Before he died, Jim Henson directed one last project with The Muppets for the group he was working on selling them to: Disney. The show, Muppet*Vision 3D, which was written for the Disney Theme Parks, combines 3D images, audio animatronics, and live actors for one of the parks' most interactive movies. It premiered in 1991 at the Disney-MGM Studios theme park (now Disney's Hollywood Studios) in Walt Disney World. It also became an opening day attraction for the Disney California Adventure park at Disneyland in 2001.
The film starts in the queue, with an informative (and hilarious) pre-show, involving Sam the Eagle explaining the safety proceedings before ushering the people in. The actual show involves the Muppets having just perfected Muppet*Vision and attempting to demonstrate it through various musical numbers, with varying success.
While the Florida version of the attraction has been playing uninterrupted since 1991, the California version became a seasonal attraction from 2010 to 2014. In that time the theater became host to three film previews, for TRON: Legacy in 2010, Frankenweenie in 2012 and Oz the Great and Powerful in 2013. The show had its last performance in 2014 when it was replaced with For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration, which played in the theater until the opening of Frozen: Live at the Hyperion in 2016. The Muppet Theater was then renamed the Sunset Showcase Theater, and showed only movie previews from 2016-2018. In 2019, the theater became home to Mickey's PhilharMagic, although movie previews are still rotated in from time to time.
Muppet*Vision 3D provides examples of:
- Affectionate Parody: "A Salute to All Nations, but Mostly America" is a riff on "It's a Small World", complete with the actual song turning up on the soundtrack.
- The Artifact: The Florida show was originally housed in the Streets of America section of Hollywood Studios, which was demolished in 2016 to make room for Toy Story Land and Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge. Grand Avenue, formerly Muppets Courtyard, was the only remnant of the area allowed to keep its urban setting more or less so Muppet*Vision could remain open in its own appropriately themed nook at the park.
- Bindle Stick: Waldo turns into one when he runs away with Bean.
- Blatant Lies:
- Kermit's introduction to their "modern, high-tech facility" is immediately undone when an ironing board and iron detach from the wall.
- At the end, Kermit states that the theater only sustained "minor damage", despite the fact that there's a hole in the theater wall large enough for a fire truck to drive through.
- Breaking the Fourth Wall: It really takes advantage of popping things out at you with the addition of 3D. At one point, a machine on-screen sucks anything that crosses its radius, including a penguin conducting the live orchestra pit that flies into the screen!
- The Cameo: Constantine from Muppets Most Wanted had a segment in the pre show from 2014 to 2016, where he hijacks the recording and displays his plan to steal the Crown Jewels to the audience before promoting the movie.
- Captive Audience: Statler and Waldorf, because "We're bolted to the seats!" This references the fact that they are Audio-Animatronics here. They also comment on everything, in true MST3K fashion.Fozzie Bear: Not you guys. How did you get here?
Statler: We entered a contest.
Waldorf: Yeah. We lost!
- Chicken Joke: In the pre-show, Fozzie calls the penguins to the stage. When a chicken follows them, he stops her, noting that chickens are supposed to stay on the other side of the road. When he asks to someone "Why did this chicken cross the road?", the chicken clucks the answer, which Fozzie finds funny and goes to tell the others.
- Crossover Punchline: At the end, when Waldo thinks he's escaped the film, he shapeshifts into Mickey Mouse.Waldo: They'll never find me now!!! Forward!!
- Deadpan Snarker: As befitting the fact that this is Muppets, Statler and Waldorf show up. Apparently they lost a contest, and that's why they have box seats to the show.
- Delayed Reaction:Gonzo: Hey, Bean, what's up?
Bean Bunny: I'm going away... forever!
Gonzo: Oh, great! Could you get me a sandwich? [turns to audience] Would any of you people like anything? Bean says he's going out— FOREVER?!?
- Duck!: When told to duck, Waldo turns into a duck.
- Everything's Better with Penguins: The orchestra: Nicky Napoleon and His Emperor Penguins. As Waldorf snidely remarks, they are probably in it just for the halibut.
- Flat "What": During Miss Piggy's littlenote musical number.Bean: I guess we won't be needing this.
Miss Piggy: What's this?
Bean: Oh, it was for the big water skiing finale.
Miss Piggy: What!? AAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!
- The Fourth Wall Will Not Protect You: Coming and going. Waldo's antics in the movie's final sequence cause a small explosion in the penguin orchestra. The penguins retaliate with a cannon and blow out the Swedish Chef's projection booth. Chef takes out his blunderbuss and takes several potshots at Waldo until he sends out his OWN CANNON that blows up the theater!! This is subverted somewhat: while the fourth wall won't keep you safe, Rule of Funny will; the only thing that happens to you, the audience, is getting squirted by a gag lapel flower, because the rest of the time, the Muppets are too busy inflicting their shenanigans on each other to bother the audience.
