A look at Disney attractions’ many famous guest stars

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Neil Patrick Harris hosting the Candlelight Processional in December 2008. Photo courtesy of Jeff Kern on Flickr.

When it comes to Disney, a lot of celebrities have a hard time saying no. Take for instance Neil Patrick Harris, who frequently visits Disneyland and Walt Disney World with his husband and children. Harris hosts EPCOT’s Candlelight Processional every year for Christmas and 2016 will be no exception. If you’re a frequent visitor to Disneyland, you might have also noticed that he lent his voice to one of California Adventure’s signature rides, “California Screamin'” as the carnival barker.

NPH isn’t the only celebrity who has lent his voice to the Disney parks. Over the years, several attractions have previously had or currently have a famous voice in it. The “Enchanted Tiki Room (Under New Management)” previously had Don Rickles and Phil Hartman as the bickering birds William and Morris. Unfortunately, the attraction closed in 2011. Another ride that previously had famous voices currently is hosted by a very different famous voice. “Spaceship Earth,” which takes riders on a journey through inventions throughout the past, present, and future, was hosted by Lawrence Dobkin, Walter Cronkite, and Jeremy Irons, and is now hosted by Dame Judi Dench.

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Droid G2-4T, voiced by Patrick Warburton, on “Star Wars-The Adventures Continues.” Photo courtesy of Ken Lund on Flickr.

In Disney’s Hollywood Studios, it’s no surprise that movie and television celebrities abound.  Aside from Aerosmith themselves being in the pre-show for “Rock ‘N’ Roller Coaster,” Illeana Douglas plays their manager who calls in the guests’ super-stretch limos. Patrick Warburton, who also plays host in EPCOT’s “Soarin'” pre-show, lends his voice to a security droid in “Star Wars-the Adventures Continue.” Allison Janney joined him in this ride as Aly San San, the flight attendent droid who gives the safety guidelines before guests can enter. In “The Great Movie Ride,” the voice of Judy Garland’s figure was actually supplied by her daughter, Liza Minnelli.

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The original sign for “ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter.” Photo courtesy of Sam Howzit.

Unfortunately, over the years, Magic Kingdom has actually lost a lot of their famous voices. Main Street Cinema on Main Street USA played a film in the mid-1990s, which had Mel Brooks and Angela Lansbury. The narrator of “Hall of Presidents” typically changes with the president, with previous hosts being Maya Angelou and J. D. Hall and the current host being Morgan Freeman. It is likely that if the trend continues, we will be getting a new narrator when the attraction reopens with the Audio-Animatronic of Donald Trump on July 4.

Where “Philarmagic” is now, there used to be a show called the “Legend of the Lion King,” which included all the voices from the original movie. Where “Stitch’s Great Escape” used to be, there was a show called “ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter,” which was taken out for being too frightening. In the pre-show, Tim Curry played a robot named S.I.R. who was there to demonstrate the teleportation technology. Where “Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor” is today, there used to be a Circle-Vision show called “The Timekeeper” there that was hosted by Rhea Perlman and Robin Williams and featured the voice of Jeremy Irons.

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Robin Williams’s character Timekeeper from attraction of the same name in Tomorrowland. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

One voice has stayed from the creation of the ride and is doubtful that it will go anywhere. In “Splash Mountain,” Brer Rabbit is played by James Avery, who many of us know better as Uncle Phil from “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.” Although the actor passed away in 2013, his voice is a constant part of the ride.

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Jack Sparrow Audio-Animatronic in “Pirates of the Caribbean” in Magic Kingdom. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Magic Kingdom did also gain a few voices, mostly in thanks to the success of “Pirates of the Caribbean” as a film franchise. After renovations, the updated ride now has the voices of Johnny Depp, Geoffrey Rush, and Bill Nighy playing their film roles. Over in EPCOT, the celebrity powerhouse is “Ellen’s Energy Adventure,” which is unfortunately expected to close soon. The ride is hosted by Ellen DeGeneres and Bill Nye (the Science Guy) and features Jamie Lee Curtis. Over in Animal Kingdom, Phylicia Rashad plays Dr. Marsh on “DINOSAUR.” Bill Nye again lends his voice in this ride, but only in the lobby as a voice-over while guests stand in the queue.

I’m sure I’ve missed quite a few and this list only really shows some of the most famous voices being heard. Which voice is (or was) your favorite to hear throughout Disney’s attractions?

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