the 17th season of the Haunted Mansion Holiday gingerbread house. This year, the fanciful gingerbread creation features Oogie Boogie, who gets his chance to shine after a 13-year absence in the ballroom, thrilling fans of “Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas.”
“The gingerbread mansion this year has a bug problem – gingerbread bugs! But it’s not a problem that a gingerbread Oogie Boogie can’t fix. He pried open the roof of the gingerbread mansion and has his fork at the ready, happy to fix the infestation in the only way he would – by eating them,” says Tim Wollweber, associate art director for Disney Parks, who designed this year’s house. “But quite a few bugs have gotten loose and are rampaging across the ballroom table, tormenting the gingerbread zombies there, who are forced to defend themselves with silverware!”
The house is six feet tall to the roof point, but the animated Oogie Boogie himself is seven feet tall. There are more than 70 bugs “scurrying” across the ballroom table and the ballroom itself. We have been told there might be a few gingerbread bugs that have escaped out of the ballroom … think you can find them?
What did it take to make this whimsical ginger-dread house? We asked the creative team at Disneyland Resort Central Bakery – Executive Pastry Chef Jean-Marc Viallet and Lead Pastry Chef Edgar Urtola – for their shopping list:
My Secret Santa recipient was @luke-shywalker ! @luke-shywalker I hope you enjoy this little Ben Solo fic! I tried to give you a measure of everything you said you’d like to receive in your gift: Raising Ben, fluff, angst, Solo family love, a bit of the mundane! It’s a Christmas fic because I love this time of year and because it fit my idea, but you can decide for yourself whether it’s an Earth AU or whether it’s a “Christmas Exists in Space” AU! I really hope you enjoy it!
“Careful kid,” Han breathed as he watched his son. “You gotta be real gentle so it won’t fall apart, got it?”
Ben nodded, his small face utterly serious and pinched with an almost comical degree of concentration as he pressed the little chocolate candies into the icing. The work of his five-year-old hands was a little sloppy, but the obvious effort put into it cancelled the messiness out, and Han grinned proudly as he watched him work on his little masterpiece.
A few weeks before, he and Ben had been on the way home from Leia’s office—Ben bundled under a good seven layers of cold-weather gear for their walk through the frosty wind and gentle snow—when they’d passed by an enormous gingerbread house displayed in a bakery window near their apartment building. The sudden backwards tug Han had felt on his hand told him Ben had stopped, and he’d turned to see the kid’s eyes gone all wide and enchanted as he’d gazed through the window. Even Han had had to admit that it was impressive: a giant multi-level gingerbread mansion, decked out with snow-frosting and glistening icicles blown from sugar, intricate wafer cookies shingling the roof…
“It’s gingerbread,” he’d informed his awe-struck son. “It’s all made out of big bits of cookies, and the rest is icing and candy. Pretty cool, huh?”
“Can you eat it?” Ben had asked, eyes even wider once he recognized that it was, indeed, covered in delicate little confections.
Han had grinned.
“Well you could, but I think it’s mostly just for decoration.”
Ben’s brow had furrowed at that, a look completely identical to the one Leia wore when something got her wheels turning, and Han had grinned down fondly at the expression.
After quickly taking stock of his own competencies and finding them at least mostly satisfactory, Han had made a decision.
“Whadda you think? Should we try and make one?” he’d asked with a feigned nonchalance. Ben had whipped around instantaneously, pensive face beaming.
“Can we make one for mommy?!” He’d suddenly grabbed at Han’s leg, tugging at his bloodstripes in his eagerness. Grin broadening at what he’d considered a good and commendable idea, Han had agreed, and when his son had gone on to implore his father to build a gingerbread castle instead of a house, he hadn’t seen any reason to refuse. How hard could it have been, really? Surely he could find some step-by-step instructions, modify a few architectural components to build a castle instead of a house… Add a couple turrets… And he knew Leia would be touched and delighted by her son’s selfless gift. While Ben obviously strove to emulate Han at every opportunity, his every thought was of his mother. If Han took the kid out for ice cream while Leia was at work, Ben would chatter the whole way there about bringing one back for Mommy, what flavor they should get Mommy, if Mommy would be surprised. For all his gleeful time spent running through the living room pretending to “fight the bad guys” or imagining he was a pilot like Han, he was truly a mama’s boy at heart, which Han thought was simultaneously adorable and predictable: his mother was pretty great, after all.
