OCTOBER 2, 2003




Registration and merchandise pickup were again located inside the Grand Californian this year.  While registration began at 7:30am, we had arranged to meet at 11am with a friend who was also attending the event, with all of us getting the package that includes dinner at the Blue Bayou.  After a bit of a wait, we presented our identification and received our packets, which included the following:


1.  welcome letter from Cynthia Harris on letterhead containing the current year's Haunted Mansion Holiday logo


October 2, 2003


Dear Spooktacular Guest,


On behalf of the Disneyland Resort, we would like to welcome you to the Haunted Mansion Holiday Event.


We look forward to sharing this enchanted evening filled with ghoulish delights and nightmarish frights!  Please take a moment to review your itinerary of haunted happenings, including being among the first to experience the wonderfully wicked addition to our Haunted Mansion Holiday attraction.


Thank you for joining us as we celebrate the spirit of the holidays.  We hope you enjoy a magical holiday season!


Best Witches,




Cynthia Harriss


Disneyland Resort



2.  badge in the shape of Oogie Boogie with itinerary on the back






3.  event itinerary


4.  dinner seating card





5.  event evaluation


6.  shopping list for available items in merchandising store


7.  RSP form for any additional items that might still be available and/or returned; and


8.  invoices for items pre-purchased.



We then proceeded to merchandise pickup.  The room was better laid out this year.  Last year, it was fairly cramped, and unlike in previous events we'd attended where you inspected your merchandise as it was being given to you, you were just given the merchandise and then had to go nearby to inspect it.  If you had found any problems, you had to get the attention of a CM again.  This year, there was a line in the middle of the room with two rows of CMs helping attendees.  When you got to the front of the line and were directed to a CM, the CM took a copy of your invoice and retrieved your merchandise.  The CM then went through the list of items and let you inspect each item.  This year, two of the items we had received were damaged so we ended up returning those items for a credit.  Similar to last year, the merchandise was in a bag labeled with our names.  This year's bag was similar to last year's, except the front of the bag has a picture of Oogie Boogie and the words "Haunted Mansion Holiday Disneyland 2003".  There was an event store with some of the still-available merchandise, but as we weren't interested in any of that, we didn't even bother to go into the store.




Event signs.



Picture on merchandise bag.



One of the items available for purchase was a photo opportunity inside a Doom Buggy.  We had ordered one of those pictures and so went into the room designated for these pictures.  One of the rooms was actually set up with a Doom Buggy in it, in front of a green screen.  We had decided to have all three of us in the picture, and the picture came out really well.  The 8" x 10" picture came in a Disneyland Resort folder frame.



Take a picture in a Doom Buggy.



The photo op setup.



Once we were done with this, we stopped to fill out and turn in our RSP forms before heading out of the registration area.  When we had looked at our itinerary, we had discovered that we'd received the earlier dinner seating, which we had requested, so we decided we'd better have some lunch soon.  We decided to stop into Whitewater Snacks for a quick lunch.  After lunch, we went back to our cars to drop off our merchandise.




After going into Disneyland, we browsed around Disneyana for a few minutes and noticed some of the nifty new Tiki Room merchandise, noting a few things that we wanted to pick up on a future visit.  We then headed over to Le Bat en Rouge to see what new merchandise might be available.  There was a line to get into the store (the CMs were regulating entrance so that the store didn't get overcrowded), but it didn't take very long.  In addition to some merchandise that was available last year, there was indeed quite a bit of new Haunted Mansion Holiday merchandise, including some really nifty items.


Recognizing the popularity of Zero, there is a new Zero antenna ball ($4) that is very cute.  One note of caution, though.  We noticed that his cape is not very securely attached to him, and we had to pick through a few of them before finding two that were in good condition.  If Zero were to actually be put on an antenna on a moving car, it's very likely that the cape would be blown off fairly easily.  The other new Zero item is a beanie ($10) with a pumpkin nose that lights up for a minute or two when you push on his mouth.  Other new HMH merchandise includes a picture frame ($20), a magnetic frame and a terrific figure ($15) of Madame Leota and her table, with Teddy on top of the chair.




