Updated: Nov 16
A few weeks ago, the kids dragged me to the mall. We have our routine at this particular mall – I go to my “lady store” while the boys hit up Hot Topic. When we meet back up, we go to Box Lunch because it has things all of us enjoy.
Box Lunch is a fandom store. It’s a chain that makes sure all your fan merch needs are met: T-shirts, coffee mugs, stickers, pins, Funko Pops, etc. Everything from anime, Disney, Sanrio, Harry Potter, Loungfly exclusives, and more. What we found that day was a whole display specifically for The Haunted Mansion.
Because of the new Haunted Mansion movie – which releases this week on Disney Plus – I’ve seen an uptick in Haunted Mansion merch. When we went to the mall and saw the Haunted Mansion display at Box Lunch, I was confronted with a blind box – or bag – situation. I purchased two bags, which were supposed to have contained key chains, the ones kids hang from their backpacks. Of the selection, I did not get Madame Leota as I had hoped, but I did get the Tightrope Walker from the Stretching Room and the mystery shape – the ghost opera singer from the graveyard scene. Even without Madame Leota, I was overjoyed with my score.
The Bradleys are self-proclaimed Disney Nerds. We finagle the deals so we can go as often as we want. We watch Mammoth Club videos on YouTube so we can see Molly and Alan walking through the parks and giving their reviews of rides, food, and maneuvering the Genie Plus system.
Depending on who you ask, being a Disney Nerd is not necessarily a thing that is considered “cool”. Disney nerds are a little intense. People see my Minnie Mouse watch face or hear we’re going back to Disney again, and I see their face… that “oh, you’re one of those” face. Even Slone, who I try to sell on a Disney trip by pointing out that it’s actually 85% shopping, is like “If I’m in Florida, gurl, I’m gonna be oceanside.”
And I am “one of those”. I used to scoff at the families in the matching T-shirts and now I’m asking Hubs if he might want to go in on that. He has said, no. But in the beginning, on my first trip, I was still thinking, “I’m too cool for this.”
On that first trip, after we hit up Pirates of the Caribbean, Hubs told me we were going to ride The Haunted Mansion. I was resistant. I assumed that it would be unimpressive, like one of those carnival fun house rides, where the joy actually comes from being a jerk and making fun of it. It’s an old ride and it’s not a roller coaster. I figured I’d do it because it was getting me one step closer to getting back to Space Mountain.
I was also surprised by Hubs. He does not like spooky or scary things. The only thing he likes about Halloween is The Great Pumpkin and Fun Size candy bars. He doesn’t watch scary movies. And here he was guiding me into a long line for a “haunted” ride where the cast members who had been nothing but human beams of sunshine, were now dressed in Victorian servant costumes and suddenly acting surly.
All my assumptions were wrong. The second I was herded into the stretching room and heard the booming narrator point out that we’d just been willingly led into a room with no exits, I was hooked. The Doom buggies, the wallpaper that looks like eyes, the Victorian ghost dance party in the ballroom, and, of course, Madame Leota, who is my absolute favorite. We rode it at least twice and now I’m the one dragging everyone into that long line.
On that same first trip to the many, many gift shops, Disney was pushing a series of collectibles called Vinylmation. Vinylmation are tiny dolls shaped like Mickey Mouse however other character’s faces and costuming is printed on them. I stumbled on a blind box of Haunted Mansion Vinylmation dolls that featured the classic Disney characters – Mickey, Minnie, Donald, and Goofy – as the Haunted Mansion surly servants. I wanted to Minnie so bad, but it was a blind box and not cheap. I walked away from it but absolutely regretted it. I hoped maybe I would find it when I returned, but by then the Vinylmation dolls were being phased out for Tsum Tsums.
If I really wanted to, I could purchase the Minnie I want online from a collector. But the lesson I actually took away from it was to stop making assumptions about what I will like about a place before I go, and maybe to stop being so damn surly myself.
If you read this far because you too are “one of those” Disney nerds, be sure to check out my previous post Surrender to the Magic.
Read Books. Wear Boots.