Is It Time for Disney To Build a Walt Disney Animatronic?

in Disney Parks

Walt Disney with characters at Disneyland in the 1960s

Credit: Disney

From Expedition Everest’s comatose yeti to the banjo-clad creatures of Country Bear Jamboree, animatronics are a Disney Parks staple. However, some Guests feel like they’re missing one of the most obvious animatronics of all.

While today you can find animatronics at entertainment destinations across the globe, the term originates with Walt Disney himself. In 1961, Disney coined the phrase “Audio-Animatronics” to describe mechatronic puppets, and his WED Enterprises team (AKA the Imagineers) led the charge into modern animatronic technology.

Anna, Elsa, and Olaf animatronics singing at the end of Frozen Ever After.
Credit: Disney

The first audio-animatronics debuted at Disneyland in 1961 in the form of ​​Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room’s Enchanted Tiki Birds. Just a year later, the Walt Disney Company premiered its first animatronic representing a human being. Its Abraham Lincoln animatronic appeared at the Illinois State Pavilion of the 1964 New York World’s Fair before being relocated to Disneyland, where today it plays a critical role in The Disneyland Story presenting Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln.

As of 2021, the New York Times reports that there are about 5,000 animatronics in use at Disney Parks across the globe. Now, some Guests are calling for Disney to create an animatronic celebrating the man who made it all possible: Walt Disney.

Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse at Disneyland
Credit: Disney

User HendrixsLaserbean recently took to Reddit to question why the company is yet to create an animatronic with the likeness of its founder.

“Imagine a ride or a show going through the history of Disney, featuring animatronics of Walt, Roy, maybe their parents, and famous Imagineers like Bob Gurr and Tony Baxter,” they wrote. They envision the attraction looking something like the Carousel of Progress or Horizons.

Another user chipped in with their idea, suggesting that they “put it in the Stitch area of Tomorrowland and make an indoor and more accessible circular queue to access the People Mover. Change the on and off point of the People Mover to the straightaway above the entry way. While people are getting on the ride, Walt tells you about his inspiration for the ride and other attractions.”

Walt Disney surrounded by Mickey plushes
Credit: D23

But not everyone is on board with a moving, talking recreation of Walt Disney in the Parks. HatBixGhost pointed out that creating a Walt Disney animatronic would be “too problematic” and “make no one happy.” Others felt like reproducing a company’s former CEO in this way was borderline creepy.

“The worshipping of a corporate leader feels really off,” wrote Ytctc. “I get some Walt stuff since he was an excellent creative, but he was very flawed as a person. Even the Partners statue is weird to me.”

Judging by the many statues of Walt dotted around Disney Parks worldwide – not to mention the recent recreation of Walt as a hologram at Disney100: The Exhibition – the Walt Disney Company isn’t entirely against using its founder’s likeness for the sake of nostalgia. However, considering the divisive reactions to Walt’s hologram (with many dubbing it “uncanny” and “creepy”), we’re willing to place our bets on this just being a blue-sky idea for now.

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