Weekly Top 10: The Top 10 'Where Have I Heard You Before' Voices

May 11, 2015, 9:43 AM · Despite being fierce competitors, the Disney and Universal theme parks share a fair amount of crossover. The rival parks have shared ride designers (such as Bob Gurr), attractions based on Steven Spielberg movies ("Indiana Jones" at Disney, "Jurassic Park," "Jaws" and "E.T." at Universal parks) and, of course, Marvel superheroes (who were featured at Universal's Islands of Adventure years before Disney bought the comics empire and began importing characters into some of its parks). 

But you might not know about another theme park facet that crosses the great Universal/Disney divide: voice talent. The folks who lend voices to the Autobots in the Universal parks might be denizens of the Hundred Acre Wood or a certain briar patch at Disneyland. And the voice behind a cartoon icon splits her time between the Disney parks and Springfield, U.S.A.

Let's take a look at (or, perhaps, a listen to) 10 voices that currently can be heard at both Disney's and Universal's array of theme parks.

10. Tom Kenny
Universal: Wheelie in Transformers the Ride 3D
Disney: Dung Beetle Brothers in It's Tough to Be a Bug

The former "Mr. Show" star is most famous for being the voice of SpongeBob SquarePants, who once appeared in the Universal parks. He continues to have a Universal presence by lending vocals to the Autobot Wheelie (a role he claims in the Transformers film franchise). And when he's not living in a pineapple under the sea, Kenny can be heard in a theater under a tree at Disney's Animal Kingdom. He voices all of the singing dung beetles in the 4D show It's Tough to Be a Bug.

9. Mark Moseley
Universal: Donkey in Shrek 4D
Disney: Mushu in Art of Disney Animation

Moseley is well-known for his Eddie Murphy impression, and he's earned plenty of screen credits for being the voice of characters that Murphy originated but chose not to reprise for sequels, video games or -- in this case -- theme park attractions. In "Mulan" and the "Shrek" movies, Eddie gave voice to Mushu the dragon and Donkey the, well, donkey. But for the animated characters' appearances in the parks, the reins were handed to Moseley.

8. Jess Harnell
Universal: Ironhide in Transformers the Ride 3D
Disney: Br'er Rabbit and Br'er Fox in Splash Mountain

In the past two decades, Harnell's voice has become a fixture in Disney and Pixar films, in which he often voices minor characters (he was also Wakko Warner on "Animaniacs"). Before that success, he was called upon to provide the voices of Br'ers Rabbit and Fox in the Splash Mountain rides. One of his other notable credits is as the voice of Ironhide in the Transformers movies, which brought Harnell to the Universal parks.

7. Jim Cummings
Universal: Narrator in T2:3-D Battle Across Time
Disney: Winnie the Pooh and Tigger (Disneyland only) in The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, plus Illuminations: Reflections of Earth narrator

You might not know Jim Cummings, but you're bound to know his voice -- in the form of Looney Tunes' Tasmanian Devil, Darkwing Duck or Winnie the Pooh and Tigger (for the past 25-plus years). Those last two roles resulted in his contribution to the Winnie the Pooh dark ride (although he only does Tigger's lines in the Anaheim version). Cummings is also a go-to announcer and his non-character work can be heard in the narration of Epcot's nightly Illuminations show as well as the voice over in the Cyberdine pre-show video for Universal's "Terminator 2" attraction.

6. Chris Edgerly
Universal: Spider-Man and J. Jonah Jameson in The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man
Disney: Scuttle in The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Undersea Adventure and Timothy Q. Mouse in Dumbo the Flying Elephant

In video games, Edgerly has voiced a few super heroes, including The Flash and X-Men's Gambit. So he was a natural choice to play Peter Parker and his alter-ego for Universal's beloved Spider-Man ride. He also was able to gruff-up his voice to become J. Jonah Jameson (which means there are portions of the ride's pre-show where Chris is literally yelling at himself). Further proving his versatility, Edgerly narrates the "Little Mermaid" dark ride as Scuttle the seagull (a role originated by comedy legend Buddy Hackett) and also provides the voice for Dumbo's Timothy Q. Mouse.

5. Frank Welker
Universal: Megatron in Transformers the Ride 3D
Disney: Albert in Mystic Manor

When it comes to TV cartoons, there are few that can outpace Welker's considerable resume, which includes "Scooby-Doo"'s Fred Jones, Megatron on "Transformers" and Nibbler on "Futurama." Although he didn't provide the voice for the Decepticon leader in the Transformers films, he returned to the fold to voice the big, bad robot in Universal's Transformers ride. As a voice expert for characters cute and cuddly (see also Curious George and Bart Simpson's dog, Santa's Little Helper), Welker also is the man behind the quizzical and frantic noises of Albert the monkey in Hong Kong Disneyland's Mystic Manor.

