Halloween is creeping up once again, and that means it’s time for a new round of spooky TV specials. This year, that includes “Muppets Haunted Mansion.” And, like any Muppets movie, it brings in some heavy hitters for the human roles.
Unlike other Muppets projects though, “Muppets Haunted Mansion” isn’t an adaptation of a preexisting book or movie. It’s an adaptation of the classic ride in Walt Disney World and Disneyland. Still, every Muppets movie has some recognizable celebs to bridge the gap. In “The Muppet Christmas Carol” it was Michael Caine, and in “Muppet Treasure Island” it was Tim Curry.
So, here’s all the human faces you’ll recognize in “Muppets Haunted Mansion.”
Will Arnett – The Host
With any haunted mansion, we need a ghost host — and Will Arnett gets to handle that job in this special. Best known for his role in “Arrested Development,” he even gets to introduce himself with the classic line from the Haunted Mansion ride in Disney Parks. But Arnett is more than just our host.
He’s also the Magic Maguffin, Gonzo’s hero in the story. Apparently, Maguffin got trapped in the mansion, but he’s made peace with his fate, and now all the mansion’s residents are his friends.
Yvette Nicole Brown – The Driver
If you’re going to a fancy party, you need to arrive in style. So naturally, Gonzo and Pepe take a limo to the Haunted Mansion. And yes, that limo is driven by Yvette Nicole Brown. She’s arguably best known for her characters on “Community” and “Drake and Josh,” but most recently starred in Disney+’s new series “Big Shot.”
As always, Brown lends humor to the moment, but ominously warns the two muppets that she’s only ever dropped people off at the mansion — never picked them up.
Darren Criss – The Caretaker
There is one non-ghost resident of the Haunted Mansion, though technically, it doesn’t appear he lives inside. He’s the caretaker, and he carves the many tombstones that the Haunted Mansion needs. He’s played by “Glee” alum Darren Criss and yes, he does have an incredible musical number.
Taraji P. Henson – The Bride
Next to the hitchiking ghosts — who do make an appearance in “Muppets Haunted Mansion” — the most recognizable character of the ride is Constance Hatchaway, better known as the Black Widow Bride. Here, she’s played by “Empire” star Taraji P. Henson.
As her name implies, Constance has a murderous history, having killed all of her ex-husbands. In “Muppets Haunted Mansion,” she’s up to her old ways, trying to first marry Pepe, and then kill him.
Ed Asner – Ghost of Claude
The “Muppets Haunted Mansion” special marks one of Ed Asner’s final roles, filmed before he died in August. Asner is of course best known for his time on the Mary Tyler Moore show, but he’s a Disney legend in his own right. He played Carl Fredricksen in Disney and Pixar’s “UP.”
Asner doesn’t have any lines in “Muppets Haunted Mansion,” but the glass in his hand does fall victim to one of the other ghosts.
Kim Irvine – Haunted Mansion Maid
Fans may not recognize Kim Irvine right away, but she’s actually one of the most important cameos in “Muppet Haunted Mansion.” Irvine is an imagineer who worked closely on the Disney Parks ride of “The Haunted Mansion.”
She also happens to be the daughter of Disney imagineer Leota Toombs — yes, THE Madame Leota. Toombs provided the face of Madame Leota and Little Leota (who she also voiced). Following in her mother’s legacy, Kim Irvine provides the face of the Leota characters for additions like the seasonal Haunted Mansion Holiday overlay.
It’s a meta cameo, and it’s amazing.
Skai Jackson – Singing Bust
What would the Haunted Mansion be without it’s lovable singing busts? Hopefully, we’ll never have to know. The busts do make an appearance in “Muppets Haunted Mansion,” and they do get to sing their earworm “Grim Grinning Ghosts.”
Among the busts is former Disney Channel star Skai Jackson, best known for her role on “Jessie.” Jackson was most recently seen on “Dancing With The Stars” last year.
Geoff Keighley – Singing Bust
Gaming fans should pick out Geoff Keighley pretty easily. He’s perhaps best known as a host on GameTrailers TV, and previously G4tv.com. Keighley is also a freelance writer. He appears as the broken bust during the graveyard’s big song.
Justina Machado – Singing Bust
“One Day At A Time” star Justina Machado also pops on screen ever so briefly as one of the singing busts. It takes some work to recognize the busts on first glance, given the heavy make up their in, but once the credits roll, it becomes a bit clearer.
Craig Robinson – Singing Bust
Also among the heads of stone — though ironically, they don’t seem to have actual headstones — is Craig Robinson. The star of “The Office” and “Threat Level Midnight: The Movie” appears toward the end of the row of busts, in a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it cameo.
Pat Sajak – Singing Bust
“Wheel of Fortune” host Pat Sajak rounds out our singing bust crew, appearing smack dab in the middle of the busts gallery. He’s arguably the most recognizable, but like the rest of the busts, he’s only on screen for a few seconds before he disappears.
Jeannie Mai – Ghost of Maude
As Darren Criss’s caretaker runs through the residents of the graveyard, we meet the ghost of Maude, played by “The Real” host Jeannie Mai. Presumably, she died in her sleep after a fire broke out. Criss simply sings that she “never awoke the night her dreams went up in smoke.”
Chrissy Metz – Ghost of Harriet
“This Is Us” star Chrissy Metz is also part of the graveyard crew, playing the operatic ghost, Harriet. According to Criss, she “searched for a tune but never could carry it.” True to form, Metz’s ghost is decked out in full viking opera garb, and even uses her voice to shatter a glass.
Alfonso Ribeiro – Ghost of Fred
Yes, “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” star Alfonso Ribeiro is in “Muppets Haunted Mansion” but sadly, no, he doesn’t dance. His character Fred had a particularly rocky death — no literally, a great big rock fell on his head. So he probably won’t be doing “The Carlton” in the afterlife.
Danny Trejo – Ghost of Huet
One of the more surprising cameos of “Muppets Haunted Mansion” is the one and only Danny Trejo. Younger fans will recognize him from movies like the “Spy Kids” franchise, but we can’t forget his hits like “Heat” and “Desperado.”
He plays the ghost of Huet, a criminal appears to have died in jail. Criss’s caretaker believes Huet didn’t do it (whatever “it” is) but the ghost leaves us with a wink that might indicate otherwise.
Sasheer Zamata – Ghost of Mary
“SNL” alum Sasheer Zamata also pops in briefly, as the Ghost of Mary. Poor Mary was a scholar, but apparently didn’t realize that licking her pen every time she started writing could be hazardous. She was inevitably poisoned by ink.
John Stamos – Famous Person/Monster
And finally, there’s “Full House” and “Big Shot” star John Stamos.
As Pepe wanders around the mansion looking for all the famous people, he finally finds a room literally labeled “famous people.” In it, he only finds John Stamos — except that he’s not really John Stamos. After a few minutes, he morphs into a monster, meant to terrify Pepe.
“Muppets Haunted Mansion” is now streaming on Disney+.