- Funny Background Event:
- Beaker's interactions with the Muppet*Vision 3D machine during their demonstration.
- Most people miss it when, a few minutes later as Kermit continues the tour, Scooter and Janice ride across the hallway in the background on a double-seat bicycle. While every single other thing in the film is either showcasing the 3D or Played for Laughs, this just... exists. Especially notable since it's one of the very few times you can see Muppets' legs.
- Be sure to turn around a few times to keep an eye on what Swedish Chef is up to in the projection room.
- As Kermit addresses the audience at the end, there are human "tourists" and a Pluto walkaround peering into the theater through the giant hole in the wall.
- Great Gazoo: Waldo.
- Hawaiian-Shirted Tourist: Initially, when the attraction opened, Statler and Waldorf were dressed in their suits, like on The Muppet Show. At some point during the '90s, they were redressed in more casual wear.
- Hypocritical Humor:Kermit: So it's going to be a swell demonstration, and at no time will we be stooping to any cheap 3D tricks.
Fozzie: Did you say cheap 3D tricks?! [blows a party favor at the camera]
- Key Under the Doormat: In the queue.
- Large Ham: Waldo. For that matter, the Muppet clan, too.
- Letter Motif: Fozzie hires "The Three Ds", consisting of three female singers named Dinah, Dorothy, and Debbie, to sing during the preshow. Debbie fell ill and became replaced by a Wholesome Crossdresser named Max.
- Long-Runners: The original Hollywood Studios ride has been in operation for almost three decades, making it the oldest 3D attraction at the Disney Parks.
- Me's a Crowd:
Waldo: Great! Now I can start my own football team!
- In the pre show, Gonzo performs a tap dance while wearing a flower pot on his head. At first the same video appears to be playing on all three screens, but then the Gonzo on the middle screen drops his pot, and the Gonzo on the stage left screen tries to help put it back on. Later, when Scooter calls for Gonzo, he's answered by two Gonzos, one of which is upside down.
- In the film, when Dr. Honeydew and Beaker inflate Waldo, he bursts into several different Waldo clones that surround the theater. (Partly accomplished with a disco ball.)
- Medium Blending: The presentation has puppetry and CG animation, as well as animatronics in the theater and a live walkaround Sweetums (cast members portraying Sweetums are trained by the Jim Henson Company to perfectly replicate Richard Hunt's performance).
- Mythology Gag: The Swine Trek from "Pigs in Space" is among the items appearing in the queue.
- No Fourth Wall: To the point that walls in the theater are "destroyed" during the show.
- "No Talking or Phones" Warning: When entering the theater, stopping in the middle is considered "unpatriotic".
- Paddleball Shot: Fozzie's "cheap 3D trick" mentioned on Hypocritical Humor is only the first such instance; later, Sweetums plays with an actual paddleball, just to rub it in.
- Paper-Thin Disguise: In the preshow, Rizzo attempts to pass himself off as Mickey Mouse. Sam is not amused.
- Pie in the Face: Happens to Fozzie when the remote control for his remote-controlled banana cream pie breaks, causing the pie to spin out of control and hit Fozzie in the face.Kermit: [referring to Fozzie's invention] Fozzie, that's terrible!
Fozzie: [tasting the pie on his face] Yeah, you're right... needs more sugar.
- Random Events Plot: Zig-zagged: While the main action is just the Muppets demonstrating their newly developed three-dimenional viewing technology Muppet*Vision 3D to the audience, in the midsection of the film Bean Bunny "runs away" and the others have to find him and convince him to come back.
- Scotty Time:Sam: It is a glorious three-hour finale.
Kermit: You got a minute and a half!
- Stuff Blowing Up: The climax boils down to this.
- Tempting Fate: Kermit saying, "At no time will we be stooping to any cheap 3D tricks." Cue Fozzie Bear to perform said tricks.
- Viewers Are Morons: This is Rizzo's justification for trying to pose as Mickey Mouse — "They're tourists, what do they know?"
- Visual Pun:
- "Don't you just hate it when your nose runs?"
- All over the place in the queue. A net full of jello, anyone? Annette Funicello, the most famous member of the original Mickey Mouse Club, for those that don't get it.
- Voluntary Shapeshifting: Waldo.
- We All Live in America: Parodied in this exchange:Kermit the Frog: And we've also got a big musical finale from Sam the Eagle. Sam, what's it about?
Sam the Eagle: It's called "A Salute to All Nations, but Mostly America".
Waldorf: Why would you want that? It's bad enough when they stay behind it!