Muppets Haunted Mansion Brings the Nostalgia and Spookiness
Updated: Jan 20, 2022
The Muppets get to spend a night in The Haunted Mansion, and we’re jealous.
The Muppets are back for a little fun, but this time it gets spooky in the first-ever Muppets Halloween special. The Muppets are known for reenacting some of our favorite stories — like The Wizard of Oz and A Christmas Carol — and this time they head to the Haunted Mansion in Disney+’s new Halloween special: Muppets Haunted Mansion.
Gonzo and Pepe the King Prawn are attending an event at a mansion, which happens to be Disney’s Haunted Mansion, to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the disappearance of Gonzo’s hero, the Great MacGuffin. The goal is to make it through the entire night at the mansion, which guest star Yvette Nicole Brown says will likely not happen. Gonzo wants to survive the night to prove he is the greatest, while Pepe just wants to see some VIP guests at the party — unfortunately for him, the only guests will be the 999 happy haunts (and also Will Arnet).
The storyline is all over the place, and it’s hard to know whether they’re spoofing the original Haunted Mansion film, the Disney attraction, or just making up the story as they go. There are some clever pieces that true Disney fans would know — like Will Arnet taking Gonzo and Pepe into the stretching room and repeating the same lines as the Ghost Host from the attraction.
But even though Gonzo and Pepe are together, they are experiencing two very different storylines. Gonzo is learning to embrace his fears and come to the realization that he doesn’t need to be the greatest. While Pepe is off mingling with John Stamos and being drugged (literally, what?) by a murderous bride played by Taraji P. Henson. Pepe’s story seems to mimic the Sara-Gracey wedding dynamic from the original Haunted Mansion, but it’s not identical.
In the end, Gonzo and Pepe have to find a way out of the mansion so they don’t get trapped there forever like the rest of the ghosts. And, our girl, Yvette comes back to get them (even though she said she wouldn’t).
The jokes are decently funny, and some are pretty dark for a family special. And it’s not a Muppet show without breaking the fourth wall, which is funny at times. But the best part for me was when Statler and Waldorf glide through on their Doom Buggy, making fun of the Muppets of course, and the Doom Buggy stalls because we hear the Ghost Host give the familiar “please remain seated” speech. The Disney World Easter eggs are what truly made this special for me.
I was looking forward to the guest stars, but they were definitely lacking. Some of the big names we were promised — Danny Trejo, Chrissy Metz, and Alfonso Ribeiro — went by completely unnoticed. And guests like Darren Criss and John Stamos only had a few minutes, if not seconds, of screen time.
The soundtrack was a highlight, especially Criss’ spirited (literally) rendition of “Grim Grinning Ghosts.” There are only four songs in the entire special, and one is a cover of “Dancing in the Moonlight,” but they are great additions.
Besides the storyline, the special effects and CGI were lacking — which is extra disappointing considering Disney produced it. Of course it’s a show with puppets, but the ghosts were really fake looking and the Singing Busts were just not great in the CGI department. And given the high tech nature of the Haunted Mansion ride, I was expecting more.
All in all, the Muppets Haunted Mansion is a fun watch that will have you feeling nostalgic for Halloweens of the past. If you like Muppet*Vision 3D you will probably enjoy it. And, if nothing else, watch it for the iconic stretching room scene so you can pretend like you’re about to enter the Haunted Mansion yourself.