Muppet*Vision 3D is a Disney theme park attraction at Disney's Hollywood Studios (formerly Disney-MGM Studios) in Walt Disney World, Florida, the main feature of which is a 3D film that was the last project directed by Jim Henson. The attraction opened at Walt Disney World on the first anniversary of Henson's death on May 16, 1991. The attraction was duplicated at Disney California Adventure at the Disneyland Resort in California, where it opened on February 8, 2001 and remained in operation until November 1, 2014.
The attraction, which has occasionally been billed as Muppet*Vision
3D 4D due to its pioneering in-theater effects, is billed as a tour meant to showcase Muppet*Vision, Muppet Labs' newest technology. The attraction was sponsored by Kodak.
The Show Building
The show building and queue for Muppet*Vision 3D are the only portions of the attraction which contain significant differences between the Walt Disney World and Disneyland versions.
At Disney's Hollywood Studios, the attraction is housed in a brick building with a clock tower. The building, which was designed to match the surrounding New York Street area (later named Streets of America), anchors a plaza that was originally intended to be the center of the park's Muppet Studios subsection before the 1990s merger between The Walt Disney Company and The Jim Henson Company fell through. (Other attractions in this area were supposed to include The Great Muppet Movie Ride and The Great Gonzo's Pandemonium Pizza Parlor.) At the center of the plaza sits a fountain featuring statues of Miss Piggy dressed as The Statue of Liberty, Fozzie, Gonzo, Animal, and assorted rats and fish "filming" a scene from the attraction.
Instrumental versions of classic Muppet songs were recorded specifically for use as ambient music in the plaza and queue of Muppet*Vision 3D in Walt Disney World. These include "Bein' Green," "Mah Na Mah Na," and songs from The Muppet Movie, The Great Muppet Caper, and The Muppets Take Manhattan.
A few years after Disney's 2004 acquisition of The Muppets, Jim Henson's name was removed from the building's original sign. In 2016 and 2017, other changes were made to the area. In February 2017, the yellow hot air balloon with Kermit the Frog's face that was perched on top of the building was removed. Several months later, a new marquee replaced the old signage, renaming the building as the Grand Arts Theatre. The fountain was also temporarily transformed into a planter at this time.
At Disney California Adventure, Muppet*Vision 3D was an opening day attraction in the Hollywood Land (formerly Hollywood Pictures Backlot) section of the park. The attraction was housed in a reproduction of a sound stage. The sign, which hung above the entrance and featured a giant statue of Kermit, was changed when the area received a makeover in 2006, removing Jim Henson's name and adding drawings of Miss Piggy, Fozzie, Gonzo, Dr. Bunsen Honeydew, and Beaker. For Disneyland's 50th Anniversary, a photomosaic of Kermit as the Scarecrow and Piggy as Glinda from The Muppets' Wizard of Oz was situated near the attraction's entrance.
In later years, the California theater had housed several temporary sneak peek screenings for new Disney 3D releases, including Tron: Legacy (in Fall 2010), Frankenweenie (in Fall 2012), and Oz The Great and Powerful (in February 2013). Muppet*Vision 3D’s last day of regular operation in the California location was November 1, 2014. The building was later renamed to the Sunset Showcase Theater, and has since housed the stage show For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration for 2015-16, and Mickey’s PhilharMagic starting in 2019.
Both exterior queues feature a variety of jokes and references to the Muppets, some of which can be found in both locations, including posters of the Muppets spoofing classic movies. At Disney California Adventure, the queue featured a replica of the Swinetrek crashed outside the show building, as well as a catapult not unlike those used by Gonzo in his ludicrous stunts. (A Gonzo-shaped hole in the building along with a crashed motorcycle suggested that his latest stunt was less than successful.)
Once inside, the queues become more similar and are meant to depict the lobby of Muppet Labs. The gags and references continue at the unattended security desk, by which hangs a photograph of Link Hogthrob in his "Bear on Patrol" uniform. A sign indicates that the key is under the mat, and, sure enough, if lifted, the mat reveals a key to the building embedded in the concrete floor.
