This month we have been exploring all the Finding Nemo fun to be had at Walt Disney World. We started with Finding Nemo – The Musical over at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. That is a truly remarkable live show with some of the most imaginative sets and puppets you will find anywhere. Next, we moved over to Epcot and discovered all there is to do at The Seas with Nemo & Friends. The pavilion houses the ride of the same name, but also showcases an impressive array of sea life in one of the world’s largest manmade aquariums. Also inside the pavilion is our feature for today, Turtle Talk with Crush. The star of the show is everyone’s favorite sea turtle, but I wonder who else we might find swimming nearby? Maybe a little blue tang fish named Dory?
Ah, yes, we started this aquatic adventure in anticipation of the new Disney film “Finding Dory.” Well, Dory has always played at role at Turtle Talk with Crush, but with the new film, she and her new friends are more involved than ever. To learn more about that, let’s get swimming with our…
Know Before You Go Essential Facts
- The ride is located in Future World in Epcot
- Fastpass + is offered
- There is no height requirement
- The fright factor is 0 out of 5
- Guests may remain in a wheelchair/ECV
- Assistive Listening and Sign Language are available
- The show is about 15 minutes long
- The show opened on November 14, 2006. New characters from the film “Finding Dory” were added in May, 2016.
Those are the facts, now onto the fun!
Righteous, righteous! Hello dudes and dudettes and welcome to the coolest show this side of the Pacific Ocean. This is Turtle Talk with Crush! If you have ever wanted to ask a turtle what he likes to eat, how old he is, or how many offspring he has, then get ready to flip out because the Crush man is here to blow your mind. Don’t just take my word for it though. Today, we have some special little dudes in the house to tell you what makes this show totally awesome. Before I bring them out, let me set the stage for what you can expect.
Last week we learned about the history of the Living Seas pavilion in Epcot, and how it eventually became The Seas with Nemo & Friends. As we learned, the big catalyst for filling the Big Blue World with Nemo and his friends was the awesome reception of a new show called Turtle Talk with Crush. The show in the pavilion featured Crush, the sea turtle from Finding Nemo, interacting with guests in a whole new way. The interactive technology behind this show was something Disney Imagineers had been working on for a while and actually been testing with audiences before Crush ever came along. We won’t go into that full story today, but if you want to learn more check out this story originally posted by Jim Hill Media in 2004. What I will point out is that the technology being tested and developed centered around a completely different character. Any guesses? I’ll give you a hint. Who’s short, loud, and sports chili dog breath? Yep, Stitch from Lilo & Stitch!
Well, in what may be the lone redeeming factor of Stitch’s Great Escape, it turns out the ride was already under development featuring Experiment 626 when this new technology was ready to go. That meant Stitch couldn’t be featured in the new digital puppetry show and that honor would have to go to someone else. I have to pause here and say I’m so glad we ended up with Crush and instead of Stitch. It makes it easier to put up with a bad ride in Stitch’s Great Escape knowing it opened the door for Turtle Talk with Crush. With Stitch out of the picture, a Living Seas pavilion in need of fresh life, and a hit movie in “Finding Nemo,” the stars aligned for Crush to swim onto the scene.
In November of 2004, a small dark theater with simple benches and a large 8’ x 16’ window opened to audiences. This window looks like many of the glass portals found throughout the Living Seas pavilion, the difference is that this window offers a view of the animated ocean of “Finding Nemo,” instead of the real life aquarium of the pavilion. As you enter, a cast member will ask children to sit on the floor in front of the window and adults to find a seat on a nearby bench behind them. After sitting down, you can look into the ocean and see the seaweed gently swaying in the current, along with a peculiar item hanging down from above. Look closer and you will see that this is an underwater microphone. However, there is no sign of Crush when you first arrive. Once everyone is settled, the cast member informs everyone that they need some help getting Crush’s attention. Together, you all call the turtle with a loud, “Hey Crush!”
