'Hey isn’t that….?' Your guide to guest stars on Disney attractions

April 20, 2014, 7:29 PM · When you step inside a Disney park, you’re prepared to see the usual cavalcade of stars: there’s Mickey, the princesses, Indy, Vader and even Iron Man. But some of the most entertainment-savvy visitors might be caught off guard by the actors that pop up in various spots in the Disneyland and Walt Disney World parks. Who would have guessed that Puddy was preparing you for a California flight or that Claire Huxtable was sending you back to prehistoric times? If you’ve ever watched a pre-show and thought, “Where have I seen (or heard) that guy before?” – allow us to offer some assistance.

Patrick Warburton
Disney Parks Role: He’s the stately and thorough flight attendant who prepares you for your trip Soarin’ Over California – or simply Soarin’, for you Epcot devotees. Nice work, pal. Warburton is also the voice of a security droid that guests encounter in the line for Star Tours – The Adventures Continue.

Where You’ve Seen Him Before: Warburton has been a fixture on network sitcoms for a couple of decades. He was most recently seen as Jeff on CBS’s “Rules of Engagement.” But others might remember him as The Tick (on the live-action version of the series) or from his voice acting on shows including “Buzz Lightyear of Star Command,” “Kim Possible” and “Family Guy.” Still, his signature role has to be Elaine’s Arby’s-loving boyfriend, David Puddy, on “Seinfeld.” Yeah, that’s right.

Allison Janney
Disney Parks Role: Joining Warburton as one of the voices in the Star Tours – The Adventures Continue queue, Janney does the voice for Aly San San, the flight attendant droid that delivers the safety spiel before loading guests into their Starspeeder 3000.

Where You’ve Heard Her Before: Disney fans might realize that they are listening to the voice of Peach, the aquarium-dwelling starfish from “Finding Nemo.” But Janney has earned more fame in front of the camera, both in movies such as “American Beauty” and “Juno” and TV series such as the current sitcom “Mom” and Aaron Sorkin’s Washington drama, “The West Wing.” Janney won four Primetime Emmy Awards for her work as White House Press Secretary C.J. Cregg, which means she pretty much mastered the walk-and-talk.

Phil Hartman and Don Rickles
Disney Parks Role: These two comedy legends provided the voices for the winged talent agents William and Morris, who argued during the pre-show for the revamped Enchanted Tiki Room (Under New Management) at WDW’s Magic Kingdom. Rickles and Hartman’s banter was the highlight of the now defunct attraction… although that’s not saying much.

Where You’ve Heard Them Before: Stand-up comedy titan Rickles can be heard elsewhere in the Disney parks as the voice of Mr. Potato Head, reprising his part from the “Toy Story” films. You may remember Hartman from such “Simpsons” voice roles as Troy McClure and Lionel Hutz, in addition to being one of the most talented cast members of “Saturday Night Live.” Hartman was murdered by his wife less than a month after the Under New Management version of the Tiki Room opened in 1998, making his role as Morris one of his last.

John Michael Higgins
Disney Parks Role: Speaking of old versions of attractions, on the original Test Track, Higgins played GM host Bill McKim who helped guide riders through automobile prototype tests. Yeah, he was the guy who arranged for the final “surprise test.”

Where You’ve Seen Him Before: Over the years, Higgins has had countless guest appearances on television series, including “Arrested Development,” “Community,” “Ally McBeal” and “Seinfeld.” But, he might be most recognizable for his improv work in Christopher Guest’s movies “Best in Show,” “A Mighty Wind” and “For Your Consideration.” Others may recall him for one of his earliest roles as David Letterman in the 1996 HBO movie “The Late Shift.”

Illeana Douglas
Disney Parks Role: In the pre-show for Rock ’n’ Roller Coaster at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, she’s Aerosmith’s stressed-out manager who comes through with backstage passes and a super stretch limo for the big show at the Forum… because she knows how Aerosmith feel about their fans.

Where You’ve Seen Her Before: Douglas has been in a handful of Martin Scorsese movies including “Goodfellas” and “Cape Fear” (she dated the director for a decade) in addition to indie flicks like “Ghost World” and “Grace of My Heart.” She also has been a frequent TV guest star, appearing on shows including “The Larry Sanders Show,” “Seinfeld,” “Six Feet Under” and “Entourage.”

Ken Marino
Disney Parks Role: Another member of the Rock ’n’ Roller Coaster pre-show, Marino is front-and-center (although completely silent) as an engineer manning the boards for the band’s “recording session.”

(See Rock ’n’ Roller Coastervideo above, starting at 2:40 mark)

Where You’ve Seen Him Before: Before he did a lot of nodding and head-shaking in Aerosmith’s studio, Marino was a member of comedy troupe The State, best-known for their ’90s sketch show on MTV. The comedic actor has gone on to appear in projects made by his State-mates (including “Wet Hot American Summer,” “Reno 911!” and “Role Models”) and landed regular roles on “Dawson’s Creek,” “Eastbound and Down” and “Veronica Mars” – he even reprised the obnoxious Vinnie Van Lowe for the new movie.

Judi Dench
Disney Parks Role: Following Lawrence Dobkin, Walter Cronkite and Jeremy Irons, this Dame began serving as the narrator inside Epcot’s Spaceship Earth in 2008. Nothing against Scar, but you can’t beat hearing about the history of communication from 007’s boss.

