Tuesday, June 14, 2011
Disney That Never Was: Great Gonzo's Pandemonium Pizza Parlor
Every once in a while a concept comes by that makes you want to shout, "why didn't they do this...?" Seeing photos, concept plans, and even blueprints tend to make these voices yell even louder. I find myself in the position of standing on a platform screaming when I think of the Pandemonium Pizza Parlor. I would tend to guess that 8/10 people probably have no idea what exactly I am talking about, but those who do would probably be lined up right next to me.
In the mid 1980's Jim Henson was in the midst of selling the Muppets, as well as Jim Henson Productions (with the exception of the Sesame Workshop) to the Walt Disney Company. While this sale was picking up steam, so was the idea of a land within the newly created Disney/MGM Studio. Included in the land would be a 3D attraction (Eventually MuppetVision 3D) as well as a Muppet Movie Ride (a satire of the attraction that resides in the Chinese Theater) and a restaurant. Sadly, Jim Henson's passing led to major issues between Disney and Henson Productions that would not be rectified until 2004. The only remnants of the planned land is the MuppetVision attraction and the nearby studio shop.
The original plan for the Great Gonzo Pandemonium Pizza Parlor called for the creation of audio animtronic rats. Led by Rizzo, they would deliver food to all the guests via a train track system. This coupled with speakers projecting Gonzo's voice from above, with pounding and stomping sounds would create the illusion that Gonzo was somehow stuck in the duct work above. Other plans also had the Swedish Chef popping out through the kitchen doors on occasion, as well as commotion coming from the kitchen as guests ate. Many screens depicting famous scenes from the Muppet Show throughout the restaurant. The location of this restaurant may have been in the current locations of either Pizza Planet, or Mama Melrose.
Looking back on such plans show us what could have been in and around the MuppetVision attraction. Where it is now an area without much identity, we could be looking at a well themed and well designed area to the park. This would have added to the Disney/MGM Studio experience that was really missing until the late 1990's. As we look to the future of both this area and the Muppet franchise, one cannot help but look to the upcoming Muppets film as the last hope of seeing a larger Muppet presence within the Disney parks. A good showing may bring this concept back onto the table, and replace a restaurant in that area the desperately needs to be updates.