It’s no secret that Crush, the surfer-dude turtle in Pixar’s Finding Nemo (with a brief cameo in Finding Dory) is probably one of the main reasons people return to the movie again and again. Well, that and Dory. And Nemo. And the aquarium in the dentist’s office. Oh, and the seagulls.
Okay, so it was just a solid movie all around, with lots of great stuff, but my point is that Crush is one of Pixar’s most beloved of characters, and it’s no surprise that Disney’s Imagineers crafted an experience that brings Crush to life in a way that is appropriate and entertaining for visitors of all ages.
Nestled in The Seas pavilion of EPCOT’s Future World, “Turtle Talk with Crush” is an animated show that allows children and parents to talk to and learn from Crush, the world’s most famous sea turtle. And yes, I did say “talk to,” because audience members can talk to Crush, ask him questions, and answer his questions—and he will respond to everything you and your kids say.
If that’s not a magical adventure for a kid, then I don’t know what it is.
The attraction is educational in nature, and gives everyone the opportunity to learn a few quick things about the life and habits of sea turtles, but it does so in an entertaining way, so your kids don’t know they are “learning.”
So let’s talk about this experience, and find out why Turtle Talk with Crush is a must-see for every visitor to EPCOT.
The Atmosphere (5/5)
Because this is a show and not a ride, you are going to have a wait. I’ll talk more about that when we discuss the need for FastPass, but for now, bear in mind that you are going to be waiting for a bit.
Fortunately, the waiting area is pretty dang awesome, with lots of things for you and your kids to do (unless you’re traveling without kids, but in that case, you should still see this, because this is one of the best Disney World attractions for adults).
In the waiting area, there are several things to look at and do, including:
- A small aquariums tucked into the wall, where visitors can watch several kinds of exotic fish (including blue tang and clown fish!)
- A couple of tanks with different species of rays
- Interactive quizzes designed by Mr. Ray himself
- Posters with information about sea turtles (naturally)
- Cast members who are really more like aquarium guides, and can discuss and answer any questions visitors may have about the sea life presented at EPCOT
In other words, even with a wait, you won’t be bored, and the waiting area really sets the mood for the attraction. Keep in mind this isn’t a ride, and it is primarily focused on teaching, even as it entertains (and, it’s still entertaining, don’t worry! In fact, this is even a great Disney World attraction for toddlers!).
In short, the waiting area is psychologically designed to do two things: get you thinking about things like oceans and fish and turtles, and get you in more of a “learning” mode than you typically are when you’re walking around an amusement park.
And this is necessary because the attraction is a learning/teaching experience that not only gives you and your kids the opportunity to learn about sea turtles, but also gives kids the opportunity to learn about humans, which is a relatively unique experience for most of us.
I mean, really, when’s the last time you sat down and explained to someone what it’s like to walk around and breathe air? How often do you get to discuss why most of us prefer the taste of pizza to the taste of kelp? This show presents visitors with the opportunity to do something completely unheard-of: have a conversation with an animated character.
But first, you have to go into the theater.
Inside the theater, children are invited to sit on the floor in front of the “aquarium window,” while adults sit behind them on benches (there are also wheelchair accessible spots). The benches aren’t comfortable, but I’ve never actually sat on a comfortable bench, so I guess that’s okay.
Plus the show is only fifteen minutes, so it’s not that bad.
What this seating arrangement does (and I know I’m getting all geeky on you here – sorry) is give your children a feeling of freedom from you and intimacy with Crush and his discussions with them. In other words, they’re not so much hearing from Crush, as they are making a friend.
It’s clever, and something they are likely to talk about for the next several days (or weeks . . . or months or even years later).
Now, let’s talk about this aquarium window that I mentioned above. It is actually a video screen that displays an animated view of the bottom of the ocean floor. It’s computer generated and looks pretty real, but it is just an animation, which makes more sense once Crush shows up, who, after a quick blurb from the Cast Member standing in the theater with you, comes tumbling through the ocean, stopping at the “glass” of the window.
And then the magic begins.
The Show (5/5)
Crush calls out to everyone, introduces himself, talks for a minute or two, and then asks if any of the “little dudes and dudettes” (totally his words, not mine) have any questions for him.
From here on out, the show is mostly improvised (time for a little Turtle Talk with Crush behind the scenes information everyone!) and the technological magicians behind the curtain voice the dialogue and animate the responses based completely and totally on the audience participation.
I have had the pleasure of watching this several times (I don’t know, four or five more than likely), and it’s been a different show each time. Crush is just as funny here as he was in the movie, and whoever voices him for the show is GREAT at off-the-cuff improvisation.
