Coming Fall 2016: “The Muppets Present… Great Moments in American History”
Disney has confirmed that “The Muppets Present… Great Moments in American History” will debut in Walt Disney World’s Liberty Square in October 2016. This outdoor, live show (or “Great Moments with Mr. Eagle,” as I’ll be dubbing it) will be presented above Hall of Presidents in the Heritage House windows, and will feature popular Muppets characters.
Hosted by Sam Eagle, this distinctly patriotic show will also include Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, Gonzo, and James Jefferson, town crier of Liberty Square. They will recount classic tales from American history injected with the Muppets brand of humor.
From the signing of the Declaration of Independence to Paul Revere’s midnight ride,”The Muppets Present… Great Moments in American History” will share historical stories throughout the day. The presentations will meld information with the Muppets’ own unique take on the founding fathers and the birth of the United States of America.
Now, my take on this news, which we previously shared in our Crazy Rumor Roundup for Walt Disney World post (you might want to check back on that, as some of those “crazy” rumors now seem far less crazy)…
I’m cautiously optimistic about this new show. I’m also a hypocrite. At its core, this addition has close parallels to adding Frozen Ever After to Norway in World Showcase, a decision I lamented in my recent Frozen Ever After Review. Truth be told, I don’t know how to reconcile my optimism for this show and my distaste for the location of Frozen Ever After.
I do think that World Showcase is meant to present authentic slices of culture, whereas Magic Kingdom has always skewed more towards fantasy and whimsy. With that comes characters, even outside of Fantasyland. None of that is anything new for Magic Kingdom. On the other hand, Liberty Square has been the tonal departure from the rest of the park, with a more solemn theme than any other land in Magic Kingdom.
I think this tonal difference has always made Liberty Square feel different from the other lands. Not different in a bad way, or one that necessarily sticks out, just different. It has made Liberty Square feel like something of a waypoint through which you passed to get between Frontierland and Fantasyland, not a place that most guests stopped to soak up the ambiance and experience the theme.
It seems that something like “The Muppets Present… Great Moments in American History” was an inevitability as Disney trends more towards character-infused experiences. I’m actually somewhat surprised it has not occurred before now to Liberty Square.
To that end, I can get behind this as a potential best-case scenario for incorporating characters into a land that would be minimally intrusive (when the show isn’t running, it should disappear into the background). It should also piquing guest interest in the land’s theme and historical through-lines, and also offering something in the form of “edutainment.” On the other hand, when the show is running, that solemn atmosphere of Liberty Square is out the window.
At the end of the day, I’m still somewhere in the middle on this–hence my cautious optimism. If the execution nails it, getting both the humor of the Muppets right and also presenting moments in history in a manner that makes it an “edutainment” offering, I think this will work, and be well-received by most fans. It could be an acceptable way to get guests to spend more time in Liberty Square (possibly luring some to Hall of Presidents), which would be good. It could also end up being more misguided character infusion where it does not belong.
In all honesty, though, my love for The Muppets probably clouds my judgment on this one. I will be the first to admit that if “Great Moments with Mr. Olaf” were announced for this location, with the exact same show details otherwise, I’d be against it. If that makes me a hypocrite, so be it.
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Do you agree or disagree with my take on “The Muppets Present… Great Moments in American History”? Do you see this as no different than Frozen in Epcot, or is there a distinction? Share any questions or additional thoughts you have in the comments!
I know this is an old post, but I have to say, we happened upon this show by chance last week and it was one of the favorite things we saw all trip! The humor was spot on, and we loved seeing the actual muppets as opposed to a 3-D video. I hope it stays, loved it!
I LOVE this, but I totally agree Tom–if it had anything to do with Frozen, I wouldn’t. So, it could just be the appeal of more Muppets for me, but I say bring it on. I really was afraid with all the changes at DHS that the Muppets could be saying goodbye, but this and PizzaRizzo confirms they aren’t going anywhere.
Muppets with great moments in American history? Which character will do Lincoln’s second inaugural address? Disney has really jumped the shark on this one. Of course, I can’t believe the hall of presidents is getting much traffic at all, these days.
