February 2001 – November 2014
Hollywood Land – The Muppets ruled Hollywood Land’s “Sunset Theater”, tucked in the back lot. Visitors arriving from Buena Vista Street (or its predecessor, Sunshine Plaza) would find the show on the left-hand side of Hollywood Land, around the corner from Award Wieners. Today, this theater houses temporary previews of upcoming Disney live-action movies.
Disney World’s Muppet show in Hollywood Studios became an instant success in the 90s, but at the time, Disneyland had nowhere to put their own version. So when plans began for California Adventure, and a Hollywood Land within it, the show became a natural fit. Muppet*Vision 3D opened on California Adventure’s first day of operation, and was one of the few attractions in the new park geared toward children.
The Muppet experience began long before guests sat inside the theater. The entryway to Muppet*Vision 3D was the “backstage” to the show, full of props and Miss Piggy’s accessories. Various monitors caught glimpses of the Muppets frantically preparing for the show, with a little arguing and the inevitable mishaps that seem to follow the crew wherever they go.
Inside the theater, guests sat beneath Statler and Waldorf, perhaps the world’s most famous hecklers. Suddenly an orchestra of penguins rises from the stage floor, and the curtain opens to Kermit providing a tour of the theater. As Kermit moves from room to room, he encounters his friends, some of whom burst into song (looking at you, Miss Piggy). Finally, the Muppets get their act together enough for a final finale number, which of course included a collision into the back of the theater. Statler and Waldorf made one final wise crack, and the curtains drew closed.
Though Muppet*Vision 3D had some loyal fans, most showings were fairly empty. And by 2014, Disney was desperately searching for places to incorporate the new smash hit Frozen into the parks. So Muppet*Vision shut its doors in late 2014, to be replaced by the short-lived Frozen Sing-Along.
Now that the theater regularly changes to show previews, many fans hope that Muppet*Vision will someday return to Hollywood Land. But for now, the theater remains a constantly changing space.
In the Walt Disney World version, guests enter into Dr. Honeydrew’s lab, not the prop room.
The original waiting area for Muppet*Vision 3D included a fake movie set, complete with a prop motorcycle stuck into the wall. But in 2008, the entryway shrunk, to make room for Award Wieners’ dining patio.
Observant Muppets fans noticed the return of Waldo C. Graphic in Muppet*Vision 3D. First appearing in The Jim Henson Hour, Waldo was the first computer-generated Muppet, created by Dr. Honeydew and Beaker.
Muppet*Vision 3D was actually a “4D” show, because it incorporated real effects within the theater. These included a crash scene on the back wall, an animatronic penguin orchestra, and soap bubbles falling from the ceiling.