Thanks to Darin for his posts over the last week! Those posts were fun, albeit somewhat bizarre, and I appreciate all of the writing! Now I’m back like Brittney everybody, and am excited for the posts coming up.
Ever since Disney acquired the Muppets in 2004 it has seemed that the parent company is just not sure of how to use the legendary brand. There were the ridiculous TV movies. Then a well-done and well received movie that was fueled by nostalgia, followed by a decent and terribly received movie that was a bit more adventurous. After that came a TV show that was okay but never really found its footing. Now, the Muppets are in entertainment limbo after all of these (somewhat half-hearted) attempts ultimately failed.
With Disney seemingly befuddled at how to use the Muppets, most Walt Disney World fans rolled their eyes at the news of a new Muppet show in Magic Kingdom’s Liberty Square. How do the Muppets, a franchise started in the late 1950’s, fit in with a colonial themed land? It was a fair question and one that worried me. To my delight, this was Disney’s best use of the Muppets since their acquisition.
The Muppets Present… Great Moments In American History is about a 15-minute show that takes place right outside of Hall of Presidents in Magic Kingdom’s Liberty Square. The show takes place throughout the day, check that weeks times guide to see when it starts. If you’ve never been, Liberty Square is a beautifully themed land with incredible detail. It’s themed to colonial days, around the American Revolution. The show is what you could call streetmosphere entertainment, as there is no theater or venue to see the show. Guests stand below on the street as the Muppets perform in windows above them.
The show starts off with a human, dressed in revolutionary garb, interacting with the crowd. This man acts as the town crier. This was a good move, as the Muppets are often at their best with a human to interact with. In this case, the guy grounded the Muppets and made them feel more realistic. Throughout the show, the revolutionary man held up signs that gave cues to the audience like ‘applause’. He didn’t have a major part in the show but the little he did was great.
The first person the crier interacted with was Sam the Eagle who popped out of a pretty surprising spot. Sam, as usual, was trying to keep the rest of the Muppets to his gold standard of extreme patriotism. Sam didn’t take part in acting out the show but was more of a director, keeping the pace of the show going and keeping Kermit and the gang on track. Without Sam, this show likely wouldn’t have worked nearly as well in Liberty Square.
The rest of the cast included Kermit, Fozzie Bear, Gonzo, Miss Piggy and a pair of chickens (Gonzo’s sidekicks). These characters essentially do a muppet (puppet) show reenacting the writing the Declaration of Independence. Other performances of the show include Sam the Eagle retelling the story of Paul Revere’s midnight ride. I wasn’t able to see that one and am not sure of how often it takes place.
At first we see Kermit and the gang in their usual outfits, putting the show in modern-day. Once we find out what the show will be about, the Declaration of Independence in this case, the Muppets switch costumes to fit the late 1700’s era. This alone is pretty funny and works well. Add in some of the usual muppet zaniness and the show is humorous yet informative and keeps the spirit of Liberty Square.
Even if the concept was somewhat absurd, this show turned out to be a great idea. Not only was it a fun way to tell stories about our forefathers, but it was a great utilization of a franchise that Disney has used questionably. The crowd I saw the show with really enjoyed it and was laughing a lot. Hopefully this becomes a Magic Kingdom mainstay as well as introduces the Muppets to those who are not familiar with them.