As we inch closer and closer to the opening of Pixar Pier and Toy Story Land, let’s continue our look at the Pixar attractions that have already made their way into the Disney Parks.
If you have been reading my last few articles, you may have noticed the huge influx of articles about Finding Nemo attractions. Its success led to its introduction on a massive scale, very similar to what happened when Frozen hit the world.
We’ve already looked at Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage, The Seas with Nemo & Friends and Finding Nemo – The Musical, but today let’s look at the original Finding Nemo-themed attraction, Turtle Talk with Crush.
Turtle Talk with Crush made its first appearance in the Disney Parks as a part of Epcot. Opening on November 16th, 2004, Turtle Talk with Crush marked the beginning of the transformation of The Living Seas to The Seas with Nemo & Friends.
Turtle Talk with Crush represented a new level of innovation in the Disney Parks as a part of the Living Character Initiative. The Living Character Initiative is responsible for the talking Mickey Mouse characters that we see today, but its first major example was Turtle Talk. (Though there was a chance to have a conversation with Stitch as a part of Innoventions in the early 2000s.)
Digital puppetry is used to bring Crush to life. An employee in the back uses software to move Crush around and keep him constantly moving. This employee also provides the voice for Crush with Crush’s mouth being synced up perfectly with the employee to create a seamless experience.
As anyone who has experienced Turtle Talk with Crush can tell you, Crush feels incredibly lifelike. The Imagineers behind the attraction did an amazing job creating the illusion, and children everywhere constantly find themselves laughing at all the funny jokes that Crush seems to come up with.
Turtle Talk with Crush was such a success at Epcot that they decided to bring it across the country to Disney California Adventure where it became a part of the Disney Animation building on July 15, 2005. Most of my experiences with the attraction have come from this version of the attraction, but with talented Crushes everywhere, I have enjoyed my time with the attraction no matter where I am.
Turtle Talk also made its way to Hong Kong Disneyland on May 24th, 2008 and Tokyo DisneySea on October 1, 2009. Today, all of the versions are still around except for Hong Kong Disneyland’s, which closed on August 10, 2008. It wasn’t even in the park for three months, but that’s because it was part of a “Nonstop Summer Fun” celebration.
Turtle Talk with Crush actually managed to do something no other Disney attraction has ever done by appearing in a non-Disney environment. Disney donated $5 million to help the Children’s Hospital of Orange County create a new tower, and one of the activities in this tower was Turtle Talk with Crush. Volunteer cast members work the attraction twice a day for the patients and their families.
I really love this act of generosity by Disney and especially the volunteering cast members. I can only imagine how much joy that it must bring these children who have to deal with so much in their lives.
Finally, there is a version of Turtle Talk with Crush on the Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy cruise ships in the Animator’s Palate restaurant. He swims around the restaurant talking to guests at different tables. I’ve been lucky enough to experience this version of Turtle Talk, as well. It was cool to have him comment on the food you are eating, especially if it’s seafood.
Finally, Turtle Talk with Crush has done a great job staying updated over the years. With the release of Finding Dory, a few of the characters from the movie may appear in the attraction if you ask to see them. It’s awesome that they kept the attraction updated because it’s those little touches that keep guests coming back for more.
Now that we’ve looked at Turtle Talk with Crush, let’s take a look at its close cousin over at the Magic Kingdom, Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor.
Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor joined Tomorrowland on April 2nd, 2007. Replacing The Timekeeper, Laugh Floor uses the same technology as Turtle Talk with Crush but on a grander scale. Instead of just one character, our emcee Mike Wazowski (who was pre-recorded) welcomes guests and then guides guests through three different comedy acts using live performers.
Disney hires local comedians to voice the characters in the show, and it certainly shows because this show is hysterical. It is a must-do every time that I visit Walt Disney World because I can never get enough. Sure, a lot of the jokes don’t change a ton between the shows, but with my visits to Disney World having years in between them, they never get old to me.
Also, the idea of having a comedy club in the Parks is really cool and tying it into the laughter aspect of Monsters, Inc. is a perfect fit. Plus, you can text in your own jokes for Mike’s nephew, Marty, to read during the show, so it becomes even more interactive than it originally was.
My favorite joke in the show is “that guy.” Every show, they choose one random guy in the audience who they pick on the entire episode. It has become such a huge joke that now they have a sticker for people to wear who were chosen as “that guy.” It’s my dream to one day be “that guy,” and who knows, maybe it will happen next time I’m there.
Overall, I do not think the Laugh Floor or Turtle Talk get as much credit as they deserve. They are both awesomely innovative attractions that really make a name for themselves. Hopefully, we’ll continue to see more interactive attractions like these theme parks as theme parks become more and more immersive.