Did you know that every Disney resort hosts a poolside movie each night? I knew … but I’ve never slowed down enough to actually see one before. [Pro Tip: you can get all of the movie schedules on Build A Better Mouse Trip.]
At least not until last week. I’d had a long travel day, and Dan from At Disney Again had presented at a conference earlier in the day, so we were looking for a quiet, low key way to spend the evening. So we decided to hang out on the beach at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, watching a movie on a giant, inflatable screen. The set up was so cozy and intimate … there were only about 12 people watching with us.
It may seem like this story doesn’t really have anything to do with today’s spooky festivities … except that it totally does. Because Disney doesn’t just show any movies. The evening selections are a great mix of old and new Disney favorites, and of course they’re themed to the time of the year. In honor of the most haunted day of the year, Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge was showing a film inspired by one of Disney’s spookiest attractions, The Haunted Mansion.
Yea. That’s right. We “wasted” a Disney night sitting on a beach watching a critically-panned, 10-year-old Eddie Murphy vehicle. We both pretty much expected the movie to be awful. But neither of us had ever seen it before, so we decided to give it a chance. At the very worst, we’d head over to the pool bar for a drink. Any other outcome, and at least we’d have an excuse to chastely cuddle under the stars.
But we were totally surprised–pleasantly!–by how family-friendly and downright fun the movie is. Sure, it’s not a masterpiece. And it probably would have been better with darker themes and a different lead actor. And the “bad dad learns his lesson” template wasn’t entirely necessary. But the sets and effects were lovely. And the references to one of our favorite Magic Kingdom attractions made us smile. In the end, it it’s a totally inoffensive diversion.
Our favorite tie-in–in fact, Dan is still laughing about it–was the Disneyland Dapper Dans, who appear in the film as the extraordinarily unhelpful and incredibly silly Singing Busts.
I also loved when the family rode in a horseless carriage (just like the one outside the attraction!) through the graveyard. And the stretching room where a certain character hangs himself. Even the Hitchhiking Ghosts made an appearance! The movie’s full of these kinds of things … it almost became like a game of Where’s Waldo. Only, you know, with bats, creepy doors and otherworldly mediums. I wouldn’t say its my new favorite film, but I’d watch it again next Halloween, for sure.
Have you seen The Haunted Mansion? What did you think? Is it a great family-friendly October 31 film? Let us know in the comments.