That’s what found him leaned over the kitchen table with Ben for the fourth day in a row, covertly constructing the gingerbread castle for Leia while she was at work. It was the day before Christmas Eve and he’d had to put in some extra hours the night before while Ben slept for fear that they wouldn’t finish it in time. Turned out making a gingerbread castle was harder than he’d initially figured. They’d burnt the gingerbread on their first attempt, and then the icing Han had made took forever to harden enough to actually keep the damn cookies from falling over when he and Ben had tried to stick them together, so that one entire session had consisted of Han sitting at the table holding two pieces upright for an hour at a time until the frosting hardened enough for him to let go.
Ben’s demeanor during the entire process had been almost laughably serious. Han, not wanting his son to worry about their success, had lightly informed him that standard gingerbread castle procedure entailed lots of sitting and holding the glued pieces, so every few minutes that had ticked by had had Ben parroting that back to him with that same endearing furrow to his brow.
“This is standard castle procedure, Daddy,” he kept saying, and if he asked Han whether they could move onto the next piece and Han said no, the icing wasn’t hard yet, Han’d hear, “That’s okay, it’s standard procedure.”
Finally, they were almost done, and as much as Han had enjoyed both the quality time with Ben and the joy of watching his devotion in crafting the gift for his mother, Han couldn’t deny that he was relieved it was almost finished. It meant less chance for it to go wrong.
“What color should we put for the gumdrops?” Han asked as Ben finished laying down green candies along the base of the castle. Han had iced all around the walls to make a yard full of snow, the final finishing touch, and Ben was putting down a few more decorative bits and pieces. “How about blue?”
Ben looked up at Han, hesitant and worried.
“Does Mommy like blue?” he fretted, frowning down at the blue gumdrops Han had reached for.
Han sighed. He was sure it must’ve been something about the age, but Ben had started to exhibit behavior on multiple occasions that gave Han pause—a genuine and seemingly deep-rooted concern that Leia would find fault with or reject Ben and the things he made for or did for her. Earlier that month, when the three of them had been attending a gala in Leia’s name, Leia had cautioned Ben to be careful not to spill his juice on his nice clothes. Ben had spilled on his shirt a few minutes later and had started crying so inconsolably that Leia and Han had had to take him out of the hall, and in one of the antechambers as they’d tried to calm him down—it had been an accident, they’d said—even Mommy and Daddy have accidents, sometimes, and it was just a shirt, after all—he’d latched his little arms around Han’s neck and sobbed against his shoulder, “Mommy won’t love me anymore.”
Han and Leia had looked at each other, horrified and stricken, over his head. Leia especially had been so bothered by the depth of their son’s distress that she’d almost left the gala early, and certainly would have if they hadn’t successfully assured Ben that his mother would never stop loving him no matter what. Leia had taken the following day off for a special “Mommy and Ben” day out, but every now and then, they caught glimpses of that same inexplicable anxiety in their child.
That was why Han was careful to assure his son that Leia would love whatever color gumdrop Ben picked, and so with special care he and Ben stuck the blue gumdrops into the frosting.
“I think that just about does it,” Han declared. He reached over to haul Ben into his lap, and the two of them cast a critical eye over the product of their labors. The gingerbread castle, though nowhere near the level of craftsmanship displayed in the bakery window, was sturdy and colorful. The parts that Ben had decorated were easily distinguishable from the parts that Han had done, and the kid had gleefully suggested that orange sprinkles be dumped all over the top of the whole thing, but regardless, he was certain that Leia would be both impressed and extremely touched. The little yard even included a gingerbread Han, Leia, Ben, Uncle Luke, and Chewie.
“It’s done?” Ben piped, eyes round.
“All done,” he confirmed. “Looks pretty good, kid. What d’you think? How’d we do?”
Ben paused and tilted his head.
“Will Mommy like it, Daddy? Will it be a good surprise?”
Heart throbbing, Han gave Ben a squeeze.
“Are you kidding? She’s gonna love it. I bet you it’ll be her favorite present,” he promised. “I happen to know for a fact that she’s never had a gingerbread castle before.”
“We get to give her her first one!” Ben exclaimed, smiling at last.
“You bet. And she’s gonna think it’s extra special because her two favorite guys made it for her, right?”
Ben beamed and nodded, his mop of dark curls flopping and brushing against Han’s jaw.
Han smiled and ruffled his hair. For the next day and a half, Ben kept shooting him a thrilled, conspiratorial smile, whispering loudly in Han’s ear about how “Mommy’s never had a gingerbread castle before, Daddy!” whenever Leia left the room. On Christmas morning, though Ben was excited to open all his gifts, Han could tell that he was bouncing around the room and chattering because he was anxious to finally bestow his gift upon Leia. She was sitting cross-legged on the carpet beside the tree with Ben in her lap, all cozied up in her nice black satin pajama pants, Han’s tee shirt, and her favorite little fluffy gray bathrobe that Han always teased made her look like a disgruntled storm cloud when she put it on in the morning. She was hugging Ben to her chest as he smiled at his unwrapped Christmas gifts, murmuring into his ear about what a good boy he’d been all year for Santa to have gotten him so many new toys.
