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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.

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