New Zero merchandise.  Pictures not to scale.  The beanie is much bigger than the antenna topper.




Ceramic and magnetic frames.




Front and back of figure.




Both sides of the figure.




There are also new sets of t-shirts ($19) and sweatshirts ($30) available with the new HMH logo.  The logo also appears on a pin ($8.50) and a mug ($10).  Another HMH design also appears on t-shirts ($24), mugs, puzzles, lithos and mousepads.  Another bowling shirt ($56) is also available this year, similar in design to the wonderful shirt from last year, but notice that even the buttons are different - Jack has a different expression.  For me, the most spectacular t-shirt released this year ($24) is a picture of the front of the Haunted Mansion decorated for Christmas, from the perspective just outside the open gates, done in a sparkly style.




Logo t-shirt and pin.




Front and back of logo mug.




Another design on t-shirts, mugs and puzzles.




Front and back of new bowling shirt.




HMH sparkly shirt.



There is also a line of ornaments, including a ceramic logo ornament ($10), one of Jack dressed as Santa with Zero ($14), Sally from the end of HMH ($14), Oogie Boogie and Teddy in a Doom Buggy ($15), Teddy by himself ($12), and one of the trumpeters ($14) from the graveyard scene in HMH.




Jack and Sally ornaments.




Oogie and a trumpeter get their own ornaments this year.



The most awaited piece of merchandise, however, is probably the CD soundtrack ($19.98) for Haunted Mansion Holiday.  Here's the track listing:


1.  Up on the Housetop

2.  Scary Bells

3.  Over the Graveyards

4.  Old Mansion Tree

5.  Wreck the Halls

6.  We Wish You a Scary Christmas

7.  The 13 Days of Christmas

8.  God Rest You Merry Grinning Ghosts

9.  Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas Medley:  Making Christmas/What's This?/Kidnap the Sandy Claws

10.  Disneyland Haunted Mansion Holiday Ride-Through Mix


The Scarols are nice to have, of course, but the masterpiece is the ride-through mix.  It includes the full audio to the attraction, including the foyer monologue, the stretch room sequence, the changing portraits announcements, the safety message, the full ride narration, and the ambient music and sounds, including the singing plants!  It also includes the full versions of Madame Leota's counting of the twelve days of Christmas and Jack's greeting to his guests as well as the end of the ride.  One curious thing to note about the ride-through mix - it is a combination of elements from the 2001/2002 version of the ride and the slightly different 2003 version of the ride.  While I appreciate having one particular element of the older version of the audio that is no longer in this year's version, it puzzles me why it was decided to combine elements of the two versions on the CD soundtrack.  But regardless, having the full audio to listen to at any time was definitely worth the wait.




Front cover and disc label of soundtrack.



After our shopping trip, we decided to head up to the Disney Gallery to see the new exhibit, The Haunted Mansion Goes Hollywood.  The exhibit has extensive elements from the current attraction as well as information from the movie which is being released in November, including many instances where the filmmakers went back and incorporated into the film elements from the original concepts for the ride that were never implemented.  It is a wonderful exhibit and well worth the time for anyone who loves the Haunted Mansion.  While we had been planning to see the film upon its release, this exhibit makes me look forward to the film even more.


Following a ride on Pirates (where the water level was incredibly low, so much so that we could see the track for the boat and at times, the boat was scraping bottom when it shouldn't have been), we headed to the lockers to drop off our merchandise and retrieve our jackets before heading back to the Blue Bayou.







We arrived at the Blue Bayou at about 4:50pm and there was already a line to get in.  I think the dinner was handled much better this year.  While we were in line, a CM came down the line with a seating chart, asking everyone for their table numbers and then indicating where the relevant table was on the chart.  All of the dinner attendees had an event badge on a color-coded lanyard, so it was easy for CMs to know that a person was allowed admittance into the dinner.  Once we were allowed into the restaurant, it didn't take very long at all for everyone to find their seats at their respective tables.  We ended up at a table just about in the center of the room. (We thought our table number was appropriate for the evening.)  All of the tables were decorated with beautiful flower centerpieces.  As we had entered the restaurant, we were handed a sheet with the words to the various scarols.  At each setting was a card with the dinner menu on one side and on the other side, a diagram of hints on where to find Oogie's Holiday Tricks and Treats - special touches that Oogie has left in this year's Haunted Mansion Holiday.