Fondly observing all this from the couch, Han finally cleared his throat and made to stand.
“Hey Ben,” he called, catching both his son’s and his wife’s attention. “Whadda you say we go and get Mommy’s special surprise?”
Han smiled expectantly, and the result of the words was instantaneous.
“Yeah!” he cried, leaping to his feet. And spun around to look at Leia, holding up both hands in a posture so reminiscent of Han that Han knew Leia almost laughed at him. “Don’t move, Mommy! We’ll be right back!”
He darted over to his father and seized his hand, tugging Han towards the kitchen. Han glanced over his shoulder to throw Leia a wink, ignoring her questioning expression. He wasn’t about to spoil their son’s surprise by mouthing any hints at her.
Ben was practically hopping up and down as Han led him into the back room and hefted the gingerbread castle off the desk. He ran down the hall ahead of his father as he carried their creation, calling to Leia to close her eyes.
“Don’t look yet, Mommy,” he implored her seriously as Han set the gingerbread castle down on the coffee table. “Not yet!”
Ben clambered back into Leia’s lap and made himself comfortable, peeking anxiously over his shoulder all the while to ensure that her eyes were still closed. Han sank down to join his family on the floor.
“I wonder what my surprise is,” Leia mused aloud, lips turned up in amusement. Her eyes were still obediently closed, and she blindly leaned forward to kiss the top of Ben’s head. “Can I look now?”
Ben nodded, clearly not realizing that Leia couldn’t see with her eyes closed, but she evidently felt the movement of his head and opened her eyes.
Han was immediately angry that he hadn’t thought to record the moment.
Leia’s jaw dropped open in a gasp that wasn’t staged for Ben’s benefit, and she leaned forward with him still in her lap to get a closer look at the gingerbread castle.
“Oh, Ben!” she breathed. Han watched her eyes rove over the little tower, the candy cane windows, Ben’s crooked line of gumdrops. She looked at Han with a huge, incredulous smile, and he only grinned back.
“Did you make this for me?” she asked, running her hand over Ben’s hair as she continued to admire the castle.
Ben nodded again.
“Me and Daddy made it,” he said softly, in a tone of voice that was suddenly shy. “It’s a castle because you’re Daddy’s princess,” he explained.
Han blinked in surprise. Ben hadn’t told him the reason why he’d wanted to make a castle instead of a house.
Leia smiled brilliantly and leaned her cheek against Ben’s head.
“I can see that,” she murmured. She cast Han a tender, amused little glance that Han knew meant she was envisioning him helping their son stick hundreds of pieces of candy to a giant cookie castle.
“Mommy,” Ben whimpered, clutching at her arm, “do you like it?”
Han watched Leia pause to hear the plaintive tone in his voice, and she shifted him around in her lap so that she could look him in the eye. He gazed up at her, his eyes glistening and serious, biting his lip the same way that Leia sometimes did.
“I absolutely love it,” Leia told him. “It’s the best Christmas gift I’ve ever gotten.”
Ben’s face went slack with amazement.
“The best ever?” he squeaked, as though he hardly dared believe it.
Leia smiled and kissed his nose.
“The very best,” she promised.
Ben’s happiness and relief were so evident that his smile practically outshone the lights on the tree.
“Daddy said it’s extra special because we’re your favorite guys,” he breathed, clearly overwhelmed that the gift had received such high praise.
Leia smiled the genuine, graceful way that Han adored and drew Ben with her as she leaned sideways to press against Han’s side. At once he shifted where he sat to drape an arm over his wife’s shoulder.
“Daddy was right,” she told Ben happily, bending to kiss his cheek before craning her neck to kiss Han’s.
“Daddy’s always right,” Han winked, as Leia tipped Ben so that he lay across both their laps. She shook her head good-naturedly at her husband and then watched as their son sat up and began pointing out each part of the gingerbread castle and explaining in detail to her all about the “standard gingerbread procedure,” and as he held Leia to his side while they watched Ben dart around the coffee table to show his Mommy how he and Daddy had put on the candy windows, Han felt warm and content in every part of himself, all worries cast aside as he sat with his little family on Christmas morning.
“That’s not even a house!” You exclaimed, looking at the nearly toppled mass of graham crackers and chocolate kisses. “Why make a gingerbread house, when you can make a gingerbread mansion.” He laughed and set down the Hershey bag. “Always having to over reach, huh?” You teased, pressing a gum drop into the icing and tossing an M&M at Dan who caught it in his mouth. “When you can make mansions like this why not over reach?” He finished chewing and gestured toward his creation. “Well, then Mr. Architect your said mansion is nearly falling onto the floor.” “Aw, shit!"
