Do something completely madcap today to celebrate. Why? Two decades ago, Muppet*Vision 3D opened at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and a new dimension in deliciously demented daffiness was born — in an attraction that blended Fozzie’s “cheap 3-D tricks” with Audio-Animatronics characters, a live-in-person loony, little tiny bubbles and great big explosions. In other words, the perfect Muppet storm!
Muppet*Vision 3D was also the grand finale project to benefit from the creative touch of Jim Henson himself. “Jim was involved in every aspect,” Emmy-winning writer Jim Lewis says. “He worked with all of us and directed the film. After Jim’s passing, Frank Oz came in to help put the finishing touches on it.”
The West Coast version of Muppet*Vision 3D opened almost a decade later at Disney California Adventure park. The two attractions differ mostly by the almost endless little gags that abound inside and outside. “In California, there’s a Swintrek spaceship crashed outside the show building,” said Jim. “But Florida’s the only place where you can find the net full of jello!”
“That’s my favorite gag of all,” says acclaimed writer Craig Shemin, who is today Vice President of The Jim Henson Legacy. Craig was a key member of the creative team, along with Jim H., Jim L., scriptwriter Bill Prady (co-creator of TV’s “The Big Bang Theory”) and Jim Henson Productions Creative Director Michael Frith. “A few feet from the theater doors, if you look up, you’ll literally see a net full of jello. If you say it fast, it can make you giggle.” (Hint: It’s the name of our own Queen of Walt Disney World Resort.)
Muppet*Vision 3D also ushered in one of the pioneering advances in computer-generated animation, the spirit of 3-D himself, Waldo C. Graphic. Fun facts: Waldo made his debut on The Jim Henson Hour in 1989.One of his Muppet*Vision 3D co-stars, Bean Bunny, first appeared in the 1986 TV special, The Tale of the Bunny Picnic (thanks to Fred from CA for helping me get my Muppetology right!).
Muppet*Vision 3D is also a treasure in that it combines talent and artistry from both Jim Henson Productions and Walt Disney Imagineering. “What an incredible, brilliant, creative individual Jim Henson was!” recalls Kathy Rogers, Senior Show Producer-Director, Walt Disney Imagineering. “He always acknowledged everybody’s value and talent around him, while he always kept the focus going forward. I was in awe of that.”
For more Sights & Sounds at Disney Parks, see below: