OCTOBER 3, 2002



Having attended last year's event, and having absolutely loved Haunted Mansion Holiday, we were eager to attend this year's event as well.  We were fortunate in being able to obtain one of the packages that included dinner at the Blue Bayou.


This year, the registration and merchandise pickup were located inside the Grand Californian.  Registration was at West Registration and began at 7:30am.  Wanting to avoid the initial rush, we arrived at the resort at about 9am and headed over, passing along the way others who had finished with their registration and picked up their merchandise.  At the check-in desk, there were only one or two people in front of us in line, so there was very little waiting.   When it was our turn, we were asked to present identification, and once they were produced, we were given our registration packets.  I asked the CM if it had been crowded earlier, and she said yes, that there had been an initial rush.  She said some people had been waiting since about 5:30am.  I'm not sure why they were in such a hurry to register, but the only thing I could think of is that they wanted first access into the merchandise store that contained the items not already pre-purchased.


The registration packet included the following:


1. welcome letter from Cynthia Harriss on Haunted Mansion Holiday letterhead (the text follows below - click here to see the letter itself)


October 3, 2002


Dear Special Guest,


On behalf of the Disneyland Resort, we would like to welcome you as we celebrate the "spirit" of the holidays with our Haunted Mansion Holiday Event.


Please take a moment to review your spooktacular itinerary that is certain to fill your night with Happy Haunts and nightmarish fright!  As our very special Guests tonight, you will be among the first to experience the newly enhanced Haunted Mansion Holiday attraction and enjoy a ghoulishly delightful panel discussion featuring some of the talented character voices from Tim Burton's film, "The Nightmare Before Christmas".


Along with our ghost, ghouls and goblins, I would like to thank you for joining us for this bone chilling evening.  We hope you enjoy a magical holiday season!


Best Witches,


Cynthia Harriss


Disneyland Resort



2.  badge in the shape of a Jack head with itinerary on the back (click here to see the front of the badge and click here to see the back of the badge)


3.  event itinerary (click here to see the itinerary)


4.  dinner seating card (click here to see the seating card - and yes, that is a typing error on the card)


5.  pin of Sandy Claus from Nightmare Before Christmas (go to http://www.dizpins.com/ and look at the October 3, 2002 update for a picture posted at Dizpins) and


6.  invoices for items pre-purchased.



We then proceeded to the Sequoia Ballroom for merchandise pickup.  There were two lines in the one room, a line for merchandise pickup and a line for merchandise shipping, for those who were from out of town and didn't want to carry their merchandise home themselves.  We were in the pickup line for about 10 or 15 minutes before we were directed to a CM at a row of tables.  She asked for our invoices and then returned several minutes later with bags labeled with our names that contained our merchandise.  Unlike in years past where generic bags were used, these bags were actually themed to the event.  The front of the opaque bag has a picture of Jack Skellington's formula for Christmas and underneath the formula are the words "Haunted Mansion Holiday Event 2002".  Click here to see a picture of the design on the bag.


There was another row of tables that could be used to view the merchandise, but as they were already crowded, we chose to join others who took up some side floor space.  We made sure we'd received all of our items and checked to make sure they were in good condition and were satisfied that the orders had been filled correctly.


We then went to the room next door to see the merchandise store.  We had previously been given a list of items that would be available at the store because they had not already been spoken for in pre-purchase.  As we entered the store (which had no line at this point, even though there had been a line when we'd gone into merchandise pickup), we were given a list of items available.  Apparently, there had been a run on the event t-shirt, as most of those were crossed out and only small sizes were left.  We hadn't figured on picking up anything at the merchandise store, only to browse and see what they had left.  One item caught our eye, though, and with the price considerably less than had been advertised in the pre-purchase brochure, we decided to go ahead and make the purchase.  We turned in our form to a CM, who went to get our item, let us examine it, and then processed our purchase.  On our way out, we passed by the gift shop at the Grand Californian and noticed that they had a new plush doll of Pluto dressed in a GC bathrobe and 4 little GC slippers.  He was absolutely adorable and so had to come home with us.


Since we didn't want to have to carry our purchases around during the day, we took everything back to the car before heading back to the resort.  We decided to grab a bit for breakfast and stopped into the bakery on Main Street.  Our normal dining place after making a purchase from the bakery is the porch.  Since the bench and chairs hadn't been returned yet, we sat on the steps enjoying our breakfast and a relatively quiet morning at Disneyland.




