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Friday, March 11, 2016

Freaky Fridays: Muppets Take DISNEYLAND

In 1989, The Walt Disney Company put together its first deal to acquire the Jim Henson Company. Mr. Henson wanted to retire from the day to day operation of his company and wanted to make sure that his beloved creations would live on. The Walt Disney Company quickly started integrating the Muppets into the parks, quickly producing Muppet-Vision 3D for its Florida studio park which needed to add capacity quickly. The other divisions of the company were encouraged to follow suit and DISNEYLAND came up with an ingenious plan. Mickey and friends would take the summer off, leaving Kermit and the Muppets in charge of the Magic Kingdom.

Kermit's face would welcome DISNEYLAND guests instead of Mickey Mouse and the Muppets would evict Mr. Lincoln, taking over the Main Street Opera House.

While the Muppetization of the park would last just one summer, the Muppet-Vision 3D attraction would be permanent. Outside influences would change this plan, however. Replacing Mr. Lincoln proved to be a political hot potato. Muppet-Vision would be moved to the planned Hollywoodland area, then Mickey's Toontown. Unfortunately, the unthinkable happened.

Jim Henson passed away and his family, faced with estate taxes, wanted more money from Disney. When the company balked, Mr. Henson's family attacked the company in the press and sued to close down the Muppet-Vision attraction that had been Jim Henson's last project, declaring it to be copyright infringing. All Muppet and Disney projects were canceled and Disney worked out a deal to keep Muppet-Vision open in Florida. The West Coast wouldn't get a Muppet-Vision attraction until Disney California Adventure opened in 2001.