‘Haunted Mansion’ Movie Plot Hiding In Plain Sight

in Disney, Disney Parks, Entertainment

Danny Devito screaming in Haunted Mansion (2023), edit with Beating Heart Bride from ride

Credit: Disney

Welcome, foolish mortals — to Disney’s strategic Haunted Mansion marketing scheme!

Haunted Mansion movie, Hatbox Ghost closeup
Credit: Disney

Related: Disney Shares New First Look at ‘Peter Pan’ Reboot, Called “Woke Disaster”

The Walt Disney Company has been known for its groundbreaking quality over the 100 years they’ve been around. The Mouse House has been increasingly interested in producing remakes and reboots of classic Disney products and movies, such as its upcoming Peter Pan reboot (which is being labeled a “woke disaster” by certain groups), getting The Lion King (2019) treatment. Soon though, Walt Disney Pictures is going to run out of animated franchises to reboot — it’s a given — so why not get ahead of things and turn their other intellectual properties (IPs) into profitable film universes? Disney’s umbrella currently includes IPs within the Marvel Studios’ Marvel Cinematic Universe and the Star Wars film franchise, which have proved their “golden geese. But amid talks of superhero fatigue and the current Star Wars films going on hiatus, it’s no wonder that Walt Disney Studios are searching for the “next big thing” — within their own wheelhouse, of course.

Gabbie and Travis in Grand Hall Ballroom scene, Haunted Mansion movie
Credit: Disney

Their theme parks are the obvious next choice. Since they have already established history and lore curated by Disney’s ever-industrious Imagineers, the globally renowned Parks have received lots of love from the general public. Now, Disneyland Resort in Anaheim California, “The Happiest Place On Earth”, the Walt Disney World Resort and its Magic Kingdom, and international Parks like the Disneyland Paris Resort, Hong Kong Disneyland Resort, Shanghai Disney Resort, and the Tokyo Disney Resort (including Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea) all brim with Disney’s brand of immersive theater.

To follow Disney’s very possible thinking: perhaps now is the time for a “Disney Parks cinematic universe”, since 2021’s The Jungle Cruise starring Dwayne Johnson/The Rock AKA Frank Wolff, Emily Blunt as Lily Houghton, and Jack Whitehall’s McGregor Houghton did relatively well. What better way than to introduce Guests and potential audiences to the epic world of the Haunted Mansion? This time, Eddie Murphy is nowhere in sight — unfortunately, neither is Guillermo del Toro, who would have undoubtedly put Haunted Mansion into the realm of more adult, distinguished “horror movies”.

Jamie Lee Curtis as Madame Leota, Haunted Mansion movie
Credit: Disney

Related: Disney Slammed After Documentary Exposes “Trainwreck” Behind the Scenes

What is the new Haunted Mansion film about?

Announced at D23 Expo and starring big-name stars like Jamie Lee Curtis as Madame Leota and Jared Leto as Alistair Crump/Hatbox Ghost, Disney’s brand new Haunted Mansion (2023) is directed by Justin Simien with a screenplay by Katie Dippold. The creepy New Orleans-style manor will play host to Rosario Dawson‘s single mom Gabbie, while LaKeith Stanfield is a paranormal investigator known as Ben Matthias. Along for the spooky ride are Chase W. Dillon as Travis, Gabbie’s son, Owen Wilson as the priest Kent, Tiffany Haddish as a psychic named Harriet, while Danny DeVito plays Bruce, a college history professor. Also set to star in currently undisclosed roles are Winona Ryder, Hasan Minhaj, and Dan Levy. We’ve gone into full detail examining all the trailer’s hidden details and secret references already, but it appears the at The Walt Disney Company have another mystery for us to solve — and far more tricks up their sleeve than initially suspected.

Watch the teaser trailer for the new Haunted Mansion movie here:

What is Disney’s subliminal Haunted Mansion movie strategy?

Now, it seems that Disney has come up with an ingenious marketing ploy — and it is dropping pretty massive hints about the new Haunted Mansion movie.

Disney Story Beyond Tokyo Disneyland Haunted Mansion Ghost Registry
Credit: Disney

Over at Tokyo Disneyland in the Tokyo Disney Resort, an event called “Disney Story Beyond” has been taking place Park-wide. It utilizes augmented reality, and is an ongoing mystery solving hunt that intrepid Guests can take part in, including finding hidden passwords and clues scattered around the Tokyo Disneyland Park. Why is this relevant? Well, because the actual Haunted Mansion ride is at the heart of it — and it seems to be perfectly timed to introduce Guests to several lesser-known elements of the ride’s lore and characters (should you not be an avid Mansion aficionado already), ahead of the new Haunted Mansion film. This new event at the Disney Parks harkens to similar marketing stunts pulled by Disney in days past, and is likely another instance of expert subliminal messaging.

Tokyo Disneyland Haunted Mansion Sign
Credit: Disney

Remember Finding Nemo (2003)? Disney had set up, nearly a year in advance, a complex marketing strategy aimed at getting kids interested in fish before Nemo debuted in theaters. It included fish-themed Disney Channel bumpers, and “Fish Facts” segments between regular programming on TV. As YouTuber Trey the Explainer shares:

Finding out that this terrifying “Fish” bumper I saw on the Disney Channel in 2003 was part of a subminimal ad campaign to pre-emptively get kids interested in fish for the upcoming Finding Nemo movie has been wild

So this new event at Tokyo Disneyland is likely one of many that — if successful — might be implemented elsewhere, in other Parks. If you are at all familiar with Haunted Mansion lore, the once-esteemed manor is said to house colorful characters comprising “999 Happy Haunts” (where you might be the 1000th). This ties into the new Park experience, where Guests have been tasked by Mansion staff, a maid named Z.J. and a butler named Xavier, to “find missing pages” in a “Ghost Registry“, which allegedly record the un-lives and stories of these specifically highlighted Mansion characters. This gives us a massive hint as to what the new Haunted Mansion film will actually be about!

The Hitchhiking Ghosts at The Haunted Mansion, Ezra Beane, Professor Phineas Plump and Gus
Credit: Disney

The official website for Disney Story Beyond shares an interesting collection of characters. First to be highlighted is Harland the Ballroom Dancer, a promising painter who left his beloved in America while meeting his end on a voyage to Europe, eternally left hoping to spend his afterlife with his lost love. Marilyn O’Hara is another Ballroom Dancer highlighted, a Golden Age Hollywood starlet of Japanese descent who struggled with racism, eventually finding a best friend in Harland. Another figure is a ghost bride with barely any information named simply “Constance”, whom Disney Parks fans have likely figured out to be the famous Constance Hatchaway or Black Widow Bride — no guesses there what she does. Sally Slater is a sweet tightrope walker who fell to an unfortunate end (and is seen in the Stretching Room pre-show). A mysterious “Withering Gentleman” is also spotlighted (who seems to be the Aging Man and potentially Master Gracey), described as taking his tea at extremely regular hours, “not a minute late”. Three Hitchhiking Ghosts take up the last three pages, identified as the extremely tall and charismatic Ezra, skilled con-man Phineas, and cheerful Gus, who “frequently takes the blame for others’ crimes”.

All of this is extremely telling of the potential characters and plot for the upcoming Haunted Mansion movie. As more gets revealed in the days to come, we wouldn’t put it past Disney to weave intriguing mystery and fascinating spooks into their extremely well-crafted movie advertising!

What do you think about Disney’s subliminal Haunted Mansion advertising? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

in Disney, Disney Parks, Entertainment

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