Both queues end in a holding area designed to look like a storage facility for Muppet props. Although the specific props are different in each park, some examples of the gags to be found include a net full of Jell-O (Annette Funicello) and flat, plywood fruit in a box marked 2D Fruities. Other props include a photograph of Fozzie from his Kermitage Collection photo shoot, Miss Piggy's costumes, and crates full of everything from Gonzo's Stunt Props (and Really Weird Stuff) to Bunsen's inventions (such as a tongue inflator).
It is in this room that the audience is treated to the pre-show film.
The Pre-Show Film
The pre-show film of the Muppets preparing for the main show is presented on four sets of three interconnected televisions situated above the audience in the prop room.
The pre-show begins with a construction worker (referred to as "Boss") inspecting the area and calling in his co-workers; Roy, Rick, and Chuck. One at a time (with Chuck doing the work while the others supervise), they are able to lift up three separate signs with the attraction's logo. The signs proceed to all fall over onto the workers.
The proceedings are supervised by Scooter, who attempts to organize the backstage crew while dealing with interruptions from the cast. Fozzie presents a new singing group called The Three Ds, who flub "By the Light of the Silvery Moon;" Bean Bunny attempts to bring Miss Piggy props for her big musical number; Gonzo distracts Scooter long enough to complete a tap dance with a flower pot on his head while "Tea For Two" is played, Sam the Eagle offers a safety spiel, deeming stopping in the middle of the row unpatriotic; and Rizzo the Rat tries to pass as Mickey Mouse. When Rizzo fails to fool Sam, Gonzo claims that Donald Duck is backstage, but Sam isn't buying it.
While, for the most part, the footage is the same on each of the three screens, the film occasionally "breaks" into three separate videos for the purpose of a gag. In one instance, Bean Bunny is karate chopped "offstage" by a displeased Piggy and is sent flying from the rightmost screen to the leftmost one. In another, three apparently identical shots of a dancing Gonzo are shown to be distinct from one another when one Gonzo's flower pot falls off his head, and the other two Gonzos comment on it.
A scrolling LED screen that hangs below the television sets features additional jokes, including a reference to The Mickey Mouse Club, while counting down to showtime.
At the end of the pre-show, the audience is ushered into a reproduction of The Muppet Theatre from The Muppet Show, complete with Statler and Waldorf (in audio-animatronic form) in their box. After the members of the audience, including the two curmudgeons, are instructed to don their purple 3D glasses, Nicky Napoleon and His Emperor Penguins (audio-animatronics) play an instrumental version of "The Muppet Show Theme" from the pit, and the curtain rises on a door that reads "Kermit the Frog Presents: Muppet*Vision 3D." (This name was used internally before launch.) The "3D" from the sign, which starts to float over the audience, is revealed to be attached to a pole that Gonzo operates through a hole in the door. The show's resident weirdo is briefly chastised by Kermit, who then talks about the acts that they have planned. After introducing the Swedish Chef, who, reprising his role from The Muppet Movie, is operating the film projector from the back of the theater (in audio-animatronic form). Kermit then promises the audience that, even though the Muppets will be demonstrating their newest three-dimensional technology, they will not be stooping to cheap 3D tricks.
Kermit is then interrupted by Fozzie, who is intent on demonstrating the first of several cheap 3D tricks, the kind that Kermit was so hoping to avoid. These include a party horn, a snake nut can, and a flower in his lapel that, through the use of in-theater effects, squirts real water onto the audience. As always, Statler and Waldorf take this opportunity to heckle the bear, telling him that he's not even funny in 3D.
When Kermit finally introduces the creators of Muppet*Vision, Dr. Bunsen Honeydew and his assistant Beaker, he finds that they are unable to control their invention, which backfires, injuring Beaker and releasing Waldo C. Graphic, the world's first living 3D effect. After Waldo performs a few 3D tricks of his own, such as bouncing on audience members' heads, Bunsen instructs Beaker to suck him up with the VacuumMuppet. This also backfires and instead sucks up not only the Labs but everything in the film except for Waldo, who flies off.