For a picture of the card and the text of the hints, click here.  The hints are also listed in a scroll in the queue of the ride, to the right just after you enter the gates.





Here's the dinner menu:


The Boo Bayou presents


"The Nightmare Before Christmas" Dinner

October 2, 2003


Preset Corpse

Clown-with-the-Tear-Away-Bread, Creature-Under-the-Bed Cheese with Un-Savory Garlic and Poker-Faced Pumpkin Seed Spread - Forget puttin' on that poker face, we know you must be starvin'!  There's no need to turn pale with hunger with this wicked assortment of goodies.  Just "tear-away" a temptin' taste of these bootiful breads and chilling cheeses, and your tummy pangs will fold like a pair of lazy-eyed Jacks.


Second Corpse

Sally's Salad - Concocted with love and lefovers from Sally's miraculous kitchen, this bewitching mixture is just what the lovelorn ordered:  Broken Hearts of Romaine, I'm Nobody's Baby Frisee, White-As-A-Sheet Asparagus, Current-ly Single Tomatoes, Autumn-We-Be-Berry-Good-Together Vinaigrette, and a mini Pumpkin Spice "Love" Loaf, for extra zing, served with Pumpkin King Butter-Me-Up.  Dig in!  Each bite awaits your gnashing teeth with open charms!


Third Corpse

"Entree du Oogie" - Gamblin' Game Hens & All-Bets-Are-Off Beef Tenderloin Filet - Oogie's roulette wheel's been roastin' free-range squawkers just for you!  Yessir, they've been twirlin', whirlin' and cheatin' death 'till they came to a dead stop.  Then Oogie rolled 'em like marked dice in reduced rare Porto and Scab-ernet sauce, paired 'em up with Smushroom Potatoes, and declared this dish a "full house" with Spinach Pureek on Yellowy Sun Burst and Cha-toe Buttered Scarrots.  On top of that, he's been grilling the Beef Tenderloin all night long (but the beef refuses to answer any more insane questions).


Dessert, Of Corpse

Take a gamble and eat up.  We're not tellin' you what it is!



When we were seated at the table, which we shared with a group of five, bread and cheeses were already on the table.  The servers came around to offer both red and white wine as well.  During the course of the evening, the servers brought each course, and in between courses, Jack and a band of three musicians periodically appeared on the balcony to sing scarols.  As expected, the meal was quite good.




Salad and entree.




Jack and Scarolers on the balcony inside Blue Bayou.



Just before dessert was served, Jack made his way through the restaurant dressed in his Christmas outfit.  The servers then brought out dessert, which looked incredible.  A cookie version of Oogie stood next to a die made from white chocolate.  Lifting up the die revealed pumpkin cheesecake.  There was also some chocolate mousse souffle and assorted berries.



Santa Jack among guests.  Notice the great lantern covers.




Front and back view of dessert.



More goodies underneath the die.



Once we were done with dinner, we headed off to our preview ride of Haunted Mansion Holiday.  As we left the restaurant, we were each handed a cardboard packet which contained a litho of Jack in his Christmas outfit ready to deliver presents.







As like last year, there was a special addition to our preview ride.  Those who were attending either of the two dinners had their names included in a special list.  Last year, however, because the lists were on either side of the Doom Buggy while the Doom Buggy was traveling up the first incline, it was difficult to scan the lists quickly enough to find your name.  This year, the lists of names were included as ingredients in a dish, and the lists were placed next to the queue right before the boarding area.  This made it possible for everyone to see their name, although it created quite a backup in the queue.