"I can honestly say your gingerbread house isn’t like any other.” You teased, resting your head onto your hand. Phil gave you a dry look as he tried to lift the collapsed ceiling from the inside of his house. “In all honesty it was all your fault i’m having to reconstruct my house.” He pouted, giving up and poking at the remnants of icing and graham crumbs. “How is it my fault.” You scoffed, “You’re the one who sent an assault on my house with M&M’s and Double Deckers.” You pointed out, “I just returned the favor.” “And return it you did.” He laughed, reaching over and plucking a square of chocolate from your finished house.
Lucky Peach #13 is our “Feel the Joy” issue, and it arrives just in time for the holiday season.
Like Dorie Greenspan, the high priestess of holiday (and year-round) baking, we’re indiscriminate lovers of all holidays. There’s fiction from Anthony Bourdain that includes real advice on how not to ruin a turkey dinner (hint: two turkeys) and recipes for recreating Peter Meehan’s traditional Christmas Eve Feast of the One Fishes.
Our celebrations take us all around the world, from a halal butcher shop in New York’s East Village to Haiti, where Adam Gollner celebrates with Vodounistes. We learn from a mithai master at a sweets shop in London, celebrate Christmas in India, home of some of the world’s oldest Christian communities, and marvel at mountains of food in Indonesia, where celebrations are marked by gunangans (food mountains). We learn the science behind what happens when we overeat; plus plans for how to build your own gingerbread mansion and cocktail cures for what ails you.
The issue hits newsstands on November 18th. Subscribe now to receive it as the first in your subscription!
Cover photo by Gabriele Stabile & Hannah Clark, cover cookies by Amelia Coulter (Sugarbuilt)
So I thought, to wish this awesome fandom a Merry Christmas, I’d make a list of a bunch of awesome newtmas Christmas fics! And also a cute graphic (which is my first one so it’s a bit shit and took me ages lmao). So have fun reading, maybe put on a playlist from the Christmas tag on 8tracks, and have a very merry newtmas!
Luci gently tip-toed in the kitchen thinking he was in the House alone. He had heard Blake suggest a small outing to a hot spring to relax the muscles before Christmas tomorrow. He didn’t have any desire do go, after their last bought. Any large amount of water that could possibly drown him wasn’t his thing. Plus, he had another agenda on his mind. Ever since the gingerbread mansion was made he wanted to play with the people. It was childish sure, but he’d never had a chance to do it before.
PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF GOD share more of your college stories. Those are some of the best I've heard on this site yet. Omg.
On the last day of Freshman year as my roommate and I were packing, our next door neighbors/friends decided it’d be a fun idea to barge into our room and start shooting us with marshmallows and M&Ms. They ended up breaking a light and cracking a window but as we were moving out the next day, we didn’t do anything about it and we somehow never got fined/told off
Junior year? my friends and I built a four-story gingerbread mansion out of 6+ gingerbread house kits. We did this in the architecture studio (I dropped the major but a lot of my friends are still in it) and their professor was so impressed by it she gave them extra credit
We had a potluck at one point where we accidentally made 60 servings of ravioli and ate nothing but that for about two weeks
Sophomore year, my friends snuck a 15-foot Christmas tree into their dorm room with 14-foot ceilings even though they got caught by security three times. They also put on so many lights that their dorm lost power for an hour or two
A campus-wide game of Assassin that ended in several suspensions, a broken arm, and at least three failed exams
One time I got dared to go to class with my face made-up to look like Grumpy Cat and I did. No one said anything
That time post-hurricane where people literally, literally canoed to class
One time a poster fell off the wall in the middle of the night and my roommate screamed when it landed on her face. I thought someone was breaking in so I leapt out of bed to attack them? but as I was still half asleep, I landed wrong and sprained my ankle
I took an anthro class and at one point, someone did a presentation on human sexuality which resulted in us watching porn for an hour
Lake Tulane and the various tropical storms/sudden downpours that consistently result in people sitting in class in their underwear
That time I walked into my room to see my roommate hiding in a pillow fort and shooting at a cockroach with a nerf blaster
That time a classmate once showed up to a lecture in a fursuit for an entire week
There was a fire in our dorm once at 4am which resulted in the dining hall being full of people in various states of undress including one person who was wearing nothing but a blanket
Cow tipping but instead of cows, alligators
I had a professor once who ended the class every day by telling us to “embrace our inner Ke$ha and go put glitter on shit”