I often think about the genius of Jim Henson, but especially this month. He was born on September 24, 1936 in Greenville, Mississippi. So let’s celebrate Jim and his beloved creations by taking a closer look at the multitude of Muppet sightings at the recent Destination D23.
Beaker is baffled!
Bunsen Honeydew is befuddled!
And Statler and Waldorf are complaining even more than usual. Disney fans are just as confused and exasperated. The recent Destination D23 was full of the Muppets, from start to finish. As soon as Chairman of Parks, Experiences and Products Josh D’Amaro was introduced at the event, Kermit joined him on stage. Additionally, along came Gonzo, Scooter and many others. Not long thereafter, Miss Piggy arrived, followed by Sam the Eagle and Bunsen Honeydew. Animal even sat in on the drums for a musical number. Muppets just kept coming!
Yes, they were all there to congratulate Dave Goelz on his 50 outstanding years as a performer with The Muppet Studios. However, much to our surprise, Muppets were represented during the entirety of the D23 event. The audience cheered wildly when asked if there were any Muppet fans in attendance. Muppet devotees at home sat on the edge of our seats. There has to be more to this Muppet extravaganza than meets the eye. I feel like Disney has been listening more closely to fans lately. To me, Destination D23 may have been a test run to determine the level of enthusiasm fans have for these beloved puppets. This positive showing could help to further along more of a Muppets presence at the Disney parks. Fingers crossed!
Dream Big – A New Attraction
I adore the current Muppet Vision 3D Theater, but it’s time for something grand and more adventuresome. Let’s get right to it, the name – The Great Muppet Ride. Why? Because this new ambitious attraction would be a true love letter to the greatly missed The Great Movie Ride. The multitude of Muppet characters would bring a ride like this to life in a way only they could. Much like the original, visitors of all ages would embark on a slow-moving indoor ride passing through a variety of movie scenes. This new flagship ride would showcase all of the wonderful aspects of The Great Movie Ride that we miss – a combination of audio-animatronics, projections, sets and more. The vehicles would briefly stop in a few of the rooms to allow for even greater immersion.
Most importantly, the use of live performers would serve as the core. Imagine live puppeteers bringing a few characters to life during some of the stopped portions of the attraction. Cast members riding on each of the vehicles could banter back and forth with these Muppets brought to life, often ad-libbing, making each time riding a wholly unique experience. There is nothing more “Muppet” than puppets and human beings interacting with one another. How magical it would be to witness this as a guest? What movies would be represented? Some of my choices, spanning the decades, would include The Muppet Movie (1979), The Muppets Take Manhattan, (1984), The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992), Muppet Treasure Island (1996), Muppets From Space (1999), The Muppets (2011) and Muppets Haunted Mansion (2021). The possibilities for scenes from these and so many others are endless, and could be changed out over time to maximize re-rideability.
Retheme A Current Ride
If we can’t have a “Blue Sky new ride”, then a retheme of the current Rock ‘n Roller Coaster would be my second choice. In this changeover, I would focus on the delightful Dr. Teeth and the band for a new spin on an existing ride – The Muppets Mayhem Rock ‘n Roller Coaster. This transition wouldn’t be overly cumbersome and could minimize the amount of down time of a major attraction in Hollywood Studios.
Swap out the current stretch limo for the Mayhem’s colorful retro van. The Muppets Mayhem, a comedic and musical show, debuted on Disney+ in May of 2023. It has proved to be quite popular with both audiences and critics alike, garnering positive reviews on both Rotten Tomatoes and IMDb. The current ten episodes showcase many great songs to serve as the ride’s soundtrack. My top choice for the speedy launch would be the Mayhem’s rendition of Rock and Roll All Nite. The coaster would not be complete without also including the iconic song Can You Picture That? A Muppets upgrade is perfect, providing something new but also something retro and groovy at the same time.
Muppet Vision 3D Theater
I have such current mixed emotions about Muppet Vision 3D. On one hand, I absolutely adore it, as so many others do as well. It truly is a classic. The only way I would allow this one to go is if The Great Muppet Ride detailed above came to fruition. Otherwise, it must remain, even if Rock ‘n Roller Coaster is rethemed to Muppet Mayhem. Since some visitors couldn’t or wouldn’t ride a coaster that goes upside-down, an all-access Muppet attraction suitable for all guests must remain. Preservation of the vital Muppet Studios history and endearing nature of the original characters is essential. The charming theater show is exceptional and the queue and pre-show remain among the best in all of Disney World. The live-action aspect of Sweetums interacting with the audience and Bean Bunny toward the end of the show is quintessential Muppet entertainment.
The absolute least Disney could and should do is to reopen the Stage 1 Company Store, the store on Grand Avenue mostly dedicated to Muppets merchandise. The beloved building remains fully themed on the exterior and frankly looks sad sitting there idle and inaccessible to parkgoers. Disney has recently heard loud and clear from the fandom just how popular the Muppets remain today. Truthfully, the love from fans never wavered. However, the time is past due that Disney sit up and take notice with action. The recent announcement that Disney is committed to spending $60 billion in expansions to the parks and other entities shows a commitment to make improvements. Let’s hope Disney will set aside a mere fraction of this large expenditure to invest in a new and permanent project worthy of the Muppets and their fans.
Finding fun and informative ways to provide Disney goers a unique perspective on the information they seek about the parks, resorts, food, history and so much more. Been bringing kids to Disney from toddlers to teens, so plenty of parent tips will be given.
Happiest with a pineapple Dole Whip float in my hand and an Orange Bird hat on my head.