Kermit appears and, after Fozzie performs another cheap 3D trick with a remote control banana cream pie, introduces Miss Piggy's number. The audience is treated to a lovely lake and garden scene where Miss Piggy sings her "little" song, "Dream a Little Dream of Me." She is, despite her best efforts, "assisted" by Bean Bunny, who has been trying to help with her musical number ever since the pre-show. His special effects, which include blowing 3D bubbles that are mixed with real bubbles blown into the audience, do more harm than good, as Piggy tries to get rid of him. Bean then hands her a water ski rope that drags her off into the lake.
Sam the Eagle, who is preparing a musical number of his own, shows up and tells Bean to go away. Bean, crushed, turns around to leave the movie. He ends up in a pitch black area outside the garden scene, where Waldo appears trying to find his way out of the movie. Bean decides to run away and invites Waldo to come along. When Gonzo shows up and asks Bean what he's doing, Bean tells him he's running away, forever, and Gonzo asks him if he can get him a sandwich. It is not until Bean and Waldo leave that Gonzo realizes Bean is not coming back, and he freaks out and runs off to find Kermit. Sweetums then walks across the screen playing paddle ball.
When Gonzo finds Kermit and Fozzie, the three of them organize a search party for Bean. Kermit tells the audience that if they see a rabbit, to holler, and he and his friends then call out for Bean. A walk-around version of Sweetums walks around the audience, holding a flashlight while calling for Bean. Spotlights acting as flashlights shine across the theater searching for Bean.
When prerecorded voices of children say that they see him in the balcony on the left, Bean Bunny (in audio-animatronic form) appears in the box opposite Waldorf and Statler's. Kermit asks him to come back, but Bean agrees to stay only if he is given something to do. Fozzie suggests that Bean could set up the fireworks for Sam's big production number.
Sam's big production number, "A Salute to All Nations (But Mostly America)," begins, featuring some Muppets patterned after the dolls featured in the It's a Small World attraction. Dolls dance, dressed in clothes decorated with stars and stripes, and waving flags from countries around the world. A large band of dolls plays marching music (featuring the 1812 Overture and Stars and Stripes Forever).
Things begin to go haywire when Waldo accidentally causes one of the musicians to get a tuba stuck on his head and starts running around for help, bumping into others and knocking them over. Bean shoots off the fireworks, and breath-taking fireworks shoot off into the skies, and animations of fireworks exploding appear up on the ceiling. Waldo then appears as a rocket and flies around Miss Piggy outfitted as the Statue of Liberty, causing her dress to fall down.
Waldo then crashes into the orchestra of penguins, exploding into flames, and shooting out as a rocket back into the screen. The orchestra is now on fire, and Sweetums yells for the Chef, telling him to stop the projector. Sweetums then puts out the orchestra fire with a bucket of water, but the angry penguins think Sweetums was the cause of their trouble. A red and white cannon rises out of the orchestra pit, aimed at the monster. Sweetums tells the audience to duck while Waldo literally turns into a duck that quacks. The cannon fires, and instead of hitting Sweetums, misses and hits the Chef's projection booth in the back. The projector breaks, causing the film strip to go off balance and rip apart, leaving the screen blank. The Chef, however, is angry at the penguins and Waldo.
The Swedish Chef takes out a large blunderbuss and shoots at Waldo several times, hitting the screen instead. Waldo teases the Chef, and turns into a target. Waldo then realizes his mistake, as the angry Chef puts the gun away and instead takes out a huge cannon, which is sticking outside the hanging booth in the wall. The Chef fires his large cannon, and the shot is so explosive it practically destroys the inside of the theater.
When the smoke from the cannon fire clears, Statler and Waldorf are crouching in their box, holding white flags and saying "We surrender! We surrender!" The penguins are back under the floor, Sweetums is still standing and says "What an explosion!", and runs backstage. The theater lies in ruins. Holes are blown in the walls, and the screen is now gone, leaving just a back wall.
