Muppet Vision 3D

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Muppet Vision 3D
Muppetvision3D.jpg
The entrance to Muppet Vision 3D.
Disney's Hollywood Studios
Land Grand Park
Attraction type 3D show
Theme The Muppet Show
Opening date May 16, 1991
Ride duration 17 minutes
Audio-Animatronics 12
Also Known As Muppet Vision 3D 4D
Jim Henson's Muppet Vision 3D
Theater Capacity 584 guests
Fastpass + Yes (Group B)
Sponsored by Kodak (1991-2012)

Muppet Vision 3D is an attraction located in Disney's Hollywood Studios.

Attraction History

The history of Muppet Vision 3D began in 1989, when Disney and Muppet Creator Jim Henson were closing in on merger agreement [1]. As part of the agreement, Disney would have become the owner of the Muppet franchise and Jim Henson would have joined the company in numerous roles. After acquiring the Muppets, Disney also planned on integrating them into their theme parks[1].In the Disney-MGM Studios, Imagineers began to work on plans for Muppet Movieland[2]. This new area of the park would have featured two main attractions, The Great Muppet Movie Ride (a parody of The Great Movie Ride and a 3D film attraction[2].

The plot for the 3D Muppet film came about during brainstorming meetings between WDI and the Henson team[3] . Henson writer Bill Prady was tasked with writing the plot, which initially focused on newly created Muppet Bean Bunny[3]. Although Henson wanted to promote his new character, Imagineers informed Henson that the theme park audience would respond better to well known characters[3]. According to show producer Mark Eades:

"Jim was very involved with the project. He was genuinely interested in doing theme park attractions. I think Jim liked that it would be something people could see for a long time in an environment like a Disney theme park. I think he also liked doing something new, unique and groundbreaking."[3]

Filming of the new Muppet film began in California, with the Miss Piggy sequence being the first scene to be shot [3]. Although construction on the 3D theater for Muppet Movieland was underway, Jim Henson's tragic death in May 1990 caused the merger between the companies to fall through [4]. Without Henson, Disney's interest in the Muppet's waned, and Henson's estate balked at Disney's offer to purchase the Muppets. The falling through of the merger led to a biter lawsuit being filled[4].

Shortly after Henson's death, frequent collaborator Frank Oz took over directing duties on Muppets 3D [3]. With negotiations between Disney and the Henson estate breaking down however, the Henson family asked everyone working on the film on their side to stop. According to Mark Eades, Disney Imgagineering then had to complete the film alone:

"We had to finish the film, including all the Waldo CGI, much of which was added as a result of the new stuff, without them, including all the performers. We had already done the looping so we had all the dialog."

On May 19, 1991 however a confidential settlement was reached between the two parties[4] . As part of the agreement, Disney was allowed to continue their development of the 3D Muppet attraction, and they were given merchandising rights for 18 months[4] . Henson's son Brian, felt that releasing the Muppet 3D film would be a fitting tribute to his father [3]. Although in the end the Muppets would come to Disney-MGM Studios, the plans for integration were drastically cut back. Instead of Muppet Movieland, Disney instead constructed the 3D theater and a Muppet area surrounding it[2]. Finally, on May 16, 1991 Jim Henson's Muppet Vision 3D opened to guests [5].

Although no changes have to the Muppet Vision 3D show itself, the attraction has seen some minor changes. In 2004, Jim Henson's name was dropped from the attraction, with the attraction being renamed simply “Muppet Vision 3D” [6]. This change was the result of the fact that Disney purchased The Muppets from the Henson family, but did not acquire the Henson name or company [7].In 2006, Jim Henson's name was removed from the entrance sign, and drawings of Miss Piggy, Fozzie, Gonzo, Dr. Honeydew and Beaker were added [8]. In 2009, new parody posters were added to the show's queue including spoofs of: Hammah Montana, Pirates of the Amphibian, High School Mayhem, Wild Frogs and BEAK•E [9]. Finally, in 2010 the projection system used in the show was updated [10].