Where You’ve Heard Her Before: Dench has done her share of narrating, but most fans will know the Oscar-winning Brit for her recurring role as M in the James Bond movies, Jean on the English TV series “As Time Goes By” or from any number of acclaimed films, including 2013’s “Philomena.” She’s also a legend of the British and American stage, having won a Tony and multiple Laurence Olivier Awards. But did Sir Lawrence know his way around an Omnimover?

Wallace Langham
Disney Parks Role: As is often the case on theme park rides, “something goes terribly wrong” on Animal Kingdom’s Dinosaur attraction and the man responsible is the mischievous Dr. Seeker, played by Langham. By requesting the sneaky retrieval of Aladar, he’s Dinosaur’s equivalent to Paul Reiser’s Burke in “Aliens.”

Where You’ve Seen Him Before: Langham has been a cast member of a number of TV series, from “The Larry Sanders Show” to “Veronica’s Closet” to “What About Joan.” But, for the past 11 years, he’s been most widely seen as trace technician David Hodges on “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” At 14 seasons (and counting), some might consider CBS long-running hit a – wait for it – dinosaur.

Phylicia Rashad
Disney Parks Role: Another TV veteran (slightly more iconic than Langham) plays the Dino Institute’s motherly Dr. Marsh, who prepares visitors for their journey on the Time Rovers.

Where You’ve Seen Her Before: Rashad is only one of the most famous sitcom moms in TV history, playing the no-nonsense Clair Huxtable on “The Cosby Show” (for which she won two Emmys). If Denise or Rudy had tried to bring an Iguanodon into the Huxtable residence, I think we all know that Clair would have laid down the law. Rashad also starred alongside Bill Cosby in “Cosby” and, in 2004, was the first African-American woman to win a Tony for Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play (for “A Raisin in the Sun”).

Neil Patrick Harris
Disney Parks Role: He serves as the carnival barker voice delivering the safety spiel and launch countdown on California Adventure’s California Screamin’.

Where You’ve Heard Him Before: Unless he was narrating his computer diary on “Doogie Howser, M.D.,” you’ve probably seen more of NPH than heard him (although he’s done a fair amount of singing in his stints hosting the Tony and Emmy awards). The actor recently wrapped up a nine-season run as alpha male Barney Stinson on “How I Met Your Mother.” But we’ll be hearing more from him soon. Harris is the voice of Cliff, the middle-sibling Apatosaurus, in Disney-Pixar’s “The Good Dinosaur.”

Replies (11)

April 20, 2014 at 8:26 PM · Any article that mentions both Aaron Sorkin and the walk-and-talk is tops in my book! (Sports Night may have been the best show not named Babylon 5 or Firefly to ever grace my TV screen). Great stuff, Bryan. Informative as well as an excellent change of pace. Thank you!
April 20, 2014 at 10:37 PM · Great article Bryan. It's interesting how a little bit of the outside world sneaks its way into the secluded Disney world. But I would feel remiss if we didn't mention the great Gary Sinise and (especially) Eric Idle, found at Mission Space and Imagination respectively.

Oh, and I hadn't known that NPH was the voice on California Screamin. Probably the only good thing you can find on that ride.

April 21, 2014 at 4:33 AM · Thanks guys. James Rao, "Sports Night" is one of my favorites, too. (I can never hear "Eli's Coming" without thinking of that show.) James Trexen, good call on Sinise and Idle. Epcot is a magnet for guest stars. There's also Jamie Lee Curtis, as Judy Peterson, on Ellen's Energy Adventure.
April 21, 2014 at 4:40 AM · Patrick Warburton is also G2-45 in Star Wars the Adventure Continues, AND he's the voice of Kronk in Sorcerer's of the Magic Kingdom. So you can conceivably hear him in three of the four parks at WDW.
April 21, 2014 at 5:53 AM · Cool article.
April 21, 2014 at 6:23 AM · Not many people notice (or maybe just don't know) Ken Marino. Well done.
April 21, 2014 at 10:21 AM · Great article!!

What about Gary Sinise (aka Lt. Dan) doing Mission: Space at epcot?

Personally, I was always a bigger fan of hearing Jeremy Irons on the Spaceship Earth voiceover. Nothing like hearing Scar or Simon Gruber telling me about the history of communication.

April 21, 2014 at 12:10 PM · They are mostly WDW attractions. Disneyland Resort has some infamous celebrity stars like Rosie O'Donnell and Whoopi Goldberg narrate some attractions. Thankfully, Whoopi is gone along with Golden Dreams, while Rosie is still there in the Boudin Bakery tours.

While at the Disney Cruise and Hong Kong Disneyland, you get to see CEO Robert Iger in the Golden Mickeys show. I think most people don't know who he is although I do and thought it was just weird to see the CEO in the show.

April 21, 2014 at 4:49 PM · No Lt Dan?...
April 22, 2014 at 3:53 AM · I am officially on TPI strike... how can you leave off the finest actor the world has ever known???
My Gary!
Gary Sinise rules! (my heart) :-)
April 22, 2014 at 3:22 PM · If we're going to count "Under New Management," we should also include Elizabeth Shue and Tim "Otter" Matheson on the defunct "Body Wars" attraction.

Of course, if we include Body Wars, we'll also have to include Cranium Command and that might take a while.

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