Star Wars Terrifying Tales is not the only thing that Disney has cooked up for this Halloween season. Some things you can always expect: Winter will be cold, water will be wet and you will pay taxes. You can expect politicians to bicker and fuss, and doctors to tell you to “lose weight and exercise.” And you can always expect Disney to capitalize on any holiday. This time, they have dusted off an old favorite of mine: The Muppets.
Premiering on Disney+, Muppets Haunted Mansion follows Gonzo and Pepe as they venture out on a fear challenge at the Haunted Mansion. While Gonzo is excited for the event, as it revolves around his long-missing magician hero, The Great MacGuffin (Will Arnett), Pepe is more concerned about finishing the night quickly so they can get to the Muppets’ annual Halloween ball.
However, once they arrive at the house, the Ghost Host informs the duo that they must survive the night in order to be set free. As the night progresses, Pepe is seduced by the ghost of Constance Hatchaway (Taraji P. Henson), who plans to marry him and make him ghost 1,000 in the Haunted Mansion.
Can Gonzo face his greatest fears to save Pepe and himself from being doomed for all eternity?
As an avid fan of Disney and The Muppets, I cannot believe I had not heard about the Muppets Haunted Mansion special until last week. During that week, I was taking my daughter to Disney World for Fall Break and made a day out of Hollywood Studios.
As we made our way through the park to our lunch reservation, we passed the Muppet Vision 3D attraction. With only a 10-minute wait and needing to kill 30 before the reservation, we decided to go in. I had not seen the show since I was in my 20s, and the whole experience was new to my 7-year-old.
As we entered the queue area, I heard the Ghost Host on the monitors, which immediately piqued my curiosity. They were playing a clip from Muppets Haunted Mansion. While the slip only lasted a few minutes, it was enough to get me intrigued to watch it. So, I pulled out the iPhone and made a reminder to catch it ASAP.
For anyone who knows the story of the Haunted Mansion ride, you should already be familiar with much of the story and characters. Constance took the lives of all of her husbands, and when she took a liking to Pepe, you can immediately tell this was going to go bad for the prawn puppet.
The Ghost Host narrates the adventures through the house, including the stretching room (with some updated paintings inside to mirror the Muppets world). While most of the more popular Muppets such as Kermit, Miss Piggy and Fozzie only make small appearances, it is still pure nostalgia for the Muppets fan in me.
Muppets Haunted Mansion is not without faults. The film does have some new “Muppet styled” songs, but they are a far cry from the memorable songs we have grown used to from other Muppets films. Muppets Haunted Mansion also spends a lot of time on some side stories that have no payoff, and really seem to be there only to pad its runtime. I understand I may not be the target audience that Disney is going for today, but it felt like the heart of Henson is missing.
Still, we have never received a Muppets Halloween special in all the years they have been around. Thus, Disney should be commended for making a pretty good show, keeping much of the things we loved growing up, and updating it for modern times. It’s not perfect, but it still gets four out of five stars.
Check out Muppets Haunted Mansion, now streaming on Disney+.