EARLY 1950s: Walt Disney purchases a mechanical bird while vacationing in Europe. It serves as the inspiration for Audio-Animatronics technology.
1951: Work begins on Project Little Man. Imagineers and Audio-Animatronics pioneers Roger Broggie and Wathel Rogers create a miniature figure that is programmed with cams, cables, and tubes to mimic tap-dancing routines performed by actor Buddy Ebsen.
1963: Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room opens at Disneyland in Anaheim, California, becoming the first show to feature Audio-Animatronics technology.
1964: The world’s first fully animated human figure, Abraham Lincoln, debuts at the New York World’s Fair in the attraction Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln. Audio-Animatronics figures are also present in three other World’s Fair shows designed and produced by Disney: Carousel of Progress (featuring figures animated using a programming harness, a precursor of today’s motion-capture systems), Magic Skyway, and “it’s a small world.”
2017: The Shaman of Songs is unveiled as part of the Na’vi River Journey attraction at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. The Shaman is the most advanced Audio-Animatronics figure to date, containing approximately 45 functions in its head and twice as many in the rest of its body.
2019: A-1000 Audio-Animatronics take center stage with the opening of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disneyland. Hondo Ohnaka represents the next generation of lifelike, electric-powered figures.
- Parent entry
- 1 - The world of Walt Disney Imagineering (Craig Causer)
- 2 - Disney tech: - Immersive storytelling through innovation (Craig Causer)
- 3 - Big ideas - The sky’s the limit (Craig Causer)
- 4 - Walt Disney Audio-Animatronics Timeline
- 5 - Inside the minds of two of Imagineering’s most prolific creative executives (Craig Causer)
- 6 - The wonder of Imaginations (Craig Causer)
- 7 - Earning your ears - The value of internships (Sophia Acevedo)
- 8 - Around the world - International parks are distinctly Disney (Craig Causer)