Rumors are swirling that a Haunted Mansion restaurant will be added to Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World. As Disney has done more to created a Haunted Mansion ‘expanded universe’ over the last several years to capitalize on its popularity among fans, it would come as no surprise that this idea has been pitched as a blue sky concept.
However, I want to stress that this is a rumor at this point, and an incredibly vague one at that. I’m only sharing it because I think it’s interesting food for thought, and because I have a (likely) unpopular opinion on it. In terms of sources, despite other articles pointing to “multiple sources,” I do not believe that to be the case. It all likely stems from this forum thread of eclectic musings by reliable insider WDW1974. While I wouldn’t bet against him, I don’t think others regurgitating his information means there are suddenly other sources.
I’d question the veracity of this rumor because I’m not sure where it’d fit, logistically. While there is a bit of room around the Haunted Mansion showbuilding and beyond the facade, accessing these plots of lands would require a lengthy walk and would add to even more bottleneck around the existing Haunted Mansion queue. Converting Columbia Harbour House is another possibility, but that would be incredibly poor placement…
Given that this already happened with Jungle Cruise and Skipper Canteen, and that Walt Disney World fans have been clamoring for more Haunted Mansion for years (it still shocks me that the leaked Haunted Mansion room concept at Port Orleans French Quarter never came to fruition), this does seem like a plausible rumor.
However, I’d also bet that tons of blue sky concepts for “expanding” Haunted Mansion have been pitched, but that doesn’t mean any of them are going to happen. Haunted Mansion has a legion of devoted fans, and Disney has no doubt considered ways to cash in on that. Up until now, it has deemed merchandising the best way to go about this. Despite this rumor, I would not be surprised if that remains the case.
Also, just because the concept worked with Jungle Cruise (and I use “worked” liberally there, as Skipper Canteen is not exactly a resounding success with guests) does not mean it would work with Haunted Mansion, which is a very different attraction than Jungle Cruise.
The humor in Jungle Cruise is self-aware, and while not necessarily self-referential, that works for Skipper Canteen. Haunted Mansion is mostly black humor that’s inexplicably both macabre and laconic.
It’s fairly easy for Skipper Canteen to exist as restaurant that’s also a natural extension of Jungle Cruise. A Haunted Mansion restaurant would have a more difficult time nailing the ethos of its attraction.
If such an idea for a Haunted Mansion restaurant were to go forward, I’d hope it’s more like Explorer’s Club Restaurant at Hong Kong Disneyland, which is thematically tied to Mystic Manor (which you could call Hong Kong Disneyland’s answer to Haunted Mansion, but without any shared bloodlines).
There are shared motifs and visual styles between Mystic Manor and the connected Explorer’s Club Restaurant, both of which are in Mystic Point, but there are not explicit references to Lord Henry Mystic or Albert the Monkey. The connections are inferred and subtle.
For me, Explorer’s Club works precisely because its connection to Mystic Manor is more a wink and a nod, with parallels in an underlying S.E.A. theme. There’s no attempt to sell guests on a clever story, or pander to them.
What worries me about a potential Haunted Mansion restaurant is that the concept could devolve into self-referential fan service pretty easily. Or, that Imagineering would conjure up a lot of new Haunted Mansion lore to “enhance” the backstory of the attraction.
I realize Haunted Mansion has attracted a lot of passionate fans, probably more than any Disney attraction. I also realize there’s an insatiable appetite for more whenever something connects with audiences. Like films and the sequels they spawn, this can be a good or bad thing.
Depending upon your perspective, this is either borne out or disproven by the Haunted Mansion interactive queue added a few years ago. My feelings on the interactive queue are fairly mixed.
I think the complaints that it kills the foreboding atmosphere of the Haunted Mansion are overblown; I also think elements of it are fairly cheesy and aimed at fan service. I do know that I wouldn’t want an entire restaurant in the vein of the interactive queue.
I’m not saying a Haunted Mansion restaurant is an inherently good or bad thing. I’m just pointing out the potential for pitfalls. Given those potential pitfalls, my preference would be to let sleeping dogs lie, and for Imagineering to come up with an original concept for a restaurant if one is “needed” from an operations perspective.
Or, and I think we can all agree on this, no original concept is necessarily if Imagineering just adapts the screenplay for 2003’s smash-hit Haunted Mansion film into a restaurant. (Eddie Murphy was robbed at the Oscars that year.) I am willing to get behind this idea if it’s an elaborate piece of dining performance art and if all the actors who appeared in the film as singing busts appear nightly as entertainment.
Regardless, I want to reiterate that this is only a rumor at this point, and I would not put too much stock into it happening in the near future. I know I’m probably in the minority on this one as I’d be perfectly fine with Walt Disney World not treating it as a “theme park IP,” whereas I know many fans are eager to have more Haunted Mansion experiences. Given the resonance of the attraction with fans and its popularity with casual guests, I think its “expansion” (in some form–not necessarily a restaurant) is an inevitability. If a Haunted Mansion restaurant does come to pass in the near future, I just hope the Imagineers handle the concept with restraint and respect for the source material, and don’t try to beat guests over the head with more “story” or creating a bunch of new canon.
What do you think about the rumor of a new Haunted Mansion restaurant at Walt Disney World? Would you like to see this happen, or would you prefer a different concept? Thoughts on directions Disney might go with the idea? Share your ‘Armchair Imagineering’ and other ideas/questions/concerns in the comments below!