|

  4. Victoria

    Will they be getting this attraction at disney world at all?

    1. Danny Eyheralde

      Florida was supposed to get it but changed there mind. fortunately all the Haunted Mansion Holiday set pieces that had been made for Florida did not go to waste. they were given to Tokyo since their Haunted Mansion is a carbon-copy of Florida’s. maybe Florida will get it eventually now that Disneyland’s former President is President of WDW, of course they would also have to wait for the current Magic Kingdom Vice President (Phil Holmes) to retire as he doesn’t like Haunted Mansion Holiday.

  5. Ryan R

    Do you think they’ll add the hatbox ghost from the d23expo?

    1. Ricky Brigante

      There’s a rumor every year that the Hatbox Ghost will return to the Mansion after Haunted Mansion Holiday leaves. I asked one of the Imagineers at the Hatbox Ghost exhibit in the Expo about that rumor and whether it could ever come true… and he dodged the question, hinting that it’s a possibility but without confirming anything.

      I do believe the Hatbox Ghost will return to The Haunted Mansion at some point. It may not be this year or next, but eventually.

      1. Ryan R

        Ok. I just thought that considering how there’s been an announcement for new effects and that there’s a hat box ghost animatronic, this would be the perfect time to bring him back, but I’m actually fine with waiting.

  6. Jeff Lynch

    Sometimes I feel like I am the only person in the world who can’t stand this holiday overlay. The thing is, I only get to go to California once a year…it’s a work trip and I don’t get to pick the dates, and it always falls during the time that the Mansion is either closed to accommodate putting up or taking down the holiday overlay or it’s when the overlay is up. I have, thus, not been able to experience the original version of the Haunted Mansion in six or seven years now. I just can’t afford to go to California on my own any other time of the year…so I feel screwed over because every time I am out there my favorite Disneyland attraction is unavailable to me.

    I wish they would just build a HalloweenTown over at DCA and have a permanent Nightmare Before Christmas attraction there. Leave the Haunted Mansion alone in its original form all year.

    Even better…build Mystic Manor at DCA and have it be themed to Paradise Pier and a Museum of the Weird. Then, at Christmas, make that a Nightmare overlay if they want.

    I just wish they would stop messing with the Haunted Mansion.

    1. Kenn Kitt

      Be happy you get to go to Disneyland…some of us can’t afford to go there with or without work related reasonings.

      1. Jeff Lynch

        The only way I can afford to go is because my job requires me to go to an event at the Anaheim Convention Center every year. If work didn’t pay for the flight and hotel, I’d never get to go to Disneyland. And I am very grateful for this opportunity.

        I just wish my favorite attraction of all time was unaltered and up-and-running all year long instead of going through the Holiday overlay.

        Build a Nightmare Before Christmas ride at DCA. I think a HalloweenTown would be great somewhere over by Paradise Pier.

        1. You sure don’t sound grateful. You whine about how you’ve feel like you’ve been “screwed” more than anything else. Man up.

          1. Hackler

            My thoughts exactly. In my opinion the pumpkin king should have his own theme permanently in the park anyway.

      2. kris tru

        seriously, you sound like a 5 yr old! only a 5 yr old is more appreciative to go go to Disneyland than you, with or without the haunted mansion. Get over it, its here to stay, and stop complaining because at least you get to go once a year (even if its only because your job sends you out there, at least your lucky enough to have that opportunity).

    2. BK

      Jeff…. you are the only one

  7. Peter


    1. Kean

      I went on the 2013 Haunted Mansion Holiday today and have no clue as to what the ’13 surprises’ were. I didn’t really see anything new except what’s already been announced (stretch room, portraits, gingerbread house). Does anyone have some intel about what the 13 surprise are? Perhaps they’re cleverly disguised?

      1. Chris

        I think what they mean by the “13 surprises” is within the gingerbread house. It looks much like an Advent calendar, and I might add, I’ve never seen a gingerbread house look so plain looking before. I’m sure as the weeks go by, the doors on it will open and eventually 13 “surprises” will be revealed.

    2. Amy

      I hear ya!!!! At least once!!!

  8. Amy

    How long does the overlay stay up for? Sept 13 until when? thanks!!!

    1. kris tru

      until the second week of January when they take down all the holiday decorations for the entire park

      1. Lauren

        Oh great, thanks for that bit of info. We’re going mid Nov and I thought we might be too late. Sounds like it will still be up, yes?

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