We caught up with “Pumpkin King” Brian D. Sandahl, Senior Designer for Disney Entertainment Creative Development, and the whiz behind the annual Haunted Mansion Holiday gingerbread house.
This is the tenth year a “freaky gingerbread house” has been the centerpiece on the table in the Haunted Mansion ballroom, says Brian.
Brian shared with us a quick color sketch that was used to inspire pastry chef Jean-Marc Viallet to create the edible overlays.
The foundation is wood and wired for animation, then the house goes to the Disneyland Resort Central Bakery for a 3-week layover to apply more than 500 lbs of gingerbread, ten yards of fondant and miles of frosting and oversized candies. Because the six-foot house stays on display through Christmas, the design is a blend of the holidays, inspired by Jack Skellington and the animated film, “Tim Burton’s Nightmare Before Christmas.”
“Imagine if Jack Skellington had landed on the Haunted Mansion and decorated it with his vision of Halloween and Christmas,” says Brian. “The two holidays collide with pumpkins, freaky presents, a dead Christmas tree and more.”
This year’s house is more pastel, done with light orange and purple. But the cuteness gives way to a “freaky twist” when the house opens to reveal evil teeth, red eyes that light up, a “happy cookie” that revolves to a “mean cookie.”
There is so much to see in the ballroom scene, says Brian, including that dead, 25-foot-tall Christmas tree. It takes several trips through the attraction to take it all in.
Work on the gingerbread house started at the end of 2010, with construction beginning in spring 2011. Opening day is September 16!