As Walt Disney World ® continues to stay ahead of technological advancements and create incredible rides, shows and attractions using state-of-the-art technology, it’s only appropriate we point out the park’s development and use of audio-animatronics. With a long and storied history that goes back to Walt Disney himself, audio animatronics have evolved from the original Tiki Birds in the Enchanted Tiki Room at Magic Kingdom ® to a lifelike Captain Jack Sparrow on Pirates of the Caribbean.
It was one of Walt’s dreams to create realistic characters that could interact with guests. In fact, he had a very specific vision for Disneyland that included a talking restaurant guide, "I want to have a Chinese restaurant at the Park. Out in the lobby will be an old Chinese fellow like Confucius--not an actor, but a figure made out of plastic. Now the customers will ask him questions, and he'll reply with words of wisdom. We'll have an operator in back of the figure answering the questions and making the lips move."
Today, Walt would be proud of the progress his Orlando theme park has made when it comes to audio animatronics. Here are just a few of the top audio animatronics at Walt Disney World ®:
Yeti – Mt. Everest (Animal Kingdom ®) – One of the most complex audio animatronics in the park, the terrifying abominable snowman otherwise known as the Yeti on Mt. Everest is an astonishing 22-feet tall with his “skin” measuring 1,000 square feet! He has 19 different axes of motion and can move five feet horizontally and two feet vertically. If there really is an abominable snowman out, we imagine he’d look just like this one!
Captain Jack Sparrow – Pirates of the Caribbean ® (Magic Kingdom ®) - Everybody’s favorite pirate has not only made it onto the big screen, but he’s now come to life on the classic Magic Kingdom ® ride, Pirates of the Caribbean ®. With over 120 audio-animatronics, Pirates of the Caribbean ® is one of the most spectacular attractions ever created at Disney ® and with the addition of a life like Jack Sparrow from the hit film series this ride will make you feel like you’re really plundering the seas with Jack Sparrow himself as he appears in three different scenes in the ride!
Mr. Potato Head - Toy Story Midway Mania! ® (Hollywood Studios ®) – Another large audio-animatronic, the Mr. Potato Head figure in Toy Story Midway Mania! ® actually interacts with guests through pre-recorded snippets of dialogue performed by the actual Mr. Potato Head in the “Toy Story” series, Don Rickles. The advanced figure even identifies people in the audience, sings and tells jokes.
Buzz Lightyear – Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin ® (Magic Kingdom ®) – An audio animatronic Buzz Lightyear greets you board this ride, explaining that your mission is to destroy Zurg’s secret weapon with your blasters. The incredible attention to detail and way Buzz moves is spot on to his real character in the “Toy Story” series.
Dinosaur (Animal Kingdom ®) – Chalk full of creatures from the Cretaceous era, this ride features ten dinosaurs that will make you believe you really walking amongst these massive creatures! You’ll encounter a audio-animatronic Styracosaurus, Parasaurolophus, Carnotaurus, Velociraptor, Cearadactylus, Alioramus, Compsognathus, Igunadaon and more for a thrilling and very real adventure through time.
C3PO – Star Tours ® (Hollywood Studios ®) – The famous Star Wars droid C3PO has been a part of Star Wars Star Tours at Disney’s Hollywood Studios ® for decades now but with the all-new Star Tours ®: The Adventures Continue, guests can see him as the captain aboard the Star Tours ship as well. With 54 different journeys to explore, every time you ride Star Tours, you can enjoy lots of diverse commentary from one of Star War’s most famous droids.