Nestled in the Backlot area of Disney’s Hollywood Studios lies an attraction sure to tickle any funny bone, whether with small jokes or over the top visual gags. Muppet*Vision 3D is a wonderful display of the merging of Jim Henson’s humor and the Imagineer’s magic touch, and is sure to draw guests back again and again.
In 1990, a stage show titled Here Come the Muppets was added to Hollywood Studios (then MGM…ahh who doesn’t still refer to it as MGM sometimes?) in order to promote the coming attraction which was finally added in May of 1991. The attraction added a new, immersive way for guests to experience the Muppet’s world through the use of 3D technology. To this day, Muppet*Vision 3D is the only 3D attraction on property that refers to its glasses simply as 3D glasses. (It’s Tough to be a Bug refers to them as Honorary Bug Glasses, Star Tours refers to them as Flight Glasses, and Philharmagic refers to them as Opera Glasses.) The world of 3D is a perfect fit for the Muppets as it allows a new way to present those classic, corny gags that the group is famous for.
Back when the attraction first opened, the queue was always extensive and wound around the side of the building into an area to the right of the entrance. Since there is rarely a wait time over twenty minutes now a days, that section of the queue is often overlooked by guests who beeline right to the entrance of the theater. If it is not roped off, be sure to walk around the extended queue and take in the first of many gags to come. There you will find posters advertising some pretty famous films, but with a Muppet twist. My favorite is the Star Wars poster…or Star Chores as it is known here. Despite this section of queue being around since the opening of the attraction, the posters are regularly updated and now include a nod to Pirates of the Caribbean and even High School Musical.
Before you enter into the actual attraction, be sure to look everywhere (and I mean everywhere) around you in the courtyard for some great visual gags including an ice cream sundae, and a Hidden Mickey in the fountain. As you enter into the building, take pause at a counter of the Muppet’s security desk on the right hand side. See that sign indicating that they’ll be back in five minutes and that the key is under the mat? Go on, you know what to do!! That small attention to detail combined with the Muppet humor is what makes this attraction so loveable to me. Stop and take a few minutes to read the directory board too, you might end up wanting to order some alphabet soup! Perhaps my favorite small detail of the entire attraction lies above you on an arch way into the pre-show room. Look for where a Muppet has made his mark and set the standard for guests to follow him and enter into the theater.
In the case of Muppet*Vision 3D, the pre-show is just as entertaining as the actual show and is definitely not to be missed. It is twelve minutes long, but it is worth every minute as it is both charming and hilarious. Set up to span three different television monitors, the Muppets have some fun bouncing from one screen to the other as they frantically try to get ready for the show. The tap dancing Gonzo’s are a great part of this pre-show, but it is Sam Eagle’s introduction of “Mickey Mouse” (aka Rizzo the Rat) that steals the show. “Rat schmat, they’re tourists!” As the pre-show is running, be sure to also walk around and take in the details around you as this room is dripping in puns. A great visual tribute lies above you- look for a net full of jello…now say that quickly. Sounds like Annette Funicello, right? This is a cleverly placed tribute to the late Funicello who was an original Mouseketeer selected by Walt Disney himself. There are also plays on famous artists and their works, movie posters, and even musicians (can you find the 2D Frutties crate?) Many of the crates scattered around also feature some great nods to the characters waiting for you in the theater…although they have ordered some pretty strange things. Honestly, you can go through this pre-show dozens of times and probably find a new joke on each visit, so enjoy walking around and take in as much as you can.
When it is finally time to enter the theater and take your seats, be sure to remember that stopping in the middle of a row is distinctly unpatriotic! Check out the projector before the lights go down and notice that it’s made by Yell and Howl, a clever play on the projector company Bell and Howell. As the orchestra of penguins tunes up, check out the sheet music near them which portrays “The Rainbow Connection” of classic Muppet history. Once the show starts, you are treated to a tour of the Muppet labs and get to see dozens of your favorite funny friends. Fozzie is there with his usual mishaps and jokes, Miss Piggy is as over-the-top and dramatic as always, and Sam Eagle delivers the patriotism by the buckets.
However it is the glorious finale (“a tribute to all nations, but mostly America” as Sam Eagle says) which steals the show. In Muppet tradition, things definitely don’t go according to plan and create some hilarious mishaps along the way. Throughout the finale, look for some familiar characters from It’s A Small World and listen closely for a few lines of their usual song. It is mayhem and fun all wrapped up into one scene. A special treat comes in the form of a classic Mickey balloon spotted in the background as Kermit ends the show. And of course, Waldorf and Statler get the last word!
Muppet*Vision 3D will definitely leave you laughing and wanting to return again and again. For me it is a must do on each visit to Hollywood Studios, and I love all of the attention to detail and gags. I left out mention of my favorite visual gag, let’s see if someone can guess where it is – there is a blue pipe and some clever chalk work that creates a likeliness of Gonzo with his 3D glasses. Anyone know where it is?
Do you love Muppet*Vision 3D? What is your favorite joke? Know where that Gonzo is? Let me know in the comments below, I would love to hear from you!
Caitlin Corsello was born and raised in New York. She graduated from Adelphi University with a Masters in Mental Health Counseling in 2012. Her love for Disney started as an infant and has continued to grow with family vacations to Disney parks almost every year since. She holds a particular interest in WDW’s parks and attractions, never passing up an opportunity to visit. She looks forward to continuing to explore and learn about all things Disney and to share that passion with readers.