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Disneyland Article
Will The Muppets Move Into Haunted Mansion

Haunted Mansion
Mercury News
Brady Macdonald
May 13, 2021
May 17, 2021
The new “Muppets Haunted Mansion” holiday TV special coming to Disney+ this fall will challenge the Great Gonzo to spend Halloween night with 999 happy haunts inside the classic Disneyland attraction.

Which raises the question: Will Disneyland create a Muppets holiday overlay for the Haunted Mansion or let Kermit, Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, Animal and Gonzo take up permanent residence in the beloved haunted house attraction?

The Muppets’ first Halloween special will feature all-new music and celebrity cameos when it debuts on Disney+ this fall. Gonzo announced the Disney+ holiday special with an online video that featured a shocking bolt of lightning each time he said “Muppets Haunted Mansion.”

“I love the Muppets,” Walt Disney Imagineering producer Michele Hobbs said. “To have Gonzo spending a night in the Haunted Mansion is going to be fantastic. I hope he’s able to survive all those lightning bolts.”

Combining the Muppets with the Haunted Mansion is a game changer for Hobbs.

“The fan base for both of those is so strong,” Hobbs said during an online video interview.

Could the Muppets move into Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion after the Disney+ special?

Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion already is home to the Nightmare Before Christmas holiday overlay every Halloween and Christmas. Don’t expect Kermit to boot Jack Skellington from the Haunted Mansion at Halloween. The Nightmare Before Christmas holiday overlay will celebrate its 20th anniversary in the mansion this holiday season — provided we don’t allow the yearlong pandemic closure to upset the count on upcoming Disneyland anniversary celebrations.

If the Muppets wanted to move into the Haunted Mansion on a seasonal basis they’d likely have to find another time of year. The only time that really makes sense would be the first few months of the year after the Nightmare overlay is stripped from the Haunted Mansion.

The holiday transformation of the Haunted Mansion is a labor and time consuming effort — both at the beginning and end of the season. Disneyland likely would not want to bring the mansion down twice a year or close the attraction in the spring to install a Muppet overlay during the busy summer season.

A Muppets Halloween theme might not work very well during the Lunar New Year, Valentine’s Day and St. Patrick’s Day seasons. But then again, it’s eerie and spooky inside the mansion year round. For that matter, it’s Christmas inside the Haunted Mansion in September each year and Halloween until just after New Year’s Day. There’s nothing really stopping the Muppets from telling ghost stories in January, February and March.

All things considered, it seems unlikely “Muppets Haunted Mansion” could become a seasonal overlay at the Disneyland attraction.

It’s a further stretch to imagine the Muppets making the Haunted Mansion their permanent home — but Disney theme parks are actively looking for ways to add more blockbuster franchises to rides that lack intellectual property tie-ins.

The Muppets are not represented at Disneyland or Disney California Adventure. DCA’s “MuppetVision 3D” went dark in 2014. “Mickey’s Philharmagic” now fills the Hollywood Land theater space.

Back in 2008, DCA hosted the Muppet Experiment trivia game and treasure hunt for annual passholders. The Muppets Mobile Labs free-roaming audio-animatronic hasn’t been seen in Anaheim for years.

Disney’s Florida theme parks have a stronger Muppets presence. “MuppetVision 3D” plays next to the PizzeRizzo pizzeria at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Epcot is home to the new Regal Eagle Smokehouse.

A Muppets Haunted Mansion makeover might seem improbable — but Disneyland has dreamed up unconventional ride re-themes before.

It’s a Small World got a few dozen Disney characters in a controversial move that upset some longtime fans. The long-dormant Submarine Voyage was brought back with a Finding Nemo theme. Tarzan swung into his Adventureland treehouse after the Swiss Family Robinson was evicted. Captain Jack Sparrow moved into the Pirates of the Caribbean in a bit of retroactive continuity storytelling. Princess Tiana has put a down payment on Splash Mountain — which will get a Princess and the Frog makeover.

If you’re looking for unconventional and unexpected, then look no further than Guardians of the Galaxy — Mission: Breakout. Nobody saw that coming. If Twilight Zone: Tower of Terror can become the anchor attraction for Marvel’s Avengers Campus, then the Muppets could sign a lease on the Haunted Mansion and start sipping mint juleps and noshing beignets any time they want.

Disney California Adventure has seen sweeping re-themes in Pixar Pier and Paradise Gardens. The Incredicoaster, Jessie’s Critter Carousel, Inside Out Emotional Whirlwind, Silly Symphony Swings and Goofy Sky School all began life with different names and themes.

Disneyland has not announced any plans to create a Muppets seasonal overlay for the Haunted Mansion or re-theme the classic dark ride with the comedy ensemble of puppet characters created by Jim Henson.

Disney has owned the Muppets for nearly two decades. Over the last few years, the Muppets have been a part of Walt Disney Imagineering — the creative arm of the company that dreams up theme park attractions and lands.

The new “Muppets Now” streaming series and all five seasons of “The Muppet Show” from the 1970s are now available on Disney+ along with a collection of Muppets films, animated shows, live-action TV series and short-form videos.

No announcement has been made yet about where the new Muppets Halloween special will be filmed — either at the Disneyland attraction, a Haunted Mansion at another Disney park, a movie soundstage or some other location.
Attractions Referenced

Haunted Mansion

Sleeping Beauty Castle

Restaurants Referenced

Tropical Hideway

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