The idea of the Muppets spending the night in the spookiest of Walt Disney World’s famous attractions is so brilliantly funny on its own that I am surprised it has never been done before. The fact that the the likes of Will Arnett, former Community cast member Yvette Nicole Brown, Academy Award nominee Taraji P. Henson, and Darren Criss from the Glee cast will be joining them makes me even more excited to see the Disney+ original special. There are plenty of other humans in the Muppets Haunted Mansion cast to look forward to seeing interact with Jim Henson’s iconic creations, but we will begin with our spirited guide.
Will Arnett (Ghost Host)
In Disney’s original attraction, the Ghost Host is a disembodied voice, but in Muppets Haunted Mansion, the felted friends are guided by multi-Emmy nominee Will Arnett, who first skyrocketed to fame in the Arrested Development cast as the despicable Gob Bluth. The Canadian actor might have even gotten this part with his voice alone, which is famous from his role as Batman in both of the LEGO Movie installments and his own spin-off, as well as the animated Netflix original, Bojack Horseman, as the title character. Arnett will next lend his voice to the 2022 monster comedy, Rumble, and you can currently see him on The Morning Show Season 2 on Apple TV+.
Taraji P. Henson (Constance Hatchaway)
One of the most famous (and sinister) entities from the Haunted Mansion attraction is Constance Hatchaway (otherwise known as “The Black Widow Bride”), who will be brought to life in Muppets Haunted Mansion by Taraji P. Henson (no relation to Jim) - best known for her Golden Globe-winning role on Empire as Cookie Lyon, whose own spin-off is now in the works. On the big screen, she earned an Oscar nomination for playing Brad Pitt’s adoptive mother in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, earned praise for the Oscar-nominated biopic Hidden Figures, and earned laughs in movies like Date Night, Think Like a Man, and What Men Want (a gender-swapped update of What Women Want). She will also lend her voice, in 2022, to Minions: The Rise of Gru and is playing Miss Hannigan in NBC’s upcoming Annie Live! broadcast.
Darren Criss (The Caretaker)
Someone with previous experience performing in musicals is Glee alum Darren Criss, who stars as the Caretaker of the Haunted Mansion in the Disney+ special, which is not too far from qualifying for one of his darkest roles to date. The 34-year-old appeared on American Horror Story: Hotel, won an Emmy as Gianni Versace’s killer in American Crime Story Season 2, and has crossed comic book adaptations off his bucket list by voicing Superman in two animated DC movies, Raphael in Batman vs. the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and playing Music Meister in the Arrowverse shows. The star of Netflix’s Hollywood miniseries has also recently lent his voice to two original anime series for the platform (Yasuke and Trese), and to Rick and Morty Season 5, as well.
Yvette Nicole Brown (The Hearse Driver)
Rick and Morty co-creator Dan Harmon made a star out of Emmy nominee Yvette Nicole Brown (who drives the horse-drawn hearse in Muppets Haunted Mansion) by casting her as Shirley Bennett on Community, despite already achieving sitcom royalty for younger audiences as Helen on Nickelodeon’s Drake & Josh. She was also a series regular on CBS’ The Odd Couple reboot, had a recurring role on Mom, and has been involved with both Marvel movies and DC TV shows with an Avengers: Endgame cameo and by voicing a lighter version of Amanda Waller on DC Super Hero Girls (to name just a couple). Her next big Disney project is Disenchanted - the long-awaited Enchanted sequel.
Chrissy Metz (Harriet)
Muppets Haunted Mansion finally confirms that Harriet (whose name appears on a tombstone in the attraction) is a ghostly opera singer seen near its end, who is played in the special by Chrissy Metz. One of her earliest breakthroughs (not meant to be a pun relating to her part in the 2019 faith-based film Breakthrough, initially at least) was playing Ima “Barbara” Wiggles on American Horror Story in its fourth season, but it was her Emmy-nominated role on This Is Us that made her a household name. She will continue to voice Mei Mei on Season 2 on Amazon Prime’s series spin-off from Kung Fu Panda, and her upcoming drama, Stay Awake, is in post-production.
Alfonso Ribeiro (Fred)
Playing Fred, a man who died when a "great big rock fell on his head,” in Muppets Haunted Mansion is Alfonso Ribiero, whom you may recognize best from the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air cast as Carlton Banks. If you do recognize him by his real name, then you must be a fan of Dancing with the Stars (on which he has appeared as a contestant and guest judge) or of America’s Funniest Home Videos, which he has hosted since 2015.
Sasheer Zamata (Mary)
The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air was the inspiration for a few funny sketches on Saturday Night Live, on which Sasheer Zamata was a main cast member from 2013 to 2017 before playing a ghost named Mary in Muppets Haunted Mansion. In addition to other comedies like the Amy Shumer movie I Feel Pretty from 2018, the animated Tuca and Bertie, or Netflix’s The Mitchells vs The Machines, the actress has also starred in darker films, such as Blumhouse’s Sleight in 2017 or the Joe Keery-led found footage thriller, Spree, in 2020. She is currently a series regular on ABC’s Home Economics and will voice a role in Disney Channel’s upcoming series Marvel’s Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur.
