How Eddie Murphy's Haunted Mansion Movie Could Have Changed The Popular Disneyland Attraction

Eddie Murphy in Haunted Mansion
(Image credit: Disney)

Most of the attractions you experience at Disneyland or Walt Disney World are based on popular movies. Some of the rest, like Pirates of the Caribbean, became movies themselves, which, in turn inspired updates to the tide itself. It turns out that, once upon a time, Disney briefly considered the possibility of doing the same thing to the classic Haunted Mansion attraction, which means we very nearly got Eddie Murphy as an animatronic, and the new Ghost Host.

When I popped onto Twitter this morning one of the first things I saw was a post regarding an alleged animatronic that somebody claimed Disney had once made of Michael Jackson, likely something that would have been related to the Captain EO 3D film from the 80s. One of the people that responded to the Twitter thread was Josh Bailey, one of the directors of the upcoming Stolen Kingdom documentary about the history of behind-the-scenes debauchery that has gone on at Walt Disney World for decades. He mentioned that, at one point, there had been talk (though to be clear, only ever talk) internally about building an Eddie Murphy animatronic for a theoretical redesign of the Haunted Mansion.

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I responded to Bailey’s comment about the potential Eddie Murphy animatronic, and he followed up with additional details about what this new version of the Haunted Mansion would have been about. Following on The Haunted Mansion film from 2003, which saw Eddie Murphy and Marsha Thomason as husband and wife real estate agents, the attraction would have essentially been an open house, where the voice of Eddie Murphy, taking over from the traditional Ghost Host narrator, gave you a walk through of the mansion as if you were a prospective buyer.

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Needless to say, this is absolutely wild. A lot of people don’t love that Captain Jack Sparrow was eventually made a part of the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction at both Disneyland and Walt Disney World, but it has to be said those changes don’t fundamentally change what that ride is. Pirates of the Caribbean has made a lot of changes over the years, but the core of what the ride is and what it is about has remained the same since its inception.

The Haunted Mansion gets an annual facelift at Disneyland and becomes the Nightmare Before Christmas themed Haunted Mansion Holiday from Halloween to Christmas, but this sounds like it would have been a much more significant change. It would have still retained individual elements, as many of them appeared in the movie, but it just wouldn’t have been the same ride. 

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In the end Pirates of the Caribbean became a billion dollar film franchise, and Haunted Mansion…did not. If the Eddie Murphy movie had been insanely successful, it’s entirely possible this whole concept could have moved past the “idea” phase and become an actual project. It does make you wonder. Just what sorts of things are currently being considered now that there’s a new Haunted Mansion movie on the way?

Dirk Libbey
Content Producer/Theme Park Beat

CinemaBlend’s resident theme park junkie and amateur Disney historian, Dirk began writing for CinemaBlend as a freelancer in 2015 before joining the site full-time in 2018. He has previously held positions as a Staff Writer and Games Editor, but has more recently transformed his true passion into his job as the head of the site's Theme Park section. He has previously done freelance work for various gaming and technology sites. Prior to starting his second career as a writer he worked for 12 years in sales for various companies within the consumer electronics industry. He has a degree in political science from the University of California, Davis.  Is an armchair Imagineer, Epcot Stan, Future Club 33 Member.