Today in Disney history in 2004, the Finding Nemo-inspired attraction Turtle Talk With Crush opened for guests at EPCOT.
One of my favorite things about visiting Disney World is experiencing an attraction that truly makes me wonder: “How do they do that? How does it all work?”
I remember the first time I saw the castle projections during the Happily Ever After fireworks show at Magic Kingdom. I was absolutely blown away by how the images appeared on the castle so perfectly and amazed that someone could figure out the perfect angles and equipment to make that happen. I was so impressed that I couldn’t stop talking about the projections for weeks.
And of course, when I took my inaugural ride on Avatar Flight of Passage at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, I remember sneaking peeks off to the side while on my banshee. I just had to know how the ride mechanism worked!
Turtle Talk with Crush Opened 19 Years Ago
But one attraction that sometimes slips under the radar but deserves a huge “how does that work?” reaction is Turtle Talk with Crush. This show first opened on November 16, 2004, in Disney World’s EPCOT. It also opened at Disney California Adventure at Disneyland a year later. There’s also a version at Tokyo DisneySea which has been open since 2009, as well as a temporary 3-month run at Hong Kong Disneyland in 2008.
Turtle Talk with Crush sometimes gets forgotten due to The Seas with Nemo & Friends, the main attraction through The Seas pavilion. This area is also home to the second-largest aquarium in the U.S. and the sixth-largest in the world. In fact, did you know it’s so big that Spaceship Earth can fit inside the main tank?
The pavilion also houses the Coral Reef Restaurant. This dining establishment is best known for the aquarium views of a living coral reef while you enjoy your meal from a seafood-focused menu.
What is Turtle Talk with Crush?
So while these other attractions may draw in more visitors, Turtle Talk with Crush is definitely worth checking out, especially if you have children. Rather than watching a pre-recorded film, this attraction is an interactive 15-minute show, which is where the “wow” factor comes in.
The room is set with an area in the front for children to sit on the floor while benches are available in the back for other guests. Once the show begins, an animated Crush (the surfer dude turtle from Pixar’s Finding Nemo film) comes onto the screen and begins interacting with the audience. And again, it’s not just generic pre-recorded quotes. Crush notices and mentions specific things about certain guests, answers questions, and engages in other dialogue.
This then begs the question: “How is a cartoon character talking with me in real time?!” Of course, the answer is the magic of Disney Imagineering. But seriously, if you don’t want the magic to be ruined, stop reading now.
How Does It All Work?
In simple terms, Crush is a digital puppet. The puppet’s movements are translated onto the screen while a voice actor performs live. The technology and the video rate are fast enough that it looks like the mouth is moving at the same speed the actor is talking. Of course, the team behind the scenes can see inside the audience room, allowing them to interact with specific visitors.
So not only does the technology have to be top tier, but you have some talented voice actors who can improv on the fly as well. Each show is unique, so you’ll experience something different each time you visit. You may even see some other friends from the Finding Nemo universe!
Other Turtle Talk Locations
Now, it’s great for those who are able to visit Disney World and experience all the magical attractions and atmosphere that it has to offer. But what about those who are unable?
Well, did you know that a replica version of Turtle Talk with Crush was created for the Children’s Hospital of Orange County in California? It was donated to the hospital in 2013 and is the first Disney theme park attraction to operate in a location outside of Disney. The show ran twice a day thanks to Cast Member volunteers. While Crush and his friends were able to bring smiles to the patients and their families for several years, the attraction has been suspended since 2020.
Additionally, are you a cruise person? You’re in luck. On select Disney Cruise Line ships, you’ll be able to experience Turtle Talk with Crush while sailing the seas. And if you are at Magic Kingdom and looking for a similar attraction with a live improv animated show, check out Monster’s Inc. Laugh Floor.
The original attraction at EPCOT proved to be so popular that when The Seas area was renovated, they moved Turtle Talk to a larger room to accommodate more guests. So if you don’t want to miss the experience of chatting live with your favorite animated friends, be sure to visit Crush on your next trip to Disney World, Disneyland, or the Tokyo Disney Resort. That would be totally sweeeeeet.