4. June Foray
Universal: Nell Fenwick in Dudley Do-Right's Ripsaw Falls 
Disney: Wheezy in Roger Rabbit's Car Toon Spin

Foray's remarkable career encompasses more than a few cartoon icons: Cindy Lou Who, Looney Tunes' Granny and Rocky the Flying Squirrel. In fact, she played just about every female character on "The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show," which is why she voices damsel in distress Nell Fenwick in the Dudley Do-Right flume ride at Universal's Islands of Adventure. Foray's also done a fair amount of work for Disney, including Lucifer the cat in 1950's "Cinderella" and Wheezy the hench-rat in "Who Framed Roger Rabbit" (which led to her role in the Toontown attraction). At 97, Foray remains an active voice actor -- as well as the oldest Emmy Award winner -- having recently contributed to both "The Garfield Show" and "The Looney Tunes Show."

3. Russi Taylor
Universal: Martin Prince in The Simpsons Ride
Disney: Minnie Mouse in attractions and parades throughout the parks, plus Clara Cluck in Mickey's Boo-to-You Halloween Parade

Another squeaky-voiced star of animation, Taylor has been the voice of Minnie Mouse in all things Disney since 1986. That means any Disney parks parade or attraction that features Minnie also features Russi. In addition, she has performed Daisy Duck and Clara Cluck in various media. For nearly the entire time she's been Mickey's gal, she's voiced an array of quirky schoolkids on "The Simpsons," including Martin Prince. Taylor voices the overachiever for his appearance in Universal's Simpsons Ride.

2. Peter Cullen
Universal: Optimus Prime in Transformers the Ride 3D
Disney: Eeyore (Disneyland only) in The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh

During his 50-plus-year career, Cullen has been the voice of beasts (King Kong in the '76 remake, the Predator), gregarious blokes (Monterey Jack in "Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers") and loveable sad sacks (Eeyore, from the late '80s until a few years ago). But the voice actor's biggest claim to fame is the gentle giant Optimus Prime in both the Transformers animated series and film franchise. As he has for the '80s cartoon and current film series, Cullen voices the Autobot hero in Universal's Transformers ride. He also was able to get appropriately down in the dumps to be Eeyore in the Disneyland version of Pooh's adventures.

1. Dan Castellaneta
Universal: Homer Simpson, Krusty the Clown and others in The Simpsons Ride
Disney: The Genie for Wishes Nighttime Spectacular

For decades, Dan Castellaneta has had a great career as a comic actor who shows up on various sitcoms and films. But his greatest contribution to the world has been off-camera, as the voice of Homer Simpson. Castellaneta's distinct voice graces The Simpsons Ride not just in the form of Homer, but also Krusty the Clown, Grampa Simpson, Groundskeeper Willie and a host of others. It's precisely that versatility that made him the best replacement for Robin Williams' in the "Aladdin" sequel, "The Return of Jafar," as the voice of the Genie. Dan repeated the role for the Genie's manifestation in the Magic Kingdom's Wishes fireworks show. 

Replies (10)

May 11, 2015 at 9:52 AM · June Foray isn't dead.


But at 97, how much longer can she possibly have?

May 11, 2015 at 10:26 AM · Corrected. That's on me, for trying to fact-check an article and actually believing the celebrity bio that Google puts up on its search engine results.
May 11, 2015 at 11:03 AM · I love this article! So much fun to learn about all these talented artists who have done work on so many great attractions. There is one that was missed that I'd like to include:

Corey Burton, no relationship to Tim Burton although he does provide the voice of The Ghost Host at Disneyland's Nightmare before Christmas Halloween overlay. Corey is also the voice of one of my favorite Seuss Landing characters, Tic-Tac-Joe in the If I Ran The Zoo attraction. I'd bet Corey has done many other voices for both parks as well.

May 11, 2015 at 11:16 AM · Don't mean to be "that guy" guy but Wheezy is a weasel not a rat.
May 11, 2015 at 11:53 AM · Great article! thanks for posting!
May 11, 2015 at 12:56 PM · Eddie Murphy actually did reprise his role as Donkey for Shrek 4-D. As someone who's quite familiar to the world of voice acting, I could tell that when I heard it.

And Jim Cummings NEEDS to be made a Disney Legend this year.

May 11, 2015 at 4:36 PM · Great article! Random, insider trivia like this is what makes TPI so great. Although it is distressing to learn that so many Disney characters are in some way connected to the Transformers franchise ;).
May 11, 2015 at 4:59 PM · My head is spinning with all this voice talent...
May 12, 2015 at 8:15 AM · Love this article! Thank you!!
May 12, 2015 at 9:55 AM · I've been playing the SOTHMK in Orlando, and I swear the voice of one of fairy godmother when battling Maleficent is Betty White.

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