The buzz around the Disney sphere of the Internet these days is all about how great "The Muppets" movie is and what a great first weekend it was in terms of sales. Instantly this sort of talk gets people thinking about what's next and for me, the theme parks are an obvious place to capitalize on the sucess of any film.
The success of the "The Muppets" has a lot of people looking to Disney's Hollywood Studios and how the park can get a quick boost from the film. This notion isn't foreign to the parks, such as when "Enchanted" was a big hit, Disney added a quick float to the front of the Disney Stars and Motor Cars Parade. Looking at the park today, I think there's a few things Disney can do to create more synergy in the park while improving what they have now.
It's a shame I have to bring this up, but let's use the success of the film to fix all of the problems with Muppet Vision 3D. The film is fine, it's the special effects in the theater that need some desperate attention. From the penguins that don't receed into the orchestra pit to the Swedish Chef animatronic that doesn't work to the fireworks that don't show up, the attraction has run into some tough times over the past few months. With the renewed attention the film will bring, let's fix the problems here.
Fixes aside, the most obvious way I can see to expand the Muppets presence in Hollywood Studios is to allow the Muppets to move in across the street and takeover Toy Story Pizza Planet. This building is ripe for takeover because the theme with Toy Story has been declining for years. All of the Toy Story characters have been removed from the roof now and given that Toy Story is now well represented on Pixar Place, Pizza Planet has become an outlier where it is now. There used to be Al's Toy Barn nearby but that was removed to make way for the Cars meet-n-greet a few years ago.
With the Muppets, Pizza Planet could be transformed into a new Muppets themed counter service restaurant. You forget how large a space it is when you take away all of those cheap video games from the arcade and you'll find a lot of space to work with. For Imagineers, there's options abound including digging up the old Muppet Studio plans from the early history of the Disney-MGM Studios. Or Imagineers could conjur up something completely new. The point is, it would make a perfect compliment to the existing Muppet Vision 3D building across the way and cement that area as a new Muppet land.
Another easy way to get guests excited about the Muppets is characters they can meet. You won't see a return of the full size Muppet characters that reminded some guests of football players. But what they can do is dig Kermit and Ms. Piggy out of retirement and bring back their parade float that was used a few years ago for the Volunteer intiative from "Give A Day, Get A Day". Disney could tack them back onto the front of the Pixar Pals Countdown to Fun Parade or even make them into perhaps a meet for guests. Eitherway, let's get Kermit and Ms. Piggy back into the parks.
One more thing Disney can do is allow the Muppets to (re)takeover the Muppets gift shop inside Stage One Company Store. That store used to be completely full of Muppets merchandise but today there's barely a quarter of it that has Muppets stuff. It's time to kick out the generic Disney merchandise that you can find anywhere else in the park and offer once again a plethora of Muppets merchandise to choose from.
What the heck, while we're dreaming let's really put the punctuation mark on this by setting up a Muppets weekend early next year to coincide with the DVD release of the film. Fly in stars like Jason Segel and others who were involved in the film and let's have a weekend celebration of everything Muppets. I'd love for it to be an annual event, but even just a one time thing to help commemorate the new film's achievement would be a major coup for the Studios and something really fun for guests to come see.
Smash hit movies like "The Muppets" don't come around all too often, so it's important for Disney to sieze the moment now and take advantage of the nenewed interest that guests will have in seeing the Muppets (and subsequently purchasing their merchandise). Doing nothing I feel will be a lost opportunity to both grow the Muppets brand as well as Disney's Hollywood Studios.