Guests are unable to “let it go” when it comes to the new projection mapping the Disney Parks have been using for their animatronics over the last few years. While Disney has always been a leader when it comes to technology and animatronics in particular, their latest shift has many fans asking for a step backward.
When the Seven Dwarves Mine Train opened at Walt Disney World in 2014, it featured a newer style of animatronics, with faces created from screens and their expressions projection-mapped onto them. However, with this new style comes new problems.
The “older” version of the animatronics are a marvel in their own right, with life-like movements and expressions. Although these animatronics go down from time to time, they still have a face, even if it’s frozen in one expression. With the projection-style, if the system goes down, it removes the face completely, leaving a blank hole in its place. People have taken to Twitter to complain about the system, saying that it’s disappointing when Guests have waited for hours for a ride only to be greeted by a black screen.
Hot take: I think these kinds of animatronics have aged very poorly and should be replaced. Sure, they have the ability to be more expressive, but especially for humans, even when it is working normally, it just never looks **right**. https://t.co/tjbkIa44oU
— Chandler Desrochers (@Starport97) March 12, 2023
One user, @JPAdventurer, brings up that they worked decently for Seven Dwarves, but don’t work well for other characters.
“I think the reason they chose this was because it worked well with the Seven Dwarfs, who have more realistically sculpted heads, and assumed it would work on these flat faced figures.”
Hong Kong Disneyland is working on a Frozen-themed land, including their own version of Frozen Ever After. They released footage recently of what their animatronics will look like, and many people are calling for the same ones to be built for Walt Disney World. The movements are the same, but the Hong Kong characters have an improved version of the old face styles, a solid face with moveable parts to create expressions and the illusion of speaking. One commenter, @ScruffyFoxwell, stated
“They NEED to be updated with the faces they’ll have in the Frozen lands in Hong Kong and Paris.”
Several of the comments were hopeful for the change, and all of the comments agreed with the original post, with @ThemeParchive putting it into perspective,
“I mean, is there anyone defending these monstrosities? (aside from whoever at WDI greenlit them into attractions)”
With the amount of trouble both Disneyland and Walt Disney World have had with Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway, which also uses projection mapping for all of the screens, it seems like Disney doesn’t have quite the same handle on screen-based rides that Universal currently does. Hopefully, Disney will take the time to figure out the systems that work best for their attractions and their brand of theme park entertainment.
What do you think of the newer animatronics? Let Inside the Magic know in the comments below!