Happy Holidays, foolish mortals!

Proceeding to the balcony overlooking the Grand Ballroom, I'm afraid my graphics get a bit dicey, folks -- a number of factors conspire against getting good shots of this scene: the distance to the objects and characters below, the very dim light and I had to shoot through the ornate railings on top of that. Suffice it to say that the Ballroom is dressed for Christmas:

With some treats and some games, you could make a scene merry
Why, even a gingerbread house could seem scary
All at once, happy haunts did materialize
Like a nightmarish painting by Currier and Ives
Gingerbread house centerpiece

A large, fancifully iced gingerbread house decorates the ballroom dining table, while the unseen hearse to the right now spills wrapped presents into through the open French doors. Up above, wraiths and skeletal reindeer fly in through the shattered windows, while the usual cast of ghost guests hang around for dinner and drinks.

Pumpkins and spiders light the Christmas tree

This would be a decent shot of the tree if the railing weren't in the way. What you can't see here are the jack o' lantern tree lights, supplemented by other lights with rise and drop as the spiders holding them weave their web strands along the branches.

There's quite a lot going on in this scene and it's a challenge to take it all in on one viewing, especially since you can't stop to take a longer look. Present wrapped in Halloweenish paper await opening beneath the tree, though what resides inside them will remain a mystery until Christmas day... unless the occupants get restless, or hungry!

If you think this picture's bad, wait till you see the next one...

The Mansion's new room

This murky shot may offer your first glimpse of the Mansion's new room: a library supposedly hidden behind the velvet curtains between the dueling portraits all these years. While this new room provoked a good deal of speculation before the HMH opened, its minor revelations are perhaps the one disappointment of this holiday attraction. It's a very small chamber, more so when seen from fifty feet away, and the only activity in it is a spinning 'tree' of floating books which in itself isn't a very sophisticated effect. It doesn't help that this added 'bonus' is only visible for a few seconds when guests reach the end of the ballroom scene, and one's Doombuggy quickly turns away from it when reached -- then again, not much happens in it to require a longer look, either.

The dancers continue their waltz (with the women leading the men, a classic inside gaffe to enjoy) as the organist plays a cheerfully gothic mix of typical haunted tunes with the holiday standard Carol of the Bells. Apparently the banshee heads floating out of the organ pipes chime in as a choral back up, making for a fun, eerie sound.

Let's leave this festive celebration behind and go looking for some hidden toys in the attic...

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