Welcome to Throwback Thursday, our brand new segment of The Mickey Mindset where each week, we take readers back in time to discover long-lost or forgotten segments of The Walt Disney Company, the Disney theme parks and beyond. We’re thrilled to dig deep into the vast and incredible history of Disney and share that rich historic experience with you each and every week. To kick off this new segment, we’re taking a look back to one of Disney’s-MGM Studios’ earliest and long-lost forgotten attractions, Here Come the Muppets.
What It Was: Less than a week after the death of Muppets creator Jim Henson, The Muppets made their first splash into the world of Disney theme parks when their live show, Here Come The Muppets opened at Disney’s newly opened MGM Studios at Walt Disney World in Florida. The show featured walk-around versions of the Muppet characters live on-stage, one of Jim Henson’s last recorded uses of his characters, and was the first inclusion of Muppet presence in the parks while guests would need to wait another year until the Muppets made their presence permanent with the opening of Muppet-Vision 3D, one year later, on the day of Jim Henson’s passing. The show featured impressive feats, including one sequence in which the Muppets in-house band, The Electric Mayhem, come crashing into the show on a Walt Disney World monorail. In addition, for a show based off The Muppets, only one of the performed songs were actually a Muppet song, Bein’ Green, which Kermit sings in a solo after his show begins to fall apart.
Located at the Animation Courtyard Theater, now home to The Voyage of the Little Mermaid, the show was a delightful one and a truly impressive feat by the company to bring the characters to life and provide an interactive experience to guests and welcome the Muppets into an arm of the Disney family, even if negotiations to purchase the characters fell through after Henson’s untimely death.
When It Opened/Closed: The show opened at the Animation Courtyard Theater on May 25th, 1990, just a week after Henson’s devastating passing and ran for over a year until September 2, 1991, where it was removed to make way for The Voyage of the Little Mermaid show, which is still standing in that location to this day. While a second Muppet-themedshow opened up elsewhere in the park, titled Muppets on Location: Days of Swine and Roses, the Animation Courtyard Theater was stripped of its Muppet presence, even though ironically, the Little Mermaid uses puppets and Henson-esque technology to bring their show to life.
Where You Can Find Remnants of the Attraction: While the show’s former theater might be missing remnants of the old Muppet’s live performance, you can still find remnants of the very show elsewhere in the park. Located at the Stage One shop, the Muppets unofficial gift shop right outside the exit of Muppet Vision 3D, within the area of the store themed after The Muppets Take Manhattan (right across from the Happiness Hotel set), you’ll find standees of The Electric Mayhem, which were placed within the queue leading up into the show. These relics seemed to have been in Walt Disney World storage ever since the attraction’s closing in 1991, and finally resurfaced sometime in 2012, when they mysteriously re-appeared as a display in the Muppet’s unofficial gift shop. It’s a truly great find, and it’s wonderful to know that even after all this time, remnants of the first Muppet presence in the parks still live on today.
The Legacy of the Attraction Today: While the Muppets still continue to entertain and delight guests daily with Muppet-Vision 3D, their first show, Here Come The Muppets and Days of Swine and Roses have gone forgotten from the park. But these shows hold a great legacy for the franchise and the Disney company of remnants of what could have been if the handshake between Henson and Eisner might have taken place, and laid the groundwork for a great legacy for the Muppets, who will influence the outcome of MGM-Studios just one year later, and the company that was so eager to purchase the franchise, which they finally did in 2004.
That’s going to do it for this week’s Throwback Thursday. Keep checking back every Thursday as we dive deep into the history of The Walt Disney Company and relish and remember all of Disney’s rich history and legacy.