Muppets Haunted Mansion premiered last Friday on Disney+, and though I didn’t anxiously await its release in the same way I waited for, say, Toy Story 3, I was still looking forward to seeing it, especially after having written about the new Halloween special for several weeks.
I also saw it as a prime opportunity for a Disney theme dinner, which we have in our house from time to time in celebration of new Disney movies, or as we count down the days to our next trip to the parks. I started doing Disney theme dinners when my kids were young, and even though they’re teenagers now, I never have any trouble getting them to put down their devices and join us for movie night if there’s a Disney theme to the whole evening. Let me show you!
I did a Muppets-themed dinner for the kids about 4 years ago as part of our countdown to our trip that summer and was able to take some elements from that dinner, but since the movie is centered around the Haunted Mansion attraction, we were able to mix things up a little and put a spooky take on the Muppets even before we saw the special on Disney+.
This was fun because we’ve never done a Disney theme dinner that included an attraction from the parks! So on Saturday night, using the black and purple colors from the Haunted Mansion‘s trademark wallpaper, we created a look at the dining table that was somewhat reminiscent of the Haunted Mansion, minus the doom buggies and Madame Leota, of course.
But first, let me tell you about the food. It certainly wasn’t a fancy menu with multiple steps to complete. The focus is still the movie and being together; the food and decorations just make it more fun! You don’t even need to mess with formal silverware and dishes; just go for the plastic cutlery and paper plates. I found black and white paper plates with spider webs and the black and purple cutlery at Party City.
For this theme dinner, we honored Kermit, Miss Piggy, and Dr. Teeth (he’s underappreciated, don’t you think?), and then added elements that reminded us of spookiness, like the Haunted Mansion.
Green apples (usually Granny Smith) are the perfect color for making a likeness of Kermit. You just need one for his head and one to cut out his green collar. You also need a paring knife, a jumbo marshmallow cut in half, a black food coloring marker, and red fruit leather for Kermit’s mouth.
I fashioned Kermit from an apple for our first Muppets dinner, but took it a step further by adding fruit skewers for the “Rainbow Connection,” this time “for lovers, for dreamers, and . . . the 999 happy haunts!” I arranged Kermit’s head and the pieces for his collar on the platter, then made the fruit skewers with raspberry, cantaloupe, pineapple, green grapes, blueberries, and black grapes, and laid the skewers around Kermit so that it made a rainbow.
Miss Piggy would likely be offended that we remembered her character by making easy pigs in a blanket. You can be more kind and call them “Miss Piggy in a Blanket,” if you like. It’s good to add cranberry sauce and Dijon mustard inside the “blankets,” but it’s not necessary. (Piggy might like the deep red color of the cranberries!)
Dr. Teeth’s was the easiest, as we bought a black bowl and filled it with different types of Halloween candy. We called it “Dr. Teeth’s Secret Stash.” Dr. Teeth brought Tootsie Rolls, Hershey’s Miniatures, Nerds, and other candies to our house in his bowl on Saturday, but he could easily bring different candies to your house.
For dinner, we had smoked sausage and “bat”-tie pasta. If you use your imagination, bowtie pasta looks a little like bats, so we went with it. The recipe is also very simple and calls for smoked rope sausage, cut into coins, cremini mushrooms and a sauce made of prepared basil pesto, half and half and cream cheese. The end result is a very creamy, very caloric pasta dish that everyone will love!
We made several things creepy by adding tiny plastic spiders (brand new and washed, of course). See how many you can find in the pictures below!
If you frequent the parks, theme dinners can make really good use of your souvenirs. For this dinner, we used lots of candles, a cauldron, old glass goblets, and a set of Haunted Mansion collectibles my husband bought 3 years ago in the parks. You’ll recognize these mini-statues from the queue at Disney World’s Haunted Mansion attraction.
The Muppets’ first-ever Halloween-themed special was good. No one got up and left the room early, and no one pulled out a device because he or she was bored. Score!
There were, of course, lots of cameos, slapstick humor, puns, plays on words, and silly antics. But in the end, the message was good (wasn’t even expecting a message from a Muppets film), and I liked the fact that other Muppets besides Piggy and Kermit had the starring roles. Even Fozzie Bear plays only a tiny role, and Piggy’s role was non-existent outside of Madame Pig-ota.
If you have seen it, let us know what you thought about the movie!