Leading up to and following the release of the 2014 film Muppets Most Wanted, Constantine (the villain of the new film) was added to Muppet Vision 3Ds preshow [11]

On June 29, 2017, the theater that houses Muppet Vision 3D was renamed the Grand Arts Theater [12]. At this time, the attraction was also given a new marquee. This change was a precursure to the overall retheming (and renaming) of Muppet Courtyard to Grand Park [13].

Attraction Plot

Queue

The Muppet Vision 3D queue features various Muppet parody posters. Photo: Muppet Wiki

When guests first enter the queue for Muppet Vision 3D, they pass by posters of Muppets spoofing various movies. Some of the posters here include: Hammah Montana, Pirates of the Amphibian, High School Mayhem, Wild Frogs, and BEAK•E. Moving on, guests enter a room which is designed to look like the lobby of Muppet Labs. While winding through the queue, guests pass by various office rooms with ridiculous titles. Above an unattended security desk, guests can see a photograph of Link Hogthrob in a patrol man uniform. A sign nearby tells guests that there is a key under the mat, and if guests lift it, the mat reveals a key to the building.

After reaching the end of the queue, guests enter a holding area which is designed to look like a storage facility for Muppet props. Some gags in the prop room including "a net full of Jell-O" (a pun on Annette Funicello) and a box of fruit marked "2D Fruities". Also located in the room are crates full of:

  • Gonzo's Stunt Props (and really weird stuff).
  • Bunsen's inventions
  • Photographs from Fozzie's photo shoot.
  • Miss Piggy's costumes.
  • Lew Zealand's Boomerang Fish

Pre-Show Film

Inside the prop warehouse, guests watch a film that shows the Muppets preparing for the upcoming show. The movie begins with a construction crew attempting to hang a series of Kodak signs, with comical (and disastrous) results. The preparations for the show are being supervised by Scooter, who first has to deal with a series of technical difficulties. As Scooter attempts to get the show in order, he is constantly interrupted by the cast. Fozzie is the first to interrupt, as while it initially appears that the comic is trying to get everyone ready in the orchestra, it eventually becomes clear that he is trying to present his new musical act, The Three Ds. The group then performs a disastrous version of "By the Light of the Silvery Moon". The film then shows Bean Bunny prepping for her musical number. Ignoring Scooters warnings not to interrupt Miss Piggy, Bean eventually is karate chopped across there room by the star. Next, Gonzo takes center stage in the film when he sends Scooter away to answer the telephone (despite the fact that Muppet's don't have one). Gonzo then tries to tap dance with a vase of flowers on his head, which he is surprisingly able to do. After Bean once again attempts to "help" Miss Piggy, Sam the Eagle gives guests a safety spiel. Gonzo then tells Sam that Mickey Mouse is in the building. An excited Sam introduces Mickey, only to see that it is just Rizzo wearing Mickey Mouse ears. Sam then tells guests to move all the way down the rows in the theater (claiming that "stopping in the middle is distinctly unpatriotic"). Finally, after Kermit tells guests that they are almost ready, a stampede of Muppet's enter the theater and guests follow them in.

Main Show

After watching the preshow, the audience enters a reproduction of the Muppet Theater. As in the show, Statler and Waldorf are sitting in their theater box. After entering the theater, guests are instructed to put on their 3D glasses, as Nicky Napoleon and his Emperor Penguins (in Audio Animatronic form) play an instrumental version of The Muppet Show Theme. As the curtain rises, a door which reads “Kermit the Frog presents Muppet Vision 3D” is revealed. The 3D portion of the door seems to be moving towards the audience, but it is simply Gonzo holding the sign at the end of a long pole. After Kermit chastises the daredevil, he welcomes guests to the show and takes them around the facility. Kermit then informs guests that the Swedish Chef is once again in charge of filming the show. He also introduces the upcoming acts including a song by Miss Piggy, and musical finale by Sam the Eagle. Kermit concludes the introduction by saying that "at no time will we be stooping to any cheap 3D tricks."

