Haunted Mansion Holiday, also known as Haunted Mansion Holiday Nightmare, is a seasonal overlay of the Haunted Mansion attraction at Disneyland and Tokyo Disneyland that blends the settings and characters of the original Haunted Mansion with those of Tim Burton's 1993 film The Nightmare Before Christmas. Taking inspiration from "The Night Before Christmas", the attraction retells the story of Jack Skellington (as "Sandy Claws") visiting the Haunted Mansion on Christmas Eve, leaving holiday chaos in his wake.
The Haunted Mansion typically closes for two and half weeks in late summer so it can be converted into the Haunted Mansion Holiday. The overlaid attraction is then open to guests from late-September through early January before being closed again to remove the overlay.
Two similar overlays – Country Bear Christmas Special and It's a Small World Holiday – had already been successful for some time when Haunted Mansion Holiday was developed. Initially, Disney considered doing a retelling of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, but decided against it due to the attraction's setting in New Orleans Square and the incongruity of bringing Santa Claus into the eerie environment of the Haunted Mansion. Instead, they decided to base it on The Nightmare Before Christmas after considering which Disney character would celebrate Christmas in the Haunted Mansion, should Santa Claus ever land there on his journey. Steve Davison took the idea and worked with Walt Disney Creative Entertainment to develop the overlay.
One issue Disney had to deal with was the fact that many of the key performers in the original attraction – Paul Frees, Leota Toombs, Eleanor Audley, most of the singing busts, and almost all of the original voice actors – had died years earlier. Paul Frees was replaced in his role as the Ghost Host by Corey Burton, who had done voiceover work with Disney before. Leota Toombs' daughter, Kim Irvine, resembled her mother and was thus chosen to perform in her place as Madame Leota. Susan Blakeslee (impersonating Eleanor Audley) provides the voice of Madame Leota. The singing busts were topped with Jack-O-Lanterns and given computer-animated singing projections. New voice actors were picked for the graveyard ghosts that sound similar to the originals (with the exception of the Headsman Trio; The Knight and Executioner seem to have had their voices swapped).
Haunted Mansion Holiday opened October 3, 2001, and quickly became popular with guests, leading to the attraction's FastPass machines being activated during the overlay (they are now always active). The Tokyo version props were intended for Walt Disney World, but when the park abandoned plans to install the attraction, Tokyo (which features a carbon copy of their Haunted Mansion) received all the props. On September 13, 2013 (Friday the 13th), the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland opened to the public outfitted with new effects and set pieces in celebration of its 13th year. Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Paris do not have seasonal overlays. Outside of Phantom Manor, guests can get their photo taken with Jack and Sally.
The Haunted Mansion Holiday takes place shortly after the events of the film it conjoins with, The Nightmare Before Christmas, where Jack Skellington, who tried to create his very own twisted Christmas in a Halloween-style overlay in the movie, now discovers the Haunted Mansion, home to 999 Happy Haunts. Deciding to spread joy to the mansion's gloomy residents for the holidays, Jack and his creepy crew from Halloween Town bring hundreds of Jack's original evil Christmas presents and decorations to the manor and deck the haunting grounds for a thrilling and chilling holiday for the Grim Grinning Ghosts inhabiting the abandoned house, setting the stage for the ride itself.
Upon visiting the mansion, guests first see that the facade has been completely redecorated, with jack-o-lanterns and candles. Jack's sleigh is on the roof.
In the foyer, a grim rendition of Making Christmas plays while the Ghost Host begins to tell the story of what is happening at the mansion. A picture of Jack Skellington slowly changes into Jack dressed as "Sandy Claws". Doors open, letting guests into the famous octagonal portrait gallery. Large stained glass paintings line the walls, depicting innocent Christmas scenes. After the doors close shut, all goes dark with the horrendous sound of the paintings breaking in half. The room begins to stretch, the tension rises, and with a thunderclap, Jack's face appears in the cupola above, shouting: "Happy Holidays, Everyone!"
