New Disney’s “The Nightmare Before Christmas” Experience Begins This Month

jack skellngton nightmare before christmas
Credit: Disney/Canva

Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas will celebrate its 30th anniversary in October, and as part of the festivities, a new experience inspired by the film is available to fans now through early 2024.

Review: The Nightmare Before Christmas - Cineluxe

Credit: Disney

Perhaps the only film in animation history to be as popular at Christmastime as it is during the Halloween season, Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas made its debut nearly 30 years ago. The stop-motion dark fantasy film was written and produced by Tim Burton and directed by Henry Selick. Danny Elfman wrote the score and the songs for the film and also lent his voice talents to Jack Skellington, as well as two minor characters in the storyline. The voice cast also includes Chris Sarandon, Catherine O’Hara, William Hickey, Ken Page, Paul Reubens, Glenn Shadix, and Ed Ivory.

After premiering at the New York Film Festival on October 9, 1993, the film was given a limited release in theaters on October 13, 1993, before its full theatrical release across the nation on October 29. And while fans were thrilled about the film’s debut, no one was happier about the completion of the film than the production team.

6 Terror-ific Stories from the Crew of Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before  Christmas - D23

Credit: D23


The stop-motion film, which was an adaptation of a poem written by producer Tim Burton while he was an animator for Disney in the 1980s, took more than three years to make, according to director Henry Selick.

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“I was on the film for three and a half years,” Selick said. “The stop-motion animation took about 18 months, but with pre-production, where you storyboarded every single shot, it did add up.” Selick further said that at the film’s peak, there were approximately 120 people working on it, and about 15 of those were animators.

Henry Selick on Directing 'The Nightmare Before Christmas'

When the film first debuted in 1993, it was regarded as a “moderate sleeper hit,” meaning it wasn’t a total failure, but it didn’t rock the box office either. The film earned about $50 million from its first release. Then, with a re-issue of the film in 2006, The Nightmare Before Christmas earned an additional $11.1 million in box office gross revenue. Four more re-issues–in 2007, 2008, and 2009–earned $15.8 million, $2.5 million, and $2.3 million, respectively, bringing the film’s total box office gross revenue to $91.5 million.

But regardless of the amount of revenue generated by the film, Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas has grown in popularity over the years, and it seems to have an uncanny ability to garner new fans–and maintain them. In the almost 30 years since its release, the dark fantasy film that sees Jack Skellington, the Pumpkin King, looking for “more” out of his existence and subsequently finding it in the phenomenon known as “Christmas.” But Jack doesn’t know exactly what to think of Christmas and attempts to bring Christmas to Halloween Town, and the results are a bit less than merry.

But for whatever reason–be it the uniqueness of the film, the fact that a film with somewhat macabre elements attempts to incorporate Christmas, or simply the fact that it’s one of Tim Burton’s brainchildren–The Nightmare Before Christmas continues to maintain its popularity and attract new fans every year, giving it bragging rights as a cult classic.

This year is a monumental one for Nightmare fans, as it marks the 30th anniversary of the film’s release. And to celebrate, a new experience inspired by the creepy, quasi-jolly film is available to fans now through early January 2014.

Relics of the popular stop-motion film will be exhibited at the McNay Art Museum through January 14, 2024, in an experience titled Dreamland: Tim Burton’s Nightmare Before Christmas.

Tim Burton, Jack Skellington and his dog, Zero, in Jack’s Tower from The Nightmare Before Christmas , 1993. Painted wood, metal, plastic, glass, paper, and Styrofoam, with fabric and found objects. Collection of the McNay Art Museum, Gift of Robert L. B. Tobin © Disney © Tim Burton

Credit: Disney/Tim Burton/McNay Museum

The exhibition includes maquettes, which are models for larger sculptures that are created so that artists and animators can visualize what the sculpture will look like once it’s finished. In addition to the maquettes, Dreamland will also incorporate small-scale working models that were used to make the 1993 Halloween-Christmas-Halloween flick and that eventually made their way into the McNay Art Museum’s Tobin Collection of Theatre Arts the year after the film debuted.

Among the figures on display are Oogie Boogie, Bone Crusher, and Jack Skellington. A full set model, “Jack Skellington and his dog, Zero, in Jack’s Tower,” made of painted wood, metal, plastic, fabric, and more, will also be on exhibition.

jack skellington on display

Credit: Disney/Tim Burton/McNay Art Museum

Per KPRC Channel 2 in Houston:

A nod to filmmaker Tim Burton’s surrealist sensibility, “Dreamland” will also display a “hall of peculiar portraits” with quirky subjects by artists JosĂ© Clemente Orozco FarĂ­as, Pablo Picasso, Julie Heffernan, Eugene Berman, Marilyn Lanfear, Willem de Kooning, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and Julie Speed, among others; and large-scale paintings and photographs by artists Paul Maxwell, Claudia Rogge, Robin Utterback and Sandy Skoglund.

Left: Tim Burton,Oogie Boogie Exposedfrom The Nightmare Before Christmas, 1993. Painted foam, rubber, and wire.Collection of the McNay Art Museum, Gift of Robert L. B. Tobin © Disney © Tim Burton. Middle: Peter Rice, Costume design for Dr. Kalterfelto in English Eccentrics , 1967. Ink and watercolor on paper. Collection of the McNay Art Museum, Gift of The Tobin Endowment. Right: Tim Burton, Bed from The Nightmare Before Christmas , 1993. Painted metal, wood, and fabric, with Styrofoam and polymer clay. Collection of the McNay Art Museum, Gift of Robert L. B. Tobin © Disney © Tim Burton

Credit: Disney/Tim Burton/McNay Art Museum

“The Tobin Collection of Theatre Arts makes the McNay unique among art museums across the country,” said Matthew McLendon, director of the McNay, in a statement. “This monumental anniversary of the treasured film ‘The Nightmare Before Christmas’ is the perfect opportunity not only to share Burton’s fascinating set and character models but also illuminate equally fascinating McNay artworks available to San Antonians throughout the year.”

Visitors will be guided through the world of Burton and given an open invitation to conjure fantasy narratives of their own using surreal imagery from the McNay collection on display throughout the gallery. The exhibition spotlights Burton’s genius, as seen through the presentation of original models of beloved characters like Oogie Boogie Exposed, Bone Crusher, and the story’s hero, Jack Skellington.

dreamland exhibit at mcnay art museum tim burton's nightmare before christmas

Credit: McNay Art Museum

To purchase tickets, click here, and for more information about the experience, visit the exhibition’s webpage at the McNay Art Museum.

About Becky Burkett

Becky's from the Lone Star State and has been writing since she was 10 and encountered her first Disney Park when she was 11. It was love at first Main Street Electrical Parade. Joy is blank lined journals, 0.7 mm pens, and all things Walt, Woody and Buzz, PIXAR, Imagineering, Sleeping Beauty (make it blue!), Disney Parks history and EPCOT. At Disney World, you'll find her croonin' with the birdies at the Enchanted Tiki Room or hangin' with Woody and the gang at Toy Story Land. If you can dream, you really can do it!