Jim Henson with the cast of Muppet Vision 3D. Photo: Jim Henson Company Archives

At this point in the attraction Kermit is interrupted by Fozzie, who performs a series of cheap 3D tricks. His tricks include a party streamer, a shake nut can, and a flower in his lapel that squirts real water onto the audience. In the middle of his act, Statler & Waldorf heckle Fozzie, telling him that his act isn't even funny in 3D! When Fozzie asks how the old men got here, they inform him that:

Statler: "We entered a contest

Waldorf: "Yeah and we lost!"

Following Fozzie's act, Kermit takes guests on a tour of Muppet Labs, where Bunsen and Beaker invented Muppet Vision. Unfortunately, Bunsen and Beaker are unable to control their newest invention, which ends up releasing Waldo C. Graphic, the first living 3D effect. Waldo then performs a series of 3D effects for the audience including bouncing on the audience’s heads. After a series of unsuccessful attempts to control Waldo, Beaker uses the VacuumMuppet. The attempt to capture the new creation proves to be unsuccessful, as the vacuum sucks up everything on the screen except for Waldo, who turns himself into a car and drives away.

Kermit then appears on screen, telling guests that Muppet Labs has temporarily been sucked up. As he is speaking, a flying banana cream pie floats by. It turns out that the pie is actually being controlled by Fozzie. Fozzie demonstrates his invention by hitting himself in the face with the dessert. Following Fozzie's interruption, Kermit introduces Miss Piggy's music number.

While Miss Piggy performs her musical number "Dream a Little Dream of Me", Bean attempts to help her by using a series of 3D effects. In one of his attempts to help, Bean showers the audience with bubbles, before handing Miss Piggy a water ski rope, which drags her away. After Miss Piggy's departure, Sam the Eagle appears, telling Bean that he is ruining the film. Bean, upset by the scolding leaves the film, going to a pitch-black area outside of the scene. As Bean prepares to leave, he meets up with Waldo who is also trying to escape the film. As the two of them head out the door, Gonzo asks Bean where he is going. Although Bean says he is going away forever, Gonzo fails to understand,and only asks Bean if he can bring him back a sandwich. After Bean has left, Gonzo realizes the gravity of the situation, and goes to find Kermit.

After Gonzo leaves the screen, Sweetums appears playing paddle ball. Just as Fozzie is complimenting the effect, Gonzo and Kermit enter the scene discussing what has happened. Gonzo, Fozzie and Kermit then organize a search party for Bean, telling the audience to holler if they see the rabbit.

Miss Piggy and Bean Bunny

While the Muppets are looking for Bean, a walk around version of Sweetums strolls through the audience holding a flashlight. After a little while searching, voices of children say that they see Bean in the balcony on the left. Sure enough, the bunny is sitting in a box opposite Waldorf and Statler’s. Bean eventually agrees to stay, after Fozzie suggests that he can set off the fireworks for the show's finale.

At this point in the attraction, Sam the Eagle's big finale, "A Salute to All Nations (But Mostly America)," begins. As dolls modeled after those found on "it's a small world" begin to sing and play instruments, Waldo accidentally knocks one of them over, causing chaos. Many of the dolls begin firing cannons and other weapons, before Sam shoots off the fireworks. The scene concludes with Miss Piggy dressed as the Statue of Liberty. During the finale however, Waldo appears as a rocket, flying around her and causing her dress to fall down.

Waldo, continuing to cause chaos, then crashes into the orchestra pit which explodes into flames. He then shoots back onto the screen. Sweetums, trying to get control of the situation, throws water on the fire, and yells at Chef to turn off the projector. The penguins in the orchestra pit think that Sweetums is the one causing the problems, and they raise a large cannon out of the pit. The cannon fires, but instead of hitting Sweetums, it misses and hit's Chef's projection booth. This causes the film to break, leaving the screen black.