My general thoughts about Haunted Mansion Holiday are that I love the fact that they have made some changes every year, so that aside from what a great idea it is and how well executed the makeover is, there are even more reasons to return every year as there are always more things to look for.  And, this year's changes and additions certainly are wonderful.  Oogie has decided that he wants to be part of the fun, so he has added his own touches to the ride.  There are ten instances when Oogie makes himself known, so it's fun to look for him.  In some of the cases, it's merely fun.  In other instances, his presence is brilliant.  My particular favorite is his inclusion in a part of the ride where a wonderful addition was made last year, but because of various problems, the addition didn't last very long, much to the dismay of many.  This year, however, Oogie rectifies that problem with a definite nod to those who were there before him.


To read a spoiler list of Oogie's appearances as well as spoilers about the changed ending of the ride, please click here.


When we finished with the ride, we were given a gift outside the exit.  The gift itself is a spoiler for anyone who hasn't been on the 2003 version of the ride, so for pictures, please click here.  The gift does contain a very humorous sticker on the bottom.


With the preview ride done, we headed over to the Fantasyland Theatre for the evening's entertainment.




The theatre was already quite full when we got there.  Upon our entry, we were each given an Oogie Boogie cookie.  Other refreshments were available, including assorted cookies, soda, water, coffee and tea.





Last year, we had designated seating areas in the lower section as part of our dinner package.  This year, however, they had changed the seating arrangements, so our seating section was already full.  Shortly thereafter, the CM let us and others in the same position into the empty seating area at the bottom level which had previously been reserved for others.  The stage had a curtain hanging mid-way, with a podium and chairs set up in front of the curtain, in the configuration of past panel discussions.  I thought it odd that the chairs were that far forward, but we thought that maybe there would be some activity behind the panelists and wondered who the panelists would be.  Well, it turned out that the set-up was just for show.  Instead of a panel discussion, Oogie Boogie instead took over the evening to present "Oogie Boogie's Boo-lesque Revue".  Various characters from "The Nightmare Before Christmas" came out, and then a backing band was introduced.  A big spin wheel was turned around to reveal Randy Baumberger, EVP at the Disneyland Resort, tied to the wheel.  He in turn introduced the master of ceremonies for the evening - none other than Ken Page, the voice of Oogie Boogie himself from the film.  During the course of the show, Ken introduced the various acts, consisting of the "Nightmare" characters singing non-"Nightmare" songs that were nonetheless appropriate for each character.  For instance, the clown sang part of "Send in the Clowns" while the mayor (with the double-sided face) sang "Put on a Happy Face".  Jack and Sally dueted on "I Got You Babe".




Oogie Boogie's Boo-lesque Revue.




The One Armed Bandit Band and Randy Baumberger in a bind.




Behemoth & bunny  and  Dr. Finklestein & Sally.




Lock, Shock & Barrel  and  Mayor & Clown.




A group appearance and Jack & Santa.



The best part of the show, however, was when Ken Page took the stage with all the characters in a wonderful rendition of "Oogie Boogie's Song", with Oogie himself making an appearance.



Oogie, in voice and sight.



Jack, Sally and Oogie.



Oogie Boogie, every part is here.



The show was absolutely wonderful, and I really appreciated that some thought was given to the audience.  Many of those in attendance were attending the event for the second or third time, and yet another panel discussion wasn't really going to be of interest, so the cabaret approach - pure entertainment - was a great way to go, especially with Ken Page as host.  He was a perfect master of ceremonies and did a great job in just "going with it", especially with regard to audience reactions.




After the show, those who were scheduled for the later dinner went off to that while the rest of us went on the ride.  This would be the first ride for those who didn't attend either of the dinners, but those of us who had attended the early dinner were able to go on the ride again.  As with the previous two years, I know I'll be going on this ride quite a bit during its three-month stay.  Following the ride, we walked past the very long line of people still waiting to get into Le Bat en Rouge.  Getting to Town Square, CMs were outside City Hall to let people know that because of a power failure at the hotel, the third round of RSPs weren't able to be completed, so those who ended up getting picked to receive any additional merchandise would be contacted in the next week by mail, with any accepted merchandise shipped with Disney paying for the shipping.  Upon our exit from the park, we received our final gift, which each of the attendees received - an ornament of Oogie standing in front of his wheel of treats.




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Another wonderful event at Disneyland.


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

To read about the 2002 Haunted Mansion Holiday Event, click here.

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


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