My son Joseph is a huge fan of the Haunted Mansion Holiday. We visit many times during the season so that we can see it as much as possible while it is there. In 2011, we had a trip planned with some extended family on the day that the holiday version opened, which also happened to be the day before my son’s 15th birthday. We decided to save that ride for last, and once we were in the building, we realized it had just passed midnight, and we were the last people in for the night. Joseph thought that was really cool, because his birthday began inside the Haunted Mansion. It was a really fun night.
When his birthday was approaching this year, and we asked what he wanted, he didn’t ask for a car, like we expected. All he really wanted, he said, was “to turn 16 inside the Haunted Mansion.” he wanted to be inside the ride building when midnight struck, as he had been the last year. This year, it was falling on a school night, but we decided to go anyhow. We warned him that it might be hard to time it just right, depending on the line, so we didn’t want him to be disappointed if it didn’t work out exactly.
When we got to the mansion at about 11:40, there was no line at all, but if we had ridden then, according to Joseph, we would have been out too soon, so we stood off to the side, waiting. The Park was almost empty and most Guests were heading to the exit. The Cast Member on duty at the Haunted Mansion gates, Adrian, asked why we were waiting, so we told him the story from last year, and what we had planned. He chatted with us for a few minutes, then told us to wait for a moment, and he would be right back. At about 4-5 minutes before midnight, Adrian asked us to follow him, and he led us into the empty mansion. We were the only Guests in the foyer, the only Guests in the stretching room, and the only Guests walking down the hallway toward the doom buggies, with Adrian escorting us all the way.
Midnight hit as we were getting on the ride, and Adrian wished Joseph a happy birthday. When our ride was over, Adrian appeared at the unloading area, as if by magic, and escorted us out, as we were the last ones off the ride. When we stepped out of the building, all of the other Haunted Mansion Cast Members were waiting,and shouted “Happy Birthday, Joseph!” He was absolutely thrilled with the whole night. He declared it “perfect! The best birthday EVER!”
That night added to the long list of reasons why we love the magic of Disneyland. When my kids were little, I was afraid that when they got older, became teenagers, that they might lose the magic, but I can tell you with confidence, the Disney magic is alive and well in this family, and will be for a long time. Joseph is hoping to be an Imagineer some day!