I don’t really see why anyone would be upset about this unless they specifically hated the muppets. Disney World is a theme park, it’s not a museum or a historical site. It’s supposed to change. The changes in Epcot are a problem because they’re fundamentally opposed to the theme of the park. But the Magic Kingdom is about magic and fun and imagination. It was never intended to be historically accurate. Adventureland, frontierland, tomorrowland, they all draw from things in reality but they’re really all the Disney-whimsy-fantasy versions of those things.
Liberty Square is about revolutionary era America… kind of. The haunted mansion is pure Disney and references to Ichabod crane and similar stories that can be found around Liberty Square are more allusions to American folklore than actual American history. The muppets are very distinctly American and, as long as they’re in period costume and talking about America, they are in no way a departure from the theming.
Also, if the show is terrible, Disney will just pull it. This isn’t like a whole ride that they’re building or something. It’s not that hard to go back if it turns out it just doesn’t work.
I wonder if this show is a test. In Nov., no matter what, we will elect a new President, and Hall of Presidents will have to go down for refurbishment as a new animatronic and Presidential speech is added. If I remember correctly, when Obama was elected, the refurbishment was pretty lengthy. Is this show testing the waters for a Hall of Presidents fill-in when the attraction is closed?
Great post as always.
I hope this attraction is successful enough (and I believe it will be) that Disney decides to spend money and re-do Muppets 3D in HS. With the new Rizzo Pizza Restaurant and maybe (fingers crossed) a muppets themed over lay of Mamma Melrose (Swedish Chef?? “BÃ¸rk! BÃ¸rk! BÃ¸rk!”), the muppets could really shine at both parks.
Bring back the Muppets Show!
I love this addition, by the way. This is a fun way to rev up the energy in the least snazzy land in MK.
I’m disappointed that they aren’t using the Guardians of the Galaxy here as well to tell the tale of American History. 🙂
The location doesn’t bother me, quite different than shoving in a fake land which detracts from the authenticity of World Showcase. Good use of the Muppets & can spread some traffic that stays in Liberty Square. The interaction might be an unexpected highlight to a family’s trip. If it isn’t well received, it’ll be easy to erase anyway.
At least they did do an impressive job with the Frozen ride, but yeah… it’s a slippery slope over there at Epcot.
Honestly I am not that big a fan of the Muppets. I enjoyed the most recent TV series (which was cancelled so I feel I am in the minority here) but I never just cared that much about them.
That being said, I think this is a fantastic idea. The Muppets brand of humor seems to me like a great fit for this location. This seems more intrusive to me than the addition of a Jack Sparrow show in Adventureland. Also it is being done above Hall of Presidents, not in Epcot around the American Adventure.
Thanks for all your great posts.
I know this question is outside the scope of the blog but my son just finished the college program and wanted to get a job as a cast member and he put in multiple applications but he never got a yes or no answer. He could never find anyone in the casting dept. that would tell him anything other then just be patient. I wondered if you knew anyone in Disney who might be able to give us some idea of what to do next. Should he just wait or put in new applications? Perhaps it was bad timing and Disney is not hiring or perhaps he applied for the wrong positions. It would be a great help if he could talk to someone who might give some idea of what to do next.
If you don’t know anyone then at least I asked. Thanks again for your great blog.
Even if one doesn’t remember that the Mike Fink Keel Boats were referencing the legend and not the actual man, there’s already 999 characters already in Liberty Square. It’s not EPCOT Center (or even Epcot).
With the Fife and Drum Corps moved to the American Adventure, Liberty Square could use some type of entertainment option.
I’m also pleased that they appear to be sticking to American history around the Liberty Square time period; that’s more important to me than education/edutainment.
As a long time muppet fan this is great news. There isn’t enough recognition for the muppets in the parks in my opinion. Between this new show and Rizzo’s Pizzeria it’s a move in the right direction. I will remain cautiously optimistic as well.
What, a Walt Disney World change I’m actually excited about? How can this be?
I’m also a thoroughly biased Muppet aficionado, though.
Hopefully they don’t screw everything up. I don’t want to get TOO excited prematurely.
I have the same cautious optimism that you have. Liberty Square is a really serene spot of the park and I worry that’ll disappear.
More than anything, I’m worried about how this’ll affect traffic flow in the area. I can see it getting pretty tight.