A large Muppet Labs firetruck then backs up through the back wall of the screen, and perched on the back ladder of the truck sits Kermit. Park guests and a walk-around Pluto are seen in the background.
Kermit bids the audience farewell and ensures the audience that the theater suffered only "minor" damage, and that he hopes they enjoyed this presentation of Muppet*Vision 3D, telling them to come see it again sometime. The firetruck drives up out of the back wall of the screen and the curtains close, when Waldo reappears once again, this time turning himself into Mickey Mouse before the VacuumMuppet behind the curtain sucks Waldo back in, finally ridding the audience and the show of him.
Bean, still in the box to the left, says "What a cute ending!" Waldorf, who is back sitting in the balcony on the right, asks if they have time to go to the bathroom before the next show. Statler tells him they can't, they're bolted to the seats (a nod to how they're audio-animatronics in this show).
The curtains to the balconies close, and the show concludes as a Cast Member bids farewell to the audience and instructs them on how to exit the attraction. The audience leaves and deposits their 3D glasses in the special bins as The Muppet Show theme plays.
Two international dubs of the film have been created. At the Disneyland Resort there were wireless translation headsets that allow guests to enjoy the show in either Spanish or Japanese. The audio experience was part of the "Ears to the World" programs which was offered on two other attractions - "Captain EO (Tribute)" and "It’s Tough to be a Bug!" Guests hear a translation in Spanish or Japanese recorded by character actors who "reflect the excitement and spirit of the English recording".
The show has also been adapted for the hard of hearing and visually impaired. Disney's Handheld Device provides "assisted listening" and "handheld captioning" for guests with hearing disabilities. The device also provides "audio description" which gives narrated audio to guests with visual disabilities by describing visual attraction elements, such as actions, settings and scene changes. Guests with visual or hearing disabilities can obtain handheld devices at the Guest Relations offices.
In 2009, it was announced that Muppet*Vision 3D would receive an update at both the Florida and California parks. The film would be remastered and reissued in Disney Digital 3D. A new pre-show and other queue area updates were also planned.
David Gumpel, director of the original pre-show, reported on his blog that he directed a new version of the pre-show in November 2008 for the updated attraction. Gumpel did not indicate when the new pre-show was expected to debut.
The attraction was closed at Walt Disney World from April 24 through May 14 for the update. The fountain was walled off in November 2009 for a separate refurbishment. The new pre-show was not included in the update.
In March 2014, a temporary new pre-show segment with Constantine was introduced to promote Muppets Most Wanted. In September-October 2021, the pre-show was replaced with an extended preview of the Disney+ special, Muppets Haunted Mansion, hosted by Pepe the King Prawn.
The Gift Shop
- The production was filmed in January 1990.
- After Jim Henson's death, Frank Oz led the completion of the film based on Henson's original plans. Oz was originally offered $50,000 by Disney to help finish the project but Oz declined the offer. When asked what he wanted, Oz simply expressed that he was low on socks and that he could use some new ones. When the film was complete, Disney gave Oz a basket of socks.
- The costumed actors who perform Sweetums in the live portions of the show are trained by the Jim Henson Company for authenticity.
- The movie parody posters in the queue at Disney California Adventure included Jurassic Pork, Frumpy Old Men, and Pigs in Space: The Movie.
- The rear half of a crashed motorcycle was embedded in the wall above the entrance to the sound stage in Disney California Adventure's version of the attraction. The hole in the wall above the motorcycle suggests that the motorcycle belonged to The Great Gonzo.
- In Walt Disney World, the fire truck used in the film's final sequence was situated around the corner from the attraction's exit. It has since been removed to make way for the Stage One Company Store.
- The Statler and Waldorf audio-animatronic characters have a third arm. When they surrender and are waving white flags, the arm being used is attached to the inside of the box.
