Behind the Voices of 7 Beloved Walt Disney World Characters
There are so many little things that go into making the magic at Walt Disney World. The brilliant innovation of the Imagineers. The music. The landscaping. Everything has a part to play.
One oft-forgotten building blocks of the Disney experience are the voices heard throughout the parks. Whether in shows or on attractions, the talented voice actors employed by Disney give their characters personality and depth. They’re that magic spark that brings the character to life. Most Guests may never give the actors a second thought, instead reveling in the fictional characters they’ve created. And that’s not a bad thing. After all, it’s what the actors were trying to do.
But, all the same, we thought that we’d offer a little tip of the cap to some of these fantastic performers
Figment (Journey Into Imagination with Figment)
Everyone’s favorite purple dragon has had numerous voices over the years. When Journey Into Imagination first opened, Figment was acted by Billy Barty. During the brief run of Journey into YOUR Imagination, Corey Burton provided the voice.
These days, Guests will hear puppeteer Dave Goelz as the character. Over the years, Goelz has had a legendary career with roles on The Muppets, Fraggle Rock, The Dark Crystal, and Labyrinth. Among his notable characters are Gonzo the Great, Dr. Bunsen Honeydew, Boober Fraggle, Fizzgig, and Sir Didymus. Guests who can’t get enough Goelz can hop over to Hollywood Studios, where he performs several of his roles in Muppet*Vision 3D.
José (Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room)
A veritable smorgasbord of talented voice actors is responsible for Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room. Actor Ernie Newton provided the voice of Pierre, while singer and comedian Fulton Burley provided the voice of Michael. Thurl Ravenscroft (who voiced one of the singing busts in The Haunted Mansion) gave voice to Michael.
The role of José, the primary MC for the tiki festivities, was provided by the one and only Wally Boag. Most famous for his run as the Travelling Salesman and Pecos Bill in Disneyland’s Golden Horseshoe, Boag was a favorite of Walt Disney’s and had appearances on the Mickey Mouse Club, along with appearances in the movies The Absent-Minded Professor, Son of Flubber, and The Love Bug.
Winnie-the-Pooh (The Many Adventures of Winnie-The-Pooh)
While Sterling Holloway (also famous for voicing the Cheshire Cat, Mr. Stork, Kaa, and Roquefort the Mouse) provided the original voice of Winnie-The-Pooh for Disney, he passed away seven years before the attraction opened in the Magic Kingdom.
Fortunately, the multi-talented Jim Cummings has been voicing the character since 1988. Cummings has provided a plethora of voices for Disney, with some of the most notable characters being Darkwing Duck, Fat Cat and Monterey Jack in “Chip n’ Dale Rescue Rangers,” Pete in A Goofy Movie, and Raymond in The Princess and the Frog, among others.
Ghost Host (The Haunted Mansion)
As Guests enter the Haunted Mansion, they are greeted by the booming, ominous voice of the Ghost Host. He is one of the attraction’s most memorable characters, though he is never seen (unless you count his corpse dangling from the ceiling).
Vaudevillian and comedian Paul Frees is the voice of the Ghost Host, a performer so talented that the legendary Mel Blanc dubbed him, “The Man of a Thousand Voices.” He was Ludwig von Drake for Disney, as well as the narrator for the classic Donald in Math Magic Land, to name just two of the roles that helped him become a Disney Legend in 2006.
Apart from Disney, he was Boris in “The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show,” Burgermeister Meisterburger in Rankin and Bass’s “Santa Claus is Coming to Town,” Hocus Pocus and Santa Claus in “Frosty the Snowman,” the Pillsbury Doughboy, Toucan Sam (a role previously performed by Mel Blanc), and even performed as an Orson Welles sound-a-like in a film version of The War of the Worlds.
Mark Twain (The American Adventure)
Voicing the definitive American author is no small ask. Especially when the role has been so memorably performed by an iconic figure like Hal Halbrook. Fortunately, Disney hired a brilliant performer to bring Twain’s audio-animatronic figure to life for Epcot’s The American Adventure.
Character actor John Anderson assumed the role. Famous for his portrayals of Abraham Lincoln and baseball commissioner Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis, Anderson also had a role in the movie Psycho and appeared on a variety of television programs such as “The Rifleman,” “The Virginian,” “The Outer Limits, “The Twilight Zone,” to name just a few. He also provided the voice of Franklin D. Roosevelt on the American Adventure. In a slightly more peculiar role for Disney, he also played an eccentric farmer dead set on protecting his prize watermelon in “For the Love of Willadean: A Taste of Melon,” an episode of Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color.
Mike Wazowski (Monsters Inc Laugh Floor)
In the original Pixar classic Monsters Inc., Mike Wazowski was performed by Mr. Saturday Night himself, Billy Crystal. However, a different actor was called upon when it came time to bring the character to Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor.
Impressionist, comedian and screenwriter Carlos Alazraqui was tasked with performing the role of the one-eyed, wise-cracking Wazowski. Alazraqui’s resume is a curious collection of memorable roles, ranging from the chihuahua in the “Yo Quiero Taco Bell” commercials to Rocko and Spunky in the classic “Rocko’s Modern Life” cartoon. He has also added his talents to shows like “CatDog,” “Spongebob Squarepants,” “The Fairly OddParents,” and even the Disney Channel’s show “Handy Manny.”
Constance Hatchaway (The Haunted Mansion)
You’ll forgive us for citing the Haunted Mansion twice, but Halloween just passed and we’re still feeling a little spooky. One of the most terrifying characters in the attraction, and perhaps the only truly malevolent figure found there, is that of the black widow bride, Constance Hatchaway. She lurks in the attic with hatchet in hand, waiting to claim her next victim.
This terrifying figure is voiced by Kat Cressida, whose voice can also be heard on the Tower of Terror and as Jesse the Yodeling Cowgirl on Toy Story Midway Mania. The child of a Disney Imagineer, Cressida has worked on cartoons like “Dexter’s Laboratory,” and in video games like World of Warcraft. She also has an active social media presence, where she celebrates the rich history of Disney, sharing archival footage, trivia, and more.