The Swedish Chef, now angry with Waldo, pulls out a blunderbuss and shoots at Waldo, missing several times. As Waldo teases the Chef (turning himself into a target) the Chef pulls out a huge cannon, which when fired is so explosive that it almost destroys the theater. When the smoke from the battle clears, Staler and Waldorf (now hiding in their box), hold a white flag and proclaim: "We surrender! We surrender!".

Kermit then re-enters the theater through the large hole that has been blown into the back wall, seated on the back ladder of a fire truck. He apologizes for the slight technical difficulties, and ensures guests that the theater only suffered minor damages. As Kermit leaves, Waldo reappears, turning himself into Mickey Mouse. This time however, the VacuumMuppet behind the curtain is able to suck him up, finally ridding the show of the creation.

Bean, who is still sitting in the box above guests, comments "What a cute ending". Finally Waldorf who is back to sitting in his balcony asks if they have time to go to the bathroom before the next show. The show concludes with Staler telling him that they can't, because they are bolted to the seats. Guests then leave the theater as the Muppet Show Theme Song plays.

Cast [14]

The character Waldo was created for Muppet Vision 3D

Jim Henson- Kermit the Frog, Waldorf, and the Swedish Chef

Fran Oz- Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, Sam the Eagle, and Rick

Jerry Nelson- Camilla and Zoot

Richard Hunt - Scooter, Statler, Beaker, Sweetums (voice only) and Chuck

Dave Goelz- Gonzo and Dr. Bunsen Honeydew

Steve Whitmire- Waldo C. Graphic, Bean Bunny, Rizzo.

John Henson- Sweetums (puppeteering only)

David Rudman- Roy and Max

Len Levitt- Toy Soldiers

Wayne Allwine- Waldo C. Graphic (As Mickey Mouse)

Fun Facts and Trivia

  • Muppet Vision 3D was the last Muppet project to be directed by Jim Henson.
  • In the film, Jim Henson's son John performs Sweetums.
  • The actors who play Sweetums in the live portion of the show are trained by the Jim Henson Company.
  • The fire truck used in the film's finale was previously located around the corner from the attraction's exit, but it has since been removed.
  • The Statler and Waldorf Audio Animatronics actually have three arms. The third arm is used when they are waving the white flags to surrender [15].

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 http://www.nytimes.com/1989/08/29/business/muppets-join-disney-menagerie.html
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 http://www.martinsvids.net/?p=30
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 http://allears.net/ae/issue756.htm
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 http://community.seattletimes.nwsource.com/archive/?date=19910519&slug=1284051
  5. http://thisdayindisneyhistory.homestead.com/May16.html
  6. To see the name change view the 2004 Hollwood Studios map http://www.florida-project.com/images/guidemaps/ds/disney-mgm-studios-guidemap-2004-july-04.jpg compared to the 2005 http://www.florida-project.com/images/guidemaps/ds/disney-mgm-studios-guidemap-2005-january-04.jpg.
  7. http://www.muppetcentral.com/news/2004/021704.shtml
  8. http://mouseowners.com/forums/showthread.php?t=17911
  9. http://forums.wdwmagic.com/threads/new-muppetvision-posters-up-in-extended-que.498356/
  10. http://www.wdwmagic.com/attractions/jim-hensons-muppetvision-3d/news/15may2010-muppetvision-reopening-report.htm
  11. http://www.wdwmagic.com/attractions/jim-hensons-muppetvision-3d/news/21mar2014-muppet-vision-3d-to-receive-new-pre-show-this-week-to-promote-'muppets-most-wanted'-movie.htm
  12. http://www.wdwmagic.com/attractions/jim-hensons-muppetvision-3d/news/29jun2017-photos---muppetvision-theatre-gets-a-new-name-and-entry-marquee.htm
  13. http://www.wdwmagic.com/attractions/jim-hensons-muppetvision-3d/news/17aug2017-muppets-courtyard-to-be-renamed-grand-park.htm
  14. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0102481/
  15. http://allears.net/ae/issue756.htm