Disneyland hosted a 50th anniversary event for the Haunted Mansion, and it was quite the swinging wake!
Most events’ check-ins consist of a table and information as credentials are handed out. This was quite an exception as guests were able to have a spirited waiting area for numbers to be called. The reason for the smaller group check-in was so that people had more time to get their official event package, and there were some sights to get photos of.
The waiting area had an elaborate facade before entering the actual check-in area. It was a small recreation of the Mansion front. Along the sides of the room of the Disneyland Hotel ballroom were the stretching room portraits sprawled out. Columns with the gargoyles from the same part of the ride were on display as well.
The next room had several photo opportunities. The first was an attraction poster recreation where guests could be inserted in. The next was an animatronic of the infamous coffin where a ghoul is just dying to meet you. A D23 backdrop followed the animatronic. Then a backdrop of artwork on an LP soundtrack from opening and two SHAG artwork backgrounds rounded out the possible photo stops. PhotoPass was at each and some special borders were enabled by them when photos were downloaded.
When your number was called you were able to travel down a corridor with shambled window frames and flashing lightning effects. A ghost bride would walk across the wall beyond as you entered the check-in area.
After receiving credentials and maps, and the wonderful paperweight gift guests could go down to another ballroom for the merchandise shopping. On display was all the remaining items on sale. It was a wonderful set up to peruse and get a good look at what was made for the anniversary.
If you had any items pre-purchased you were able to get in line to pick them up. A separate room had tables with cast members who individually unveiled each item for inspection. The cast member who attended me was very enthusiastic and made the experience even more exciting since she liked the attraction as much as all of us.
Another line and area had registers to purchase any extra items. It grew quite long and had some concerned they could not make it to artist signings which were in two sets of time.
Many artists were on hand to sign any items that were purchased at the event. I was able to have Kim Irvine sign her designed headband and Jerrod Maruyama signed a postcard with his artwork. Because of the very long lines in the store, I was able to converse with both artists for a few minutes. It made it an amazing experience to talk to them about Disney and even other things. The whole room and set up was a good experience with guests having a bit of a VIP experience as well.
The 13th Hour
Where all the merchandise and check-in events took place during the daytime, the big party was at night starting at the “13th hour.” Lining up started at 11:30 pm at the gates of Disneyland. Guests were let in a little before 12:30 am to be escorted down Main Street to enter into Frontierland for the party. As we were held before the 1 am start time by the Mark Twain dock, Scarolers sang a few tunes to entertain.
The Ghost Host made announcements throughout the night and started by describing what was going to happen at the start. A little before 1 am, guests were escorted to the Rivers of America viewing area. The 13th Hour show kicked the night off with a very festive showcase of projection, pyro, fountains, and characters from the Mansion dancing and singing.
Throughout the night were opportunities to watch performances from the Scarolers on the Mark Twain, the Cadaver Dans above Pirates of the Caribbean, and Madame Leota conjuring spirits in the same spot. All of it made for an immersive experience where it really seemed like the ghosts had come out from the Mansion to mingle, just as the Ghost Host described at the beginning. Three photo locations had specific ghost characters of Sally Sadler – the ballerina in the stretching room, the Hitchhiking Ghosts, and Constance Hatchway – the infamous bride. They took time to interact with party-goers and referred to each other for, again, an immersive environment.
Processions and Dancing
At various points of the night was the Creepy Cotillion in front of Pirates of the Caribbean. This was a ballroom dance with ghouls dressed in the ballroom scene attire. They would waltz and then beckon volunteers from the audience to participate. It was a very fun dance to watch and enjoy. At about the midpoint of the night…or early morning rather…was a soirée with a New Orleans jazz funeral procession complete with a coffin. Inside was the undertaker that we often see scared in the graveyard scene of the ride. Narration explained they were trying to make him the 1,000 resident of the Mansion, but he was able to run away after escaping the coffin. At the end of the night was the same procession to escort guests with the undertaker finally giving in and joining them all in dancing.
Ghoulishly Delightful Dining
Special food items were offered at the event, and on the credentials were tabs pertaining to four categories with the items. Guests could get one item from each category and then purchase any extra. My objective was to try items that would not be offered after the event.
From Graveyard Snacks I ate the Foolish Mortal Popcorn, which was a combination of cheddar popcorn and spicy cheese puffs. It was tasty to have the combination, though did get quite hot in the mouth the more I ate. From Haunting Hors D’Oeuvres I obtained the Tarot Card Cristo, which was one slice of Monte Cristo sandwich accompanied by the usual jelly sauce and a special Joffrey coffee cream sauce. The coffee sauce was a tasty pairing with the fried delicacy, and I’m hoping they offer it after the event at other times. From Ravenous Desserts, I devoured the Doom Buggy Sundae, which was vanilla ice cream topped with a ghost white chocolate candy and sat on a peanut buttery pastry all amidst strawberry sauce. Though I like the Monte Cristo sandwich quite a bit, this was my favorite item from the night. The combination of flavors fit very well, and it was a very fluffy yet firm pastry to bite into. Out of the Tempting Beverages, I drank the Pickwick Ghost Punch, which is offered after the event. It was a very addictingly tasty punch. Having gotten it at Bengal Barbecue I also took advantage of the Char Shue Pork Ribs that was offered. These were tender and had a great flavor to them. The rice with it was fluffy and spiced well to make it a great meal that I would have again.
The Haunted Mansion
The ride was the highlight for me. At this event was a special edition of the already great attraction. There were surprises inserted into the ride. A projection at the Doombuggy loading area highlighted the 50th anniversary logo. In the seance scene was the same logo in the back of Madame Leota. Three live performers were in various scenes. The first was a knight at the entry of the never-ending hallway. In the ballroom scene was an extra ghost at the birthday table that would be blown out with the rest but reappearing to converse with the other materialized guests. For the hitchhiking ghosts, the Gus animatronic was replaced with a live Gus to try to scare unsuspecting guests.
It really enhanced the attraction and made it come alive…er…undead in new ways. It was a humorous way of scaring some riders that fits the Disney motif and keeps the theme of the Mansion. It was a special riding of the classic attraction that created great memories.
For some, the price to attend the event was quite steep. Yet, it was worth the price to go. It was truly an event to attend. Having it occur nearly a full day helped to have the price be so high. I understand where it all went to with so many elaborate scenes, high guest care, and some great gifts in the way of the paperweight and food. Though this was a once in the life of the attraction event I hope that there will be similar in the future. If there was any complaint to have it was that there was too much to do. I heard many unable to visit all the ghost characters if they wanted to do other things (like myself) or be able to get all the food and do other things as well. I had to abandon hope of going on the Mark Twain cruise at any point. But, having quite a few attractions open and so much entertainment meant that crowds were fairly minimal. Lines were not very long, but for a three-hour event, it did eat into any time.
That aside, this was a very magical celebration of grim grinning ghosts! From special moments with artists to an amazing ride through of the classic attraction, this was full of great features! I was tempted to forego sleep and attend the second night!