- A gag can be spotted in the entrance to both the Disneyland and Walt Disney World attractions. A tall archway has a sign above it saying "You must be shorter than this to enter!" along with a broken off piece of the archway, implying that someone hit it. In Disney California Adventure, though, there was a small note that said "Ow!" next to it.
The Muppet Theatre
Disney's Hollywood Studios exterior
Disney's Hollywood Studios Extended Line Area
Disney's Hollywood Studios pre-show
Disney California Adventure exterior and pre-show
- Directed by: Jim Henson
- Written by: Bill Prady
- Cinematography by: Peter Anderson
- Edited by: Victor Livingston
- Creative Consultant: Michael K. Frith
- Produced by: Ritamarie Peruggi
- Gonzo, Scooter, Rizzo the Rat, Sam the Eagle, Fozzie Bear, Chicken, Bean Bunny, The Three Ds, Roy, Rick, Chuck, Tom, Penguins, Whatnots
- Background Muppets:
- Cows, Quongo, Luncheon Counter Monster, Pink Frackle, J. G., Goldfish, Sheep
- Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, Gonzo, Zoot, Dr. Bunsen Honeydew, Beaker, Waldo C. Graphic, Bean Bunny, Sweetums, Sam the Eagle
- Background Muppets:
- Janice, Scooter, Toy Soldiers, Penguins
- Statler and Waldorf, The Swedish Chef, Bean Bunny, Nicky Napoleon and His Emperor Penguins
- Jim Henson as Kermit the Frog, Waldorf, and the Swedish Chef
- Frank Oz as Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, Construction Worker, and Sam the Eagle
- Dave Goelz as Gonzo, Whatnot Painter, Dinah, Dr. Bunsen Honeydew, and Zoot
- Richard Hunt as Scooter, Statler, Beaker, Sweetums, Chuck, and Chicken
- Steve Whitmire as Waldo C. Graphic, Bean Bunny, Rizzo the Rat, and Toy Soldier
- John Henson as Sweetums (puppeteering only)
- David Rudman as Roy, Max, and Penguin
- Kathryn Mullen as Dorothy
- Len Levitt as Toy Soldier
- Rickey Boyd
- Kevin Carlson
- Rick Lyon as Rick, Penguin, Fish, Toy Soldier, Zoot (puppetry only), Miss Piggy (opening scene puppetry only)
- Steven Ritz-Barr
- Allan Trautman as Toy Soldier
- Mark Bryan Wilson
- Wayne Allwine as Waldo's impersonation of Mickey Mouse
- Bruce Lanoil
- Terri Hardin
- Joe Selph
- file:MV3D Grand Arts Theatre 2017.jpg
- Disneyland Gazette on Twitter, November 1, 2014
- Disney Parks Blog: 'Mickey’s PhilharMagic' Premiering in April at Disney California Adventure Park
- Bhaktivision, Inc. David Gumpel's CV
- Rick Lyon's Facebook
- Unidentified internal publication posted by Jim Shull, a former Imagineer, on Twitter, 1 June 2022.
- Disney Experience Offered in Multiple Languages
- Handheld Device Adds Audio Description
- Muppets at D23: Movies, DVDs, and Merchandise News!
- The Muppets at D23
- D23 Update: Special Muppets Presentation
- David Gumpel's Blog
- Stitch Kingdom
- Tough Pigs "Muppets Haunted Mansion Sneak Peak at Muppet*Vision 3D" by Shane Keating, September 30, 2021
- Behind the scenes footage in 2011 Disney Legends presentation
- @TheFrankOzJam on Twitter
- Ayers, Brad The MuppetCast show #26
- MouseTunes fan podcast, 1/28/07
- Disney Parks Blog: Vintage Walt Disney World: Muppet*Vision 3D Rolls Out the Green Carpet at Disney’s Hollywood Studios
- Disney Marvels Podcast - Episode 136 - MuppetVision 3D's 30th Anniversary with Rick Lyon (00:32:19)
- NOSTALGIA TALK: Episode #24 (Featuring RICKEY BOYD)
- NOSTALGIA TALK: Episode #34 (Featuring RICK LYON)