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Sights & Sounds at Disney Parks: A Frog, a Pig and a Dream

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 3-D at Disney's Hollywood Studios

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!”

Muppet*Vision 3-D at Disney's Hollywood Studios

“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 3-D at Disney's Hollywood Studios

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.”

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  • Michael, that’s just a rumor. Muppet-Vision will not be leaving DCA anytime in the near future.

  • I think this is my wife’s favorite attraction. She’s a huge Muppet fan and we have to be sure to see this every time we visit WDW. She hasn’t been to Disneyland & California Adventure yet, but I plan to rectify that. 😉

  • As long as we are talking Muppet history, I should also mention that Jim Henson’s last public performance of Kermit was on The Arsenio Hall Show in 1990.

    Poor Jim Henson, he left us far too soon. 🙁

    But at least there are still folks like Dave Goelz, Steve Whitmire, and all of the newer generation of Muppet performers to keep the Muppet legacy going. 🙂

  • I’ve read that MV3D is closing in Disney California Adventure next year to make way for Mickey’s PhilharMagic…

  • This is a favorite attraction for my husband and me but we almost missed seeing the show when it first opened. I thought it was for young kids but I just happened to see one of my former kindergarten students who was on his honeymoon! He told me I had to see this show and boy was I glad we did. We go back every year and we know the punchlines but it is still fun. I must admit I have never noticed the jello though!

  • Jim Henson holds a special place in my heart, right next to Walt Disney. I can’t hear Kermit’s voice without giving a little sigh and a smile. This attraction is always a must-do for me and my family when we visit Walt Disney World!

  • There is never time my friends and I visit Hollywood Studios, that we don’t see Jim Henson’s Muppet Vision 3D.
    Still our favorite show in all of WDW, but I still don’t know why Jim Henson’s name was removed?
    Does anyone know why? There’s still one place his name is, I don’t wanna say where cause I’m worried it might disappear too.

  • I never got the net full of jello joke until now. Thanks!:)

    “We entered a contest. Yeah, we lost.” is my favorite line ever now. Statler and Waldorf are the best!

  • To add to Fred’s comment, after “Bunny Picnic”, Henson was planning to write Bean in as Scooter’s permanent replacement, as MuppetVision turned out to be Richard Hunt’s last performance as Scooter. (And Statler.)
    Given that it’s one of the last times Jim Henson also played Kermit, MV3D has a certain “End of an era” sentimentality with Muppet fans. 🙁

    • Fascinatiing, Eric. I seem to remember Bean appearing as the leader of a planet of excruciatingly adorable creatures, which, I believe, was on The Jim Henson Hour. The Tale of the Bunny Picnic is a nice show too, still only on VHS. I’d love to see it — and one of my faves, Tales from Muppetland: The Frog Prince — on DVD or Blu-ray someday.

      Richard Hunt was a tremendous talent. It always made me laugh when he’d “oversing” as Wayne (with Wanda). He also appeared on camera on the sitcom pilot, Puppetman, starring ’90s Mickey Mouse Club host Fred Newman.

  • I love this attraction. In my opinion it´s the best 4D movie experience on any themepark. But I would love to meet the muppets in person or see them do a live show. Unfortunately Muppet labs that was for a short while in Epcot never made it out of it´s testing fase, I would love to meet Beaker and Dr Honydew!

  • I agree with Fred, with the recent success of “The Muppets” movie I would love to see more Muppets in the theme parks (FL & CA)! Beware of the “Moopets” however! 🙂

  • I really enjoyed the net full of jello joke! made my day! =)

  • …Oops, in my first comment I meant to say “Muppets Studio” that’s the official name. 😉

  • …Oh, and Greg, a slight correction, Bean Bunny actually made his official debut in “The Tale of the Bunny Picnic” in 1986. 🙂 Then he re-appeared on “The Jim Henson Hour.”

    • Thanks, Fred! You are correct, sir. I revised the post for Mup-posterity.

  • I love Muppet*Vision 3D! The first time I saw it was at Disney California Adventure.

    It would be awesome if the Muppet Studios people collaborated with Walt Disney Imagineering to create a Muppets ride for California Adventure.

    Now that the Muppets are back in the public eye, a Muppet ride would be awesome!

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