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Hey folks, Harry here with the brilliant uber Disney Sleuth, Jim Hill. Jim's been away a bit, healing it seems... (Brother can I relate, if only I had Hugh Jackman's immune system) ...But he's back with the latest dish on what's going on around the Mouse House and threats of new glorious potential stories on the Horizon!!! Meanwhile, the one bit he seems to have missed in all his microscopic study of all things NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS is the Broadway Musical that is in full development. Seems that Danny Elfman has signed up and is working to produce a lavish Broadway adaptation of the Henry Selick/Tim Burton/Danny Elfman Masterpiece!!! I would fly in a heartbeat to New York for that!!! Maybe even take Kitten to check it out. If she was on purrrrfectly good manners of course. Here ya go folks...
Hey, Knowles !
Jim Hill here. I know, I know. It's been far too long between e-mails. So what rat hole did I fall down? Well, given your own continuing problems with your back, I'm sure that you'll appreciate how health-based problems can sometimes make it pretty damned difficult to do everything that you want to do. I myself had a truly crummy summer, health-wise. Which meant that I wasn't able to deliver on a lot of stories for AICN when I had wanted to. (I should have clued you into all the trouble that Disney & Pixar were having back when I first heard about it, back in July.)
Anyway ... Thankfully, I'm back on my feet now and ready to start shoveling some truly cool info your way. Stuff about animated films that the Walt Disney Company has already acknowledged as being in the works (I.E. "Sweating Bullets" & "Bears") plus toons that no one outside of the Mouse House is supposed to know anything about (I.E. Disney's return to fairy tales: A lushly animated version of Hans Christian Anderson's classic tale, "The Snow Queen," as well as a wildly comic all CGI version of "Chicken Little" that's being put together by the same team that did "The Emperor's New Groove"). Plus some other snazzy stuff.
But I thought that I'd clue you in to several truly cool things that are going on in Southern California this month. Since you're such a huge fan of Tim Burton's "The Nightmare Before Christmas," I'm sure that you'll be pleased to hear that the Mouse is bringing this masterful motion picture back to the big screen. Mind you, it's only in one location (Hollywood's El Capitan Theatre) and it's only for a brief 10 day run. But -- if everything that I've been hearing about this special limited engagement (Which Disney is hoping to turn into an annual Halloween event in Tinsel Town, by the way) turns out to be true -- it'll still be well worth it for Jack & Sally fans everywhere to come check it out.
Why for? Well, let's start with the stuff you'll find in the lower lounge area. Here, there'll be a display of the actual sets and props used in the creation of this stop-motion masterpiece. Or how about the stuff that will be accompanying every screening of "Nightmare" : Uncut versions of Tim Burton's acclaimed early shorts, "Vincent" and "Frankenweenie."
Of course, if you opt to attend the film's opening night (Friday, October 19th), you're in for an even bigger treat. Noted animation historian (Not to mention the guy who's behind the acclaimed animation website, cartoonresearch.com) Jerry Beck will be hosting a panel discussion about the making of "Nightmare" prior to the movie's 6:30 p.m. screening. I could tell you the names of all the animators who will be taking part in that night's program, all the guys who'll be spilling their guts about what it was like to work with Burton & Selick on this much beloved film ... But you don't want me to spoil everything now, would you, Harry?
Speaking of spoiling things, below I have attached a note that I just received from my pal, DizBiz. He lives in Southern California and the lucky bastard actually made it over to Disneyland last week where (Harry, get ready to personally wet yourself) it seems that Jack Skellington himself has done a floor-to-ceiling makeover of the park's venerable "Haunted Mansion."
WARNING!! Dozens of spoilers lie right ahead. If you're headed out to
Anaheim anytime before January 6, 2002 and want to experience
Disneyland's "Haunted Mansion" in holiday mode with all of its seasonal
surprises in tact, skip on down to the bottom ... where I'll clue you in
on some other "Mansion" related surprises that the Mouse supposedly has
in the works:
On Friday, September 5th, Disneyland took the wraps off its latest
holiday attraction, "Haunted Mansion Holiday." If you are even the
slightest fan of Tim Burton's "The Nightmare Before Christmas" and can
haul your ass to Anaheim between now and mid January 2002, you owe it to
yourself to see "What happens when two holidays collide!"
For a reported $1.2 million (all of which appears to have been spent on
guest experience), an entirely new story has been laid over the original
Haunted Mansion. From the moment you spot the original ante bellum
faÃ§ade from across New Orleans Square you are aware that something's
different. Jack O Lanterns sprout from the wrought iron fence that
surrounds the Mansion. Evil wreaths decorate the Haunted Mansion plaques
at its entrance and Jack Skellington in his
Sandy Claws suit beckons guests to enter.
The Mansion itself is decorated from top to bottom with Jack O Lanterns,
skulls and black bunting everywhere. A field of mist enshrouded menacing
pumpkins overlooks the courtyard queue.
In the Mansion's lobby, we learn that the Haunted Mansion's 999 happy
haunts have heard of Jack Skellington's efforts to transpose Christmas
Town's holiday trimmings to his own holiday, Halloween. So they invited
him to work his holiday magic on their home. As the doors to the
stretching room open, you immediately notice that the familiar mansion
portraits are missing. In their place amid the horrid holiday
decorations are four lovely stand glass windows of festive holiday
images, like children snuggled in bed.
