Movies Based on Disney Theme Park Rides

Movie fans are getting very excited about Haunted Mansion, the new flick directed by Justin Simien and starring such Hollywood A-listers as LaKeith Stansfield, Owen Wilson, Danny DeVito and Rosario Dawson. Initial reviews have been favorable and takings have been good.

But what some moviegoers might not realize is that the film is not based on a book or a TV show, but on a Disney theme park attraction. Haunted Mansion, the film, is actually based on the Haunted Mansion ride at Disneyland. In fact, it is far from the only blockbuster movie released in the last 30 years that has the same connection.

If you were thinking of checking out the online betting sites for the odds for another theme park attraction/movie release, you might also want to know that there are plenty more scheduled for upcoming release as well. So, let’s take a look at some of the better movie re-imaginations, shall we?

Pirates of the Caribbean

Where to start but with the best of the lot? In fact, the Pirates of the Caribbean movie series has now spawned five separate instalments that have all been box office gold thanks to a glamorous cast headed by Johnny Depp. The first film came out in 2003 – but the ride opened way back in 1967 and was actually the last one envisioned by Walt Disney himself.

At the time of the first movie’s release, there wasn’t actually much excitement and the general public was expected to turn away in their droves. But Depp’s over-the-top performance as Captain Jack Sparrow won the audience over and the series has gone from strength to strength. There are even rumors of two further films in pre-production, one a reboot and another in the main franchise.

Jungle Cruise

The most recent Disney ride-to-movie before the latest Haunted Mansion release, Jungle Cruise is based on a ride that was actually an attraction on the very first opening day. Apparently, the corporation had been trying to work out how to turn the idea into a movie for a while and finally came up with this in 2021.

The film is a pretty straight retelling of the ride, itself loosely based on the classic The African Queen movie. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson continues what seems to be near global domination in the main role as the skipper, ably supported by Emily Blunt as a doctor who journeys through the rivers of the world, meeting a variety of talking animals. It doesn’t always make sense – but it was another huge success for Disney.

Tower of Terror

This was actually the first ever movie based on a Disney ride and it came out as a TV special back in 1997. Based on the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror ride – which included a stomach-churning death drop – the film doesn’t actually have anything to do with the Rod Sterling classic.

Instead, Steve Guttenberg stars as a journalist who, along with a group of helpers including Kirsten Dunst, attempts to solve the mystery of five people who disappeared in a hotel elevator. Part of the movie was actually filmed at the attraction at Hollywood Studios for an even greater crossover effect. This is another one that is cued for a reboot or sequel, with Toy Story 4 director Josh Cooley slated to write the script.

Mission to Mars

It may seem strange for a director like Brian De Palma to be involved in a ride-to-movie but he was working with some very big names for this one and came up with something that is probably underrated in the genre – and on his resume. Gary Sinise, Tim Robbins and Don Cheadle all play major roles in this film about a, yes, mission to Mars, that goes wrong.

The budget for the film was obviously fairly limited, as some of the special effects are particularly bad. But the story itself is good enough, with enough intrigue and humor to keep everything going. The film was actually the first one of its kind to be released in theaters and was based on a ride that had already closed before the movie was released.

There are more of these kinds of films coming soon

Haunted Mansion

Back to the present day. The new Haunted Mansion film has only just been released and, in a strange quirk of fate, the director actually used to work at one of the Disney resorts. But it is not even the first Haunted Mansion film to make it to the silver screen. Twenty years ago Eddie Murphy was the main star in a film that didn’t do particularly well and there was a lot of excitement about a Guillermo Del Toro reboot for a while – but nothing ever came of that.

But now we have another cinematic version of the classic ride that first opened way back in 1969. A stellar cast has been brought together to tell the story of people trapped in the titular haunted mansion by a collection of wonderful ghouls that are played by a number of top stars. The special effects have also improved a lot since the original offering in 2003.

More to Come

There have been a number of other TV specials and less successful movies over the years. But Disney has not been put off by the failures. Instead, the box office smashes of the Pirates of the Caribbean and Haunted Mansion have inspired the world’s most famous theme park-turned-film studio to invest in more blockbuster movies.

We have already mentioned a few of the films already in the works. The Pirates of the Caribbean franchise seems like it will never actually end, while Jungle Cruise is also set to be awarded a sequel. Brand new ride-to-movies also include ones based on the very popular Space Mountain and a Set Rogen-produced film about Figment, the mascot of the Journey into Imagination attraction at EPCOT. It seems as if Disney will never tire of mining its creations for more movies.