Hi-Ho and welcome to the very first in a series of monthly “Muppet Monday” articles here on “Ink and Paint in the Parks,” where we’ll be exploring the many ways this beloved troop of frogs, pigs, monsters, and… whatevers are represented in Central Florida’s theme parks.
While this blog typically focuses on the roles animated characters in these popular tourist destinations, and Kermit the Frog and company may not be animated in the same sense that Mickey Mouse or Buzz Lightyear are, the style of puppetry pioneered by Jim Henson and featured in such beloved movies and television shows as “The Muppet Show” and “Sesame Street” shares a similar space in both the pop culture landscape and the hearts of audiences all over the world. Plus, from “Muppet*Vision 3D” at Disney’s Hollywood Studios to “Sesame Street Safari of Fun” at Busch Gardens Tampa, these colorful character have certainly left a mark on Florida’s parks worth celebrating. So, for this first entry, what better way to start than with a visit to Muppets Courtyard?
The main draw in this corner of Disney’s Hollywood Studios is “Muppet*Vision 3D,” a multi-media show combining a 3-D movie, audio-animatronics, live performers, and a variety of in-theater effects. For such an ambitious production, Disney’s Imagineers designed an appropriately eye-catching entrance complete with a colorful hot air balloon parked on the roof. This balloon, which featured Kermit the Frog’s face painted on it, could be seen from various places around the park as a way of leading guest back to the attraction. Unfortunately, it predominant location ultimately led to its downfall as this iconic balloon was unfortunately removed earlier this year to prevent it from being visible from the currently under-construction “Star Wars” land behind Muppets Courtyard.
The inclusion of the balloon on top of “Muppet*Vision 3D” was likely a nod to the opening credits sequence from 1982’s “The Great Muppet Caper.” As this Jim Henson-directed film begins, Kermit, Fozzie Bear, and Gonzo are seen flying in a hot air balloon, comedically commenting on the various names as they appear on-screen. Once the credits finally end, Kermit announced that they need to pull the balloon’s chord in order to start the movie, which sends it plummeting down to earth. Despite a rough landing, the daredevil Gonzo couldn’t be happier with this turn of events, exclaiming upon landing “what a fantastic beginning!”
While the Muppet balloon’s time atop “Muppet*Vision 3D” may be over , this is only the beginning for “Muppet Monday!” Be sure to come back on the last Monday of each month for even more sensational, inspirational, celebrational, and muppetational photos spotlighting all the ways Jim Henson’s iconic creations are featured in Central Florida’s theme parks.