Afterward, we decided to head over to the new Le Bat en Rouge (formerly the cooking shop in New Orleans Square) to see what new merchandise was available.  There was a line to get into the store, so we ended up waiting about 15 minutes before being allowed into the store.  While in line, we had filled out another form for what we wanted of the new Haunted Mansion Holiday and Nightmare Before Christmas pins that had been released that day.  We browsed around the shop, and they've done an amazing job in the transformation.  It's basically been turned into a Nightmare shop, with the other villains having a small space to one side.  There are many decorative touches - be sure to look at the Halloweentown mural on the back wall, to the left of the cash registers.  Also notice hanging from the ceiling of the store the Lock, Shock and Barrel masks as well as Jack as Sandy Claws flying his sled with bone reindeer, led by Zero.  There was a lot of Nightmare merchandise (including the Jack and Sally individual mini snowglobes that have been available at The Disney Store, a pack of greeting cards with the Christmas and Halloween versions of Jack, lots of beanies of Halloweentown residents, a pin lanyard with a Jack head as the bottom, and a Dr. Finkelstein cookie jar where you have to remove the top of his head to get at the cookies) and some old HMH merchandise (the scrolls) and some new HMH merchandise (grey t-shirts and black sweatshirts which are both dated with "2002" and a key chain that has Jack with a Santa hat and the Haunted Mansion sign engulfed by the wreath with teeth).  After selecting our purchases, we went to collect the pins we'd requested as well.


We'd noticed while we were in line that the Disney Gallery was indeed open (and two friends from out of town that we'd run into had mentioned they were going up there), so we headed up there to see the new exhibit.  The first room upon entry has an exhibit about the Haunted Mansion itself.  The room to the right has additional merchandise available, including a very nice shirt that has the HMH-decorated mansion on the back and Jack in front, and the buttons are Jack heads.  The next room over has some of the product available from the print-on-demand system, including a collage of the 13 tarot cards in Madame Leota's room.  The next room over has props and pictures related to the film "The Nightmare Before Christmas".  Going back the other direction, the room that formerly housed the model of the Space Mountain track had props and pictures related to the Haunted Mansion Holiday makeover.  Throughout the Gallery, music from "The Nightmare Before Christmas" is playing.  It's a terrific exhibit, and I know we'll be spending time up there on a regular basis.


After leaving the Gallery, we headed over to the Jungle Cruise.  We'd noticed earlier that a friend we hadn't seen in a while was working, so we wanted to say hello.  She was just getting ready to skipper a boat, so we headed over to the exit area of Indy that overlooks the river.  When she came by with her boatload of guests, we waived hello to her and her passengers.




We then headed out for lunch, deciding upon the Uva Bar in Downtown Disney.  The Uva Bar is the downstairs section of Catal Restaurant, my favorite restaurant at the resort.  We'd not dined at the downstairs area in quite some time so it sounded like a good idea.  We ordered a few things to share, all of which were as good as we'd remembered.  During the course of our meal, we noticed the executive chef, who we're familiar with, and waved hello.  He came by our table to chat with us for a bit and to let us know that they had just changed the menu for the upstairs restaurant, and he mentioned a few of the new items.  He also mentioned that the menu for the downstairs area would probably be changing in the next week or so.  After a bit, he left to attend to business matters, and we went back to enjoying our lunch.  As we were finishing up, we were surprised by a special dessert, so that was an unexpected but very appreciated and delicious treat.


After lunch, we went back into Disneyland and spent some time wandering around the park and sitting at Coke Corner.




At about 5:20, we headed over to the Blue Bayou, where a line had already formed to get into dinner.  When we got to the front, we were led to our table, which ended up being right by the water, so that was very nice.  We ran into another friend who was also at the same dinner at a nearby table so spoke to her briefly.  The table was decorated with a glowing pumpkin centerpiece, as were each of the other 10-person tables.  At each setting was a booklet which included the menu for the night as well as the choruses of the scarols to be sung later (click here to see the booklet).  There were already varieties of breads and cheeses on the table for us to enjoy, and we were also asked our beverage selections, with red and white wine also being offered.  The first course was a butternut squash soup, served in a squash half, which was quite good.  The second course was a salad of greens and asparagus served in an emptied tomato shell.  The dressing was particularly good.  The third course was the entree, consisting of filet mignon and halibut with mashed potatoes and roasted vegetables, all of which were very good.  Dessert was an incredible creation consisting of chocolate and pumpkin mousse, meringue ghosts, a chocolate pumpkin, and a cookie in a similar mountain curl shape familiar to "The Nightmare Before Christmas" fans.  I noticed that because of the great presentation, many people were taking pictures of their desserts.  The restaurant staff also seemed to be quite accommodating to dietary concerns as the person to our left was given French onion soup instead of the butternut squash, and the person to our right was a vegetarian so was given a portabello mushroom entree instead.  We also noticed that when dessert was being served, some people were instead having plates of fresh fruit.  Throughout dinner, Jack and a band of three musicians would periodically appear on the balcony and sing some of the scarols to and with us.  We also enjoyed conversation with our table mates, including the man to our right who was from Florida and was on the west coast with his family for various social reasons but had also made it a point of being able to attend this event.


