When you hear the word “animatronic,” you likely think of the antiquated robots scattered across Disneyland, like those in the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. Now, Disney’s Imagineering team is working to bring next-gen animatronics to life. Oh, did I mention they can walk around?
Disney is continuing to push the boundaries of what animatronics can do. According to The New York Times, Disney’s brilliant team of Imagineers is currently working on robots that will be able to get up and walk around its amusement parks. The team’s newest initiative, codenamed “Project Kiwi,” is focused on “extreme Marvel and Star Wars characters,” like Baby Yoda.
Those lucky enough to have visited Disneyland’s Avengers Campus recently got to catch a glimpse of the Imagineers’ latest work with the swinging Spider-Man “stuntronic” that’s featured there. And in this video, released earlier this year, we can see Project Kiwi’s Baby Groot robot:
While it’s not likely that these ambulatory bots will take over primary character roles at the parks, like Elsa or Kylo Ren, Disney is likely planning on using them for roles that are difficult for humans to play, like Baby Yoda and Rocket Racoon. The company might also opt for hybrids that use both a human actor and animatronic elements for characters like the Wampa from The Empire Strikes Back or Marvel’s The Incredible Hulk.
In true Disney fashion, it wouldn’t be surprising to see older experiences and rides at the parks get updated animatronics, too. Though they’d likely find a way to keep things as close to the original for the sake of older and nostalgic park-goers, it’d be fun to sweep technologically jaded kids off their feet with a more thrilling Haunted Mansion or Enchanted Tiki Room update.