Epcot’s Haunted Mansion: Encanto’s Casita de Madrigal

Epcot’s Haunted Mansion: Encanto’s Casita de Madrigal

In the wake of the opening of Disney’s Encanto, we propose that the next major World Showcase attraction be based on Encanto’s Casita de Madrigal? Why? Because guests long for film-based attractions that open worlds of fantasy and suspense. And this casa does it in ways no other has done before. We look at Encanto, why World Showcase needs a property like this, and what an attraction like this would look like. We’ll also look at other intellectual properties that could become attractions or even countries in World Showcase. Whether or not you have seen Encanto, join us in this spoiler-free brainstorming of what this attraction might be like.

What is Encanto?

With original music from “Hamilton” creator Lin-Manuel Miranda, “Encanto” focuses on a family living in the mountains of Colombia in a Casita that has come to life. Each member of the family possesses special powers, except for Mirabel (Stephanie Beatriz). But when Mirabel discovers that their town may be in danger of losing all magic, it’s up to her to save her loved ones.

Image by Disney.

Why World Showcase?

To understand why there has not been another World Showcase country since 1988 with the addition of Norway: Gateway to Scandinavia, one has to go back to the financial business model that created Epcot in the first place. It has its roots in New York’s World’s Fair when Robert Moses begged Walt Disney to get involved with four sponsors wanting to build pavilions for that 1964-1965 event. The experience not only catapulted Disney as the king of the World’s Fair, it cemented the ability of the organization to attract major corporations to be sponsors. That translated to the new Tomorrowland of the late 1960s whose sponsorship included General Electric, Bell Systems, Goodyear and Monsanto. That translated to organizations like RCA, Eastern Airlines and McDonnell-Douglas shaping Tomorrowland in Walt Disney World.

Under the leadership of Marty Sklar, Walt Disney Productions paraded up and down the 80’s in an effort to create sponsorship for Epcot. AT&T, Kraft, General Motors, Kodak, American Express and Coca-Cola among many others signed on. And the individual World Showcase nations? They were an amalgamation of sponsors from the individual host countries that came together to sponsor each pavilion.

But that model has gone away. No one sponsored Frozen Ever After when it premiered in place of Maelstrom. Ratatouille and Guardians of the Galaxy also do not have sponsors. That’s one of the reasons why Disney is so animate about utilizing its intellectual property up and down this park. It’s the only way one can justify building new attractions–because they enhance the brand of successful Disney films.

Why Encanto? Why Colombia?

Disney’s “Encanto” had been projected to lead the box office heading into the holiday weekend. The animated adventure took in $11 million on Black Friday from 3,980 locations and is headed towards a $43.3 million five-day total.

Colombia needs a new paradigm having faced decades as simply being the home based for world drug trafficking. But Colombia is so much more, and this is a great time to showcase the beauty and heritage of Colombia. This movie takes place in el Valle del Cauca, perhaps one of the most beautiful places I have ever had the privilege of visiting, and in this case living.

Epcot has Mexico, but Mexico is NOT South America. South America is an entire continent. One that cannot be perfectly represented by one country, but should be represented.

Why a Haunted Mansion Style Attraction?

People are in love with an attraction that provides fantasy and even suspense. The example that stands out is Mystic Manor, which may or may not have enthralled Hong Kong audiences, but has certainly captured the hearts of every Disney fan who has visited there. This is an environment that comes to life utilizing nearly every Disney trick in the book.

You can see our video on Mystic Manor below:

While a restaurant and a train station constituted the Mystic Manor area, there is really little in this set-apart district/land of Hong Kong Disneyland. That is not the case for Encanto. The Colombian village invites all of the components found in a traditional World Showcase country. An attraction like this could have a beautiful pueblo village that leads to the Casita. The food, heritage and merchandise of Colombia is simply unique. Mountains in the background could hide the show building extending from the Casita and could lead guests into a journey that is more memorable than even the film itself. This is a physical place that is a character in and of itself. It lends itself to an amazing experience like no other.

Moreover, the casita in Encanto was far more fantastical than you would find at Mystic Manor. Yes, the house comes alive in its own friendly and haunting manner. But the individual doors of this house leads to amazing places in and of themselves. Isabella’s room is a floral Fantasyland all of its own. Antonio’s room is such an over-the-top Adventureland that it’s animal collection of toucans, capybaras, and jaguars that they could move this whole attraction into a land of its own at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. And then there is the haunting passages of Bruno–No one talks about Bruno, so we won’t either–but know that it offers its own unique part.

Image by Disney.

Again, no spoilers, but know that in Mystic Manor a storm tears apart the house. That might just give you a small hint of what is possible here as well. Hopefully such hints will make you want to see the film if you haven’t. Mirabel is clearly the star of the film, but the centerstage in all of this is la Casita de Madrigal.

Other Countries. Other Attractions. Other Possibilities

Of course there are other spaces for more attractions. Space between and behind:

  • Mexico and Norway
  • In lieu of African Outpost and adjoining Germany
  • Between Germany and Italy
  • Between American Adventure and Japan
  • Between Japan and Morocco
  • In lieu of World Showplace

Mexico: Place Coco in this existing pavilion. The land of the muertos would be incredible to recreate in some way. Then…

Image by Disney.

Brazil: Place Three Caballeros in Brazil with Jose Carioca taking the lead.

Image by Disney.

China: Just bring in the film you’ve promised the last two years.

Image by Disney.

Germany. Take the train station and make something like Storybook Village that celebrates all of Disney’s European-themed films.

Image by Disney.

Italy. While the land is focused on Venice, still the seaside village of Luca has potential.

Image by Disney.

Morocco. Bring in Sinbad’s Storybook Voyage.

United Kingdom: Mary Poppins trumps all other choices in my mind. But I wouldn’t mind revisiting Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride.

Image by Disney.

Do all of these and you begin to have a park that stands alone and above all others–Maybe even Tokyo Disney Sea?

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