Written by Joe Lane
Published: February 8, 2005 at 12:10 AM
With the newest and biggest Muppet production slated for a May 2005 release, its seems appropriate to take a look back at the 3D attraction which opened May 1991 at the Disney-MGM Studios. Most of you who have seen the Muppets in all their 3D glory will likely remember a lot of the puns and sight gags that are scattered outside and inside the attraction, but believe it or not there's a horde of Muppet-style goodness outside the theater that people rarely ever get to see anymore.
Sure, people who take the time to look around outside Muppet Labs will notice a few clever things: the eternally half-finished paint job that covers the old warehouse, The Great Gonzo hanging from the hands of a giant clock in a tribute to actor Harold Lloyd, the ice cream sundae planters that sit atop the wall to the right of the attraction entrance. There's even a billboard dedicated to Miss Piggy on the backside roof of the theater across from Al's Toy Barn near the San Francisco skyline.
In its early years, the line for Muppet*Vision stretched a pretty good distance and wrapped around the side of Muppet Labs, disappearing between the show building and the facade for the San Francisco portion of the newly renamed Streets of America. It is here, in the dark shade of a queue rarely traveled, that we find a collection of forgotten gags and treasures.
Just to the right of the main entrance, beyond the stroller parking area, you'll probably catch a glimpse of the large, blue pipe that extends out from the wall and bends downward at a ninety degree angle. This, combined with a little chalk art, makes a cute rendering of everyone's favorite blue weirdo Gonzo sporting a pair of 3D glasses. You'll also likely have noticed all the little Muppet-ized objects: air ducts, power conduits, rain gutters: nothing is sacred in the Muppet universe.
A sample of the many items that have become Muppet-ized.
Then there's the movie posters for 'future' Muppet Labs 3D films: The Bride of Froggen-Schwein, Moi, Jane, Follow The Feet and Superbeaker II, to name a few. At least a dozen mock posters based on famous films and movie genres are displayed on the outside wall of the theater.
On the opposite side of the queue, a fence keeps guests from wandering into the inner workings of the fake street facades. Here, there's a varied collection of framed memos posted by Dr. Bunsen Honeydew and Beaker featuring interactive experiments including "The Phantom Fingertip Phenomena" and "The Tongue-&-Ear Theory". There's even a collection of blueprints demonstrating the proper way to wear your 3D glasses and 5 Reasons To Return Muppet*Vision 3D Glasses When You Leave The Theater ("1. They do not work outside the theater.")
One final piece of work: the queue reaches its end once it has run the length of the building, at which point it doubles back to the entrance. Here, a portion of the fence has a number of holes drilled in it with painted words proclaiming "Whatever you do, do not look through here!" A blatant invitation. Inside is a Muppet-ized water pump, an entertaining diversion and yet another example of how creative the Imagineers and Muppet masters were when it came to designing the queue for the attraction.
Today, this section of the Muppet*Vision 3D attraction is not commonly open to the public: the queue rarely sees large enough numbers that guests are directed into it, and it is often blocked off to discourage the adventurous Disney explorer from finding hidden treasure in the form of small touches from a truly creative crew. It's just another example of what you've been missing.
For more details on the Muppets and their madcap antics, check out the recently launched official Muppet website.