John Stamos (Himself)
John Stamos has played many different kinds of characters since he became a star by joining the Full House cast as Jesse Katsopolis (whom he reprised on Netflix’s Fuller House). The actor has been a doctor (on ER, Glee, and You), a suave burglar (on short-lived ABC drama Thieves), a celebrity publicist (on short-lived ABC dramedy Jake in Progress), a playboy restaurateur (on Fox’s Grandfathered), and even a killer (in the 1991 TV movie Captive). However, it seems quite fitting that he is credited as himself in the Muppets Haunted Mansion cast.
Danny Trejo (Huet)
I would not have been surprised if Danny Trejo was also playing himself in Muppets Haunted Mansion, but I love the idea of him playing one of the attraction’s most famous unseen characters, Huet. The 77-year-old Mexican-American actor and former convict’s breakout acting role was in Heat from 1995, the same year as Desperado - his first of many collaborations with Robert Rodriguez, including From Dusk Till Dawn and the Spy Kids movies. The next of his 400-plus credits will see him re-team with Taraji P. Henson in Minions: The Rise of Gru and, hopefully, his most badass character ever will return in Machete Kills… in Space soon.
Ed Asner (Claude)
Since starting his career in the late 1950s, seven-time Emmy Award winner Ed Asner became a legend of both the big and small screen, from his role as Lou Grant on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, to playing Santa alongside Will Ferrell in Elf in 2003. The role of Claude in Muppets Haunted Mansion marks the final collaboration with Disney for the Up actor, who passed away in August 2021 at the age of 91. However, he is set to appear posthumously in several more titles, including a documentary profiling Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address and the star-studded animated film, Back Home Again.
Craig Robinson (Singing Bust #2)
One of the five Muppets Haunted Mansion cast members portraying the famous Singing Busts is Craig Robinson, who would evolve into one of the most prominent voices in comedy after his recurring stint in the Office cast as Darryl Philbin became a series regular role. This promotion came following the comedian’s starring roles in hit movies like Zack and Miri Make a Porno from 2007, Pineapple Express in 2008 and 2010’s Hot Tub Time Machine (and its 2015 sequel). The This Is the End star (who also had his own short-lived sitcom on NBC called Mr. Robinson) has also appeared in dramas like 2020’s Songbird and the upcoming thriller, Mona Lisa and the Blood Moon.
Justina Machado (Singing Bust #4)
Sitcoms, dramas, and reality TV competition shows, as well, have defined Justina Machado’s career, which include recurring roles on shows like Six Feet Under and Jane the Virgin, her acclaimed lead role on the Netflix’s One Day at a Time, and her success on Dancing with the Stars as a contestant. She once worked with Steven Spielberg on A.I.: Artificial Intelligence and is a bit of a Scream Queen, appearing in horror movies Final Destination 2 and The Purge: Anarchy. After playing one of Muppets Haunted Mansion’s Singing Busts, Machado will star in Covid-19-themed anthology film With/in: Volume 1, and has landed the title role in Amazon Prime’s The Horror of Delores Roach.
Skai Jackson (Singing Bust #4)
So far, playing a Singing Bust in Muppets Haunted Mansion is the closest Skai Jackson has come to starring in a horror movie, but her relationship with Disney goes back a long way, starting with her role on Disney Channel’s Jessie as Zuri Ross, whom she reprised on the spin-off, Bunk’d, after playing Dwayne Johnson’s daughter in G.I. Joe: Retaliation. She has lent her voice to a few animated Marvel TV shows, Dragons: Rescue Riders (Netflix’s series spin-off of How to Train Your Dragon), and an upcoming modern twist on J.M. Barrie’s classic novel called Peter Pan, Land of Forever.
Geoff Keighley (Uncle Theodore)
The leader of the Singing Busts, Uncle Theodore (voiced by Thurl Ravencroft in the original attraction), is played in Muppets Haunted Mansion by Geoff Keighley, in what is technically his acting debut. His claim to fame is being one of the most high-profile journalists to specialize in video game reporting. In fact, one of his only other real acting credits is voicing an asylum patient in the PlayStation 3 release of Twisted Metal from 2012.
Pat Sajak (Singing Bust #1)
While Pat Sajak’s role as a Singing Bust in Muppets Haunted Mansion is not his acting debut, it is one of the few times he is not playing himself on screen, which he first did in Airplane II: The Sequel in 1982, before doing it again on TV shows like The A-Team and even Rugrats. Of course, his best-known “performance” is hosting Wheel of Fortune since 1983.
Seeing the likes of Pat Sajak and Geoff Keighley in the Muppets Haunted Mansion cast is quite a surprise, making one wonder what other surprises (and even scares) are also in store. Find out by watching the special on Disney+ on Friday, October 8, 2021.