The Great Muppet Movie Ride Concept Art and Details Revealed
Tough Pigs recently got in touch with one of the designers on the abandoned project, artist and production designer Marcelo Vignali, who shared his designs and own recollections on the project.
Originally proposed to open nearby Muppet*Vision 3D at the Disney-MGM Studios (as well as for somewhere at Disneyland Park in Anaheim), The Great Muppet Movie Ride would have been a spoof on the beloved attraction, The Great Movie Ride, with all the chaos and hijinks the Muppets can provide. In-depth details of this attraction are few and far between, with only stories shared and a few images to go on.
The artwork shared covers two scenes from The Great Muppet Movie Ride, as well as two proposed Muppet-themed restaurants.
According to Vignali, when Jim Henson, creator of the Muppets, passed away, the entire Muppet Land project was paused and then eventually scrapped. However, we can still enjoy what could’ve been, thanks to these pieces of concept art.
Part of the ride would take guests through a “Pigs in Space” sequence, one of the recurring skits from “The Muppet Show.” The concept art shows a ride vehicle traveling through an epic battle between two spaceships, one with Captain Link Hogthrob, First Mate Piggy, and Dr. Julius Strangepork, and the other with a crew of Muppet rats.
The last images of Vignali’s art depicts a segment of the ride that was supposed to be inspired by the “Indiana Jones” films. In the image above, Kermit is Indy, teetering on a log over a waterfall. Miss Piggy is earning her Oscar holding onto a rock for dear life, and Statler and Waldorf are trying to paddle up the falls in a Haunted Mansion doom buggy.
The crew is also hard at work, with Animal rigging Scooter to shoot the action sequence, and Gonzo calling the shots again as director. A few rats are also working the lights.
These two images were not designs created by Vignali, but were instead illustrated by Joe Lanzisero, according to him. These sections of the ride would have spoofed “Frankenstein” and “Peter Pan”.
In the “Frankenstein” image, Beaker is Frankenstein’s Monster, with Dr. Bunsen Honeydew as titular doctor. Kermit and Piggy are also present, though it is unclear what characters they are portraying. Fozzy Bear is shown in the top right, being electrocuted by messing with two live wires. Gonzo is directing the scene, with Animal behind the camera and two rats looking on.
The “Peter Pan” segment concept art really illustrates where the Muppet-y chaos of The Great Muppet Movie Ride comes into play, as this entire scene is illustrated as falling apart. Kermit is shown as Peter, and what appears to be Scooter as John, Fozzie as Michael, and Janice as Wendy.
Over on the left, however, Miss Piggy is in a bit of distress as Tinker Bell, having made a Piggy-sized hole in the set she flew through. You can see a number of rats and Animal trying their best to pull her rope and stabilize her, with Gonzo looking on after falling out of his director’s chair.
Among the projects pitched for restaurants was Great Gonzo’s Pizza Pandemonium Parlor, shown in the above concept art. As guests are eating, you can see rats in the rafters running the place, transporting ingredients, throwing pizza dough, and even transporting whole sandwiches by unicycle. In this art, it looks as though the restaurant would’ve taken on a classic pizzeria feel. This would instead become Mama Melrose’s Ristorante Italiano.
Another restaurant idea was the Hard Luck Cafe — a play on the Hard Rock Cafe. Instead of rock and roll memorabilia, though, it would have displayed Muppet memorabilia on the walls. This space would host a few dining venues over the years, inclusive Toy Story Pizza Planet, before finally becoming a Muppet eatery in PizzeRizzo.
You can see some of that in action above, like a piano barely hanging on by a thread of rope, with Animal’s drum set attached. Other notable aspects include a Doctor Teeth poster and a lit painting or poster of Kermit in a “Born in the U.S.A.” moment. If you look closely in the back of the restaurant on the far left, you can even see Jim Henson, who was immortalized in this concept art after his passing.
While it is disappointing to know that we almost had The Great Muppet Movie Ride at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, it is nice to know what could’ve been, rather than simply imagining it.