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Here come the Muppets

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

It’s time again to look back to a fun attraction from the past and one I really enjoyed was Here come the Muppets.  Here comes the Muppets played in the Animation Courtyard Theater, a theater that used to be the end of the walking portion of the Backstage Studio Tour, from May 25, 1990 through September 2 1991.  This attraction was always meant to be simply a stop-gap attraction to allow Disney to finish building Muppetvision 3D and once that attraction opened, they would close this show.  Unlike Muppetvision, Here come the Muppets featured live action Muppet characters.  And unlike Muppetvision, there was a wider array of Muppets characters featured in the show including Doctor Teeth and the Electric Mayhem.  In fact, Here come the Muppets was going to be the first of many attractions in the parks following the anticipated merger between Disney and the Jim Henson Company, that later fell apart following Jim Henson’s death.  In fact, the attraction opened nine days after Henson died.

The attraction was special because it featured video clips of live action characters that were performed by Jim Henson himself along with other greats. The soundtrack for Here Come the Muppets uses all the main “Muppeteers”, including Jim Henson, Frank Oz, Dave Goelz, Richard Hunt, Jerry Nelson and Steve Whitmire.  In addition, there are two filmed inserts of Frank Oz performing Fozzie and Miss Piggy.  By having these Muppet legends involved in the attraction, it really added to the mystique of it.

As you would enter the waiting area, you found yourself in a room full of Muppets posters and a video of Rowlf singing while he played the piano.  This wasn’t the gem of a preshow that Muppetvision would later have but fun nonetheless.  Once in the theater, guests would find Kermit the Frog walking in to realize they need to put on the show but the audience is already seated and calls upon his friends to get things going.  The show features cameos by Mickey Mouse as well as Lily Tomlin reprising her role as a phone operator (both scenes taped).  Miss Piggy has a great singing part in the show (much better than her small singing role in Muppetvision) entitled “Personality” and it featured Kermit, Fozzie and Gonzo dancing and singing backup.  Kermit also had a solo when he sang “It’s not easy being green”, which added to an overall greater role for Kermit in the show than even what he has in Muppetvision.

The show featured a number of gags, including some of the Muppets crashing a monorail through the side of the stage as Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem make their debut on stage.  In another bit, Janice would sarcastically remark that guests who drove from Florida had driven so far to come to the show.  Of course there are a number of funny jokes with Animal as well as Lily Tomlin making a joke regarding Kermit going to eat at Epcot for dinner so he can order frogs legs. All of these and other jokes, really added to the fun of the attraction.

Here come the Muppets was closed in 1991 to make way for a show based on the hit new movie, the Little Mermaid and also because Muppetvision was to open soon.  Disney also had plans to have Muppet Studios open in the area where Muppetvision is today so having a Muppets attraction outside the area didn’t make much sense.  In addition, Disney was ready to roll out another attraction based on the Muppets called, "Muppets on Location: Days of Swine & Roses" which debuted two weeks after Here come the Muppets closed and ran for about 3 years before closing in mid-1995.  The theater that housed Here come the Muppets would later be used as the stage for the ever popular Voyage of the Little Mermaid which has been playing ever since.

If you never had a chance to see the attraction, the good folks at YouTube have a video of it that you can see or if you just want to remember how the old show was.