As it turns out, so are the animators, who have to animate expressions, reactions, and even props (more on that in a moment) in very short time frames (we’re talking sometimes mere seconds).
How the Show Works
So let me give you an example of what you can expect (but keep in mind that each show is different, so don’t expect things to play out exactly like this on your visit).
So first, Crush asks if anyone has any questions. Hands typically fly up, and Crush picks out someone from the audience. He points to the kid, and identifies her by the color of her “shell” – which is what he calls shirts – and starts talking to her:
“Dudette in the front row with the pink shell. What’s your name?”
“Michelle, uh-huh. Totally awesome name, dudette. Did you have any questions you would like to ask Crush, the totally awesome sea turtle?”
“What do you eat?”
“Gnarly question, Michelle! We sea turtles love to eat kelp. Do you eat kelp?”
“No,” wrinkling her face in disgust.
“What do you like to eat?”
“Pizza. Righteous! Let me ask you: does pizza give you bubbles? Because sometimes kelp gives me bubbles.”
The kids (and grownups) laugh as it dawns on them what he means.
Crush continues: “Let me ask you: are your parental units here with you on this fiiiine morning?”
“Uh-huh,” as she points to them.
“Hello, Michelle’s parental units. Hey, let me ask you, does Michelle ask a lot of questions?”
The parents nod in affirmation.
“Yeah, totally. Squirt asks, like, a million questions a day. Dude.” Crush puts his fin to his forehead and shakes his head.
“You know what, Michelle’s mom and dad?” he asks with great gravitas. “We just had a moment.”
That was a snippet pieced together by a few visits, but I’ve gotta tell you one story here, because this was great. So Crush asks a boy in the front row what his name is. The little boy, about five, answers, “Woody.”
Crush nods his head as he swims over to a rock on the other side of the screen, chatting for a moment or two. He lets Woody ask a question, he answers it, and then says, “So, dude, your name’s Woody?”
Kid nods his head.
Crush reaches behind the rock and pulls out a Buzz Lightyear doll. “Dude, I think I found something that belongs to you.”
The whole exchange may have taken sixty seconds, but that just demonstrates the caliber of people working on this, show after show, day after day. It’s really mind-blowing the amount of work that goes into this.
Now, I’m not naïve as to think everything is animated fresh, off-the-cuff, for every single show. Obviously, there are questions that are pretty routine: What do you eat? How long do sea turtles live? Where do you go to the bathroom? Typical things kids are interested in, and I know they probably have little snippets of pre-animated responses that they can just pull out and use for regularly recurring things.
But even with that, the whole thing really is guided by the visitors, and the voice actor playing Crush is very witty (and sounds just like Andrew Stanton, the voice behind Crush in the movies). From start to finish, the whole package is cool.
Quick heads up, though: as with all Disney shows, there isn’t an opportunity to have a photo taken. However, photography is – to the best of my knowledge – still allowed in the theater. And, trust me, you’ll want to get a picture or two of this if you can.
Obviously, since it’s a show that lasts about fifteen minutes, you’re going to have to wait for the currently in-progress show to finish before you can enter the auditorium. It’s not uncommon to wait fifteen minutes, but understand that this is a very popular attraction, and, though wait times average about twenty minutes, I’ve seen significantly long lines, especially when the attraction first opens for the day, but I’ve never waited in an extremely long line (we skipped the show for an hour or two, and came back to a much shorter wait).
This is FastPass available, and if you’re looking to cram as much into the day as possible, it may not be a bad idea to have one, just in case. However, I think using a FastPass on this ride is, in general, a waste of a pass, and should be used more for something like Soarin’ and Frozen Ever After.
As long as you give it time to dissipate – like, maybe wait an hour or two after the park opens – you should be fine. But, like I said, I’ve seen lines stretching to the door of the pavilion, so if you end up waiting, please don’t be mad at me!
Since 2016, when Finding Dory came out, Turtle Talk has been updated. So if you head back to Disney World any time in the near future, you can at least be excited to know that (if you’ve already experienced this show before), there’s a good chance you’ll see and hear something new that’s directly related to “Finding Dory.”
If you are looking for a fantastic time learning about ocean life and sea turtles, and watching your child interact with a totally wicked turtle (or interacting with him yourself), then make sure you catch Turtle Talk. This is a perfect attraction for young children, older children, teenagers (okay, maybe not teenagers, but only because nothing impresses teenagers), and adults.
If you’ve never been, you are in for a real awesome time. Surfs up, dude.
Rating: 5/5 stars
- Final Verdict: Righteous! Riighteousss!
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