Over the past three weeks, lots of news has come out about the future of Disney Parks in the U.S. and around the world. And if anything has become clear, it’s that the Muppets are in trouble.
Exhibit A: During D23, Disney Parks announced that both a Star Wars Land and a Toy Story Land were going to be installed within WDW’s third gate. The only attraction situated between the likely expansion areas that hasn’t closed / isn’t malleable? Muppet Vision 3D.
Exhibit B: With the Animation Gallery closed, much of the merchandise from the Animation Gallery store has been moved into Stage One Company Store, which used to be home to mostly-only Muppets merch, but now offers a variety of various generic merchandise as well as Animation Gallery items … and the Muppets themselves have been relegated to a mere section of the shop.
These upsetting facts have led to a lot of armchair Imagineering as folks try to figure out where everything’s going and (most worrisome of all) what’s going to happen to Muppet Vision 3D. The first one I saw came from Matthew C. Gallagher:
And that got me thinking … It’s really easy to worry and wonder and lose your mind over what may be, but what would I actually DO to save Muppet Vision? No … I don’t mean starting a silly petition. I mean: How would I rearrange things so that the Muppets can keep a home in Hollywood Studios?
To begin, I agree with Matthew about where Star Wars Land should go. I’ve heard rumors that Star Wars is going to take over the Animation Courtyard, and that makes sense in terms of available space … but it doesn’t really make a whole lot of sense in terms of what already exists. Star Wars already exists in Hollywood Studios, and I feel like it should grow from there.
But I do NOT want Star Wars Land to take over Echo Lake. I plan to keep Echo Lake itself as well as 50s Prime Time and Hollywood and Vine themed to the California Crazy style of architecture. So, in my vision, Star Wars Land is kept relatively small, extending into Indiana Jones, Sounds Dangerous and the American Idol theatre, giving Imagineers enough room to add one attraction, another shop or two and Mos Eisley Cantina as well as a permanent home for Jedi Training.
Toy Story Land, on the other hand, gets a big boost, expanding into One Man’s Dream, the Backlot Tour and some of the Animation area and taking over Studio Catering Company and the Honey, I Shrunk The Kids playground (can you imagine a better fit?!). In addition to expanding Toy Story Midway Mania and building the announced Slinky Coaster and alien saucer ride, there’ll also be room for a Pixar-themed stage show or dance party, a new location for Toy Story Pizza Planet (more on that in a second) and some upgraded character meet-and-greet areas (the queue for Woody and Buzz is so claustrophobic right now).
That all leaves plenty of space for the Muppets! In fact, in addition to Muppet Vision 3D and the Stage One Company Store, Mini Muppet Land will also include Mama Melrose … which is going to have to be rethemed to a Swedish Chef-inspired spot. It’s A Wonderful Shop can still sell Christmas items (if that’s working for Disney), but we should add some Muppety touches to the place to dress it up.
I drew a horribly crude sketch to give you an idea of what I mean:
As you can see above, I have the current incarnation of Toy Story Pizza Planet on the border of the Muppets Land and Star Wars Land … so Star Wars can have it. Or we can turn it into character meet-and-greet space. Or turn it into a theatre and bring back Muppets on Location!
That’s just my vision. I know it’s crazy. Star Wars Land is probably too small. And Toy Story Land may be too big. I felt sort of like a failure, so I checked in with the biggest Muppet fan I know, Estelle Hallick of (the now sadly defunct) This Happy Place Blog for her master Muppet plan. Here’s what she said:
Man, oh, man. One year ago, Disney fans were all in a tizzy over the closing of Maelstrom in Epcot. It was intense, and I even cut my hair off in protest. (Okay, so that wasn’t the only reason I cut my hair.) And now, a few weeks away from the debut of a brand new Muppet television show, I feel very unsure about the status of MuppetVision in DHS. If you dare to search Twitter, someone has already started a #SaveMuppetVision hashtag and many are concerned about the re-juggling of merchandise at the Stage One Company Store.
So what does this all mean?
I have no idea. Melissa did a great job mapping out where Star Wars Land and Toy Story Land (can we work on this name?) might be going. I can’t think much about maps (too technical for me) but what I do know is there is for sure enough space to keep a MuppetVision as we know it and makeover DHS. If the theater had to move, I’d love to see a Muppet presence in the Animation Courtyard — especially with the closing of The Magic of Disney Animation. With some puppets already making their home at Playhouse Disney, why not?
Someone tweeted me last week and says the future of MuppetVision has a lot to do with success of the new show. I’m not sure how accurate that is but it couldn’t hurt if it does well and a lot of people tune in. In a Park that’s been mostly ignored and where most of the excitement comes with snagging a FP+, it was always nice to walk right into Muppet Labs, smile at Gonzo tap dancing with a flower pot on his head, and see the penguins in action as the orchestra ushered another crowd to their seats.
The thing is — as historic as the show is to Jim Henson fans (one of the last projects before his death) — if I had to choose between an updated MuppetVision and the exclusion of Muppets from the parks completely, I would gladly embrace the new. It would still be sad. Saying goodbye to something I’ve visited on every Disney vacation I’ve ever taken would be difficult, but not as much as kicking the Muppets out of DHS completely. And what about that fountain? It’s beautiful, and I don’t have room in my apartment to store it if everything goes south. That should be reason enough.
There’s nothing I hate more than giving into rumors so right now, I’m going to remain positive and get excited to see all my friends (especially the ones stapled to their seats) in November. Oh, and if your heart is Muppet-y, check out my new project on Instagram (@ifeltforyoueveryday) where I’m writing 22 poems about Muppets as I impatiently await the premiere on September 22.
What do you think? Are we crazy for even considering DHS without Muppets? How do YOU hope Disney handles the beloved attraction amid all of the changes coming to the Park? Let us know in the comments!