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Starring Danny Elfman, Chris Sarandon, Henry Selick, and Catherine O’Hara

I love Disney… ANYTHING Disney. Disney World is my “Happy Place” in my head when things go wrong. And so anything that can give me more of a “Disney Experience” is absolutely fantastical in my book. Cue Disney’s “Second Screen Live” Experience for their theatrical releases where you bring your IPad to the theater for a one of a kind, interactive experience.

It’s only fitting that since it is Halloween that my first Second Screen Live experience (or SSL) should be my childhood favorite, Tim Burton’s Nightmare Before Christmas. Between my sister and I, we can quote the entire movie verbatim, songs and different voices included. In fact, if we are ever at a loss of what to get each other for holidays, we usually default to some sort of Nightmare Before Christmas merchandise.

Nightmare Before Christmas takes place in a magical world where each holiday lives in it’s own little world. There’s an Easter Town, a Thanksgiving Town, a Christmas Town, and of course a Halloween Town. Halloween Town is where most of our story takes place. The ruler of Halloween Town is Jack Skellington, the Pumpkin King. Also in Halloween Town is a cavalcade of creepy and kooky characters including vampires, werewolves, a two faced-mayor, a living rag dog, and the oh-so-scary Oogie Boogie Man. After the scariest Halloween ever, Jack has an identity crisis.

Jack stumbles though the woods to a clearing in the woods. He sees a circle of trees with a holiday symbol as a door on each tree. Jack sees a Christmas ornament and becomes enamored by it. He steps through the door, and like Dorothy, finds himself in a beautiful, fantastical world. He can’t believe his non-existent eyes and falls in love with the place. He comes back to Halloween Town and decides to make the entire town do Christmas instead of Halloween that year.

Everyone is on board… except for Sally. Sally is an almost Frankenstein-like rag doll who is madly in love with Jack. Sally has a vision where Jack’s Christmas ends in fire and smoke and tries to tell Jack that doing Christmas is wrong. Sadly, he is too blinded by his ambition to make his own Christmas to listen to sweet Sally. Also in this mix, Jack has employed “Halloween Town’s finest trick or treaters” Lock, Shock, and Barrel to kidnap “Sandy Claws,” aka Santa Claus. The plot thickens when we find out that Lock, Shock, and Barrel are in cahoots with Halloween Town’s villain, the Oogie Boogie Man… who eats people.

And so, everything is in place for Jack to have the best Christmas ever. He has the creepy toys, the skeleton reindeer, and Santa in Oogie Boogie’s lair. But if you haven’t seen Nightmare Before Christmas, I won’t ruin it for you. This is seriously one of my favorite childhood classics. If you haven’t seen it, do it now! BUT that is not what I’m writing about today.

When my sister and I went to see Gravity a couple of weeks ago, we saw an advertisement for Nightmare Before Christmas: SSL. I had read about SSL on Disney.com, as they plan on using this device for the re-release of The Little Mermaid. The whole premise of this experience is that you get to “break the rules” and bring your IPad to the film… and play games during the whole movie. Needless to say, my sister and I were STOKED!

And so, we loaded up my IPad, a bottle of “juice,” and headed to the theater. We bought our tickets and grabbed our popcorn/ Buncha Crunch and headed to our seats. Now, this is where I have some complaints. Number one, there were only six other people in there, and NONE of them had their IPads out. Not a good way to start an interactive IPad experience. Did they not get the memo? THEN, once the movie starts, they give you a tutorial on how to set up your IPad for this experience, but we didn’t realize that you needed to download the Nightmare Before Christmas: SSL app prior to arriving at the theater. UGH! Honestly, if Disney wants to keep this experience user friendly, they need to give out some sort of literature or put up a poster, explicitly telling patrons to download the app from the apple store BEFORE seeing the movie. HECK, even have a QR code taking you to the app.

While trying to download the app on my 3G, I saw pretty much what was going to happen. One, you pick a screen name for yourself. Since it was “Sissy Day” and we wanted to stay in the Disney Halloween movie vein, we chose the “Sandersons,” in homage to Hocus Pocus. Then, you are divided into two teams: Team Skeleton and Team Oogie Boogie to play against the others in the audience. There are even parts of the movie where each team must “out-scream” each other. But still no one has their IPad out! Guess we’re playing against ourselves! After five minutes of pure downloading frustration, I decided to go out to the lobby and see if someone would take pity upon a poor girl with no WiFi. Luckily, there was free WiFi in the lobby of the theater.

After what seemed like an eternity, I finally had the app downloaded. I ran like the Oogie Boogie Man was chasing me back to my seat. By the time I sat down again, Jack was in Christmas Town singing “What’s This?” Now, I could finally breathe and enjoy my SSL experience. Now, is when the fun begins. I came in right as there was “Scar-e-oke,” which as you guessed is where they display the lyrics to the songs both onscreen and on your IPad. We didn’t NEED the lyrics, but we were being encouraged to sing-a-long. As my sister and I were belting “What’s This?” at the top of our lungs, we saw one guy get up and walk out… he never came back. Sigh, we started to feel a little bad for our volume. But then, after the song ended, the movie paused. Jack Skellington’s voice comes over the speakers and introduces a game. Now we’re talking. A still from the movie appears on screen, and on my IPad there is the same still, but with seven differences. Then we must tap out the differences, like an interactive Highlights game. Although we could not pick out every difference, we had a super fun time trying.

There was more “Scar-e-oke,” more games, and more interruptions from Jack Skellington and Oogie Boogie. Obviously, my sister and I were in Hog Heaven. We were loving every game, every karaoke song… and quoting the entire movie all the way. But people kept leaving… until we were the only ones in there. I’m not sure if they left because my sister and I were having stupid amounts of loud, giggly fun or because they actually wanted to watch the movie without interruption. This is what grinds my gears. I HATE ruining someone else’s magical Disney experience, BUT we were doing as we were told! If we were to stifle our excitement during the karaoke and the games, we would ruin OUR special, magical Disney experience.

In the end, we won; we got the most points! Even though we were the only people left in the theater, we won! But honestly, we had so much fun, and both of us cannot wait to do another SSL experience. My sister put it best when she said, “It’s like Disney World came to us.” My favorite game was when you had to tap the toy for the town that you were seeing on screen (if you were seeing Halloween Town, you had to tap the creepy toys, and if you were in Christmas Town you tapped the nice looking toys). I just wish that Disney would warn patrons of everything that they have to do before watching the film. I would also suggest if you see a SSL film, either bring a large group of crazy friends OR make sure you go to a showing that has a lot of fun people in the audience. So… anyone want to do The Little Mermaid: Second Screen Live with me?