A dreadful scream and the shattering of bones is heard, and the doors reopen. Guests are lead into the Loading Area, where they board their Doom Buggy to begin the tour. From above, Jack greets guests with Sally and the Vampire Teddy. Down another hallway, paintings of characters from Halloween Town watch guests' every move.
In the library, Zero has created a spinning Christmas tree of books, wrapped in garlands. The staring busts remain. The Doom Buggies then float into the Music Room, where Sally sits, listening to the Vampire Teddy play for her rapidly on the piano. As guests glide upstairs, insects shiver in fear inside of cages, with tags reading, "To Oogie". Oogie's shadow can be seen dancing on the face of the moon and turning into a Christmas tree.
Guests float past an Endless Hallway, with bone decor all around. Zero, Jack's dog floats inside, barking happily. In the Conservatory, a group of flowers has sprung to life and now forms the choir. A man tries to escape his Christmas-wrapped coffin, but the Vampire Teddy Bear sits atop, hammer and nails in hand. The hallway, which guests travel through backwards, has been redeocrated as well, with skulls and garlands. Doors on either side make strange noises, as though something on the other side were trying to get out. A monstrous man-eating wreath waits above the guests, reaching out to grab them. More of the comically vicious flowers seem to be sprouting from it. The possessed grandfather clock chimes 13 as the hands spin wildly backwards, and a note reads "To Leota: 13 Special Gifts for You! -Sandy Claws"
In the Seance Room, Madame Leota recites the "13 Days of Christmas", her 13 Christmas gifts. Tarot cards showing all of her gifts float about the room, while the Vampire Teddy Bear rings bells maniacally. A zombified nutcracker imitates Leota chanting her incantations.
The Happy Haunts finally begin to materialize in the ballroom. A cake sits on the table that bears resemblance to the spiral hill from Halloween town, but covered in snow. An immense, dead Christmas tree is in the middle of the room, with glowing skull and jack-o-lantern ornaments and ascending and desscending spider ornaments. Ghosts dance right through the tree while a ghost organist plays Kidnap the Sandy Claws as a waltz.
In the Attic, all of Jack's presents have been stored. Ghastly, glowing presents lie about the room, jack-in-the-boxes popping up to scare passing guests. A snake, having eaten some presents, sits with Jack's Naughty and Nice list hanging out of its mouth.
The Graveyard has been completely covered in snow and the spiral hill from Halloween Town sits in the middle of the graveyard, covered with snow and singing, glowing jack-o-lanterns. Jack Skellington greets guests at the gates, wishing them a Merry Christmas with Zero. A quintet of busts have been topped with singing jack-o-lanterns while the graveyard ghosts sing about their perfect Christmas. Ghosts ride around on bicycles with Jack's bonedeer. Giant ice angles with jack-o-lantern heads blow on their horns overhead. Guests finally enter the exit crypt, as the Vampire Teddy Bear plays his own little horn to say goodbye.
The Ghost Host warns guests about followers, as Lock, Shock, and Barrel playfully peek out of presents. Guilded mirrors surround the next walls, and in those mirrors, Lock, Shock, or Barrel sit in your car. Sally can then be seen, waving to Jack as he leaves, crossing the face of the moon and wishing her a Merry Christmas. Guests then disembark their Doom Buggy, hearing the ghosts play a jazzy tune to give them something to remember after they leave.
Disneyland offers an "Oogie Boogie's Holiday Tricks and Treats" scavenger hunt. Oogie has hidden cameos throughout the mansion, which guests are asked to look for. For instance, Oogie can be found in shrubbery in the gardens, a shadow on the Christmas card, a doll in the attic, etc.
The attraction's musical score was originally composed by Gordon Goodwin. It was replaced in 2002 with an adapted score by John Debney, based on themes from the film's soundtrack composed by Danny Elfman. Since 2003, Goodwin's original music has been used in the stretching rooms and the exit crypt (where Goodwin's attic music is used), while the rest of Elfman's score remains. Several characters in the ride are voiced by the original actors from the film, and the various sound effects are an admixture of tracks from the original attraction and new ones.