Next thing you know a dark shape cuts through the water and quickly grows larger as he swims towards you. It is Crush! He pulls off a couple of patented moves, like a 360 or barrel roll, and then suddenly notices the audience. Normally, he says something like, “Wow, check out all the humans in the people tank.” This might be followed by a little tap of his fin on the glass which makes a loud sound due to the microphone. As Crush continues talking you notice his mouth is moving perfectly in sync with the words coming from the mic. Of course, you think, “no big deal” this is all pre-recorded animation. Next, Crush begins talking to the Disney cast member and even calls them by name. Wow, that’s kinda a cool trick, but still you think, “They could all go by the same name, right?” Finally, Crush asks the cast member to take the microphone in their hand and walk over to the little dude in the blue shell. You watch as the cast member walks over to a little boy in a blue shirt and what happens next is nothing short of magic. Crush asks for the little guy’s name. The boy speaks into the mic and says, “Luke.” Immediately, Crush responds and says, “Nice to meet you Luke.” Next Crush begins asking questions and a full blown live conversation ensues. It turns out Squirt has been asking Crush a lot of questions about the human dudes and now Crush is on a mission to learn more about us. With the help of the Disney cast member, Crush asks questions of multiple audience members and even answers their questions as well. All the time, you can see the words forming from his little turtle mouth as he swims back and forth inside the glass. His face changes expression with each answer or question. He is thoughtful, witty, quick, and hilarious. This begs the question, is Crush real?
Well, ask my nephew Colton this question and he will say, “Maybe he’s just a real turtle.” Wise words from my little nephew. Words that will seem all the more sensible when you actually experience Turtle Talk with Crush in person. The magic behind this show was mind blowing when it first hit audiences in 2004. Most people had never seen anything like this before. Children left the show convinced they had just talked to one of their favorite Disney characters and adults left whispering to each other, “How did they do that?”
Normally, we would dive a little deeper to answer that question. How do they pull off this show. Well, if you really must know, you can listen to our podcast on the Monster’s Inc. Laugh Floor. That is a newer show at the Magic Kingdom which utilizes the same type of technology. For today, I am going to leave the magic of this show unspoiled. My favorite aspect of Turtle Talk with Crush is seeing the show through the eyes of a child. If you listen to the podcast this week you can hear my nephews talk about their impressions of the show.
With the addition of characters from “Finding Dory,” there are now even more paths for Crush to take the audience down. You can help Bailey find the audience, learn to speak whale with Dory, or even see Hank appear out of nowhere every now and then. With the show being driven by audience questions and responses, you will never see the exact same show twice. This makes it a great spot to visit time and time again, and certainly an area you can’t miss on your first visit.
Before we go today, I want to make sure you know Crush isn’t just at Walt Disney World. As you might already know, he also finds time to swim over to the West coast and talk with guests at Disney’s California Adventure. Did you know that he makes another stop in between these two? Yes, he actually checks in with fans aboard the Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy on the Disney Cruise Line. On board these ships, you can find several magical windows to the sea located inside the Animator’s Palate Restaurant. Crush swims by during your dinner and talks to the tables in that area. Talk about a totally awesome dinner! Finally, there is one more spot that Crush started visiting in 2013, and it may be the coolest of them all. Kids inside the Children’s Hospital of Orange County are treated to a visit from Crush a couple of times a week. When the Imagineers installed a window to the ocean for Crush to swim by, it marked the first time Disney had installed a ride or show outside of Disney owned property. Now, a couple of cast members volunteer each week to meet Crush when he is going to be in the area so he can talk to the kids and their parents while they are in the hospital. To that I say, you guys so totally rock!
Now it is time to say catch you later dudes. I hope you have enjoyed our time with Nemo, Crush, and the rest of the big blue world this month. Next week we will be back with our first Rider Responses Podcast. I did get some great feedback in this past week which I will share with you next week. If you have something you want to share with our rider community, be sure to get that in by Wednesday, June 22. Send me a message on our Facebook page, shoot an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org, or comment on an episode on our website.
Thank you so much for joining me today. Wherever you happen to be this week, I hope you will take time to enjoy those swimming alongside you. Each day we have with each other is a ride worth taking.