Monday, May 16, 2011

39. O.T.D. - 5/16/91 - Muppet*Vision 3D Opens

On this day we commemorate an exciting occasion, as well as a very sad one. First we say happy birthday to Muppet*Vision 3D which opened on May 16, 1991.  This beloved attraction at Disney's Hollywood Studios turns 20 years old today.  Unfortunately, exactly one year earlier, the creator of the Muppets empire passed away.  Of course I'm speaking of Jim Henson, who died of pneumonia on May 16, 1990 at the age of 53.

Muppet*Vision 3D is a must see attraction when visiting Walt Disney World.  It is a 3D movie that is shown in a replica of the theater where the Muppet Show took place.  The show has been referred to as "4D" due to the audio animatronic figures and great special effects.  There is even a live actor playing the part of "Sweetums" who is in the film and then actually walks into the theater.  The movie is based on the muppet characters preparing for a variety show of sorts.  It intentionally showcases tricks and gags that emphasize the use of 3D technology with objects jumping off the screen.   It is always fun to watch guests reach out in an attempt to touch what appears to be right in front of their faces.  In addition to the actual movie, the pre-show that takes place on video screens in the queue is hysterical.

When this attraction debuted in 1991, 3D films were still a novelty.  Nowadays, 3D technology is being used in a high percentage of full length movies, but Muppet*Vision 3D is still a unique and fun example of the genius of Jim Henson. Although the film is 20 years old, any production involving the Muppets is timeless and enjoyed by guest of all ages.  Recently, Disney refurbished the attraction and digitally remastered the film giving it a fresh, revitalized look.

In 1990, Jim Henson was in negotiations to sell his company to Disney.  He felt that the two companies were a perfect match for each other and he was looking forward to focusing on the creative side of things.  He died during the week that he was supposed to sign the contract.  After his death, Henson's family decided not to sell to Disney.  Fortunately, there was already an agreement in place to put Muppet*Vision 3D into Walt Disney World.  In fact, this was the last project that Jim Henson worked on before his untimely passing.  In 2004, Jim Henson's family finally sold the rights to the Muppets to the Walt Disney Company.  A new motion picture simply entitled "The Muppets" is slated to be released by Disney on Thanksgiving weekend of 2011.  This should be a great introduction to a new generation of Muppets' fans and Jim Henson's legacy will live on.

In many ways, Jim Henson can be compared to Walt Disney.  They were both dreamers and creative geniuses who focused on family friendly entertainment.  They were both humanitarians who truly cared about people.  Finally, although they have been gone for many years, they continue to touch the lives of countless numbers of people through their art.

"When I was young, my ambition was to be one of the people who made a difference in this world. My hope is to leave the world a little better for my having been there." 
- Jim Henson

Have a Disneyriffic Day and remember to keep moving forward.  See ya real soon!

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