After being told to step to the "dead center" of the room the lights go
out and the cutesy images disappear only to be replaced by stripped
snakes, ghouls and ghastly creatures of the Nightmare kind. The lights
flash and giant cat eyes appear. There's a lighting flash and thunder
crash and what to our wandering eyes appears but a ceiling sized
grinning Jack Skellington complete with a Sandy Claws hat and beard.
As you exit you find that the gallery too has changed. Filled with
images of Jack, Sally and snowmen, each changing the tone of its
portrait depending on your point of view. And - it's a whole lot darker
in here too.
One of the dumbest things about the old set-up for Disneyland's Haunted
Mansion was the huge wasted space opposite the doom buggy boarding area.
Not anymore. A giant holiday combination mobile and banner featuring
Jack, Lock, Stock, and Barrel wishes you a Merry Christmas. That is
until you look closer. The two faced mayor of Halloween Town is holding
up the right hand side of the banner. As his face rotates from happy to
mad - as in insane for those of you who missed the movie - Merry becomes
The lap bar clamps down and off you go into the bowels of the mansion.
Bizarre and oddly shaped presents are piled all around. You pass by a
hallway decorated with bones and a memorial dedicated to the memory of
Zero, Jack's reindeer dog whose ghost can now be seen floating off in
the endless hallway.
Coffins make perfect Christmas gifts and Jack's wrapped one for you
complete with a body eager to get out. Meanwhile, Poinsettias with faces
and teeth serenade you on your way. Soon they join the Evil Wreath
decking himself about the hallway.
Madam Leota's chamber awaits you next. Madam sings the "13 Days of
Christmas" as giant Tarot cards dance about her torso less head. Look
close if you're a fan of Oogie Boogie. You'll only see him in this room.
In the grand ballroom, where Jack has out done himself spreading holiday
cheer, decoration abounds from floor to ceiling. Ghostly gifts dance
into the room from Jack's sleigh. The banquet table is all decorated in
orange and black tableware is piled high with treats. Pumpkin faces are
everywhere and just after the table and before the ballroom dance floor
stands the magnificent dead Christmas tree. Decked with orange and off
black lights, it's studded with spiders and webs galore. The library
too, now exposed for the very first time, gets in on the holiday mode as
dancing and twirling books form their very own tree.
It's then off to the attic where presents are stored guarded by a huge
snake who's eating Sandy Claws' list of good little girls and boys. Out
through the rafters to the graveyard next, it's made over by Jack and
frosted with snow supplied by dear Sandy Claws. Made over to resemble
Halloween Town's graveyard it even includes the movie's signature curly
cue hill. Jack and Zero welcome you to the party. Haunted angels herald
the holidays and the graveyard's residents sing a medley of the 999
happy haunt's "Grim Grinning Ghosts" and "What's This," the song that
Jack sang in the movie when he discovered Christmas Town.
Ghosts still want to follow you home as you prepare to exit the mansion
but not the ones you've come to fear. A group of Jack's favorite frights
vie to follow you out into the night. And as you go up the exit ramp,
you pass Sally thanking Sandy Claws for making things right.
Sounds truly cool, doesn't it, Harry? Executives at the Oriental Land Company (the folks who actually own and operate Tokyo Disneyland as well as the newly opened Tokyo Disney Seas theme park) seem to think so. They're already allegedly asked Disneyland's entertainment staff to do a "Nightmare" based make-over of their "Haunted Mansion" starting in the 2002 holiday season. And who knows? Maybe WDW's "Haunted Mansion" will also experience Skellington's decorative do-over sometime soon too.
Of course, I know that there are theme park purists out there that won't approve of Disney doing anything to change the original "Haunted Mansion." But what these folks need to remember is that this is only a temporary "Nightmare." That this old Disneyland favorite will go back to looking just as it always has come January 2002. Though -- based on the already overwhelmingly positive response that guests have given the "Mansion" makeover -- it's quite likely that Jack will start calling this part of New Orleans Square home from October 1st through January 6th for many years yet to come.
Again, I'm sure that this news may upset "Mansion" purists. But not as much as *THIS* news probably will: As part of Disneyland's 50th anniversary celebration (Which will kick off in January 2005), the Mouse is supposedly talking about making over several of the park's signature attractions. Rededicating them, if you will. Among the rides that have been reportedly tapped for this special treatment are the "Jungle Cruise," "Space Mountain," "Pirates of the Caribbean" and -- you guessed it -- the "Haunted Mansion."
What would this make-over allegedly entail? Well, at least in the "Haunted Mansion" 's case, it would probably involve swapping out a lot of those 1969 era special effects and replacing them with some state-of-the-art stuff. Plus there's talk of upgrading a lot of the audio animatronic figures as well as folding a few new scares into the place (Free floating holographic spectres, anyone?).
So you'd best check the place out by the Spring of 2004. Otherwise, you're in for a really rude surprise come the Summer of 2005.
Anyway ... I hope that this story (And thanks again for DizBiz for providing such a detailed report on "Haunted Mansion Holiday") is an appropriate seasonal treat for AICN readers. Sorry to have been gone so long between notes, Knowles. I promise that I'll be back with more Disney related goodies very soon.
That's it for today, Harry. Hope you enjoy the story. And please give my best to your Dad & Moriarty, okay?