Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles at Disney World
In 1994, I was surprised to learn that my family was planning a trip to Walt Disney World. It has been about a decade since our last visit. That length of time combined with the short notice did not allow me to do any research or planning for the trip. So much of what I saw that visit was a complete surprise.
In the years since last visiting the parks, they had added a whole new one, Disney-MGM Studios. I knew about the bigger rides there but was completely surprised by so many other things. Most memorable was when I was walking down the Streets of America and suddenly it looked like an event was about to happen.
They moved people to the side and then out of nowhere came a van carrying characters I never expected to see at a Disney park, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles!
At this point, I had powered through all of the big attractions and was just settling in for a more relaxing afternoon when the heroes in a half-shell showed up. The people on the street went crazy and the energy was fantastic.
The Turtles made their first appearance at Disney-MGM Studios on July 1, 1990. This is just a few months after their big-screen debut in March of that year. They would run at the park for five years with their final drive down the Streets of America happening on June 30, 1995. At that point, Turtle power has wained and kids were more into things like the Power Rangers.
I saw their performance at least twice that day, although it was probably happening more than that. From what I recall it was just about 5 minutes long and involved the Turtles coming down the street in their van along with their news buddy, April. They would then stop at the TMNT stage and introduce themselves.
April would sing the TMNT theme song while they did fighting poses and danced. Afterward, they would have a meet and greet. I am sure I took a few photos with at least one of the Turtles, but for the life of me, I cannot find any of them. This is the only photo that I have of this amazing park moment.
The costumes were really impressive. True to the characters in their cartoon form. I would also like to point out that they were technically very well made. Because when these Turtles are dancing and doing their fighting moves, their range of motion, while limited, is impressive.
Besides the Turtles and April, the other star of this character appearance was that van. The design was great and looked like it could have come straight out of the toy line. While the Turtles would eventually leave the park, I believe the van was repurposed to be used by Toy Story’s Green Army Men in their appearance. If it is not the exact van, it is at least a very similar model. You can see it in action in this video.
Sadly I didn’t own a video camera back then, but luckily several people have posted videos of it.