Dinner seemed to be running a little later than had been indicated on the itinerary, so we were concerned that we wouldn't be able to get our preview ride after all, but we were assured that we would be able to.  As we were finished with dessert, we headed off for our ride.  As we were leaving the restaurant, we were handed a cardboard packet.  Upon examination later, we discovered that it was a portrait of Sally signed by Eric Robison which included a certificate of authenticity.  As we understand it, a portrait of Jack was given to last year's dinner attendees.




Those with the dinner package who would be attending the later dinner seating had already been on the ride, so there were only about 20 of us when the main doors closed in the foyer.  It was great to be able to go through the ride while it was so sparsely occupied.  We had a special treat in that right in the beginning after you board, there were lists on either side with the names of those who were attending the dinner seatings that night.  We discovered that the names were in alphabetical order and were able to spot our own names.  The names were only up for the preview ride though, so we weren't able to have friends take a picture of it for us, but we enjoyed seeing our names nonetheless.


To read my thoughts on some of the changes from last year's HMH including spoilers, click here.




After our ride, we headed over to the Fantasyland Theatre for the panel discussion.  We weren't sure if they'd already started as our dinner had run late, but when we got to the theatre, we discovered that they had postponed entrance into the theatre and were still in the process of letting everyone in.  Upon our entry, we were given a rice krispie treat on a stick in the shape of a pumpkin, colored orange and with chocolate used to create its face.  We had received a Jack head last year, which we'd saved, and figuring we'd receive something this year, we had planned on enjoying it, but with the desserts we'd already had at lunch and dinner, we decided to save them for the next day instead.  There were also beverages and cookies available, but we passed on those.  The stage had been decorated with pictures and a fireplace and a cauldron and interesting chairs and a screen.  Scarols were being played as we waited for the panel discussion.  About 10 minutes passed and then the lights went down, and the first to make an entrance was Jack dressed as Santa Claus entering by way of the chimney.  He welcomed us to the event and was subsequently joined on stage by Sally, the witch, the vampire, the clown and the man with the axe (really a cleaver) in his head.  After a bit, Jack introduced Cynthia Harriss, who appeared in a pre-recorded video welcoming us to the event and proceeding with what was basically a commercial for the holiday season at Disneyland.  Then they brought out the panelists, which included Catherine O'Hara and Glenn Shadix and two other actors who provided voices in the film.  (I'm not entirely sure who they were, but I believe the other two were Kerry Katz and Randy Crenshaw.)  The discussion was moderated by Frank Thompson and consisted of remembrances by the panel guests of their experience with the movie.




Following the panel discussion, we met up with some friends who also attended the event and walked over to the Haunted Mansion for the regular ride.  We were glad to be able to ride again as the sound system on our doom buggie had not been functioning on our preview ride.  After the ride, we made our way to the exit (noticing along the way that Le Bat en Rouge and the Disney Gallery were still open at 10:10pm), where we were given two additional gifts.  One is a pin of a bone reindeer which is backstamped "Disneyland Event Exclusive October 3, 2002 Limited Edition 1500" (click here to see the pin), and the second is a color picture of the Haunted Mansion Holiday stained glass picture with Jack and his friends inside a red portfolio cover with the words "Tim Burton's Nightmare Before Christmas Haunted Mansion Holiday Event   Thursday  October 3, 2002 Disneyland" (click here to see the portfolio cover). 


We picked up the rest of our belongings from our locker and headed to the tram to return to our car.

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To read about the 2004 Haunted Mansion Holiday Event, click here.

To read about the 2003 Haunted Mansion Holiday Event, click here.

To read about the 2001 Haunted Mansion Holiday Event, click here.


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